Monaco’s very active German International Club invited Herbert Traube to the Maison de la France on the evening of Friday, January 26, to witness the incredible story of a man once categorised as An Undesirable.

The very special evening started with the screening of the film “The French Destiny  of an Undesirable” by Clara Laurent, based on Herbert Traube’s incredible life.

Herbert Traube was born in a Jewish family in Vienna in 1924 – his father was a dentist, fled the Nazi regime to France and after several incredible scrapes joined the Foreign Legion which took him from Algeria to the landings in Provence, then back to his native Austria and finally to Indochina. Returning to civilian life, he successfully began a professional career in a large industrial group. He retired to the Côte d’Azur and became deputy mayor of Sainte Agnès, a village above Menton.

About to celebrate his 100th birthday, Herbert is an extraordinary personality, in great shape and with impressive vitality, still radiating optimism despite a life disrupted by destiny and many narrow escapes from almost certain death.

A stand-out moment in his story was when he managed to squeeze his way out of a ventilation opening on a cattle truck as a deportation train headed east from France’s wartime ‘free zone’ towards one of the Nazi’s infamous extermination camps.

Today, Herbert visits schools to recount his personal experiences. “It’s one thing for a teacher to tell the history, but it’s a much more effective lesson when children hear it from someone, like me, who lived it,” Herbert said.

Finally, asked if he considered himself French or Austrian, Herbert responded emphatically: “I am both French and Austrian, but first and foremost I am a European.”

The evening took place under the patronage of the association Pour le Devoir de Mémoire with the support of German International Club members Gérard Weinberg, a member of the Committee of the association, and Heribert Diehl.

MAIN PHOTO: Gérard Weinberg, Monaco’s Foreign Minister Her Excellency Mme Isabelle Berro-Amadei, Herbert Traube, and German International Club co-Presidents Baroness Beatrix von Dellingshausen abd Patrick Wetzel. PHOTOS: Ian Brodie