July 16 and 17, 1942, the French watched as their neighbors were rounded up in the Winter Velodrome in Paris to be deported to death camps. They accepted the government’s action, sending off 9037 Jewish adults and 4115 Jewish children to die. In total, 28,000 Jews were sent away during WWII by Prime Minister Pierre Laval’s regime in France. He was placed in power by a foreign country in order to carry out hateful policies, and he and his administration did the job well, applauded by many in the general population.
Finally, that leader was replaced by a government where France’s claims of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” were restored, and in the 21st century, “Rafle du Vél’ d’Hiv’” is recognized by the French and the world as a political atrocity against a religious group.
The reversal of Laval’s administration, of course, did not bring back the dead. Other national scars remain as well. But this era in France gives me a glimmer of hope that people in the United States, in the years to come, will rally against the regime of hatred which reigns in the halls of Washington and in the homes and hearts of many Americans, to see the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution embraced again.