Simone Veil, dead at 89, survived the Nazis and then spent her life fighting for women’s rights
“I have survived worse than you.”
Updated by Sarah Wildman Jun 30, 2017
Few Americans probably know the name Simone Veil. But ask almost any French woman about the 89-year-old who died today and she’ll tell you that perhaps no modern woman in France is more revered. She is considered the very symbol of courage.
A feminist icon and Holocaust survivor who spent a year in Nazi death camps, Simone Veil championed the rights of women and forever altered French society. Most of what you probably picture when you think about women and their status in France was at least in some way influenced by Simone Veil.
Veil was the author of the 1974 French law legalizing abortion — it is literally called “Veil’s Law.” She was a champion for not only the right of women to control their pregnancies, but also to control their fertility. She long advocated for universal access to contraception.
Trained as a lawyer, she became a judge renowned for her concern for human rights, particularly the rights of prisoners. As a parliamentarian and a health minister, she battled for the rights of women. She then served as the first president of the European parliament. And, in the last decades of her life, she emerged as a tireless lecturer and advocate for the preservation of Holocaust memory.
And none of it came easy.
Veil is perhaps best known as the architect of legalized abortion in France
In her iconic 1974 speech in front of parliament right before a vote on legalizing abortion, Veil spoke passionately on why the right to terminate a pregnancy must be awarded to all women. “I apologize for doing it in front of this assembly comprised almost exclusively of men,” she said that day, underscoring with a single phrase exactly why her presence was so crucial. She added, “No woman resorts to abortion lightheartedly.”
It was a struggle that earned her the vitriol of the extreme right, who accused her of wanting to murder babies like the Nazis murdered their victims. A fellow parliamentarian claimed her law would “each year kill twice as many people as the Hiroshima bomb.” Another said the law was “genocide.”
And yet, the law passed.
For many years, Veil was the constant target of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s far-right National Front party. She refused to stand down. In this archival footage from 1979, a brawl broke out when National Front supporters attempted to disrupt a meeting she was speaking at in Paris. Veil can be heard shouting, “Vous ne me faites pas peur! J'ai survécu a pire que vous!” — “You do not frighten me! I have survived worse than you!”
“She is revered, but she was also hated. She was under attack by the right and extreme right,” explains Jean-Marc Dreyfus, a professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Manchester. Dreyfus describes the verbal assaults Veil weathered and her reputation for tireless advocacy. She was a staunch opponent of the National Front, he says, from its creation until the end of her life.
“She was known first as a magistrate and an advocate for human rights,” Dreyfus continues. “She advocated for the rights of prisoners. She wanted the living conditions in French prisons to be improved. She would stop to visit prisons as she left on holiday —- she would leave her family and say ‘I am just visiting a prison to see if it’s okay.’”
Dreyfus notes she did not, at least initially, publicly link her wartime experiences with her work. But when she ran for the European parliament in the early 1980s, she began to clearly, vocally connect her desire to build a united Europe with the horrors of the Holocaust.
Her past was never very far behind her
Simone Veil was born Simone Jacob in 1927 in the Mediterranean city of Nice to a middle-class, assimilated — in other words, non-religious — Jewish family. But the Nazis cared about Jewish blood, not religious identity.
In the spring of 1944, at the age of 16, Simone and her family were rounded up. First she and two of her sisters were taken, on March 30, then her father and brother and finally a third sister — the last was also a resistance fighter. All were deported to Eastern Europe.
Veil was sent by closed cattle car to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland. There she received the indelible number 78651 tattooed on her arm — the Nazis tattooed the inmates, taking away their identities and rendering them simply numbers.
"From then on, each of us was just a number, seared into our flesh," she wrote later in her life. "A number we had to learn by heart, since we had lost all identity."
Veil, her mother Yvonne, and her sister Madeleine were together in Auschwitz. When the Nazis dismantled the camp in January 1945, the three were forcibly marched for days only to be incarcerated again in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Madeleine and Simone survived Bergen-Belsen; Veil’s mother did not. Veil’s other sister Denise, held with other resistance fighters, survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Her father and brother were never heard from again.
