France marks anniversary of wartime Jewish round-up
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Veterans and representatives of the Jewish community pay tribute to victims of the Vel D'Hiv roundup (Rafle du Vélodrome d'Hiver) during a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the roundup on July 16, 2012 at the Drancy Memorial to the Deportation in a northeastern suburbs of Paris. AFP photo
France Monday marked one of the most notorious acts of World War II -- the rounding up of thousands of Jews in Paris to be sent to death camps -- as a poll showed most French youth ignorant of the episode.
Ceremonies were held in Paris to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the round-ups on July 16 and 17, 1942 that saw French police detain 13,152 foreign Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris for deportation to death camps including Auschwitz.
More than 8,000 of the victims, including 4,115 children, were held in Paris's Winter Velodrome for four days before being deported by rail and the incident is known as the "Vel' d'Hiv Round-up" after the cycling track's nickname.
The remainder were held at an internment camp in the northeastern Paris suburb of Drancy, where on Monday several hundred people including some of those deported marked the anniversary.
Denouncing "the unprecedented crimes of Nazism," Rabbi Moche Lewin, a spokesman for France's chief rabbi, said it was a duty for the episode to be remembered.
"This must be done for the salvation of humanity itself, to not let a new barbaric ideology rise again," he said.
But a poll released Monday showed that a majority of those under 35 in France had not heard of the round-up.
The poll by firm CSA for the French Union of Jewish Students showed 67 percent of those aged 15-17, 60 percent of those aged 18-24 and 57 percent of those aged 25-34 did not know of it.
In all age groups, 42 percent were unaware of the episode.
The commemorations are to continue on Sunday with a ceremony at the site of the old velodrome, which was torn down in 1959, attended by President Francois Hollande.
Former president Jacques Chirac apologised in 1995 for the French state's responsibility in the incident.