The painter of the New Objectivity
Lucien Coquillat -Butcher and Savior-
Madame Brunet sent me to her husband’s brother, who might be able to give me information, because so far I hadn’t actually found anything that would have helped me with my research. The second name on my list was that of the butcher Coquillat. Anton had bought his meat from him and this resulted in a mutual affection and a high level of mutual respect. Coquillat cannot have been a man like any other. When Anton spoke of him, it was as if he were standing in front of me in person. So I’ll ring the brother’s bell. Nothing stirs, silence. I ring the bell again and a voice behind the door asks what’s going on, I name Brunet and Alfonse finally lets me in. Suspicious, because like everyone else he doesn’t like to be reminded of the forties, I look around. His wife is there too. I say my little saying. They don’t move, but then they decide to go with me to Coquillat’s daughter, his wife is excited, so she can’t cross the street, she has to change. (Touching, because the butcher’s house is only fifty meters away, so just around the corner.) This is an event for her. She chooses a purple silk dress with thick flowers, which she actually only wears at weddings and communions, she has now gained a little weight and is difficult to get in. Her husband has to help her, very meticulously pulling the zipper over her back, I have to smile and think of Felix Krull and the wife of the foie gras manufacturer ” Kühner Knecht and so on … “. We are preparing to visit Butcher before. That is a circumstance he adjusts her dress, he pats her, smooths the wrinkles. After fifty years of marriage he has an eye for it. She smiles, she is very happy, she makes herself beautiful, something happens, for it is that an important outcome. I am the audience and am enjoying myself. I notice that women are always much more alert and simply always understand a situation much faster than men. We are standing in front of the door of an old house, the house of Coquillats. Very feudal, with wood paneling, huge rooms and enormous walls from which the cold pours. Coquillat’s daughter can only remember badly, she does not feel comfortable with it. She is dressed carelessly, her blouse half open, one button is missing, and while she is sweeping up her memories, her blue panties follow me, we are in the yard. A woman, her aunt, her father’s sister – “She’s softened,” she says, I ask what she mean by that, and by rolling her eyes up and wiping her hand past her head, she replies: ” She’s nuts. ” Aha. – Your aunt cleaned a washing kettle full of canned green beans. A man, shy and colorless, served us Pernod – her friend, presumably, it was still terribly hot. “My significant other” does not come out of these people’s lips. This is reserved for the intellectuals, so they just mumble something about it. She gets lost in her childhood and completely forgets me. I am tired and do not find out anything. When I come back the next day, she wants to call her sister, who went to school with Brigitte. She is embarrassed and says that her mother has forbidden to speak of “these people” because they are “hidden Jews”. She remembers how her mother tried to prevent Coquillat from taking her with him in his car “because he risked his life” and that sentence never got out of her head, she says, because “Madame, his was loved back then Parents.” So much sobriety touches and bores me all of a sudden. All she can tell about this drama is that Anton left them three linen kitchen towels and, above all, that Anton gave her father a present as a thank you, a cover made of a material that is not known here – she rubs Thumb to forefinger to visualize the feeling and that he wore a foreign label, and that her father loved this coat and only wore it on holidays until his death. Anton wanted to portray him, but her mother refused for fear of the danger. “If you had found that on you, you would have locked you up too!” How strange it is for us who have not experienced this time and these people do not understand. So Anton suggested that Ilse should take pictures of the three children, but she doesn’t know what happened to them either.
Everyone went to the country house at that time and she believed there was a drawing by her father that she would like to have. She showed me a photo of her father, who looked astonishingly like Anton, in a butcher’s shirt and hat. You have to imagine that Anton and Ilse loved meat and that everything was rationed. I went back to my hotel “Le Pont d’Or”, where I asked the host, M. Oddo, a local, if he could remember these people. Yes, Ernst was his age and was going with a young girl at the time. She is now married, sixty years old, calls herself Madame Bagnis and lives in “Les Camps des Barjols”. He advised me not to visit her because her husband might be jealous! “Ilse always went for a walk with a suitcase”. (maybe with your camera), Nevertheless, I went to “Les Camps” to see the “sixty-year-old fiancée.” A workers’ settlement, dirty, no one at home. Abandoned toys scattered in the garden. So she has now become a grandmother. I did not wait for her – what would she have She wouldn’t have told me about her first love in front of her grandchildren. I left Barjols with its bizarre fountains overgrown with green moss that look like fat toads and I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of digging into their past Anton, Ilse and Brigitte left Barjols on September 7. Coquillat hid them under the goods and drove them in his van to the Swiss border, which they secretly crossed on foot : “M. Räderscheidt secretly entered Switzerland in Collonges near Saléve, coming from France, from where he was transferred to the Eriswil internment camp in the canton of Bern. ” I received this exact information on March 11, 1982.
© all rights by Gisèle Räderscheidt – reproduction, even in part, only with permission.