Gruesome Incidents Remembered
It is said that Search Operations, in a massive scale, had been carried out throughout France in order to identify the Jews 80 years ago. On July 16-17, 1942, the French Police had deported nearly 13,000 Jewish people to Nazi Concentration Camps, on Adolf Hitler’s orders. On July 17, 2022, France paid tribute to the victims of Nazi persecution.
The number of people, who had witnessed the Hitler Era and survived the Nazi tyranny, is gradually decreasing in France. Paris fears that anti-Semitism is resurfacing in the European country. Again, the Rightists are trying to explain France’s role in the Holocaust in a different manner. Majority of the French people are of the opinion that deadly memories of the Nazis are fading, slowly.
France recently organised a week-long commemoration to mark the 80th anniversary of the 1942 massacre. President Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron was present on the final day of the commemoration, held on July 17, 2022. He said that the incident occurred on July 16-17, 1942 was one of the most shameful events that took place in France during the Second World War. According to the President, it was the darkest hour of his country. He recalled that the French Police had detained 13,152 people, including 4,115 children, in those two days. Later, the Police sent all of them to Nazi Concentration Camps. Children were separated from their families, and the majority of them did not return.
Rachel Jedinak was lucky enough to survive the Nazi atrocities. She still remembers the fateful day. On the 80th anniversary of the 1942 massacre, Jedinak said that the Police had knocked on their door shortly after midnight and detained all the members of her family. Thousands of Police were on the streets of Paris on that day. The detainees were taken to the Winter Velodrome (Vélodrome d’Hiver or Vel’ d’Hiv’, an indoor bicycle racing cycle track and stadium) in the French capital. Jedinak had a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower on her way to the Velodrome. In the presence of President Macron, she told the audience that “her desperate mother was shouting at Police. Some neighbours informed on Jews, while others wept as they watched them corralled like livestock”. At that time, Jedinak was just eight.
Chantal Blaszka, another survivor, also attended the commemoration in Paris on July 17, 2022. Her uncle and aunts – six-year-old Simon, nine-year-old Berthe and 15-year-old Suzanne – were among the children who were rounded up. Later, their names were engraved on a monument at a garden where the Velodrome once stood, along with some 4,000 other children targeted in the raids. Blaszka recalled that only six children had survived eight decades ago, stressing: “Can you imagine?“
Serge Klarsfeld‘s father had been sent to Auschwitz. He called the incident an “earth-shaking testimony to the horrors lived by Jewish families”. Klarsfeld also stressed on the urgency of passing on living memory especially for the children of deportees, stating: “The youngest of us are in our 80s.“
It may be noted that France officially admitted its involvement in the Holocaust 50 years after the Second World War. Jacques René Chirac, the then President of France, was the first to apologise to the Global Community. Meanwhile, a group of Right-Wing politicians has started denying the history of persecution of Jews in France. They are also trying to cover up the truth. During the campaign for the 2022 French Presidential Election, Far-right candidate Eric Zemmour propagated the false claim that Adolf Hitler’s Vichy collaborators had safeguarded the French Jews.
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