Arno Klarsfeld is a Franco-Israeli lawyer and the eldest son of Serge Klarsfeld, lawyer, writer and German anti-Nazi activist Beate Klarsfeld, both known as Nazi hunters. Also a writer, he now publishes Souls and animals published by Fayard editions.
Elodie Suigo: Souls and animals, it’s a diary you kept just before the first period of confinement, during which time you lived with your parents and your pets, dogs and cats. Big introspection?
Arno Klarsfeld: It’s telling a story every day about animals, an environment I’ve known and confinement as a backdrop. After that, will people like it or not? In any case, those who love animals will like it.
You can feel it throughout this book, you come back to what you were passed on, to the values that your parents passed on to you. You say that during this period you became again the child of your parents and at the same time, one of their parents.
My mother is 81, my father is 85, so I do my duty as a son for everything. And yes, I lovingly watch over them, but they have watched over me and continue to watch over me. We almost died together many times. I tell it in the book, there were attacks, I believe that there is no family in France which has had so many attacks. An attack with a parcel bomb, an attack on the car that jumped, another with a bomb on the landing. We have had adventures together and we are linked.
What did your parents tell you? What do you keep the most from them?
Humanity, the taste for truth, enthusiasm, to be aware of human nature all the same, but to give everyone a chance, that is to say not to be withdrawn. Always be open when people call, there is not immediately a negative a priori even if they are painful. Listen at length before forming an opinion. So even though people in general are mean – I think humans are mean in general often – you have to be optimistic. Believe that out of ten there is one who is good. You shouldn’t have too many illusions about yourself either and you should try to change things by being positive, by trying to mobilize.
You indulge a lot in this book about how you grew up. You say for example: “When I was little, Serge and Beate slept in a room and I on the sofa, next to Raya, my grandmother, in a two-room apartment at 196 avenue de Versailles. We had no money. I remember Raya smoked a lot and read detective novels and great Russian classics “.
I had an extremely happy childhood, and I am nostalgic for it. I don’t have that rage at all, you know what I mean? I am rather even a downgraded since my great-grandparents were very rich on my father’s side in Romania, they were ship owners. So I’m more downgraded than anything else. I had a happy youth and I have nothing to complain about my childhood.
All animals, dogs, cats or the like are like souls that fly in houses.Arno klarsfeld
They are friends, family members, they have like children, they have innocence and they keep company, take away stress. These are moments of happiness in the house. There is a consciousness in every animal and I would like the world to become more aware of it. There are things that should disappear in France, such as bullfighting or hunting with hounds.
You are very touched by the fact that the end of the bullfights has been retaken.
It is a spectacle which is a barbaric spectacle. We can say : “It’s a tradition“But there are traditions which are inhuman traditions. Racists in the countries of the South, in the United States could say:”Yes, but lynching is a tradition“. Or ” Gladiatorial fights are a tradition“and traditions that must disappear. But power is no longer attached to those who love bullfighting, while bullfighting has disappeared in Spain or in certain regions of Spain. Hunting has disappeared in England. It does not. There is no reason why all this continues in France and I think that certain animal rights should be enshrined in the Constitution. This is the meaning of history. This is what public opinion is asking for.
And I believe that the President of the Republic thinks that those who like hunting vote for him, that those who like hunting with hounds vote for him as well as those who like bullfighting. I’m not against hunting, it’s a human instinct to want to kill. It can’t go away overnight mBut the most barbaric hunting methods when the animal is torn to pieces alive by the dogs, when its throat is cut, when people are happy, yes.
We can do “Olé” very well without killing the bull, without cutting off its tail at the end. There is no need to ask the question, everyone knows that it is barbaric, there is no need to protect such practices.Arno klarsfeld
Do you think we’re late?
Yes, we are 100% late, but that will change. In fifteen years, hunting and bullfighting will be over. But finally, the President of the Republic will have been late.