Holocaust memorial vandalized in Paris suburb of Drancy

A Holocaust memorial in the Paris suburb of Drancy was vandalized this week, with officials and authorities denouncing the act as antisemitic.

“During the night of Tuesday, March 12 to Wednesday, March 13, damage was caused to the façade of the Shoah [Holocaust] Memorial. An impact from a pellet shot on a window…cracked the glass,” Jacques Witkowski, who represents the state in the administrative division, also known as department, of Seine-Saint-Denis, tells AFP. The incident falls under the department’s jurisdiction.

Witkowski says he condemns “firmly the damage committed” expressing outrage “at this antisemitic act that targets a place of memory.”

The Drancy Holocaust memorial was inaugurated in 2012. It commemorates the victims of the Vel d’Hiv round-up in July 1942.

Over the course of two terrifying days, police herded 13,152 Jewish people — including 4,115 children — into the Winter Velodrome of Paris, known as the Vel d’Hiv, before they were sent on to Nazi camps. It was the biggest such roundup in western Europe.

The raids were among the most shameful acts undertaken by France during World War II, and among the darkest moments in its history.

Drancy held a transit center that was central to French Jews’ deadly journey to Nazi camps. Some 63,000 people were held over the course of the war.

Jacques Fredj, director of the Shoah Memorial in Paris, says “the climate of unprecedented rise in antisemitism in France shows to what extent the educational work carried out by the memorial in Drancy and throughout France is more necessary than ever.”

The institution filed a complaint against the attack Wednesday morning

In 2023, mainly after the start of the war in Gaza on October 7, the number of antisemitic acts increased fourfold in one year in France, which has the largest Jewish community in Europe.

Stéphane Troussel, the president of the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, said he was “deeply revolted by this antisemitic act,” which he called “an attack on the memory of the Jewish community, but also on our collective memory.”

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