When Spirou explains the Shoah to children

Spirou in Auschwitz? Emile Bravo, author of Hope despite everything (Dupuis), an excellent tetralogy plunging the famous groom and his friend Fantasio into the throes of the Second World War, did not go that far. To preserve the candor of the character, I couldn’t do it, he explained to The Cross The Weekly last May. I wanted young readers to wonder about Auschwitz, but it’s up to them to find out, to talk about it with their parents. »

This is why the Shoah Memorial, which seeks to transmit the memory of the Jewish genocide to as many people as possible, and in particular to the youngest, is hosting an exhibition until August 30 on the formidable Spirou by Emile Bravo.

“But why is it serious in the end to be Jewish? », thus annoys one of the young characters from the comic strip, yellow star sewn on the coat, on one of the labels drawn and hung at child’s height. They summarize with simple words the texts of the picture rails of this eminently educational course that the little ones can follow by filling out a dedicated booklet. A way to learn more about the sources used by Émile Bravo to deliver his highly documented story.

The Spirou theater, cover to save Jews

There are thus detailed, over the superb original plates of the designer and period documents, the entry of Belgium into the war, the occupation, the collaboration and the resistance. A long development is notably devoted to Georges Evrard, says Jean Doisy, editor-in-chief of the Spirou’s diary from 1938 to 1955 and resistant.

It was he who, during the suspension of publication by Dupuis, created a traveling show featuring characters from the magazine, exhibited at the Shoah Memorial. An ideal cover for transporting material intended for sabotage actions. The puppeteer’s mother, Suzanne Moons-Lepetit, also took the opportunity to save Jewish children. Six hundred of them will be placed in Catholic boarding schools.

Pictorial Testament of a German Jewish Artist

All this is told in Hope despite everything, in which Spirou befriends a real-life German-Jewish painter, Felix Nussbaum, and his wife, Felka Platek, also an artist. Died in deportation to Auschwitz in 1944, they left paintings to their neighbors that bear witness to their clandestine life in Brussels during the war.

On loan from the Maison Felix-Nussbaum, in Osnabrück, Germany, their canvases tell of the harshness of their confinement and their growing despair. The painter’s last work, entitled The Triumph of Death (1944), is chilling. It is this dance of death in an apocalyptic landscape that made Émile Bravo want to stage Nussbaum in his story. See the original paintings of this painter already met in Hope despite everything only more moving.


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