FRENCH CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

A memorial
Serge Klarsfeld  

 
Previous Page Back  Contents  Contents Page 3 Home Page Home Page  Forward Next Page 
     
 
HISTORY AND CHRONOLOGY:
THE NAZI WAR AGAINST THE JEWS


In the early morning hours of September 1, 1939, the armies of Nazi Germany invaded Poland, unleashing the second world war in 21 years. It was a conflict that would last six years and would claim the lives of tens of millions of human beings. Among the dead were six million Jews who were hunted down in Western and Central Europe, the Baltic states, the Soviet Union, and the Balkans and were put to death by the Nazi genocide machine in what has come to be known as the Holocaust.

This book is about one dark and little known corner of that genocide – the murders of 11,400 Jewish children who were arrested in France and deported to Nazi concentration camps, where they were killed in gas chambers and their bodies were burned.

The Nazi war against the Jews, proclaimed in Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf in 1924 and incessantly repeated in the German leader's speeches and his party's programs, had roots deep in historic German anti-Semitism. The Nazis and their followers raged that the Jews were an inferior race and the source of all weaknesses and failures in modern German history; they must, the Nazis declared, be eliminated from Germany's public, economic, and cultural life. After Hitler's appointment as chancellor on January 30, 1933, Germany's Jews, who were extremely assimilated, successful, and loyal, were progressively driven from society. Those who could escape left the country.

The Nazi hatred of the Jews, however, knew no frontiers. The countries bordering Germany, and especially France, were reviled as "rotten" with Jewish influence; it was implicit in Nazi ideology that the racial war would be extended to Jews in any country coming under German domination. Beginning in 1940, when one European country after another surrendered to Nazi aggression, the war against the Jews came to those countries with the German army. But it was not until January 1942 that German officials made plans at the infamous Wannsee Conference in Berlin to achieve "the final solution of the Jewish Question" by mass killings of Jews in military zones and in the concentration camp system then being built in Poland and elsewhere in Central Europe.

The Nazi war on Poland was a short one – the Polish armies were crushed in three weeks – but the attack led Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany on September 3, 1939. In the nine months that followed, the German war machine, which had been freed of the threat of a two-front war by the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact of August 1939, prepared its offensive in the West. It struck in April 1940 against Norway and Denmark; a few weeks later, on the morning of May 10, German forces invaded the Netherlands and Belgium and drove toward the French and British armies arrayed against them in northern France. Within five days,
 
 
   
   

FRENCH CHILDREN OF THE HOLOCAUST

A memorial
Serge Klarsfeld

 
Previous Page  Back Page 3 Forward  Next Page