SIMONE VEIL – Birth in 1927, Nice, France
Childhood in Nice
War the deportation at Aushwitz Birkenau in 1944
Shoah Survivor (Holocaust) “Re-birth” after the war (with her wedding in 1946 and his start of her career as magistrate in 1956)
1956 – 1979
Political career (first at National Penitentiary Administration of the Ministry of Justice from 1956 to 1974 and as Minister of Health from 1974 to 1979) – with legalization of contraception in 1974 and abortion in 1975.
1979 – 1993 European Parliament (and as President from 79 to 82)
1993-1995: French Government (Health Minister)
1998 – Member of the Constitutional Council
2000 – 2007, She served as President of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah.
2008 – French Academy Election
2017 – Death in Paris (National Honors and final home at the Panthéon in 2018)
Not sure if many people outside France or Europe know about Simone Veil.
As of today, this is one of leaders who inspired me the most …. but to be honest, I did not think this way when I was a teenager in the 90s in France – At that time, I was annoyed by anything politics and specifically by the absurd “war” between the left (close to socialism) and the right (close to conservatism)… Simone Veil was more center right at that time… From what I remember, I considered her as someone strict, always perfectly dressed with some kind of presumptuous way to talk to people and coming from the french bourgeoisie…. very bad judgment, I know! She was the complete opposite – my sincere apologies, dear Madame Veil.
Many years after, I understood how she contributed to the destiny of many people in France and in Europe… She is one of the most inspirational person that I know…
I recommend to read her bio “A life” … you will travel with her through the years from her birth in Nice in 1927 in a jewish family through 2007, year that resonates with the end of her political career. Her bio transpires the love for her parents and siblings, the hell “period” during the deportation to Aushwitz and her consistent fight for human values.
Veil built her strong carapace at the time she was in deportation (this part of the book is a must for the young generations… ) – By reading her bio, Veil makes me think of Esther, the famous jewish Queen who took revenge from the dictator Ahasureus to make her people free… In comparison, I feel she took revenge from the nazis to become an ambassador of human values and an emblem for the new generations.
Her contributions and heritage:
She is most famous for the legalization of contraception and abortion in France in the 70s but she she also contributed a lot to the unity for Europe while she worked at the European Parliament… She also worked to help the disabled, HIV positive patients, and mothers of young children while she returned to the French Government in 1993.
In 1998, she was appointed to the Constitutional Council of France but had to put herself on leave in order to campaign in favor of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe… Unfortunately, this was rejected by France by referendum in 2005 … In 2003, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims and was the sixth woman to be elected to the French Academy (Académie Française) in 2008. She occupied the 13th seat, once the seat of literary figure Jean Racine. The funny part is that Jean Racine wrote a play “Esther” that remains one of Racine’s lesser known works… Is it pure coincidence? Is Simone the character”Esther” from Racine’s play?
On her sword is engraved her Auschwitz number (number 78651), the motto of the French Republic and the motto of the European Union, Unity in diversity.
Simone Veil died on 30 June 2017 and on 5 July 2017, she was honoured with a national ceremony in Les Invalides and President Macron announced the decision to rebury Veil and her husband in the Panthéon in July 2018. With the new wave of antisemitism in France in 2018-2019, some Veil street portraits were graffitied with swastikas… which caused a lot of emotion in France…
Next time I’ll visit Paris, I will pay tribute to this great figure by visiting the Panthéon and by stopping by the modern mural from Jo Di Bona … Thank you Madame Veil for your legacy of human values and for driving us by example for so many years.