Greatness of small gestures

The massacres of civilians, according to Jacques Semelin, obey a “grammar” conceived as a mental process which leads to the destruction of human groups. In this interview, the historian of mass violence also discusses his blindness and the way in which it made him sensitive to small gestures that save lives.

Director of research at CNRS at Sciences Po (International Research Center), Jacques Semelin is an international specialist in genocides and mass violence. Founder of the Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, he notably published Purify and destroy. Political uses of massacres and genocides (Threshold, 2005), I arrive where I am a stranger (Seuil, 2007) and The Survival of the Jews in France, 1940-1944 (CNRS ed., 2018).

Shooting and editing: Ariel Suhamy.