PARIS, France — France’s veterans minister, Geneviève Darrieussecq, led a ceremony Sunday commemorating the Vel d’Hiv roundup, a mass arrest of Jews by French police on July 16-17, 1942, before their extermination in Nazi death camps.
Alongside Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Darrieussecq took part in a wreath-laying to pay her respects to the 13,000-plus victims of the roundup, one of the most shameful acts undertaken by the country’s wartime government.
Following the Nazi invasion of France in 1940, the country was ruled by a government commonly known as Vichy France, which collaborated with Nazi Germany.
Vel d’Hiv derives from the name of the Winter Velodrome bicycle stadium that many of the detainees were confined in, before they were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp in German-occupied Poland and were mass-murdered. Over 4,000 children were included in the roundup.
The men, women and children were imprisoned at the stadium and in several other locations for days in unsanitary conditions and without sufficient water, leading to dozens of fatalities, including by suicide.
In 1995, some 53 years later, former president Jacques Chirac finally apologized for the role the French authorities had in the raid. President Emmanuel Macron went further, in 2017, acknowledging the responsibility the French state had in those events and in the Holocaust.
Darrieussecq said Sunday “there is no space for ambiguity, the Vel d’Hiv roundup is an issue belonging to France.”