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LES ECHOS

The Singular Life Of The Klarsfelds, Husband-And-Wife Nazi Hunters

The French son of an Auschwitz victim and German daughter of a Hitler supporter spent their lives confronting Nazi crimes, from capturing Klaus Barbie to a symbolic slap of a German Chancellor.

Beate and Serge Klarsfeld in 1975
Beate and Serge Klarsfeld in 1975
Aude Lancelin

PARIS — Beate and Serge Klarsfeld are people of principle. Despite leading lives that seem to be drawn from the pages of a novel, hunting down Nazis from Cologne to La Paz, they didn't want their experiences turned into an epic tale. Publishers had been asking them to write their memoirs for years. But until recently they had always refused, preferring deeds to words.

The couple's book, titled simply Mémoires, was published last month in French. A perfect mixture of German rigor and of the close ties that bind Jewish families touched by the Holocaust, they devoted their lives to activism and to their two children. Their son Arno Klarsfeld, a member of France's Council of State, called them twice during the interview, even though he lives just upstairs.

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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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