Although only the governments of Germany, Romania and Croatia murdered Jews as state policy, other states actively participated in the Holocaust. On 16-17 July 1942 more than 13,000 Jews without French citizenship were arrested by French police in Paris; the victims included more than 4,000 children. Most of the arrestees were held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver, an indoor cycling stadium, before being transferred to transit camps. The idea of arresting the children came from the French Prime Minister Laval, as this telegram sent by Theodor Dannecker, the SS representative in France, a few days before the round-up makes clear.
6 July 1942
The negotiations with the French government have so far yielded the following results:
All stateless Jews from the occupied and unoccupied zones will be readied for deportation.
Premier Laval has proposed that, in the process of deporting Jewish families from the unoccupied territory, children under 16 years of age should be included. The question of Jewish children remaining in the occupied zone does not interest him
I therefore request that an urgent decision be made by telegram whether, perhaps beginning with the 15th transport from France, children under 16 should also be deported.
Whilst the Nazis decided whether or not to agree to Laval’s request to deport the children, their parents were sent to Auschwitz. Eventually, approximately 3,500 children, some of them so young they could not even remember their names, were deported on seven transports with unrelated adults; not a single child survived. The photograph shows a modern memorial at the site of the Vélodrome d’Hiver.
Photo: memorial to the victims of the Vélodrome d’Hiver round-up, Paris; Holocaust Educational Trust
Report: Joseph Billig, Le Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives (1941-1944), I, (Éditions du Centre, 1955)