I saw Sarah’s Key last night, starring the always impressive Kristin Scott Thomas. The movie tells the story of the impact of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup on a Jewish family in Paris, and the impact on a modern day family. I don’t want to say more about the plot of this most excellent film, lest I spoil the movie for you. It’s based on the book by Tatiana de Rosnay. The Vel d’hiv Roundup was the subject of the French film Le Rafle, which did
an excellent job of explaining the bargaining between the Vichy government and the Nazi occupiers. The cold deal was more internal autonomy for Vichy in exchange for a certain quantity of French Jews delivered up for the camps. Vel d’Hiv is the short-form for “Vélodrome d’Hiver,” the indoor cycling track in the heart of Paris. Today that infamous site, where 8,000 Jews were penned like animals before being sent to their deaths, is the location of the Ministre de l’Intérieur, which is rather ironic.
Obviously, a key is an integral part of this story. Today’s expression, mettre la clé sous la porte (metruh lah clay sue lah port) means “to put the key under the door,” like when a business folds. It refers to leaving or ending something. The Vel d’Hiv Roundup ended a great many hopes and dreams for thousands of innocent men, women, and children. We must never forget.
- Deportation of Jews from France (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- Archives of French Jews deported to Auschwitz made public for the first time (israelmatzav.blogspot.com)
- France, Vichy and public antisemitism: seeing the past clearly? | Elizabeth Marcus and Daniel Lee (guardian.co.uk)