FRENCH CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

A memorial
Serge Klarsfeld  

 
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to go from Avenue Foch to Drancy to see the concrete results of their work. That morning, mingled with adult deportees from the Les Milles camp, 323 young girls and 207 boys under the age of 16 leave Drancy without their parents, huddled in the boxcars of convoy 20. Two days later they are gassed and burned in the immense Jewish slaughterhouse built in the center of Europe and named Auschwitz.

August 18, 1942. Regional prefects are informed of the date of the planned Vichy Zone roundup, Wednesday, August 26, and are told to keep it "strictly secret." The same day, Bousquet, in his telegram number12,519, cancels 11 of the exemptions from arrest set out on August 5, keeping only 6. He doubtless fears there will be too few arrests. The exemptions remaining are: people over 60 years of age, those considered untransportable [sic], pregnant women, parents of children under two years of age (the original exemption applied to those with children under five; Bousquet thus sacrificed children between the ages of two and five), and adults with a French spouse or child.

Learning from the experience of the first four convoys from the Unoccupied Zone, in which all except 11 families left their children behind, Bousquet cancels permission for parents to choose whether children under 18 will leave with them or stay in the Vichy Zone, deliberately condemning to death the children of those who will be arrested. From now on all children over two years of age will be made to go with their parents. (Bousquet will never be criticized for this decision at his trial after the war.) The exemption is also withdrawn for the children whose parents were on the five convoys dispatched earlier in August. Bousquet thus condemns these children, who were released to Jewish shelters and whom French gendarmes will hunt throughout the Vichy Zone to send to the Rivesaltes camp. Between August 18 and 26, 134 Jewish children are arrested in this way, some, for example, at Chabannes in the Creuse Department. Furthermore, Bousquet demands as quickly as possible lists of the Jews made subject to arrest by his cancellation of exemptions. His telegram to the prefects ends with the warning: "You will recall the pressing need to take extremely severe police measures with a view to making the planned operations effective and to avoid any incidents."

August 19, 1942. The first children's transport from Beaune-la-Rolande, carrying 965 children, 233 women, and 1 man, leaves the camp for Drancy. (At Beaune-la-Rolande, four children have already died from diphtheria and one from peritonitis.) They will be deported to Auschwitz on August 31.

The police administrator of Orleans reports on the convoy:
This convoy was composed entirely of women and of children of a very young age. A large number of the children were without parents, who had left the camp in prior convoys. Identification of very young children separated from their parents was assured by a metal identity disc of the type used by French servicemen, sewed to their clothing at breast height. In addition to the of disc, pieces of white cloth with their identities written in indelible pencil were also sewed to their clothing
August 20, 1942. Pastor Marc Boegner of the Reformed (Protestant) Church of France writes Marshal Pétain to express "the inde- […scribable]
    
   

FRENCH CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

A memorial
Serge Klarsfeld

 
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