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Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld receive top French honours

AFP  |  Paris 

France's most famous Nazi hunters, Serge and his German wife Beate, received top honours in a ceremony led by French

Serge Klarsfeld, 83, received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, France's highest award, while the 79-year-old Beate received the National Order of Merit, having already been decorated with the in 2014, with the rank of

Chief Rabbi of was among those who attended the ceremony Monday at the limited to family and close friends and associates.

Born September 17, 1935, in the Romanian capital Bucharest, Serge escaped the Holocaust after his family moved to but saw his father taken away to die in the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp.

He was naturalised in 1950, and 10 years later, while studying at the prestigious Science-Po university in Paris, Klarsfled met Beate Kuenzel, the daughter of a former German soldier, on a metro platform.

The two, who married three years later, decided to bring fugitive Nazis to justice, a mission they pursued for more than half a century.

In one of their most high-profile cases, the Klarsfelds found the notorious Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, a former known as the "of Lyon" for his wartime torture of prisoners, who had escaped to

In 1971, the Klarsfelds revealed that Barbie was living in Bolivia, and in 1983 he was extradited to Four years later, he was convicted in a trial, and later died behind bars.

They also pursued members of France's collaborationist Vichy regime, including Rene Bouquet, and -- despite obstruction from

Mitterrand's successor finally recognised France's role in the deportations, a declaration said owed much to his and Beate's campaigning.

"Neither could have succeeded without the other," their daughter once said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 09 2018. 04:50 IST