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Paris: a commemoration charged with symbols.


by ESN Associate Director Alejandro Ronard Alem.- It happened a few days ago in Paris, on the monument where the French Republic pays tribute to the victims of one of the dark pages of its history. I refer to the infamous “Bust (Rafle) of Velodrome ” located on the 15th. District of Paris on the River Seine.

Place where on July 16, 1942, French police and the Gendarmerie by order of the Nazi occupying forces conducted the operative for the arrest of  French Jews for placement in transit camps before sending
to the death concentration camps in Germany.

This was a complex operation , that counted with all the means that the French state possessed in that time, by mobilizing
7000 police and gendarmes -in the late afternoon of  July 17th of 1942- arrest about 13,152 people, of which
4115 where children, 5919 women (some of them pregnant) and 3118 men,  whose only
crime was to have had a common origin, being Jewish.

French PM Manuel Valls

After the arrest in Paris and surroundings, they were transferred to the Drancy camp, being about 7000
people in the Winter Velodrome Paris. Those who tried to escape were executed on the spot, others commit suicide.

During  five days they suffered extremely horrible conditions without food, with a single water source, without bathrooms, overcrowded in the  velodrome before being taken directly to deportation to Auschwitz.

Only one hundred of them will survive to witness the horror of the Nazi regime and its accomplice in the Vichy regime of
On July 17, 1994 it was inaugurated a memorial monument to this raid, known as the “Vel d’hiv Rafle”  at the promenade on the Seine river near quai de Grenelle , and the was named “Place Jewish martyrs of the Winter Velodrome”.  The sculptors of this monument were Walter Spitzer and the architect Mario Azagury, and represents innocent civilians, children, pregnant women and old people, symbolizing the martyrs of this abominable act of the police and the French State, as stressed in his speech the Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Once again denouncing this act of  barbarism, Valls tributed to the courage of former President Jacques Chirac who on July 16, 1995 in a historic speech in  this same place recognized the responsibility of France in this event and in the Shoah.

Thus former President Jacques Chirac broke with the tradition of other Presidents as Charles De Gaulle and Francois Mitterand for which France at the time was the Resistance and the Free French , and for them the historical responsibility for these events were to be on account of  the collaborationist Regimen in Vichy.

On July 22, 2012 the current president Francois Hollande declared “This crime was committed in France and by France”  also adding this crime “was also a crime against all French traditions  and national values. Those same values that the ​​Resistance Free France defended with honor. ”

The ceremony had the presence of survivors of the concentration camps, the Jewish Institutions in France
(CRIF), a representative of the Gypsy Institutions of France, intellectuals related to the famous Serge et Beate Klarsfeld, deputies and the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve,  Minister Kader Arif  (Anciens Combatants), and the Metropolitan Guard played the national anthem “La Marselleise”

But this commemoration falls amidst a reality of war in the Middle East, between Palestinian Hamas and the Israeli army, conflict that unfortunately is exploited in Paris and surroundings by protesters who have committed acts of vandalism while supporting the Palestinian people and Hamas.

PM Manuel Valls also referred to this in hard terms and  in his speech he said: “The honor of a nation, its greatness, is to recognize what a day made ​​its disgrace.  The dishonour of France, has long been silent.  After the war, France remained indifferent and covered  its dark memories.

We wanted to forget the dead people of the concentration camps, and invited survivors to remain silent. France did not want to see or know what happened. No doubt France tried to escape from what happened. It was only thirty years later, that with Serge and Beate Klarsfeld started to wake up the consciences of the French.

To the six million Jews, a million other victims were added. In France, the captured members of the Resistance, the Freemasons, the religious, as well as gypsies and  homosexuals were deported to the concentration camps.   This truth must be said many times and hammered in the conscience of people if necessary. The Jews are the sentinels of the French Republic and to attack them is to attack the very foundations of our society.

What happened a few days ago  in Paris (referred to the pro-Palestinian acts that degenerated into violence) justify the government’ s decision of banning demonstrations in support of Palestine. France will not allow letting  provocateurs to feed hate among the communities. France is a Republic, France and its ethical values​​, which today are universal.  The fight against anti-Semitism is our fight and is also the fight of the whole French Nation.

After the death of Ilan Halimi, after the murders of Toulose, after the attacks and profanity, after violence and insults, the events that have happened in the streets of Paris; are of extreme  severity and must be punished with the full weight of the law.

In the same direction and supporting the speech of PM  Manuel Valls,  the former minister and current  congressman of the Radical Left Party (PRG) Mr. Roger Gerard Schwartzenberg  said to the French media> “the moment where the Republic commemorates the Vel d’hiv Rafle”  we radicals strongly condemn acts of violence to support the palestinians last Saturday.

Violent provocateurs confuse religion and politics, with threats to national harmony based on the principle of secularism. The Speech of the Prime Minister this morning against antisemite acts are supported by my party(PRG).  France is loyal to universal values and ​​is mobilized to assist the peoples of Palestine and Israel to find ways of peace against the extremes of each side. Those who campaign for peace in the Middle East should reject hatred and respect the Republican order, ended the deputy of the PRG.

On the other hand, the Interior Minister on  July 22 traveled to the Municipality of Sarcelles in the vicinity of Paris to find the ravages and damages caused  by pro-Palestinian protesters at the end of a march attacked Jewish businesses, setting fire to a synagogue and burning cars. It should be noted that Sarcelles is a town with a population estimated at 15,000 Jews undoubtedly the most important in Europe and installed in the 70s they shared with a population of Muslim origin, also important, living in perfect harmony.

Earning Sarcelles the sobriquet of  “The Little Jerusalem”.

Faced with this situation the French government asked the police to act firmly and urge the pro-Palestinian organizations to exert great responsibility in stopping the development of these acts of vandalism, and to stop the uncontrolled street protests. The situation in parts of Paris and the surrounding area between the Jewish and Muslim communities are very
tense, the Government is monitoring the situation, and  the Prime Minister will be at Sarcelles ito ensure the Jewish population of its full support in this time of concern.