Areej: The extraordinary testimony of Auschwitz survivor Jennette Kolinka in front of students at Pamirs College

At the age of 19, Jeannette Kolinka was deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland. For 20 years, the mother of the drummer for the telephone group became an ambassador for memory. She testified, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in front of 80 undergraduate students from Pamirs.

“I beg you, remove the word hate from your vocabulary and the thoughts it conveys.” 80 students from Rambo College in Pamir, in Areej, gathered in the Agli Moines room, and held their breath for a second. Before a long round of applause punctuates the story of Genet Kolinka. At the age of 97, a death camp survivor remains one of the few who has been able to testify to the horror of the Nazis. His word, his words and his story deserve every lesson in history.

For several weeks, young college students worked on the arrival of Mrs. Kolinka. But when the story of a global conflict that has claimed more than 60 million victims – including 6 million Jews – collides with the life of a 19-year-old at the time, the listening becomes attentive. Here we address the reality of fate.

This is why millions of Jews died.

If for a long time Genet Kolinka silently passed her story, considering that it would “annoy everyone”, then for 20 years she became an indefatigable ambassador. Having survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt camps where she was liberated by Red Army soldiers, Genet Kolinka in simple words conjures up the daily life of the concentration camps. If she escapes from the gas chambers, her father and 12-year-old brother will be out of luck. Once they reached Auschwitz in April 1944, the father and son were gassed. “You know what that is?” Genet Kolinka asks, while waving a black and white photo we guess some kind of tin can on it. “This is Zyklon B, that’s why millions of Jews died.”

At the age of 97, Jeannette Kolinka gave her testimony in the Aglaé-Moyne room, in front of 80 undergraduate students from Pamiers.
DDM – Bruno Hoyt

With a steady voice, Ginette Kolinka marks the dates precisely from the metronome. After the indescribable seventy-eight years, the memory has forgotten nothing. Yellow Star in Hand Mrs. Kolinka evokes this “happiness” of being able to eat morning, noon and evening with the whole family when her father is prevented from working. Short life happiness. “Although he could no longer work, my father did not want to leave Paris. He told us, ‘France will protect us,'” she recalls. “She protected us poorly,” divorces the survivor.

They took my father to the kitchen and told him to pull his pants down.

However, in the big story, the small story hides human moments. It also happened in the summer of 1942 when an official working at police headquarters came to warn the Cherkasky family that Leon (Genette’s father, editor’s note), his wife and seven children had been denounced. Their crime? They will be communists. The family surrenders to leave the occupied zone to join the free zone. The Cherkasky family joined the South and Avignon.

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Until the morning of March 13, 1944, when three men rang their apartment doorbell. There were three men and two in long leather hats and coats. I knew right away that these two were Gestapo,” recalls Jennette Kolinka, convinced that, as if crossing the boundary of the dividing line, they would be able to deceive their interlocutors about their Jewish roots. “But they knew about the circumcision,” she explains. “They took my father into the kitchen.” They asked him to take his pants off. »

I saw my father and brother getting into a truck and we left on foot. There were chimneys smoking with a strange smell…”

Jeannette Kolinka, her father and brother were promptly pushed into a black front-wheel drive Citroen, heading to Avignon Prison. The next day we were transferred to Baumet Prison in Marseille. At the end of March, we left by bus to Paris at Camp Drancy. I even had a great time there, unborn says. Although we all know we won’t be there for long. »

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On April 12, the Drancy camp was “emptied”. 1,500 people, including Simone Veil, were taken to Bobigny Station. There, it was the German army that took over our responsibility. Then on the platform there were carts with almost no hatches, like those in which animals were transported,” continues Mrs. Kolinka. The convoy would take two or three days before it reached the entrance to Auschwitz. The men were separated from the women and children. The officers told us: Don’t worry: ‘You will find them. I saw my father and brother in a truck and we left on foot. There were chimneys smoking with a strange smell…’ In the Aglaé-Moyne’s room, the masks worn by the students struggled to hide the feelings experienced by the story of that which could be their great-grandmother.

Registration number 78599

Genet Kolinka has just entered one of the death camps of the Third Reich. “I thought we were in a labor camp, but as far as the eye can see, there were barracks. What bothered me was that it was surrounded by barbed wire, there were armed men and watchtowers.” Jennette Kolinka takes a short break.” All the women were taken to the barracks. He asked us to undress. What hurts the most is to find myself naked in front of everyone, the modest one. The Nazis, out of hatred, found the slightest sign of our humiliation. They shaved her pubic hair and cut her hair. »

Mrs. Kolinka was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, then to Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt.

Mrs. Kolinka was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, then to Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt.
DDM – Bruno Hoyt

Not forgetting the tattoo of the registration number. Ginette Kolinka porte toujours sur son bras le n° 78599. « Pendant des années je n’ai jamais voulu dénuder mon bras jusqu’au jour, où, sur un marché, une dame m’a demandé si j’avais peur d’oub phone number ! Since then, I no longer hide it. »

“Have you returned to Auschwitz? Asks a young pupil.” Yes. The first time I went back, I thought it would hurt. But where was the dirt? Odor ? In the camp, people were running everywhere, people were screaming. With snow, it’s great! It is not Birkenau. What you see is decor! And in conclusion: “Now I am counting on you. You are the last generation that people like me talk to about this period. When the last of us closes his eyes, you will be our defenders, the messengers of our memory. »

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