November 18, 2007
I traveled to Paris for a remarkably productive several days with my deputy, Ivy Barsky. I was particularly fortunate that my wife Judy could also come along on this trip. Our main activity was working on the Irene Nemirovsky exhibition, which is scheduled to open in New York in June of next year with the title, Woman of Letters: Irene Nemirovsky and Suite Francaise. Ivy, Amy Forman,who will design the exhibition, and I spent a day at IMEC, the extraordinary archive, located in Normandy, which maintains the Nemirovsky papers. We also had a memorable meeting and lunch with Denise Epstein, Irene's daughter, who is very supportive of our exhibtion and has promised to lend us some artifacts which are still in her possession. My good friend, Olivier Corpet, the visionary founder of IMEC, was our host, and we were pleased to get to know Emmanuelle Lambert, who is in charge of exhibitions at IMEC.
Ivy and Amy reviewing documents at IMEC
Irene Nemirovsky's story becomes more compelling as we learn more about it, and we are convinced that this exhibition will attract a broad and passionate audience. Surprisingly, there are some people who object to the notion of an exhibition on this subject, believing that, because Irene converted to Catholicism and because of the content of some of her writings, she is not an appropriate subject. We are confident that her story is an important one for our Museum to tell and, at the same time, we are mindful of the challenge to tell it with candor and nuance.
Denise Epstein and Olivier Corpet at Lunch
DGM, Denise Epstein and Ivy
We took advantage of being in Paris to visit the Shoah Memorial and see the special exhibition there that tells the story of Father Patrick Desbois and his remarkable work in discovering and documenting mass graves in Ukraine. Desbois, a Catholic priest, visits Ukraine several times a year, and travels from village to village interviewing local residents, who relate their memories of mass shootings during the war. We met with Desbois, and he described the phenomenon of the unforced testimony of the locals who seemed to be waiting for an opportunity to unburden themselves of the traumatic memories. All in all, the exhibition makes a profound impression, and it is unusual to meet a man like Desbois, whose charisma and sense of mission are rare indeed. We are planning to bring this exhibition to New York next fall.
Serge Klarsfeld in his Office
I was also able to see some old friends. I hosted a dinner on Saturday night for Claude Lanzmann, the legenday filmmaker, who can be counted on to make any evening interesting. I also met with Serge Klarsfeld, whom I have known since the early 1980's when I worked on the Klaus Barbie case. Serge is a great man, and it is always a treat to see him.
I have always loved Paris, and this trip only confirmed my belief that it is among the most beautiful and exciting cities on earth.
Shop Window in Paris