Veil and her sister were liberated in April of 1945 and Veil returned to France. After the war, she attended the prestigious French school Sciences Po and studied law. She met and married a fellow student named Antoine Veil who later went into business. Together they had three sons.
Veil’s wartime experience propelled her European parliamentary career
Simone Veil did not discuss her Holocaust experience much in the early years of her life. But by the end of the 1970s, she began drawing a clear line between the horrors she had observed and been a victim of and the need for a peaceful, unified Europe.
She set out to work for the European Economic Community — which later became the European Union. She became the first president of the European parliament. In her first speech before that body, in 1979, she nodded to the past that had destroyed her family and nearly destroyed Europe.
“[T]his is the first time in history, a history in which we have so frequently been divided, pitted one against the other, bent on mutual destruction,” she said, “that the people of Europe have together elected their delegates to a common assembly representing, in this Chamber today, more than 260 million people.”
Veil would serve as president of the European parliament until 1982, and a general member of that body until 1993. She then reprised her role as French Health Minister in the early 1990s. Later she held a variety of other positions including integrating immigrants, on the High Council for Integration, and did a nine-year tour as a member of the Constitutional Council, the highest court in France tasked with reviewing the constitutionality of laws. At the turn of the century she turned in earnest to the job of Holocaust memorialization, serving on the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah (Holocaust) for seven years.
I shared this story not to say whether I was for or against abortion. Nor do I post it to declare that I am a feminist, but I shared it to show that this was one strong and courageous woman. She overcame tremendous odds and fought for the rights of others.
We have the strength within us to do almost anything. We need to just tap into that that inner strength and courage and we can overcome our obstacle in life. Just as Simone Veil did.
Saturday's book signing at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in San Mateo, CA was fantastic! I am so loving this books tour!
I have had the pleasure to meet so many wonderful people from all walks of life. I have met many young children that want to be writers, when they grow up. I just ask them "Why wait til then?" As well a a few adults currently working on a book. Always love to talk with other writers (an cooks).
I have met husbands that will walk past my table and stop and pick up a copy of "Feathers in the Wind". Apparently the dream catcher cover appeals to men. Plus the story is a murder mystery. I guess men like that genre more, or sports. At the last stop on the tour (San Mateo) Fears Revenge outsold Feathers in the Wind by almost 2 to 1. Love it!
This coming weekend is the 4th of July weekend so I didn't schedule any stops on the tour. Time for some family fun.
Next stop on the tour is;
Saturday - July 15th Chabot College
8:00 - 4:00pm 25555 Hesperian Blvd - Space 297
Hayward CA 94545
Got my white event tent all ready to go. All four of my books will be for sale in paperback. As well as a free logo items and possibly some autographed coffee mugs (if I can get them done in time).
Paperback books are $18.00 each (autographed if you like).
If you purchase all four I have a special price of $64.00.
That's a savings of over $2.00 per book.
You say your not a Mystery reader?
Well, if you know someone that likes to read, these make a great autographed and personalized gift.
Also, I would like to welcome another new stop on my Mystery Book Tour.
Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Gilroy, CA (Garlic Capital of the World!)
I will be at their store on August 19th from 2:00 - 4:00pm.
So come on out to one of the remaining stops on my tour. Check out my EVENTS page for locations and dates.
Check the page often as I am always adding more dates and locations as they contact me!
It has been one busy month for me and my little helpers. The Mystery Book Tour of 2017 has been a load of fun and excitement.
Last weekend we were at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Stockton, CA. There were so many events going on that it was difficult to get pictures.
This weekend we will be at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in San Mateo, CA from 2:00 - 5:00pm. So come on out and have some fun. Enter my free raffle to win a Barnes and Noble Gift card and come autographed items from yours truly and get your picture on my website.
Barnes and Noble Bookstore
11 West Hillsdale Blvd
San Mateo, CA 94403
I also want to say a big THANK YOU to the Barnes and Noble Bookstores in Merced, CA and Roseville, CA for allowing me to schedule a book signing at their stores.
Please check my EVENTS page for dates and times. You can also check out pictures of passed stops on my tour on the PHOTO page of my website.
