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Yad Vashem Posthumously Honors Count Henry de Menthon as Righteous Among the Nations from France
Survivor and Family of the Righteous Attend Event
September 5, 2012
On Wednesday, September 5, 2012, Yad Vashem held a ceremony posthumously honoring Count Henry de Menthon as Righteous Among the Nations from France. The event will took place in the presence of the Survivor Dina Godschalk and French Ambassador to Israel HE Christoph Bigot, family and friends.
A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance was followed by the awarding of the medal and certificate in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.
Count Henry de Menthon's grandson, Olivier de Menthon, accepted the award on behalf of his grandfather. His father, François de Menthon, Count Henry de Menthon's son, was the chief French prosecutor at the Nuremburg trial, at which, in his opening statement, he stated,
"I propose today to prove to you that all this organized and vast criminality springs from what I may be allowed to call a crime against the spirit, I mean a doctrine which, denying all spiritual, rational, or moral values by which the nations have tried, for thousands of years, to improve human conditions, aims to plunge humanity back into. Barbarism, no longer the natural and spontaneous barbarism of primitive nations, but into a diabolical barbarism, conscious of itself and utilizing for its ends all material means put at the disposal of mankind by contemporary science. This sin against the spirit is the original sin of National Socialism from which all crimes spring. This monstrous doctrine is that of racialism"
The Rescue Story
Salomon and Emilie-Djemila Farhi, emigrated from Turkey to France in the 1920s, where they lived in Paris with their seven children: Albert, Angèle, Victorine, Raphaël, Claire, Jean-Jacques and Daniel. In 1943, when the persecution of Jews in France began to escalate, Salomon and Emilie decided to seek refuge for their children outside the city. The older children (Albert was 17-years-old) adamantly refused to be separated from their parents, and Emilie-Djemila refused to be parted from 3-year-old Daniel. Raphaël, 10, Claire, 8, and Jean-Jacques, 6, were placed in the hands of the "Secours National" rescue agency who evacuated them from the city along with other children. On July 27, 1943, Salomon accompanied his three children to the train station. Before they parted, Salomon asked his daughter Claire to promise him two things: to never forget that she was Jewish and to remain together with her brothers.
The Secours National took the children to the town of Saint Loup le Gray, and from there they were put on a truck to be dispersed among the homes of the local residents. It was Claire's turn to get off the truck when they arrived at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Vauthier, who had requested to take in a girl. Remembering her promise to her father, Claire refused to get off the truck and began to scream. Mr. Vauthier was a gardener at the chateau of Count Henry de Menthon. Luckily, the Count, who was also the village Mayor, was passing by and stopped to investigate the cause of the tumult. After understanding the situation, the Count himself took charge of the three Farhi children. Raphaël and Jean-Jacques were brought to the Count's chateau, where they stayed until the end of the war. Claire stayed with the gardener and his wife during the day, and every evening went to sleep in the chateau with her brothers. The danger was immense: everyone in the village, as well as the staff in the chateau, knew that the children were Jewish and that the Count's son was fighting for the resistance.
The children were in contact with their family until May 4, 1944 when Salomon and Emilie-Djemila, Albert, Angèle, Victorine and little Daniel were deported to Auschwitz. Only Albert survived. After the war, upon hearing of their parents' murder, the children were sent to an orphanage. The connection with the de Menthons was broken until many years later when Claire, today Dina Godschalk, had a chance meeting with the Count's granddaughter, with whom Claire had played during her time in the chateau. The connection with the de Menthons was reestablished and Claire turned to Yad Vashem to request that her rescuer be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
On July 14, 2011, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem decided to award Count Henry de Menthon the title of Righteous Among the Nations.