Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Children of the Holocaust in France
Children of the Holocaust in “La Rafle”
By Skip Sheffield
“La Rafle” is a new film this week at FAU’s Living Room Theaters. It is of special interest to students of the Holocaust and French history. “La Rafle” tells the horrific story of the roundup of the Jews of Paris in the summer of 1942.
While “La Rafle” (The Roundup) is a work of fiction, written and directed by Rose Bosch, it is based on real events, real characters and extensive research. It shares a similar subject matter with “Sarah’s Key,” but what makes this film so poignant is that it is told from the point of view of the innocent children of the roundup.
In June of 1942 Adolph Hitler was reaching the peak of his anti-Semitic hated and his own megalomania. Hitler insisted on nothing short of the extermination of all Jews in German-occupied Europe. The most despicable part of the story is the way the French military and Paris police cooperated with Nazi murderers.
French Jews could not conceive they would be betrayed by their own government. There was some resistance from compassionate French gentiles. Of the 23,000 Jews of Paris, 10,000 disappeared immediately into the protection of French sympathizers.
Joseph “Jo” Weismann (Hugo Leverdez) is an 11-year-old Jewish boy more clever and resourceful than most. Through his eyes we see the increasing discrimination and persecution of Jews up to the fateful day of July 16, 1942 when the roundup herded Jews to a large bicycle stadium where they would await shipment to the extermination camps to the east.
The heroes of this story are the Jewish Dr. David Sheinbaum (Jean Reno) and a Christian Red Cross nurse, Annette Monod (Melanie Laurent).
Of the 13,000 Jews crammed into the Velodrome D’Hiver, only 25 were known to survive. This film tells the story of one of them and touches on several others. While it depicts the darkest, most vile, despicable part of human behavior, ultimately it offers the hope of survival against all odds.