Please come on out this Saturday at the Barnes and Noble in San Mateo, CA and have some fun.
San Mateo - Barnes and Noble is the next stop on the Book Tour
This Saturday June 24th, I will be at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in San Mateo, CA between 2:00 - 5:00pm
Come on out and join me for a fun afternoon and enter my free raffle to win a Barnes and Noble Gift card and a few items from me.
Saturday - June 24th
2:00 - 5:00pm
Barnes and Noble Bookstore
11 W. Hillsdale Blvd
San Mateo, CA 94403
Hope to see you there!
Well, it's Wednesday and I have finally unpacked and recovered from the long trip to Bakersfield, LOL.
Now I am focusing on getting ready for this next stop on the tour. Stockton, CA.
At least this one isn't that far from home. Just and hour drive or so away.
Feels like this tour is just picking up speed!
Saturday - June 17th Barnes and Noble Bookstore
1:00 - 3:00pm 4950 Pacific Ave
Stockton, CA 95207
For those of your (Family and Friends) that are constantly asking me when I will be in the Fresno area, rest assured I am still trying to set up a book signing date with the Barnes and Noble there in Riverpark. So hang in there. I have also contacted the Fresno Library to see about setting up a book signing there as well. If all else fails, I will come down and set up my event tent in a parking lot and sell my Mystery Books LOL. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
If you are in the Central Valley and would like me to come and and be a speaker at your Club or Event, please contact me via my contact page.
Had a wonderful time at the Barnes and Noble book signing in Bakersfield, CA this past Saturday. It was a long drive from the Bay Area to Southern California, but at least the weather was nice. Usually in June that area can be an oven! It wasn't to hot and there was a nice breeze both days that we were there.
The book signing got off to a rough start, but the manager at the bookstore saved the day! Cody, you are an angel! Met some great people and one very interesting little boy (Joshua) that seemed to come back to my table again and again.
As a matter of fact, the day ended up going so well they asked me back for another book signing! Can you believe it? So I will be back in Bakersfield on Sept 16th from 2:00 - 5:00 once again.
So for those of you that couldn't make it out to the store to see me,
I WILL B BACK!
Made it to Bakersfield, CA for the next stop on the book tour. Weather not to bad. It was a long drive. At least I wasn't doing the driving. LOL
Hotel is really nice. Full gym, pool and a restaurant and bar. So I know we will be sitting in the restaurant later this evening to watch the Golden State Warriors play the 4th game again the Cav's to night.
Looking forward to a good night sleep and a great day tomorrow at the book signing at the Barnes and Noble on California St. Hope you can come on out and say hello?
In case you missed my interview on the "Morning Inspiration Radio Show" Monday, here is a mp3 file of it.
I had a blast. I was talking with the host a few minutes before we went on air. We were having to much fun.
Anyhow, here is the file. It's about 35 minutes long. If you want a good laugh just listen in.
Had a blast in Reno, NV on Saturday at the book signing at the Barnes and Noble! It was busy! Met a lot of really nice and interesting people. It was Wonder Woman Day at the store to celebrate the movie being released. There were little kids running around (with their parents) dressed up as Wonder Woman. There was even an employee of Barnes and Noble dressed up like her. It was a lot of fun. I really hopoe they ask me back.
The manager and the employees were all fantastic! When I arrived at the store, they already had a table set up with a pile of my latest book "Feathers in the Wind" stacked on top. I was positioned right in the entryway.
Took a lot of pictures. They will be up on my website in the next few days. So come back and check out our Raffle winner.
If you couldn't make it to the book signing in Reno this past weekend. My next stop on my Mystery Book Tour is ;
Saturday - June 10th Barnes and Noble Bookstore
2:00 - 5:00pm 4001 California Ave
Bakersfield, CA 93309
Hope to see you there!
Been spending the last couple days thinking about the next stop on my Mystery Book Tour and recovering from the one last Saturday. LOL
Got my event bag all packed and ready to head out to RENO, NV tomorrow night! Then spend the afternoon on Saturday at the Barnes and Noble in Reno having some fun and meeting new faces. Then a little food a little gambling and meeting up with old friends that I haven't seen in a while. Can't wait!
