Sixty-five years ago, France tried to show its loyalty to the Nazis.
Last week, France showed its loyalty to history.On the anniversary of the July 1942 deportation of some 13,000 Jews by Vichy police from a bicycle stadium that served as a transit camp, French officials took part in a series of memorial events.
During a visit to the Shoah Memorial in Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose grandfather’s family lost 57 members in the Holocaust, honored the memory of the 76,000 French Jews deported to Nazi death camps. “I wanted to come in order to say that we cannot and we must not forget,” he said.
Accompanied by Simone Veil, Auschwitz survivor and former president of the European Parliament, and by Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld, Sarkozy passed in front of a wall where the names of the French deportees are inscribed.
During a memorial ceremony at the site of Vel d’hiv — abbreviation for the Velodrome d’hiver, or winter velodrome — site, Prime Minister Francois Fillion, above and left, declared that “We will never be healed from the Holocaust.”
The annual ceremony, left, was attended by Holocaust survivors and several government ministers.
“Once the voice of those who lived this tragedy are gone,” Fillion said, “it will be up to you, the young people of France, to take up their words, their memories. You will do it for them, you will do it for France.”
Of about 75,000 Jews deported from France to Nazi concentration camps, fewer than 3,000 survived.
In 1995 President Jacques Chirac officially recognized the responsibility of the French police in the 1942 raid, which is regarded as the most notorious instance of French collaboration.