Vérité et Sévérité: The Politics of Memorialization andCultural Interpretations of the Rafle du Vél d'Hiv,1945-2012

by Kayla M Mason

Institution: Kent State University
Year: 2016
Keywords: European History; European Studies; History; Holocaust Studies; Judaic Studies; Modern History; France; Modern France; Postwar, The Second World War; The Holocaust; Memorialization; Memory; Collective Memory; Commemoration; Vel d Hiv; Velodrome d Hiver
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2079662
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=kent1461535486


This thesis explores the process of memorialization and cultural interpretations of the Rafle du Vél d'Hiv, or Vél d'Hiv roundups, in Paris after 1945. During the postwar period, France faced the difficult task of reuniting a divided nation wounded from the humiliation of defeat in 1940 and the reality that many French citizens had willingly collaborated with the Germans. One event in particular, the Vél d'Hiv roundups, weighed heavy on the nation’s conscience as French police willingly organized and implemented the deportation of 13,152 Jews from Paris in 1942. As a result, few scholarly works existed regarding the nation’s role in such atrocities and instead the memory of the Second World War focused on the legacy of a united Resistance movement under Charles de Gaulle. This image of the war would stay intact until cultural changes in the 1960s prompted a re-evaluation of the nation's past. The subsequent trials for crimes against humanity of former Vichy officials and calls for public recognition of French complicity in these roundups on behalf of the Republic prompted a public discussion of what it meant to be 'French' in light of these atrocities. Popular books and films that were released in the following decade picked up where these debates left off to ensure the lessons of the past were not forgotten. Focusing on the way these changes influenced the commemoration of the Vél d'Hiv roundups, this thesis argues that by bringing issues of collaboration to the forefront of French public discourse, the public debates and conflicts that arose throughout the postwar period regarding the memory of Vichy pushed the site of the Vél d'Hiv into the spotlight and prompted the memory of this event to play an integral role in the way France redefined its past and implemented policies of memorialization for the future. Advisors/Committee Members: Scarnecchia, Timothy (Advisor).