The Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, part of a continent-wide plan to intern and exterminate Europe's Jewish population, was a joint operation between the Germans and French administrators see below for clarification. Until the German occupation of France in , no roundup would have been possible because no census listing religions had been held in France since Nearly , registered in the department of the Seine , encompassing Paris and its immediate suburbs. Theodor Dannecker , the SS captain who commanded the German police in France, said: "This filing system subdivided it into files alphabetically classed, Jews with French nationality and foreign Jews having files of different colours, and the files were also classed, according to profession, nationality and street.
Women and families followed in July What became known as the "Vel' d'Hiv Roundup" was to be more important. A further meeting took place in Dannecker's office in the avenue Foch on 7 July. The roundup was delayed because the Germans wanted to avoid holding it before Bastille Day on 14 July.
The national holiday was not celebrated in the occupied zone but there was a wish to avoid civil uprisings. Dannecker declared: "The French police, despite a few considerations of pure form, have only to carry out orders! The roundup was aimed at Jews from Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and those whose origins couldn't be determined, all aged from 16 to There were to be exceptions for women "in advanced state of pregnancy" or who were breast-feeding, but "to save time, the sorting will be made not at home but at the first assembly centre".
The sorting of children will be done in the first assembly centres. Two Jewish women in occupied Paris wearing Magen David badges in June , a few weeks before the mass arrest. The position of the French police was complicated by the sovereignty of the Vichy government, which nominally administered France while accepting occupation of the north. Although in practice the Germans ran the north and had a strong and later total domination in the south, the formal position was that France and the Germans were separate.
Betrayal at the Vel D'Hiv by Claude Levy
The independence, however fictional, had to be preserved. German interference in internal policing, says the historian Julian T. Jackson , "would further erode that sovereignty which Vichy was so committed to preserving. This could only be avoided by reassuring Germany that the French would carry out the necessary measures. Bousquet succeeded in a compromise that the police would round up only foreign Jews.
Vichy ratified that agreement the following day.
This too was a fiction, given that the parents of these children had already been deported, and documents of the period have revealed that the anti-semitic Laval's principal concern was what to do with Jewish children once their parents had been deported. The youngest child sent to Auschwitz under Laval's orders was 18 months old.
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Three former SS officers testified in that Vichy officials had been enthusiastic about deportation of Jews from France. The investigator Serge Klarsfeld found minutes in German archives of meetings with senior Vichy officials and Bousquet's proposal that the roundup should cover non-French Jews throughout the country. The historians Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper record:. An unknown number of people, warned by the French Resistance or hidden by neighbors or benefiting from a lack of zeal, deliberate or accidental, of some policemen, escaped being rounded up.
Conditions for the arrested were harsh: they could take only a blanket, a sweater, a pair of shoes and two shirts with them. Most families were split up and never reunited. After arrest, some Jews were taken by bus to an internment camp in an incomplete complex of apartments and apartment towers in the northern suburb of Drancy. The Vel' d'Hiv was available for hire to whoever wanted it.
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Among those who had booked it was Jacques Doriot , a stocky, round-faced man who led France's largest fascist party, the PPF. It was at the Vel' d'Hiv among other venues that Doriot, with his Hitler -like salute, roused crowds to join his cause. The circumstances in which Goddet surrendered the keys remain a mystery and the episode is given only a few lines in his autobiography. The Vel' d'Hiv had a glass roof, which had been painted dark blue to avoid attracting bomber navigators.
The glass raised the heat when combined with windows screwed shut for security.
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The numbers held there vary according to accounts but one established figure is 7, of a final figure of 13, There was only one water tap. Those who tried to escape were shot on the spot. Some took their own lives. After five days, the prisoners were taken to the internment camps of Drancy, Beaune-la-Rolande and Pithiviers, and later to extermination camps. Roundups were conducted in both the northern and southern zones of France, but public outrage was greatest in Paris because of the numbers involved in a concentrated area.
The Vel' d'Hiv was a landmark in the city centre. The Roman Catholic church was among the protesters. Public reaction obliged Laval to ask the Germans on 2 September not to demand more Jews. Handing them over, he said, was not like buying items in a discount store.
When a Protestant leader accused Laval of murdering Jews, Laval insisted they had been sent to build an agricultural colony in the East. The internment camp at Drancy — which is now the subsidised housing that it was intended to be — was easily defended because it was built of tower blocks in the shape of a horseshoe.
It was guarded by French gendarmes. The camp's operation was under the Gestapo's section of Jewish affairs. Theodor Dannecker , a key figure both in the roundup and in the operation of Drancy, was described by Maurice Rajsfus in his history of the camp as "a violent psychopath It was he who ordered the internees to starve, who banned them from moving about within the camp, to smoke, to play cards etc. In December , forty prisoners from Drancy were executed in retaliation for a French attack on German police officers.
It was under his direction from August to June that almost two-thirds of those deported in SNCF box car transports requisitioned by the Nazis from Drancy were sent to Auschwitz. Drancy is also the location where Klaus Barbie transported Jewish children that he captured in a raid of a children's home, before shipping them to Auschwitz where they were killed.
Most of the initial victims, including those of the Vel' d'Hiv , were crammed in sealed wagons and died en route due to lack of food and water.
Those who survived the passage died in the gas chambers. At the Liberation in , the camp was run by the Resistance — "to the frustration of the authorities; the Prefect of Police had no control at all and visitors were not welcome. When a pastor was allowed in on 15 September, he discovered cells 3. The roundup accounted for more than a quarter of the 42, Jews sent from France to Auschwitz in , of whom only returned to France at the end of the war. Pierre Laval 's trial opened on 3 October , his first defence being that he had been obliged to sacrifice foreign Jews to save the French.
Uproar broke out in the court, with supposedly neutral jurors shouting abuse at Laval, threatening "a dozen bullets in his hide". Laval was sentenced to death, and tried to commit suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule. Revived by doctors, he was executed by firing squad  at Fresnes on 15 October.
Jean Leguay survived the war and its aftermath and became president of Warner Lambert, Inc. In , he was charged for his role in the roundup.
The Vélodrome d'Hiver (Vél d'Hiv) Roundup
Louis Darquier was sentenced to death in absentia in for collaboration. Helmut Knochen was sentenced to death by a British Military Tribunal in for the murder of British pilots. The sentence was never carried out. He was extradited to France in and again sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. In , the president, Charles de Gaulle , pardoned him and he was sent back to Germany, where he retired to Baden-Baden and died in Bousquet's position was always ambiguous; there were times he worked with the Germans and others when he worked against them.
This action organized by the French Vichy-Regime collaborating with Hitler-Germany had been a taboo in France for a long time. It was not before 16 July that the French President Jacques Chirac acknowledged for the first time French complicity in the Holocaust.