Monday, 30 Jan 2023 - 8 of Shevat, 5783

French President Macron on 80th anniversary of Vel d’hiv roundup of Jews: ‘We have not finished with antisemitism. It is still there, stronger and more rampant’

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The French leader spoke at the inauguration of a memorial in the city of Pithiviers, from where the  Nazis and their French collaborators deported thousands of Jews to Auschwitz.

“We have not finished with antisemitism.It is still there, stronger and more rampant,’’ declared French President Emmanuel Macron who addressed Sunday a commemorative ceremony for Holocaust victims on the 80th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv roundup of Jewish families in Paris.

On July 16-17, 1942, around 13,000 people, including 4,115 childre, were taken to the Vel d’Hiv, a winter velodrome in Paris, by French police at the request of the Gestapo before being sent to internment camps and later deported to the Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

President Macron spoke at the inauguration of a memorial in the city of Pithiviers, used by the Nazis and their French collaborators as a transit camp for the deportation to Auschwitz. The other main transit camp was Drancy, near Paris.

In his address, Macron cited examples of antisemitism in acts of terrorism, in graffiti on walls, on social media and as something that crops up in debates on some TV channels. He called on the “Republican forces of our country” to redouble their “vigilance”.

“Eighty years after this eclipse of humanity, it is still urgent, perhaps more than ever, to examine the hatred in our past to better examine it in our present,” he said.

The Pithiviers train station has been transformed into a museum by the Paris Shoah Memorial.

The French President also warned against “a new type of revisionism” and reiterated France’s responsibility in the deportation of Jews during the occupation, in particular the role of France’s war-time leader Philippe Petain, who collaborated with the Nazi regime.

“We need to recognize everything in order not to reproduce it,” Macron said.

Former President Jacques Chirac in 1995, was the first President of the Republic to acknowledge the responsibility of the French state in the round-up of Jews by French policemen.

On Sunday also, at another commemorative event in Paris, at the site of the former Vel d’hiv, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, whose father was a Holocaust survivor, said: “Yes, those days in July, France lost some of its soul (…) Our country waited until 1995, less than 30 years ago, to recognize its responsibility. It was an immense relief, one of those moments when words finally put a reality on the unspeakable. To keep its honor, our country must face its history.’’

She stressed that ”we fight anti-Semitism wherever it is found.”


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