Rue des Hospitalières-Saint-Gervais, rue du Marché des Blancs Manteaux (on the right) and rue des Rosiers (at the back).
1910 - Atget
I prefer the lines written by the poet Apollinaire, full of humanity:
And now you are crying at the sight of refugees
Who believe in God who pray whose women nurse babies
The hall of the train station is filled with the refugee-smell
Like the Magi refugees believe in their star
They expect to find
silver mines in the Argentine
And to return like kings to their abandoned countries
One family carries a red eiderdown you carry your heart
Eiderdown and dreams are equally fantastic
Some of the refugees stay on in Paris settling
slums on the rue des Rosiers or the rue des Ecouffes
I have seen them often at dusk they breathe at their doorways
They budge from home as reluctantly as chessmen
They are chiefly Jewish the women wear wigs
And haunt backrooms of little
shops in little chairs
From Alcools by Guillaume
Apollinaire, translated by Donald Revell.
As mentioned by the poet, the center of their district was around rue des Rosiers and rue des Ecouffes that they used to call
the pletzl, Yiddisch for "little place".
Everywhere in these streets, many historical markers on buildings and schools remind us that most of them were deported and exterminated during the Second World War. This one on a school is telling that 165 children
were deported to Auschwitz. An other reminds the courage of Joseph Migneret, a headmaster who saved many Jewish children at the risk of his life. His name is inscribed on the Wall of the Righteous, that borders the Shoah Monument, which we passed by
when we walked rue du Grenier-sur-l'Eau.
these sad and harrowing markers everywhere in this district, make the stroll a little bit melancholy. When walking in these streets, it is as if those people who lived there are walking with you in silence; all the sounds of the past like a homesick
fiddle and Yiddish voices were swallowed by the asphalt recovering the pavement stones.