If you are in town for the weekend, stop on by between 1:00PM -3:00pm.
Take a look at my books, enter the raffle and say hello.
Barnes and Noble Bookstore
5555 S. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89502
See you there.
Come join me this Saturday at the Barnes and Noble Book Store in Reno, Nevada for an afternoon of fun.
Come share your love of a good mystery and pick up a copy of my latest book "Feathers in the Wind".
There will be a raffle and snacks.
Saturday - June 3rd, 1:00 - 3:00pm
Barnes and Noble Bookstore
5555 S.Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89502
To see a listing of more dates on my Mystery Book Tour 2017, please check out the EVENTS page on my website at: www.lynncasebooks.com
As tomorrow is Memorial Day and most people will be off work celebrating with BBQ's and a leisurely day at the lake. I wanted to take a minute and remind everyone what Memorial Day is really about. So here is a little history of memorial Day from
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.
Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
National Moment of Remembrance
The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”
From our Military Family to yours, THANK YOU!
Finally, home after a long drive to Modesto, CA for my book signing at the Barnes and Noble.
Arrived at the store early to set up, they had already set up a table and chairs for me and they already had a bookcase, yes a bookcase, full of all my books. I was blown away! I thought they OK maybe they would have 20 – 25 copies of my latest book, but NO! They had a bunch of copies of all my books ready for purchase and for me to sign!
The managers and staff we so eager to help me out to get the word out to their customers. They were doing periodic speaker announcements to stop by my table and meet me. They made sure we didn’t need anything. I felt so much at home. I can’t say enough good things about them.
I met so many interesting people that stopped by my table. The people in Modesto are so friendly. Some people stopped by my table and we ended up talking for 15-20 minutes. It was great!
I made sure to let them know what a great job they all did and would be posting up on my website some photos of their great staff. I offered to come back anytime to sign more books.
They store was a lot larger than I thought it was going to be. I made sure to walk around the store every so often and meet people and invite them to my table. At the same time, I got to browse the store shelves for myself. And yes, after we cleared away everything from the book signing, I went did a little shopping for myself.
Please come out at see me this next Saturday June 3rd from 1:00 – 3:00 at the Barnes and Noble in Reno, NV
Barnes and Noble
5555 S. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89502
Hope to see you there.
If you missed my radio interview with the Lovely - Lovey Scott on K C L A 99.3 Diamondz in the Rough on Kaleidoscope Radio tonight at 7pm.
You can click on this link and listen: http://tobtr.com/s/10043777
Had a great time! We didn't even get to talk about my last books. Ms Scott is a great host. She brings you in and makes you feel right at home. Great interview. No wonder she is taking her show worldwide next months. This lady has talent.
Come join me this Saturday at the Barnes and Noble Book Store in Modesto, CA
for an afternoon of fun.
Come share your love of a good mystery and pick up a copy of my latest book
"Feathers in the Wind".
There will be a raffle and snacks.
Saturday - May 27th Barnes and Noble Bookstore
11:00 - 3:00pm 3501 McHenry Ave #15
Modesto, CA 95356
If you missed my interview with Alecia Hill on
“Let’s Talk”, here is the link so you can listen to the entire interview.
Here is the link:
This was only my second radio interview, and the radio host, Alecia Hill, was a blast! You all need to check in with her show. She has a lot of interesting guests (including me LOL).
Just finished with my radio interview with http://www.unityfmstlucia.com/
I was so nervous in the beginning, but the host made me very comfortable right away. What a fun time I had. Great guy.
Check out my interview on their website and listen to some great music while you browse around.
Is this really happening???? Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming.
I have 2 radio interviews this week for my Mystery Book Tour. The first is scheduled for tomorrow at 4:30 and the second is Thursday at 3:00.
They will be aired at a later time. I will keep you posted as to when and where you can hear them. I this one will be live with 5 stations at once. I will keep you posted.
Ahhhhh So excited!
The History of Mother’s Day
Mother's Day History
Origin of Mother's Day goes back to the era of ancient Greek and Romans. But the roots of Mother's Day history can also be traced in UK where a Mothering Sunday was celebrated much before the festival saw the light of the day in US. However, the celebration of the festival as it is seen today is a recent phenomenon and not even a hundred years old.
