The small station of Pithiviers, about a hundred kilometers south of Paris , has just been transformed into a museum by the Shoah Memorial.
French President Emmanuel Macron commemorates the 80th anniversary of the 1942 Rafle du Vel d'Hiv on Sunday by inaugurating, in the company of survivors, a new place of memory in the former station of Pithiviers from where eight convoys of Jews left for Auschwitz-Birkenau.
For this occasion, the Head of State will deliver an offensive speech against anti-Semitism, which still lurks and sometimes insidiously, which is very worrying, announced an adviser to the Élysée.
He will also denounce historical revisionism, in particular on the role of Marshal Pétain – head of government of the Vichy regime (1940-1944) – during the Second World War worldwide, according to him.
Accompanied by several personalities, including the historian Serge Klarsfeld, the survivor of the camps Ginette Kolinka, or the CEO of the French railway operator Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF) Jean-Pierre Farandou, Emmanuel Macron is expected at 3 p.m. local time in the small station of Pithiviers, about a hundred kilometers south of Paris, which has not welcomed travelers since the end of the 1960s and which has just been transformed into a museum by the Shoah Memorial.
It was through this station that some of the 13,000 Jews – including 4,115 children – who were arrested in Paris and the suburbs on July 16, 1942 and the following days by 9 000 French civil servants, at the request of the Germans.
8,160 of them, including the elderly and the sick, were taken to the Vélodrome d'Hiver stadium in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. Before being evacuated to the camps of Drancy, Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande.
From Pithiviers station alone, eight convoys then left for the camps of extermination, for more than 8,000 deportees, which makes it the second French deportation site after that of Drancy. Only a few dozen adults will survive.
This station is the place where the French event became a European genocide […] it is a unique place of memory in France, says Jacques Fredj, director of the Shoah Memorial.< /p>
The 400 square meter site, which still belongs to the SNCF, is particularly intended for academicians. This is a priority in the face of the rise of anti-Semitism, racism and conspiracies, explains Mr. Fredj.
A room in the station is devoted to a poignant photo report on the so-called greenback roundup, the first mass arrest of 3,700 foreign Jews in France, on May 14, 1941.
Another room retraces the litany of the eight convoys to Auschwitz-Birkenau, projecting photos of murdered deportees onto giant screens.
In his speech, lasting about twenty minutes, Emmanuel Macron should affirm that the fight continues against anti-Semitism, following the path that President Chirac had traced.
After fifty years of silence from the French authorities, Jacques Chirac had recognized in 1995 the responsibility of France in the Rafle du Vel d'Hiv, in a speech that remained engraved in the memories. France, that day, accomplished the irreparable, he had launched.
In July 2012, President François Hollande had gone further by declaring that this crime was committed in France, by France.
Then in 2017, Emmanuel Macron, newly elected president, reaffirmed France's responsibility for the 75th anniversary of the roundup and made a plea against anti-Semitism in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But today French society is not done with anti-Semitism, underlines the Élysée, also highlighting the trivialization of debates around the Vichy regime.
The far-right candidate for the presidential election Éric Zemmour (Reconquest!) notably maintained that Marshal Pétain had saved French Jews during World War II.
80 years ago, collaborationists of the Vichy regime organized the Vel d'Hiv roundup. Do not forget these crimes, today more than ever, with a President of the Republic who honors Pétain and 89 RN deputies [Rassemblement national, NDLR], tweeted Saturday the leader of the deputies of & #x27; extreme left of La France insoumise Mathilde Panot, arousing indignation in the majority.
In 2018, Mr Macron called Pétain a great soldier during the First World War, even if he then made disastrous choices.
Elected officials from the far-right National Rally party were also invited, by Republican tradition, detailed the ;Élysée, without specifying whether they would be present.
At the same time, the traditional ceremony on the site of the former Vélodrome d'Hiver will take place in the morning in the presence of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne.