3 files

Interview with André Sénik

posted on 2021-03-11, 09:45 authored by Robert GildeaRobert Gildea
Sénik, André
Union des Étudiants Communistes/ Comité Vietnam/Situationism/ Comité du Vel d'Hiv'

Born 14 April 1938, Paris, 10th arrondissement. Family Polish-Jewish immigrants, came to France early 1930s. Father a shoemaker, rue des Goncourts in 11th, later shoe-shop owner. Joined up 1939, POW 1940. André and his two brothers were cared for in a Red Cross camp for children of POWs (aged 4-6) till father escaped at end 1943 and family was reunited. None in close family was deported. Returned to Paris after the war; naturalised with parents 1947;

Lycée Lakanal, Sceaux (1954-55), Lycee Jeanson-de-Sailly, 16th (1955-8). Failed entry to École Normale Supérieure, went to Sorbonne 1958, philosophy agrégation 1966.

Political Apprenticeship
‘Very politicised’ from age of 14. In left-wing Zionist youth (DROR), but left Dec. 1952 to join Communist Youth and PCF Aug. 1953 rather than go to a kibbutz, provoking row with parents. Attended Moscow festival of youth 1957. Travelled to Yugoslavia 1963. In Union des Étudiants Communistes (UEC) but clash with Communist Party leadership over Khrushchev’s Secret Speech 1965, and left. Brief link to left-wing Catholics and Protestants in Centre Révolutionnaire d’Initiatives et de Recherche (CRIR). In Comité Vietnam. Disagreement with father over Six Day War 1967, father wanted Jewish state, André pro Palestinian.

In 1968 he was philosophy master at Lycée Bergson. Implicated in encouraging students’ ‘situationist’ revolt, declaring ‘we are with the barbarians’. Suspended 1969 from his post and teacher by correspondence 1969-83. Experimented with LSD, read Marcuse.

Post 1968
Reintegrated into teaching 1983 –at Lycée Condorcet, then Lycée de Saint-Cloud. Wife Anna launched Comité du Vel d'Hiv' 42 in 1992 to oblige French government to assume its responsibilities for the deportation of Jews from France. André became increasingly anti-Communist, liberal, anti-totalitarian through the Cercle de l’Oratoire (2001) and Le Meilleur des mondes review 2006.


Around 1968: Activism, Networks, Trajectories

Arts and Humanities Research Council

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André Senik

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Robert Gildea