June 10, 2011


The day France betrayed its Jews: For years the French glossed over their part in the Holocaust. Now a hit film is forcing them to face their guilt (Simon Round, June 10, 2011, Jewish Chronicle)

On the morning of July 16 1942, some 13,000 Jews were arrested in Paris and sent to internment camps around France. After months of near starvation, the adults and children were separated and deported to Auschwitz. Only 25 of them returned to France at the end of the Second World War.

This may be only a short summary of these horrific events but it is more than you will find in French text books. The Vel d'Hiv round-up (named after the Winter Velodrome, the cycling stadium where the Jews were detained) has been almost totally ignored in France. This appalled investigative journalist and film-maker Rose Bosch, so much so that she spent five years of her life making a feature film about the episode. The resulting movie, The Round Up, has had a massive impact in France. It was one of the top 10 films of 2010, and was seen in cinemas by more than three million people - more than Hollywood blockbusters Schindler's List and The Pianist.

Bosch, who wrote the screenplay and directed the film, does not think there was anything accidental about this collective lapse of memory by the French. "It was completely intentional. I've been a journalist on news magazines for many years and I know these things aren't forgotten by accident. There was this terrible shame about what happened."

Bosch explains why this might be. "The French authorities negotiated with the Germans to take Jewish children that the Nazis did not even ask for. Most French people did not realise that there were more than 200 camps in their country. From 1940, Marshal P├ętain, the president of the Vichy regime, had sent Jews to those camps without any demands coming from the Germans. He also published anti-Jewish laws before the Germans asked him to."

She adds that France was the only country in Europe which sent thousands of unaccompanied children on trains to the death camps. When they arrived at Auschwitz they were either marched to the gas chambers or machine-gunned to death.

They're going to need someone to cleanse the banlieues for them.

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Posted by at June 10, 2011 6:32 AM

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