Germany honors Beate and Serge Klarsfeld


20/07/15

A couple responsible for bringing several Nazi criminals to justice has been awarded Germany's Federal Order of Merit. Beate and Serge Klarsfeld warned of renewed anti-Semitism during the prize ceremony.

The Klarsfelds received the Federal Order of Merit at the German embassy in Paris on Monday. Beate Klarsfeld, 76, and her husband Serge, who is three years older, were praised for their "courageous" work in hunting for former Nazi officials who had either gone into hiding or even continued to work in public life after World War II.

"Their extraordinary dedication spanning over decades has been extremely valuable for Germany, for its standing in the world and for German-French relations," Susanne Wasum-Rainer, Germany's ambassador in France, said at the award ceremony in Paris.

The Klarsfelds together followed a "mission" to "openly denounce the abominations committed by the Nazis and to perpetuate the memory of the victims of the Shoah [the Hebrew name for the Holocaust]," Wasum-Rainer told the audience.

Beate Klarsfeld described the honor as immensely satisfying. "It is wonderful when you know, that after so many years, you are taken for someone who has done the right thing," she told news agency AFP. She was often seen as a "bad girl" in Germany, she said, adding that she faced "hurdles, difficult moments, but never discouragement."

Later, on regional radio, Klarsfeld warned of a new form of anti-Semitism affecting Europe.

"The Jewish people has a new enemy - namely the Islamists," she said. "But here in France we also face a new danger, and that is the National Front," Klarsfeld said of the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen.