I attended, one week ago, to the ceremony for the commemoration of the of the tragic Nazi Raid at the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1943. It was probably the largest raid effectuated in a University. 500 people were arrested, 130 deported in concentration camps… students, professors, researchers and resistance members.
In 1943 Clermont-Ferrand was chosen to host the University of Strasbourg, that were moved in Auvergne during Nazi occupation of Alsace. A group of students guided by Jean-Paul Cauchi founded the resistant group “Combat Étudiant“.
I was always impressed by the courage and generosity that in any hard time, in any dictatorship and injustice, students were able to show. A mixture of naive irresponsibility and firm belif to change the world. It looks strange nowadays when I see students on the hallway of a campus, lost in their smartphones and evening parties, but yet… even today… considering what is happening in Hong Kong or other parts of the world.
After all, it’s not strange, where else can you meet smart people with the desire to improve the world, the desire of knowledge and freedom combined with the unconsciousness of youth.
Students and Professors of Strasburg and Clermont-Ferrand met a tragic fate, they were betrayed by an infamous Judas, Georges Mathieu, former member of the academic resistance that became the head of the Sonder-kommando which organized the Raid.
The 25th of November 1943 the Gestapo broke in the hall of the University, killing Prof. Paul Collomp, professor of Egyptian history and regrouped 1200 people, arresting 500 of them. Members of the Resistance, suspected people and Jews were deported in concentration camps and only few of them came back at home after war.