Macron Addresses French Role in Sending Children to Deaths

President denounces Nazi collaborators and promises to end Holocaust denial
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 17, 2022 5:20 PM CDT
Macron Addresses French Role in Sending Children to Deaths
A memorial is pictured near a train car symbolizing the Drancy camp, at the Shoah memorial Tuesday outside Paris.   (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

French President Emmanuel Macron decried his Nazi-collaborator predecessors and rising antisemitism, vigorously vowing to stamp out Holocaust denial as he paid homage Sunday to thousands of French children sent to death camps 80 years ago for one reason alone: They were Jewish. Family by family, house by house, French police rounded up 13,000 people on two terrifying days in July 1942, wresting children from their mother's arms and dispatching everyone to Nazi death camps. Six of the children survived. France honored those victims this weekend, the AP reports, as it tries to keep their memory alive. For the dwindling number of survivors of France's wartime crimes, a series of commemoration ceremonies Sunday were especially important.

At a time of rising antisemitism and far-right discourse sugarcoating France's role in the Holocaust, they worry that history's lessons are being forgotten. Macron led an event Sunday culminating a week of ceremonies marking 80 years since the Vel d'Hiv police roundup on July 16-17, 1942. He pledged such a thing wouldn't happen ever again. "We will continue to teach against ignorance. We will continue to cry out against indifference," Macron said. He denounced former French leaders for their roles in the Holocaust and the Vel d'Hiv raids, saying none of France's Vichy wartime leaders "wanted to save Jews." The president visited a site in Pithiviers south of Paris where police sent families after the roundup, before sending them on to the Nazi camps. A new memorial site was inaugurated, and the president urged vigilance: "We are not finished with antisemitism, and we must lucidly face that fact."

In public testimony over the past week, survivor Rachel Jedinak described a middle-of-the-night knock on the door and being marched through the streets of Paris to the velodrome, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. She recalled her desperate mother shouting at police. Some French neighbors informed on Jews, others wept as they watched them being corralled like livestock. Chantal Blaszka’s aunts and uncle were among the children rounded up: 6-year-old Simon, 9-year-old Berthe, 15-year-old Suzanne. Their names are now engraved on a monument at a garden where the velodrome stood, along with some 4,000 other children targeted in the raids. Photos of the children hang from tree trunks, the result of years of painstaking research to identify and honor the long-anonymous victims. "Can you imagine?" Blaszka asked, pointing at the names. "Can you imagine?"

(More Nazi collaborators stories.)

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