France: From a Holocaust-era Chimney to a Illustrated Guide for Refugees
French travel guide company Routard published a special guidebook last week.
Rather than pictures of exotic sites and recommendations for cheap hotels, the book is made up exclusively of illustrations without any text. This guide was released to help refugees communicate with local assistance organizations in France.
The 96-page guide entitled “Hello!” is divided into five sections – practical information, housing, health and hygiene, food, and leisure. Each section contains illustrations related to basic daily needs, such as types of clothing, footwear, food, hygiene products, modes of transportation and payment methods. By pointing to the illustrations, refugees who don’t speak French will be able to explain more easily their needs to aid workers.
Routard will print 5,000 copies in mid-October and distribute them free to aid organizations. Meanwhile, it can be downloaded for free on the Routard website.
It is no coincidence that this travel guide company is printing a special guide for refugees. It turns out that Philippe Gloaguen, editor in chief of the Guide du Routard, has a special connection to the issue.
In 1965, after a fire broke out in the godmother’s home, firefighters asked his parents to clean out the blocked chimneys in her house, which posed a safety hazard. Gloaguen, then 14, joined his father for the 300-kilometer journey south from Paris to her home. When they began the cleaning mission, they discovered within the chimney and in the attack piles of documents and gold jewelry. An examination revealed that they belonged to Jews who fled the Second World War from Nazi-occupied France to Vichy France. Thus, they discovered that Gloaguen’s godmother, who lived on the border between Nazi-occupied France and Vichy France, helped Jews during the war to flee the Nazis without anyone in her family knowing.
Gloaguen recalled that after the discovery his father contacted the Israeli consulate in Paris and consular officials came to investigate and try to locate the owners of the jewelry and documents. The fact that his relative risked her life to save Jews made a deep impression on him.
“I grew up in a family in which it is important to help others.”