Warning: Today’s Post is Distressing

Just as research can be inspiring and serendipitous and amazing, it can also leave you feeling like you’ve been kicked in the guts.

Yesterday’s research filled me with sadness and trepidation even before I arrived at the site of the Velodrome d’Hive.

Destroyed by fire in 1959, and now an innocuous looking block of flats, it was the scene of incredible horror during WW11.

The site is currently undergoing refurbishment, and a children’s garden is being built as a tribute to the youngest victims, but the plaque that stands amongst the building equipment and rubble shows the terrible extent of what happened here.

On 16 and 17 July 1942.
13,152 Jews were arrested in Paris and its suburbs, deported and killed at Auschwitz.
In the Winter Velodrome which stood here
4115 children,
2916 women
1129 men
were kept in inhumane conditions by the Vichy government police, on the orders of the Nazi occupiers.
May those who have tried to help them be thanked. May those who died be remembered.

In 1942 these frightened and traumatised children, women and men were rounded up and held at the velodrome for several days in summer heat with little food and water. They were kept there awaiting deportation to transit camps before being removed to Auschwitz where they were murdered.

There are no words to describe what it felt like to stand here.

Memorial sculpture

Almost within sight of the velodrome is another moving monument to this atrocity, a reminder that history should never be repeated.

The French Republic
In tribute to the victims of persecution
Racist and anti-Semitism and crimes
against humanity committed under the authority of the so-called
“Government of the French State” 1940 – 1944
Never forget

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 

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6 thoughts on “Warning: Today’s Post is Distressing

  1. Funny how stuff that tears at our heart also grows our heart. Amazing stories, Dee. xx

  2. Whenever you look at these pictures you will remember how you felt, and you will never forget. It’s okay, and this is going to be an amazing story. I love what you say here, how you are sharing yourself with us. I’m sure you will process some more of your feelings and write it in other ways. This is material for not just this one book, but articles, blogs and other things. Thank you for taking us with you on this journey. It’s so intense and so beautiful, heart-wrenching and hopeful. Hugs to you.

    Deb

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