26 April 2011

Southern California: Gurs concentration camp, May 1

Holocaust Memorial Day will be commemorated by the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley (JGSCV) on Sunday, May 1.

Speaker Werner Frank will speak on this little-known first massive Jewish deportation to Camp de Gurs in 1940.

The meeting - co-sponsored with Temple Adat Elohim - runs from 1.30-3.30pm, at 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. There is no admission fee.

Gauleiters Robert Wagner and Joseph Bürckel, administrative heads of the States of Baden and the Pfalz/Saar, sought to be the first among their Nazi cohorts to make their territories Judenrein (free of Jews). They had engineered a massive expulsion of over 6,500 Jews to Camp de Gurs, located in unoccupied Vichy France. The event became known as the Wagner-Bürckel Aktion and was offered by the Gauleiters as their gift to the Führer on October 23, 1940.

The relocation of Jews to the Gurs concentration camp became only an intermediate step prior to the infamous "Final Solution" which was pronounced in January 1942. This Nazi inspired annihilation program triggered yet a second round of transports that would move the incarcerated from Gurs to the Parisian suburb of Drancy, an assembly point where the victims faced a final deportation to the death camp of Auschwitz.
Frank will delve into the background of the historical events that led to the Aktion, and recount the impact of this cataclysm on his hometown of Eppingen, as he relates the tribulations and ultimate fate encountered by his widely located family in the State of Baden.

He is a founding member, former board member, former JGSCV newsletter, and a member of JGSLA. He was one of the founders of GERSIG (the German Special Interest Group of JewishGen) and has written articles for ROOTS, Maajan, Avotaynu and Stammbaum.

He has been researching his family’s history, amassing a genealogical database of more than 33,000 names, and published his family history ("Legacy: The Saga of a German-Jewish Family over Time and Circumstance," Avotaynu 2003).

For more information and directions, click here.

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