BETRAYAL AT THE VEL D'HIV by Claude & Paul Tillard Levy


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The betrayal was the roundup by French police of 13,000 French Jews, who, on July 16, 1942, were taken to the Velodrome d'Hiver, a Parisian sports area, to await the journey to French camps and ultimate transportation to Auschwitz. Levy and Tillard, who were among the arrested, here collect the stories of those who survived to tell what they saw: naked women begging for mercy; children's hands caught in the slammed-shut doors of cattle cars; elderly people committing suicide. These moving accounts contrast with the icy precision of German records documenting the raid, which the poetic Nazis labelled ""Operation Spring Wind."" Noting that 100,000 were eventually murdered, the authors raise the question: how did it happen? Guilt is divided between the occupiers, whose truly diabolical plans are outlined, and the occupied, without whose help nothing could have taken place. French gendarmes carried out the arrests; French collaborators signed the orders; French newspapers explained the ""laws"" of persecution, printing explanatory diagrams demonstrating, like Mendel's geneaology of peas, what defined Jewish nationality. The authors also reprimand the Catholic Church for perpetuating French anti-Semitism through its ""doctrine of contempt."" Unlike some who have written on the holocaust, they do not raise the question of Jewish resistance. For those to whom the names of Drancy, Pithiviers, and Beaune-la-Rolande are unfamiliar, this narrative will reveal the darker side of a period when the Cross of Lorraine was worn in secret, and the yellow star was seen on the streets.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1969
Publisher: Hill & Wang