Thanks to the hard work of the pioneering women of their times, Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis that the day came into existence. Today the festival of Mothers day is celebrated across 46 countries (though on different dates) and is a hugely popular affair. Millions of people across the globe take the day as an opportunity to honor their mothers, thank them for their efforts in giving them life, raising them and being their constant support and well wisher.
Earliest History of Mothers Day
The earliest history of Mothers Day dates back to the ancient annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to maternal goddesses. The Greeks used the occasion to honor Rhea, wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.
Ancient Romans, too, celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. It may be noted that ceremonies in honour of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration made on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele lasted for three days and included parades, games and masquerades. The celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome.
Early Christians celebrated a Mother's Day of sorts during the festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ. In England the holiday was expanded to include all mothers. It was then called Mothering Sunday.
History of Mother's Day: Mothering Sunday
The more recent history of Mothers Day dates back to 1600s in England. Here a Mothering Sunday was celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter) to honor mothers. After a prayer service in church to honor Virgin Mary, children brought gifts and flowers to pay tribute to their own mothers.
On the occasion, servants, apprentices and other employees staying away from their homes were encouraged by their employers to visit their mothers and honor them. Traditionally children brought with them gifts and a special fruit cake or fruit-filled pastry called a simnel. Yugoslavs and people in other nations have observed similar days.
Custom of celebrating Mothering Sunday died out almost completely by the 19th century. However, the day came to be celebrated again after World War II, when American servicemen brought the custom and commercial enterprises used it as an occasion for sales.
History of Mother's Day: Julia Ward Howe
The idea of official celebration of Mothers day in US was first suggested by Julia Ward Howe in 1872. An activist, writer and poet Julia shot to fame with her famous Civil War song, "Battle Hymn of the Republic". Julia Ward Howe suggested that June 2 be annually celebrated as Mothers Day and should be dedicated to peace. She wrote a passionate appeal to women and urged them to rise against war in her famous Mothers Day Proclamation, written in Boston in 1870. She also initiated a Mothers' Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June in Boston and held the meeting for a number of years. Julia tirelessly championed the cause of official celebration of Mothers Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. Her idea spread but was later replaced by the Mother's Day holiday now celebrated in May.
History of Mother's Day: Anna Jarvis
Anna Jarvis is recognised as the Founder of Mothers Day in US. Though Anna Jarvis never married and never had kids, she is also known as the Mother of Mothers Day, an apt title for the lady who worked hard to bestow honor on all mothers.
Anna Jarvis got the inspiration of celebrating Mothers Day from her own mother Mrs Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis in her childhood. An activist and social worker, Mrs Jarvis used to express her desire that someday someone must honor all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to the contributions made by them.
A loving daughter, Anna never forgot her mothers word and when her mother died in 1905, she resolved to fulfill her mothers desire of having a mothers day. Growing negligent attitude of adult Americans towards their mothers and a desire to honor her mothers soared her ambitions.
To begin with Anna, send Carnations in the church service in Grafton, West Virginia to honor her mother. Carnations were her mothers favorite flower and Anna felt that they symbolised a mothers pure love. Later Anna along with her supporters wrote letters to people in positions of power lobbying for the official declaration of Mothers Day holiday. The hard work paid off. By 1911, Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union and on May 8, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.
History of Mother's Day: Present Day Celebrations
Today Mothers Day is celebrated in several countries including US, UK, India, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and Belgium. People take the day as an opportunity to pay tribute to their mothers and thank them for all their love and support. The day has become hugely popular and in several countries phone lines witness maximum traffic. There is also a tradition of gifting flowers, cards and others gift to mothers on the Mothers Day. The festival has become commercialised to a great extent. Florists, card manufacturers and gift sellers see huge business potential in the day and make good money through a rigorous advertising campaign.
It is unfortunate to note that Ms Anna Jarvis, who devoted her life for the declaration of Mothers Day holiday was deeply hurt to note the huge commercialisation of the day.
I want to wish all Mother’s everywhere a wonderful relaxing and fun filled Mother’s Day.