Blum’s Final Days

Judith Chazin-Bennahum

in René Blum and the Ballets Russes

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399332
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897025 | DOI:
Blum’s Final Days

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This chapter documents the sad, miserable conclusion to Blum’s life, documented by his personal journal, letters, homages, and books. It begins with Blum’s assertion that he had to return to France from America where he followed the performances of the Ballets Russes, so that he could rejoin his brother and son and family who were all at risk with the Vichy regime. The text details his daily travails in avoiding arrest during the Occupation, with Parisian police reports testifying to his wearing of the Jewish star. It cites Georges Wellers’s De Drancy à Auschwitz, in which he recounts the story of Blum’s arrest at the École Militaire on December 12, 1942, and subsequent struggles to maintain his dignity at the camps in Compiègne, where he became very ill, and later Drancy. The chapter depicts Blum’s heroism as he tried to distract his fellow prisoners with lectures about literature, as well as tales of his ballet companies, and describes how Blum gave up an opportunity to save himself in order to protect Jean-Jacques Bernard, the son of Tristan Bernard. Bernard later wrote the Camp of Slow Death to reveal the horrors of the camps and the bravery of some, notably René Blum. The chapter poignantly portrays the children’s ward at Drancy, which Blum visited, and ends with Blum’s last train ride to Auschwitz, where he was tortured and murdered.

Keywords: Blum; Paris; occupation; Jewish star; arrest; Survival; starvation; French concentration camps; Compiègne; Drancy; Jean-Jacques Bernard; Georges Wellers; Children’s barracks; Auschwitz

Chapter.  5351 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Dance

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