Two books by Maurice Rajsfus, a French activist and former investigative journalist for Le Monde, who shares his research and personal recollections in order to shed new light on France's role in the Holocaust. In the first volume, "Operation Yellow Star," Rajsfus meticulously analyzes archival documents, demonstrating the extent of police collaboration with the Vichy regime and how it facilitated the persecution, deportation, and ultimately the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Examining long-unseen arrest records and transcripts, Rajsfus seeks to understand how and why many average French citizens resisted Nazi occupation while others were willingly complicit. In the second book, "Black Thursday," Rajsfus recounts his own experiences of July 16, 1942, when he and his family were arrested as part of the Vel’ d'Hiv roundup, the largest ever in France, of 13,000 Jews. While most of those detained during the two-day sweep eventually died in Auschwitz, the author survived and has spent the rest of his life grappling with his country's betrayal. Together, the two volumes by Rajsfus offer a damning exposé of the bureaucracy of genocide, laying bare how cultural bias, political self-interest, and the influence of right-wing media led to the implementation of the Yellow Star as a segregationist device and determined France’s culpability in the Holocaust.
Maurice Rajsfus is the author of thirty books and from 19942012 he created and circulated "Que fait la police," a "Cop Watch" bulletin detailing human rights abuses. He lives in Paris with his wife, sons and grandchildren.
Phyllis Aronoff has won the Jewish Literary Award for translation and the translation prize from the Quebec Writers' Federation. She was president of the Literary Translators' Association of Canada and from 20072015 represented translators on the Public Lending Right Commission of Canada.
Mike Mitchell (b. 1941) is an award-winning translator of French and German who has been active as a translator for over thirty years. In 2012 the Austrian Ministry of Education, Art and Culture awarded him a lifetime achievement award as a translator of literary works. He lives in Scotland.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Author's Preface to the English Edition xi
Operation Yellow Star
1 Honor and Discipline 1
2 In the Service of Immoral Laws 7
3 The Stages of Humiliation 13
4 Toward the Yellow Star 22
A Little History
5 Hunting Them Down 41
6 The Requests for Special Dispensation 58
7 Non-Jews Wearing the Badge 66
8 A Compliant Press 85
9 Toward Liberation 100
10 The Red Line 108
Appendix: Illustrations 114
Black Thursday: The Roundup of July 16, 1942
Part 1 Twelve Hours of Dread
Chapters 1-15 135-190
Part 2 No Witnesses, No Crime!
Local Amnesia 192
The Police Have Forgotten 195
The Bus Drivers Did Their Job 207
Vincennes City Hall Has No Information 214
What About the Churches? 224
My City Has Lost Its Memory 230
Part 3 Survivor of the Absurd
Memories, a User's Guide 252
Lost Children… 260
Appendix: Interview Maurice Rajsus 265
What People are Saying About This
Maurice Rajsfus is not only a historian of the raid: he lived it in his flesh, saw it with his own eyes, and if he had not had the audacity and ingenuity of a Parisian street urchin, son of immigrant Polish Jews that he was, would have suffered the same fate as his parents, deported and assassinated in Auschwitz. Without making improper comparisons, the roundup of the Vél d’Hiv is a very current topic. Maurice Rajsfus’ narrative can help us to grasp both the logic and the implications of a policy of exclusion of populations and communities who, because of their ethnic, national or religious origin, are not protected by the State of which they are a part.