Rare and invaluable is the writer who can address a topic that can’t possibly withstand further scrutiny—oh please, not again—only to produce a brilliantly original, insight-filled manifesto. Maurice Rajsfus pulls off that exact feat of magic in The Vel d’Hiv Raid: The French Police at the Service of the Gestapo. That the French lustily collaborated with the Nazis during WWII, we know from scores of trustworthy sources, but Rajsfus helps us see the implications of the othering of whole communities based on their ethnic, national, or religious origins, as we’re seeing with President Trump’s flippant rhetoric and certain autocratic European leaders. Herein, Rajsfus meticulously documents the July 1942 roundup of 13,152 French citizens by French police and their eventual one-way train journey to death camps in Eastern Europe. Need we mention the Jewish heritage of those French citizens?
A survivor of the Vel d’Hiv raid, Rajsfus is also the author of Operation Yellow Star and Black Thursday, both of which offer more evidence about France’s WWII complicity with the Nazis.
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