Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld (Paperback)
2018 NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD BOOK OF THE YEAR
In this dual autobiography, the Klarsfelds tell the dramatic story of fifty years devoted to bringing Nazis to justice
For more than a century, Beate and Serge Klarsfeld have hunted, confronted, and exposed Nazi war criminals, tracking them down in places as far-flung as South America and the Middle East. It is they who uncovered the notorious torturer Klaus Barbie, known as “the Butcher of Lyon,” in Bolivia. It is they who outed Kurt Lischka as chief of the Gestapo in Paris, the man responsible for the largest deportation of French Jews. And it is they who, with the help of their son, Arno, brought the Vichy police chief Maurice Papon to justice.
They were born on opposite sides of the Second World War. Beate’s father was in the Wehrmacht, while Serge’s father was deported to Auschwitz because he was a Jew. But when Serge and Beate met on the Paris metro, they instantly fell in love. They soon married and have since dedicated their lives to “hunting the truth”—both as world-famous Nazi hunters and as meticulous documenters of the fate of the innocent French Jewish children who were killed in the death camps.
They have been jailed and targeted by letter bombs, and their car was even blown up. Yet nothing has daunted the Klarsfelds in their pursuit of justice. Beate made worldwide headlines at age twenty-nine by slapping the high-profile ex–Nazi propagandist Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger and shouting “Nazi!” Serge intentionally provoked a neo-Nazi in a German beer hall by wearing an armband with a yellow star on it, so that the press would report on the assault. When Pope John Paul II met with Austria’s then-president, Kurt Waldheim, a former Wehrmacht officer in the Balkans suspected of war crimes, the Klarsfelds’ son, dressed as a Nazi officer, stood outside the Vatican. The Klarsfelds also dedicated themselves to defeating Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front and his daughter Marine Le Pen’s 2017 campaign for president in France.
Brave, urgent, and buoyed by a remarkable love story, Hunting the Truth is not only the dramatic memoir of bringing Nazis to justice, it is also the inspiring story of an unrelenting battle against prejudice and hate.
Beate and Serge Klarsfeld are French activists, journalists, and renowned Nazi hunters whose work apprehending war criminals, seeking justice for victims and survivors of war crimes, and establishing the record of the Holocaust have brought them international recognition. Serge, born in 1935 in Romania, and Beate, born in 1939 in Germany, assisted in the capture of numerous Nazi perpetrators, including SS official Kurt Lischka, Gestapo captain Klaus Barbie, and Paris police chief Maurice Papon. The recipients of France’s Legion of Honour and Germany’s Federal Order of Merit, both nations’ highest honors for civilians, they were named UNESCO ambassadors of genocide prevention by the United Nations in 2015.
Sam Taylor has written for The Guardian, Financial Times, Vogue and Esquire, and has translated such works as the award-winning HHhH by Laurent Binet, and the internationally-bestselling The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker.
"Riveting . . . absorbing . . . As their memoirs make clear, these militants of memory never lost sight of their goal." —Benjamin Balint, The Wall Street Journal
"Exceptionally relevant . . . an awe-inspiring account of one couple's relentless pursuit of Nazi criminals . . . The Klarsfelds are reluctant memoirists, Serge explains, but their fidelity to accuracy and their humility regarding monumental triumphs of justice serve as urgent messages to us all." —Elizabeth Rosner, San Francisco Chronicle
"Assertive . . . Hunting the Truth] helps us understand how these two otherwise ordinary individuals—a nonobservant Jewish Frenchman and a gentile German woman—came to devote themselves with such single-minded daring to the cause of achieving both justice and commemoration for the French victims of the Holocaust . . . The Klarsfelds’ success has been undeniable." —Robert O. Paxton, The New York Review of Books
"Hunting the Truth is an important book, with an immeasurable educational value. At the narrative level, the authors have written a history primer about the unimaginable cruelty of the Nazis and their willing French collaborators, whom the Klarsfelds helped bring to justice. Alongside the narrative stratum, however, they have compiled a moving treatise based upon their personal experiences." —Mordechai Ben-Dat, The Canadian Jewish News
"A riveting record . . . Anti-semitic hatred, in Sartre’s formulation, “is first of all a passion.” By presenting their many years of struggle for a “great, just cause,” the Klarsfelds’ memoir affirms a far higher and more enduring passion." --Peter E. Kornblub, Jewish Book Council
"Remarkable . . . Throughout their harrowing work, [the Klarsfelds] maintained a home in Paris and remain to this day devoted to and inspired by each other. A masterful work of historical importance." —Booklist (starred review)
"At its best [Hunting the Truth] gives an exhilarating picture of amateurs assuming investigative duties in search of long-overdue justice." —Publishers Weekly
"With bravery and chutzpah, a husband and wife demonstrate that there’s no moral compromise with history." —Kirkus
“This inspiring memoir of persistence and staying true to one’s beliefs will remind all readers that although it may be slow, justice will triumph.” —Library Journal
"The Klarsfelds, by their assiduous research and documentation, helped in the identification and capture of Nazis and others responsible for those crimes . . . The Klarsfelds will be remembered for their emphasis on using the legal system to try the perpetrators of the Holocaust and to prevent their rehabilitation as honored citizens.” —American Thinker