Some encounters can be eye-opening. In 2015 I met Hermann Harder, a guest of my bed and breakfast (now swept away by Storm Alex) who comes to the Walk every year. It was he who told me about the tragic flight of a thousand Jews from St-Martin-Vésubie in September 1943.
This remained abstract for me until September 2017, when I decided to join the group of walkers on the French side at the summit of Col de Fenestre.
The sight of these black-and-white photos of children’s faces, martyrs to human folly, on the rocks, and the mobilization and fervor of the Italian elected representatives and walkers, moved me deeply.
Since then, I’ve never missed this annual event.
When the municipal team of which I am a member was elected in 2020, I wanted, on behalf of the municipal council, to pay tribute to the innocent victims, but also to the men and women who, at the risk of their lives, had saved those more fragile than themselves.
Soon there will be no more direct witnesses to the atrocities perpetrated by Nazi barbarism, and to see anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti appearing here and there on French soil, deeply revolts me and reinforces my belief that it is our duty and responsibility as elected representatives to perpetuate this duty of remembrance in order to fight against hatred, ignorance, anti-Semitism and negationism in all its forms.
Isabelle Monnin is a deputy mayor of Saint Martin Vésubie.