Buchenwald’s Forgotten Book

Buchenwald’s Forgotten Book
Buchenwald’s Forgotten Book

“It was a silence shaped by opacity and fog, similar, perhaps, to someone who seeks a prayer and no longer knowing how to pray, only finds inert vowels. (…) [Il] surrounded the hanged people whom the wind gently rocked like a crazy happy woman rocks her children. » These words come to us from a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp. He had laid them down sixty years ago, in a magnificent text, the only one he had written, but it took all this time for them to finally be discovered. Sylvain Vergara, that’s his name, makes the cold rays of the watchtowers shine there and resonates the resigned race of the prisoners to the “calling place” and the gallows, at the fatal moment when the loudspeakers shout their number. A posthumous testimony of great strength, but also a text whose destiny was for him, alas, a story of survival.

Portrait of Sylvain Vergara, resistance fighter deported to Germany in 1943 and author of the book “Les Chemins de l’aube”. In Brussels, August 27, 2022. NICOLAS LEBLANC / ITEM FOR “THE WORLD”

Sylvain Vergara arrived in Buchenwald at the age of 19, on March 16, 1944, category “NN” (“Nacht und Nebel”, “night and fog”), that reserved for political opponents destined to be eliminated. He has just spent four weeks in Neue Bremm, a torture camp run by the Gestapo, and four months behind bars in Fresnes prison, near Paris, where he was taken after his arrest on October 25, 1943. After a first “classic” at the Protestant Institute of Glay, a boarding school in Doubs, he lived with his parents, in the Parisian presbytery of the Oratory of the Louvre, where his father was pastor. His life changed when the Germans arrested him.

At Buchenwald, he is one of the youngest political deportees. One day, his number, 29 909, sewn on his jacket, is called over the loudspeakers. He was then in the infirmary and as he was delirious under the influence of fever, the kapo believed him close enough to death to leave him alone. “Neun und zwanzig neun hundert neun”the deportee would repeat all his life…

Read the testimonial: Article reserved for our subscribers “It was rags dragging themselves along, a horde of walking corpses”: remembering the Buchenwald concentration camp

His weight did not exceed 40 kilos on April 11, 1945, when he left this camp where tens of thousands of people died, shot, hanged, burned, committed suicide. On May 7, he finds Paris and his parents: his mother, Marcelle, who was also detained for a time in Fresnes, and his father, Paul, who every Sunday called on his parishioners to thwart the raids. The couple had set up a resistance network within the social work of the temple of the Oratory, La Clairière. The rescue of at least sixty-three Jewish children will earn them the medal of the Righteous posthumously.

“Post-traumatic syndromes”

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The article is in French

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