The families

The despair of the families from Tulle

Il est indéniable que malgré la cruelty et la barbarie des exactions commises les 7, 8, et 9 juin 1944 à Tulle, ce drame est pudiquement désigné en Corrèze par “Les Événements”. Cependant, il est remarquable que le choc de cet “événement” peut perturber les souvenirs, parfois même interdire leur évocation, aboutissant ainsi à un traumatisme. Si l’on considère qu’un traumatisme est l’obsession du passé dans le présent, cela engendre une mémoire traumatique caractérisée par une mémoire figée, immobile, qui rend prisonnier du passé.

It is indisputable that there is, after June 9th in Tulle and more generally in Corrèze, a traumatized population, which will result in a deafening silence generated by several factors.

There is first a long silence of more than 60 years, of mourning and compassion from the families directly affected in their flesh (husbands, brothers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles…) as a consequence of those tragic days. (P1)

Janine Picard (a member of our Committee), whose father was executed, expresses it as follows:

“With my mother, I returned home. Many of our neighbors had just learned of the death of their husband, their son, or their little son. They were all sobbing or prostrate, it was terrible. When we arrived in the kitchen, my mother collapsed onto a chair, and with her head in her hands on the table, she began to cry. It was the first time I had seen my mom cry, and in turn, I burst into tears. Nearly 80 years later, all these memories are as precise and painful as they were on the first day.”

In most families, silence prevails.

Books, films, and the work undertaken by Peuple et Culture in Tulle (a member of our Committee) in the early 2000s, as well as in 2014, the screening of several films and videos broadcast on France 5 and FR3 during the ceremonies of the 70th anniversary, will break this “veil of silence.”

01 Desespoir des familles 1951P1
Désespoir des familles

But there is also another silence, one that has significantly reinforced that of mourning and compassion, and that is the silence of guilt, diffuse and complex.

Indeed, those who, unaware of the dramatic final consequences, participated in the selection during the hangings in Tulle, even if only by designating “those essential to the civic, administrative, and economic activities of the city.”

Ceux qui ont eu la chance d’être désignés et de se trouver du bon côté, comme les «désigneurs», n’ont pas à rougir, mais on peut imaginer ce qui pèse sur les consciences et qui entraîne silence et volonté d’oubli.

Finally, in the spectral analysis of trauma, let’s not forget the one felt by the people of Tulle in terms of justice.

“Plus le traumatisme est fort, plus le souci de justice devient important.” C’est ce que déclare le ministre Henri Queuille dans son discours à l’inauguration du monument de Cueille, le 1er novembre, en présence de Léon Bossavy, alors Président fondateur du Comité des Martyrs.

«Being faithful to the memory of the Martyrs is above all desiring the punishment of the leaders responsible for such a tragedy.»

Determining the responsible parties and punishing the guilty is indeed a necessity.

Why, paradoxically, did the Bordeaux trial that opened in 1951 against the SS leaders only evoke complete national indifference, while it provoked legitimate and great emotion in Corrèze, plunging the people of Tulle in particular into profound frustration?

We are currently entering the third generation of families of martyrs (those who were tortured and deported). This inevitably leads us to a calming of resentments and anger, also blurring pains and sorrows that are replaced by memory.

That’s why it’s particularly important now to know how to transition from the time of mourning to the time of history.

It is only through factual history, complemented by appropriate pedagogy and conveyed through generational memory, that we will pay the eternal tribute our martyrs deserve.