THE GREY FOLDER PROJECT
THOMAS FERRER WAS BORN IN LOURDES in 1982, and grew up in the Hautes-Pyrénées region of France. A decisive meeting with a history-geography teacher, José Cubero, aroused his passion for history and inspired him to become a teacher. After studying history in Toulouse, he took various positions in 2005-2006, in the academy of Créteil and Toulouse, and in 2012 he returned to Tarbes.
He reunited with his former history teacher, and their mutual research led to different productions: exhibitions, books and films. With Marie Fernandez, Tarbes et les Hautes-Pyrénées. Collaboration, Résistance, Libération, Éditions Cairn, 2015. Under the direction of Sylvaine Guinle-Lorinet: Une ville de l'arrière pendant la Grande Guerre, Tarbes, Éditions Cairn, 2017; and under the direction of Sylvaine Guinle-Lorinet and Pascale Leroy-Castillo, Etre prisonnier civil au camp de Garaison. Hautes-Pyrénées (1914-1919), Éditions Cairn, 2018.
From 2011, Thomas Ferrer’s knowledge of the Holocaust deepened through various training courses at the Shoah Memorial in Paris and trips to Poland, Israel and Germany. He created various projects with students of history at Lycée Jean Dupuy on such subjects as World War I, smugglers in the Pyrénées during World War II, and aspects of the Shoah in plays, radio broadcasts, websites, and films, including participation in the documentary of Antoine Laura, Gurs un silence assourdissant, 2017; Passeurs et évadés dans les Pyrénées. Franchir la frontière franco-espagnole durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, Éditions Cairn, 2018 ; Un long siècle d'exils. Proscrits, évacués, apatrides réfugiés, expulsés, déplacés, (r)apatriés des années 1870 aux années 1980, Éditions Cairn, 2022.
Thomas Ferrer contacted me in the summer of 2021, with a proposal for an educational project that would use the resources of my web site, as well as archives and museums, to research the life of Uszer Kahan in Tarbes, France, during World War II. The students produced a short documentary film about Uszer Kahan, which won a competition (organized by the Society of Members of the Legion of Honor) for lycée students from Occitania on the work of memory. Students were honored at an awards ceremony in February, 2022. He also organized a trip for his students to historical sites in Paris, including the Shoah Memorial in Drancy.
Finally, acting on my long-simmering idea to place a Stolperstein for Uszer Kahan, Thomas Ferrer’s efforts resulted in this becoming reality with a Stolperstein ceremony in Tarbes on May 6, 2022. At the end of May, Auschwitz survivor Ginette Kolinka will speak to students at the lycée.