Thursday, February 12, 2009

Remembering the Holocaust

Inspired by a recent book I read - Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosney - I paid homage to a holocaust memorial in Paris, France this week.

Sarah's Key is a haunting fictional seldom mentioned and little known story based on the July 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, forcibly held at the Velodrome d'Hiver (an indoor sports stadium), then the horror of being transported to Auschwitz (a Nazi death camp). This incident was done by the French authorities.

The roundup included over 13,000 Jewish families held at the Vel' d'Hiv. They had no lavatories and excruciating temperatures to endure in the sealed structure. The arrested Jews were kept there for eight days with only water and food brought by Quakers, the Red Cross and the few doctors and nurses allowed to enter.

For decades the French government declined to apologise for the role of the French policemen in the round up.

On July 1995, Jacues Chirac - president at the time - acknowledged the role that the state played in the persecution of Jews and other victims of the German occupation.

The stadium has since been demolished, and a monument commemorating this time in history stands in it's place.

Sculpted by Walter Spitzer, the statues stand on a curved base representing the cycle track of the stadium and facing the Eiffel Tower.

Represented in the sculpture is a family with a mother, child and husband.

An expectant mother with her husband.

A young child.

An elderly woman clutching a suitcase.

"The French Republic in homage to victims of racist and antisemitic persecutions and of crimes against humanity committed under the authority of the so-called 'Government of the State of France'"
My afternoon in Paris this week paying homage to victims of the Holocaust was cold, rainy, windy and gloomy. I think appropriate for reflection on this dark, sad, and shameful episode in history.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing, I just finished the book and will be going to Paris in August, I will also be paying homage to the many victims of these atrocities. Your photos are beautiful and purposeful. Mary

Anonymous said...

I read the book Sarah's Key six months ago and saw your post to go and visit your pictures. They are excellent and I'm glad I have something to see after reading the book.

Indigo2087 said...

I have just been to see the movie and found it very touching. Thank you for sharing your pictures.

Thistledew Farm said...

Thank you Susan for leaving a link about your blog on a site I visited when researching "Sarah's Key". I love your style and appreciate your sharing of what you saw at the memorial.

Robert Keller said...

I live in Israel,I'm jewish and visit Paris many many times, No idea about this
memorial.Thanks to your contribution to my knowledge about all this.
I love your b/w choose and appreciate your sharing your fhotos
with all the world, with interesting thoughts and comment.
Exactly today I read the article about Mr.John Galliano (fashion designer for Dior) Racist remarks in a Paris coffe-bar only 69 years after Sarah's deportation...


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