A French Politician Refuses to Be Silent in the Face of Antisemitism


For Ms. Braun-Pivet, like many French people, religion is a matter of tradition and heritage and not faithful devotion. Her husband, Vianney Pivet, is a nonbelieving Catholic, and they celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah with their five children.

However, the family lore of her paternal grandparents’ arrival in France, their survival during the Holocaust and the successful life they built in their new country afterward is a pillar of her identity.

Her grandparents, Kalmann and Rosa Braun, took care of her and her older brother during the many French school holidays. Their stories, she said, “greatly irrigated our childhood.”

Rosa was a Jew from Munich whose family fled Germany as the Nazis took power in 1933. Kalmann was a Jew from Poland who visited France on a tourist visa and stayed. They met and married in France.

At the outbreak of World War II, he joined the French Foreign Legion. After France surrendered in 1940, the couple tried to dissolve into the countryside, where he would offer tailoring services in exchange for food, eventually sheltering in the Alps. There, Kalmann joined the Resistance and Rosa was hidden for two years by a family on their farm, where she gave birth to Ms. Braun-Pivet’s father.

After the war, Kalmann used his Resistance medal to apply for French citizenship for all three of them.

Many French people felt betrayed by the Vichy regime that had collaborated with the Nazis and helped send more than 71,000 Jews to their deaths in concentration camps. But Ms. Braun-Pivet says her grandparents were among those who felt saved by their new country.

“They transmitted their visceral love of France, the country that had welcomed them, protected them, and for which they had fought,” she said during her investiture speech as president of the National Assembly last year.

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