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The Vél d’Hiv Raid: A Blight on France

Longtime journalist Sheldon Kirshner blogs on The Times of Israel:

“Maurice Rajsfus, a French Jewish survivor who witnessed this infamous roundup, dissects it in a workmanlike book, The Vel D’Hiv Raid: The French Police at the Service of the Gestapo. … Seventy five years on, this appalling raid still blights French grandiose notions of liberty and equality. …

Two individuals, a German and a Frenchman, were the chief organizers of the Vel D’Hiv raid — Theo Dannecker, the head of the Gestapo in Paris, and Rene Bousquet, the Vichy police chief.

A few police officers informed friends and neighbors of its imminence. Word got to Jews, but very few could take advantage of the tip. According to Rajsfus, the community’s Jewish leadership had “no desire” to spread the news.

More than 4,000 police were assigned to the task, and not a single one refused to participate. “The victims were threatened with death without any verbal restraints,” he writes. Netting 3,118 men, 5,919 women and 4,115 children, it was not as successful as the German authorities had hoped it would be. They had counted on rounding up about 22,000 Jews.”

Read more at The Times of Israel or see extended content and images of the major players of the raid at SheldonKirshner.com.

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