Memoirs of Georges Kiejman: a lawyer bares his soul

So of course, in this story transcribed by the alert pen of the journalist and author…

So of course, in this story transcribed by the alert pen of journalist and author Vanessa Schneider, Maître Kiejman evokes the famous cases that have forged his image as a tenor of the bar, with a verb as sharp as a blade. The trial of Pierre Goldman, “revolutionary robber”, accused of the murder of two pharmacists, boulevard Richard-Lenoir in Paris, for whom he snatched the acquittal, in 1976.

From Charlie Hebdo to Malik Oussékine

And it’s fascinating to see how the defender arouses doubt in the minds of the jurors and how, throwing key words on index cards, he improvises his argument and lets his oratorical art flow. It is captivating to see him fight for freedom of expression, during the lawsuit brought in 2006 against Charlie Hebdo for the cartoons of Muhammad. Interesting too, his fights in the civil part, as in the Malik Oussékine case, this student died under the blows of the police in 1986, or in the drama of Marie Trintignant, killed in 2003 by her companion: at the Vilnius trial, he dismantled the mechanisms of a “feminicide”, even if the word was not yet pronounced.

In the whirlwind of his life, the criminal lawyer was also the lawyer of the world of cinema and the stars sparkle in his story: when he mentions Simone, it is Signoret; Francois is Truffaut; Marie-France is Pisier, who was his second wife and Fanny, of course, is Fanny Ardant.

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Georges Kiejman was also the defender of the publishing world. The occasion for a shocking confession: “I am still surprised to have become the lawyer of Claude Gallimard and of the publishing world, me the little Polish Jew brought up by an illiterate mother”. Coming from a man so launched into the world, the admission of a perpetual feeling of “illegitimacy” is surprising. The story of his origins sheds light on everything: he was the child of Polish Jews who fled poverty and persecution to arrive in France, where he was born in 1932. A father deported and murdered in Auschwitz, a mother deprived of everything, but a passion for books: “Without books, I would not have been who I have become”says the lawyer and former minister.

His great wound

Politics was not absent from the life of Georges Kiejman and there again, the names shine in the firmament of the 20th century: Pierre Mendes France, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and, of course, François Mitterrand, who made him minister. From this time comes his greatest wound, when he was wrongly accused, he the son of a deportee, of trying to avoid a trial against Pierre Bousquet, the man of the Vel d’Hiv roundup.

But it is the love of women that holds Kiejman to the evening of his life, “the only thing that (him) seems worth remembering”. And we come back to the little disinherited boy, who discovered sweetness and sensuality on the knees of Louise, his father’s mistress, before becoming himself, this man who wanted to be loved.

The Man Who Wanted To Be Loved. Georges Kiejman and Vanessa Schneider. Editions Grasset. 20 euros.

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