Bertrand Herz

1930 (Paris)


"We must resist the threat to elementary human rights, and must by no means fall prey to the lure of populism or of ideologies whose aim is the exclusion of individuals."

Bertrand Herz was born in Paris on 24 April 1930. In September 1942 he and his family fled to Toulouse in the French department of Haute-Garonne, which at this point in time was not yet occupied by the German Wehrmacht. On 5 July 1944, Bertrand, his father, his mother and his oldest sister were arrested by the German Gestapo on account of being Jewish. Initially interned in the Caffarelli casern in Toulouse, on 30 July he and his father were deported to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. There he was registered with the inmate number 69592 on 6 August 1944. At first, Bertrand and his father remained together in Block 61 of the Little Camp. On 14 December 1944 they were taken to the Buchenwald subcamp in Niederorschel, Thuringia, where Bertrand was assigned to forced labour in the assembly of Junkers aircraft. His father died there on 27 January 1945. On 10 April 1945, Bertrand Herz was deported back to Buchenwald, where he was when the camp was liberated the following day.

A few weeks later, Herz returned to Paris and was reunited with his sister. There he learned that his mother had died in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in December 1944. He completed studies at the École Polytechnique, where he obtained his nautical license as a graduate engineer in 1953. A member of the French Navy from 1953 to 1960, he held the rank of reserve commander for several years. From 1958 onward he specialized in computer science and carried out various organizational, technical, advisory and management-related assignments in this field in an insurance company and a large French industrial corporation. In 1985 he was appointed professor at the technological institute of the University of Paris V, where he taught until 1994.

In September 1997 Bertrand Herz became secretary general of the French Association of Buchenwald, Dora and Commandos and in 2001 he was elected president of the International Committee of Buchenwald, Dora and Commandos whereof he was appointed honorary president in 2016.
On 5 June 2009, with his former fellow inmates Floréal Barrier and Elie Wiesel, he accompanied U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Buchenwald Memorial.

Bertrand Herz has received various government distinctions, including the French "ordre national du mérite". On 3 October 2009, he was awarded honorary citizenship of the City of Weimar.