Commemorating the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup

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The Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup is the largest planned round up of Jews by the Nazis in occupied France during WW2. On July 16 and 17, 1942, 13,152 Jews were arrested with the help of the French police. This roundup accounted for more than a quarter of the 42,000 Jews sent from France to Auschwitz in 1942, of whom only 811 came home at the end of the war.

In my hometown this event is commemorated on the sunday closest to the event. French officials, war veterans, ordinary citizens and members of our tiny Jewish community gather in front of a monument erected in memory of the Warsow ghetto to recall this shameful event.

There is some music: the French national anthem, the French partisan song, Zog Nit Keynmol and Yerushalaim Shel Zahav. This is followed by speeches: usually one by the chairman of our community and one by a French official on behalf of the government.

The photos above were taken yesterday on the spot. I only dared to take one during the commemoration itself and went back in the afternoon to take some more. The sun was high in the sky so the photos are not very good but I hope they give you an idea of the event and on the location.

8 thoughts on “Commemorating the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup

  1. Last month I read “Sarah’s Key” a historical novel by Tatiana de Rosnay about this period in France. While the plot is contrived and more than a bit too much coincidence she does a beautiful job of describing France and the French attitude toward the holocaust. It is never easy to be a Jew in the diaspora and we can only hope that someday soon all the Jews will return home. In the meantime, we must take some solace in the recognition of past and hope that the lesson is learned in France as well as everywhere else.

    • I agree with you about “Sarah’s Key”.
      As concerns learning a lesson, lots of things, here and elsewhere, make me wonder if it is possible. Yet, as a teacher, I try not to lose faith.

  2. Thank you for this post – I had no idea of this specific event. Your photos are able to do the scene justice – they make me think of photos I took on impossibly sunny days at Auschwitz. It was extremely hard to reconcile the beautiful weather with the solemn surroundings.

  3. Beautiful photos commemorating such a tragic event.

    “French officials, war veterans, ordinary citizens” – glad to read of general participation

  4. My aunt was part of that roundup and Sarah’s Key helped me put the pieces together. Other than that, I didn’t find it a particularly good book but I appreciate your helping me remember her.

    Irene

  5. i read Sarah’s Key on my way to California last summer and thought it was amazing, one of the best books i’ve read. i am a senior in high school and i am doing a research paper about the vel’ d’ hiv roundup. Sarah’s Key is what helped me decide to pick this because of how interesting the book was to read.

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