Paris, 1922-1941

In the interwar period, Paris became home to many of the two million migrants and refugees who found their way to France – Armenian, Eastern, Southern Europeans, Russians refugees from genocide and civil war, those persecuted by European fascism came to Paris in the 1930s. Through the various communities of newcomers, Paris became a mosaic of migrant inscriptions that were in dialogue, built on one another and changed Paris forever.

Among the refugees living there, Fred Stein (who took the picture below and many others), Paul-Adolphe Löffler (who wrote the text below), Hanna Arendt, Alfred Kantoriwicz, Bertold Brecht, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Mann.

Les jours passent, incolores, sans événement. C’est seulement le soir quand nous sommes ensemble que je sens la chaleur de la vie. Elle est gentille, Ilonka, elle ne se plaint jamais d’étre obligée de se lever de bonne heure; å midi, elle déjeune d’un cornet de frites en se promenant dans the rue. Samedi aprés-midi, elle fait la lessive. Que je hais cette société dans laquelle nous vivons! Vivons? Existons. Nous existons obscurément dans la ville lumiére. Nous et d’autres milliers.

Paul-Adolphe Löffler