Author and Anti-Police-Brutality Activist Maurice Rajsfus Dies at 92: Memoirist, Historian, Holocaust Survivor — Agent for Change
We are sad to report that author Maurice Rajsfus (April 9, 1928–June 13, 2020) has died from cancer at the age of 92. Holocaust survivor, historian, memoirist, he was President of the anti-racist/anti-fascist collective Ras l’front and co-founded the Observatory of Public Freedoms, while spending his free time during and after a career as an investigative journalist archiving evidence and records of police abuses.
Tributes to Rajsfus appeared quickly in Le Monde, Haaretz, International Viewpoint, Le Maitron, at anti-police brutality rallies in Paris and in a short piece publicized by the award-winning journalist and filmmaker David Dufresne, who was working with Maurice as late as January 2020 comparing notes about his data-driven exposé of police brutality during the Yellow Vest protests with Maurice’s 40-years’ of index card records of police misconduct and murders, which he published in 200 issues of his bulletin Qué fait la police?
A far-left agitator and provocateur, Maurice was a tireless lifelong activist against police violence in France, where he survived the horrific Vél d’Hiv Raid and arrest at age 14 by a neighbor, a policeman who lived on the same landing as his Polish-Jewish family.
Maurice’s three books published by DoppelHouse are part history of the Vél d’Hiv Raid/part memoir, all condemning collaboration, ignorance, and silence by bystanders in matters of human rights. His “duty to remember” was also a duty to keep connecting the abuses of the Vichy regime and the Holocaust with treatment of immigrants and minorities in the present day.
July 16, 1942, the date of Maurice’s arrest, was 78 years ago, but still there is a fascist presence in our world. The fight continues. As Maurice said with his characteristic irony in 2018: “It is said that revolutionaries never die; it is just that towards the end, they start to have knee pain.”
We are honored to have worked with Maurice, and we extend our deep condolences to his family, comrades, and coterie of friends.