Eighty years ago, a massive round-up of Jews took place in the Greater Paris area. It became known as “La rafle du Vel d’Hiv” or the “Vel d’Hiv Round-up.” The Vel d’Hiv or “Velodrome d’hiver” was a winter stadium built for bicycle races near the Eiffel Tower. It was a highly frequented place for sports fans and could hold a large crowd. In 1942, the stadium became the site of World War II’s most extensive round-up of Jews from France. The French police worked very closely with the Nazi regime, and in two days, July 16 and 17, over 13,000 Jews were taken to the stadium, including 4,000 children. They were packed in and kept in minimally sanitary conditions. Soon after, the French police sent the people to one of three internment camps in France in Pithiviers, Beaune-La-Rolande and Drancy. The next step occurred in late July and early August when most prisoners were sent to Auschwitz. Of the 4,000 children, only six came back, and only 811 adults returned after the war. My maternal grandfather was put on a train out of Paris to Auschwitz on July 19, 1942, only two days after the infamous round-up. All seems to indicate that he was part of the round-up.
Outside of the terrible collaboration between the Vichy government and the Nazi regime, the Vel d’Hiv round-up left a scar on France that has been haunting people, although not much has been said or done to date to maintain the memory of the event. The building was burned to the ground in a fire in 1959. Soon after, a small plaque was attached to a wall near where it stood. It was not until 2008 that another more detailed plaque was placed to remember the victims, thank those who might have helped some of them at such a difficult and dangerous time and encourage people passing by to remember the past. The plaque says:” On July 16 and 17 1942, 13152 Jews were arrested in Paris and its suburbs and then deported and assassinated in Auschwitz. In the Winter Stadium that once stood here, 4115 children, 2916 women and 1129 men were packed in inhuman conditions by the Vichy government police obeying orders from the Nazi occupiers. Let us be grateful to those who tried to help the victims. As you are passing by, please remember!” The discrepancy in the final numbers of victims is due to the fact that a final count brought the revised number of victims to over 13,000. The Vichy Government had promised 22,000 Jews out of France to the Nazi regime and came short at the round-up, but by the war’s end, 88,000 French Jews had perished.
Eighty years later, could such a thing happen again anywhere in the world? In his book, Every Day Remembrance Day: A Chronicle of Jewish Martyrdom, the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal listed six major causes that could lead to another Jewish catastrophe. A close look and analysis might surprise you as to how close we are.
1. Hatred (prejudice, racism, xenophobia or antisemitism).
There has not been a time in our recent history when hatred was so strong. We live at a time of extreme polarization between the political left and right, between conservatives and liberals, and between blacks and whites. Somehow, just as it was during the Maccabean period when the Seleucids fought the Ptolemies, and the Jews got caught in the proverbial crossfire, modern-day Jewish people end up in the crossfire between the polarized factions. Fair and polite dialogue including disagreements doesn’t seem possible anymore in 2022. Add to this the fact that we are in what appears to be the 59th minute of the 11th hour on the end-times timetable.
2. A dictatorship or totalitarian regime.
Throughout its history, the world has seen a number of dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein to name just a few. The dictionary defines a dictator as, “a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.” The idea is that one person or a few elite members of a group control the masses. It could be argued that the World Economic Forum (WEF) operates with dictatorial tendencies. Biblically speaking, we know that there is a new world order coming that will include the antichrist (1 John 2:18-22; Revelation 13) as the ultimate global dictator. Even in the United States, as we are seeing the rapid erosion of free speech, freedom of religion and Judeo/Christian ethics, we could see a totalitarian regime on the horizon if things don’t pivot back to a more balanced political landscape.
3. A bureaucracy.
When we speak of bureaucracy, people often think of large offices with a myriad of paper-pushers and a hierarchical system of filing, retrieving and processing. There is truth to that at the core of the definition, but what is meant here is more about those who carry out the order of the regime, often almost blindly and “for the greater good”, whatever that means! We have witnessed some of that recently when the world came to a stop and the masses were funneled into doing the same thing, like sheep, hoping for the best results.
Technology has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 50 years. Personally, I have always considered myself somewhat of a technology aficionado. I love all the different things we get to perform better and faster, not to mention the new things we have at our fingertips that several decades ago would have been considered pure sci-fi. Technology will continue to be developed and grow exponentially. The problem is not with the technology, but rather on how it is used and by whom. We have seen too often when technology falls into the wrong hands, disaster follows. Take for instance the use of the Hollerith tabulating machines (IBM) by Nazis in the camps to catalog and process Jews faster towards total elimination. This was most definitely a case of great new technology landing in the wrong hands.
5. A crisis that becomes an opportunity to blame people.
The world we live in is never going to be without crisis, simply because it is an imperfect world. It has been that way since the fall of man in Genesis 3. Crises can be economic, political, natural or medical to name just a few categories. Gas shortages, food shortages, extreme weather, immigration, diseases, inflation, recession and political uncertainty are all crises that we have seen recently. Globally, we can even look at all these and see how they have converged to a point where our planet appears to have become so fragile. Many of these crises are great opportunities to blame people and further control them.
6. A scapegoat people such as a minority to demonize.
Now if the world could pinpoint a people group, point the finger at them and have them carry the responsibility, that would be the perfect storm. But wait, the world HAS found its scapegoat, and not just recently, but for the last several millennia. We, the Jews, are constantly held responsible for the ills of the world. We have been accused of the black plague, using the blood of Christians to make Matzoh, killing Jesus, controlling Hollywood, controlling the world, inventing diseases and inventing their cures to make money. When it comes to faulting the Jews, much of the world has never let a crisis go to waste.
So, when I look at the events of the Vel d’Hiv that took place eighty years ago; and when I see how over two days, 13,000 Jews were collected in the greater Paris area and packed in a single location with the help of French police bureaucracy under the Nazi totalitarian regime without much fight from the Jews and with almost no help from the French populace, I have no doubt that everything is currently in place for another catastrophe to take place. This time it will include the Jews–it always has in the past–but people need to wake up because more of us are at risk today. There is a slew of ready-made “immigration camps” all over the USA and the world. They are ideal for a repeat of the Vel d’Hiv scenario. Please, do not believe that humanity has learned from the mistakes of the past. Yet, as individuals, we always have an opportunity to make a difference and fight tyranny.
People of goodwill, Christians and Jews are now becoming prime targets. The reason why I need to bring your attention to the Jewish people is that for a very long time now, we have been the canaries in the coal mine of civilization. What happens to us is often a precursor of what can or will happen to you. When you see the world going after us, don’t look the other way or you might miss those who are coming after you next!