When Georges Kiejman, the famous lawyer, tells his story

Posted Dec 23 2021 at 13:56

I have always heard Georges Kiejman say that he did not want to write or that we write a biography of him. What it took then of talent for Vanessa Schneider to convince this sickly modest to deliver a part of his being. Also of his fear, at the twilight of his life, of disappearing without revealing a part of his happiness “of having lived a magnificent life”. Yet he succeeded in one of his clever pirouettes as a lawyer: telling his story by telling others. No sooner does the veil rise than it closes, discreetly. However, the picture is emerging. Seducer with exquisite or acid irony depending on his interlocutors, quick and implacable lawyer, we follow him with delight in the defense of the greatest, we sail with him in this century alongside his friends, famous or not… “The man who wanted to be loved”, he chose as the title of these memoirs. Let him be reassured, by closing this book, he will always be.

Childhood “I am a child of the 20th century who grew up in the din of a particularly tragic era. I inherited a sad story. I would never have become the man I was if my mother had been able to read, if she had not been so poor and if my father had not been murdered in Auschwitz in 1943.

Pierre Mendes France “He embodied for me absolute integrity, the moral figure of the left […]. We will never stop meditating on the glory of Mendès France, on the brevity of his passage to power, on the respect he inspired in everyone and on his failures. It is very rare to find in a single politician competence, rigor, civic courage, true attention to others. Where was the flaw? »

Advocate “Apart from all political considerations, there is an energy that one puts at the service of one’s client which is not the same depending on whether or not one feels empathy for him. You have to be able to put yourself in the place of the person you are defending, without necessarily approving him, but at least trying to understand how he came to do what he did, how he was dominated by his gesture , how he was able to premeditate it, all that restores the journey of a man who cannot be reduced to the act for which he is being prosecuted. »

François Mitterrand “Our proximity annoyed more than one. I’ve always been surprised to see how people hated each other around Mitterrand, while the Mendesians truly formed a family. […]. François Mitterrand necessarily had a responsibility in these divisions. Anne Lauvergeon and Hubert Védrine could not stand each other, Roland Dumas and Robert Badinter either. »

Sarkozy “In 2006, Cécilia, his wife, came to see me at my office. She explains to me that she wants a divorce, that her husband refuses and that she is looking for someone who is not afraid of him […]. I defended Pierre Mendès France and François Mitterrand without ever asking them for a franc because it was about friendship. I did the same for Jacques Chirac because I felt that the image of France was in question. For this private affair between the Sarkozy couple, I wanted, on the other hand, to be remunerated for the important work that I had accomplished. I spoke to Nicolas about it, who replied very politely to send me my bill of fees, which he promised to pay within the hour. I’m still waiting. »

The man who wanted to be loved

By Georges Kiejman and Vanessa Schneider. Grasset, November 2021, 256 pages, 20 euros.

Leave a Comment