French President Macron greets Nazi trackers Beate and Serge Klarsfeld.

Prominent recognition – French President Emmanuel Macron praises Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, has rewarded Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, an influential couple known for tracking down Nazi war criminals, with prestigious French awards. This ceremony took place during Macron’s visit to the French embassy in Germany.

The Klarsfelds are known for bringing perpetrators of anti-Jewish persecution to justice and ensuring that the victims’ faces are remembered. Macron described the couple as persistent advocates for justice and people committed to preventing forgetting. Beate Klarsfeld, 85 years old, was appointed Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, while Serge Klarsfeld, 88, received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor.

“They are fighters for remembrance and fighters for justice. Their work has united France and Germany because they forced us to face our past,” Macron said.

The Klarsfelds played an important role in unmasking hidden Nazi criminals. In the 1970s they managed to track down the infamous Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, who was hiding in Bolivia. Alongside Simon Wiesenthal, the Klarsfelds were prominent figures in the pursuit of Nazi criminals.

The couple has been active for decades in their mission to commemorate Nazi atrocities and combat anti-Semitism. Beate Klarsfeld lived as an au pair in Paris in the 1960s and met her husband Serge, whose father was murdered in Auschwitz. Together they published several works, including a book describing more than 80,000 victims of Nazi persecution in France. They also compiled an account of murdered Jewish children in France into a huge book. This Paris-based team has received recognition, including the German Federal Cross of Merit in 2015.

Beate Klarsfeld rose to fame when she tried to punch Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger in Berlin on November 7, 1968. She wanted to draw attention to his Nazi past: Kiesinger was a CDU member who served in the radio department of the NSDAP during the Nazi years. “Your struggle against forgetting has transformed the German conscience,” Macron praised of Beate Klarsfeld’s relentless efforts. Meanwhile, Serge has worked relentlessly to prove the complicity of French officials in the persecution of the Jews.

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