Vannes, June 2016:
Hommage a Georges Wolinski (Tribute to Georges Wolinski) (1934-2015),
Journalist, Author, Press designer, assassinated 7 January, 2015 at age 80.
At 11:30am that day, two gunmen with assault rifles and other weapons forced their way into the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris—a French satirical weekly newspaper—and 12 people were killed and 11 others injured. In the two following days there were several related attacks, which killed another 5 and wounded 11.
On January 11, 2015 about 2 million people, including more than 40 world leaders met in Paris for a rally of national unity. The phrase “Je suis Charlie” became a common slogan of support. On our visits to Paris and France in 2015 we saw many instances of Je suis Charlie painted on walls, postboxes, metro entrances etc.
Wolinski was born in 1934 in Tunis to Jewish parents. He began cartooning in his 20s, contributed to several magazines and co-founded a couple of satirical magazines. He won various prizes, including the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angouleme (2005) and Legion of Honour (2005).
A special exposition on Wolinski was put on by Paris Match and le Salon du Livre en Bretagne (the Book Salon of Brittany) in Vannes June 10-11-12, 2016. We were lucky as the exposition continued for a couple more weeks and we caught it later in June. It was set out along one side of the Vannes marina, a very pretty setting next to the water and the boats moored in the marina, and a small park on the other side.
A series of boards with blown-up copies of some of his work—images, stories, cartoons—were ranged along the marina. Many people paused to look and read and I’m happy we had a chance to see this and to think again about that awful attack.
One poignant information board quotes words of his wife Maryse Wolinski. “Cherie, je vais a Charlie.” (I took the liberty of translating her words into English).
“Cherie, I’m going to Charlie.”
“Those were the last words Georges said to me the morning of January 7. Three hours later the count was 12 dead. Among them, Georges, hit by four Kalachnikov bullets. Forty-seven years of life together smashed. I swung between insomnia and nightmares, shock and denial, confinement and anger, obsessed with this question: how could a scene of war have been produced, in France, in the location of a satirical paper? Drawing strength from grief, I searched to understand, through the story of that day January 7, 2015 and those that followed, where/how to find the faults. From this quest I came out annihilated. Henceforth I am the one who goes.”
I’m glad we saw the small exhibit/tribute. We all, as humanity, must not forget.