After a book, the incredible destiny of this Menton survivor of the camps told in a film

After a book, the incredible destiny of this Menton survivor of the camps told in a film

Clara Laurent, director of the documentary film on Herbert Traube: “He made me think of my grandfather who had a similar destiny…”

After a childhood spent in the Paris region, Clara Laurent arrived on the Côte d’Azur 13 years ago. She was a professor of modern literature in Nice, as well as at the Charles III College in Monaco.

A specialist in classic French cinema, she notably taught it at the University of Paris-Diderot. Clara Laurent has written several books, including “Danielle Darrieux, a modern woman” or more recently “Josiane Balasko: a splendid life”.

She was a journalist for “La Gazette de Monaco” (culture section), and contributes to the magazine “Schnock”. Today, she lives in Marseille. This film is her first as a director.

How did you find out about Herbert Traube?
It’s a bit of a coincidence. My father bought his book, which appeared in 2016 at the Monaco Book Fair, where Herbert Traube was invited as a member of the Monegasque association “For the duty of memory”. I started to read it and it reminded me of my grandfather, who had a fate similar in some respects to that of Herbert: he was a Jew of Hungarian origin, was interned in different camps and survived; after the war, he moved to Nice with my grandmother of Dutch Jewish origin. Reading his memoirs, I recognized this journey of the Jews of Central Europe, who were interned in French camps before joining, for some, the Côte d’Azur. Like his father, my great-grandparents died in Auschwitz. I then wanted to meet him. And I thought, as a teacher, that it would be great for him to meet my students…

How did the meeting go?
It was at the beginning of the year 2020, before the containment. I came to see him with my husband at his home in Menton, and we had a friendly crush.
He was charismatic, endowed with an intact memory and in exceptional physical shape for his age! And as I was still working in audiovisual production, the idea of ​​making a film to tell his epic and unique story very quickly came to me.

When did the shooting take place?
It all started last summer, when we went back to the places of his childhood! He celebrated his 97th birthday on July 15, 1921 in Vienna, where he returned to the building where he lived with his parents Ilka and Paul, and his sister, but also to the classroom, from where he had been put outside with other Jewish comrades… The filming also took us to Marseilles where he was in the resistance, to the Foreign Legion in Aubagne, to Sainte-Agnès, where he had settled in retirement with his wife and was mayor- deputy, and in Menton…

How does your film present itself?
It is a film lasting 1h30, very rich in documents and photos that Herbert was able to provide us with… We also used war archives and worked with an illustrator for animation sequences, in particular when he escapes from the train… The film is built in 4 parts, including one on the duty of memory, where Herbert expressed himself with great emotion near the Mucem in Marseille. He was more in the confidence…

What are your hopes for this film?
We hope that it can be broadcast soon in Menton and Monaco, and why not on an audiovisual channel in a shorter version… The “filthy beast” of dictatorships being unfortunately always ready to be reborn, telling the story of Herbert, it is to raise awareness of the poison of anti-Semitism and the mechanisms leading to barbarism.

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