WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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Barbie was a director. We sat down on a bench directly opposite the offices, which were located on the Prado, the busiest street in La Paz. Then we chained ourselves to the bench and began waving our signs. A crowd gathered, and cars slowed down or stopped.

There was a traffic jam. There had not been a demonstration right in the middle of town for some time, and the news was broadcast over the radio. That drew even more people. A police jeep arrived; its occupants read our signs and went away.

At 4 P.M. a small truck drew up, and plainclothesmen jumped out and mingled with the bystanders. Suddenly they leaped on us, snatched our signs, and took to their heels. Some young Bolivians and an Israeli tourist quickly made us new signs.

A Bolivian woman in a poncho and carrying her baby on her back said: "There is no such thing as justice in Bolivia. Kidnap him or kill him."

A reporter held a microphone in front of me and asked me what the chains signified.

"They are the chains that bind Bolivia to Nazism," I said.

It began to rain. Mme. Halaunbrenner, whose courage was extraordinary, could take no more. I, too, was exhausted. We had been on our bench for six hours and seen a good part of the population of La Paz, including the diplomatic corps, file past us. One of the French Embassy staff stopped in front of us to say: "What you are doing won't accomplish anything."

Nevertheless, the reverberations of our protest and our appeal to the Bolivian people would be great and positive in the press and, I thought, also among the public, judging from the sympathy expressed by those who had come to watch us.

That evening we boarded our plane, and spent twenty-four hours in Lima, which was pleasantly warm after La Paz. We had to get Mme. Halaunbrenner back in shape, for she had caught a cold.

We went to a hairdresser, for we wanted to be looking our best before the television cameras that would be waiting for us at Orly, and we also gave the Peruvian press a full account of all we had accomplished. Then we flew to Paris, where we landed on Thursday afternoon, March 9, eighteen days after we had started out.

At Orly, a crowd of friends, reporters, and cameramen rushed up to welcome us home. We did not have Barbie in our luggage, but for a while we had represented the eternal quest for justice. In this myth of a guilty man fleeing to the ends of the earth to escape retribution, two women – one belonging to a murderous people; the
    
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
Previous Page  Back Page 272 Forward  Next Page