France’s Inhuman Stain

The famous Paris cemetery, Père Lachaise, has more than Jim Morrison‘s grave. There are at least a dozen monuments dedicated to those who perished in Nazi Concentration camps. On the airplane returning from France this weekend, I watched a new film, Le Rafle (or The Roundup) that highlights French complicity, under Marshal Pétain, in the persecution and round up of Jews that added thousands more to the death toll of the Holocaust. France’s inhuman stain.

The
film tells the
story of the arrest of 13,000 Parisian Jews, including 4,000 children,
by French rightwing militia and gendarmes in July 1942 (two days after Bastille Day). The mostly French-born Jews and those from Poland who were integrated into Parisian life were herded into
a giant cycling stadium, the Vélodrome d’Hiver (Vél’d’Hiv). Almost all of them died in Nazi death camps.

Although the film shows the courage of many ordinary French men and women, The
Rafle du Vél’d’Hiv nonetheless illustrates the enthusiastic participation
of many French officials who acceded to Nazi demands. The
collaborationist French authorities in Paris set out to round up 25,000
Jews on 16 July 1942. Almost half of them escaped, in large part thanks to citizens who risked their lives to save others. See a video clip here.
 

http://missiontice.ac-besancon.fr/college_edgar_faure/IMG/jpg/la_rafle.jpg
 

 


About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes a weekly column for The Atlantic online and is the "Visuals" Columnist for the New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of over 160 books on design and visual culture. And he is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I noticed that the spelling of the movie in the text is Le Rafle and the spelling on the poster is La Rafle. Is there is reason for that?
    This story is one I look forward to learning about. The movie will likely be difficult to watch, but one I feel compelled to see. I have always thought of myself as an amateur historian, but the older I get, the less I seem to know.
    Aside from the movie, it seems that much of the description of the movie in your text has been taken from the text from the website in your link (Le Rafle) which is fine. However, I did notice that you changed the wording from the Le Rafle website, in your second paragraph, from “…by French police and gendarmes in July 1942″ to read “…by French rightwing militia and gendarmes in July 1942″. Just wondering why you changed those words.
    Thanks, Mark Taylor

  2. I noticed that the spelling of the movie in the text is Le Rafle and the spelling on the poster is La Rafle. Is there is reason for that?
    This story is one I look forward to learning about. The movie will likely be difficult to watch, but one I feel compelled to see. I have always thought of myself as an amateur historian, but the older I get, the less I seem to know.
    Aside from the movie, it seems that much of the description of the movie in your text has been taken from the text from the website in your link (Le Rafle) which is fine. However, I did notice that you changed the wording from the Le Rafle website, in your second paragraph, from “…by French police and gendarmes in July 1942″ to read “…by French rightwing militia and gendarmes in July 1942″. Just wondering why you changed those words.
    Thanks, Mark Taylor

  3. I noticed that the spelling of the movie in the text is Le Rafle and the spelling on the poster is La Rafle. Is there is reason for that?
    This story is one I look forward to learning about. The movie will likely be difficult to watch, but one I feel compelled to see. I have always thought of myself as an amateur historian, but the older I get, the less I seem to know.
    Aside from the movie, it seems that much of the description of the movie in your text has been taken from the text from the website in your link (Le Rafle) which is fine. However, I did notice that you changed the wording from the Le Rafle website, in your second paragraph, from “…by French police and gendarmes in July 1942″ to read “…by French rightwing militia and gendarmes in July 1942″. Just wondering why you changed those words.
    Thanks, Mark Taylor