On July 16-17, 1942 over 13,000--including 4,000 children--Parisian Jews were arrested by the French police in what became known as the Vel' d'Hiv' Roundup (code name Operation Spring Breeze). Entire families were dragged from their homes over the two days and held in the Velodrome d'Hiver, an indoor cycling arena, without water, food, sanitation, or medical attention. This German Gestapo plan to reduce, or rather exterminate,the Jewish population in occupied France was ruthlessly carried out by policemen and civil servants of the French Vichy government. Parents were forcibly separated from their children and shipped by cattle rail cars to Auschwitz for extermination. Followed by the children. Only about 900 Jews survived the roundup to tell the horrendous stories of the French government, police and ordinary citizens' turning their collective backs on fellow French citizens.
For this week's Tuesday Teaser I've chosen the riveting Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay which, she says, is her tribute to the children of the Vel' d'Hiv'. This was a hard book to read, but I won't forget it--nor should anyone else who reads it.
Teaser Tuesday is described by its host, Miz B over at Should Be Reading ,as a "weekly bookish meme" open to any reader who wants to play along. If, like me, you're always curious about what people are reading or on the lookout for the next great read, then this may by your meme. To play, just click on Miz B's link above for the simple rules.
by Tatiana de Rosnay
" She woke at night, trembling, thinking of him in the cupboard. She took out the key and stared at it with pain and horror. p. 70
Book description from cover: Paris, July 1942-Sarah, a ten year old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they went door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard--their secret hiding place--and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.
Sixty Years Later-Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the Vel' d'Hiv' Roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles on a trail of secrets that link her and her husband's family to Sarah. These secrets change Julia's life dramatically and give her the courage to make some hard life-changing decisions.
I'm always glad when a well-loved book is adapted to film. That's the case with Sarah's Key. Here's the official film trailer and is scheduled for summer 2011 release:
In 1995 French President Jacques Chirac made a public apology to French Jews for the complicit role of the French policemen, civil servants and citizens in the roundup: "These black hours will stain our history forever and are an injury to our past and our traditions. . .France committed that day the irreparable. Breaking its word, it delivered those it protected to their executioners."