Monday, 16 April 2012


Yesterday, we had a conversation about how European we feel and how we are wanting to move to Paris this year. We just love the culture and the history there so much, but there is a darker side to French history. In fact there is a dark side to most (not all, mind) European states. The fact that so many Western states collaborated with the Nazis is a troubling and dark park of history that is often forgotten.

When we think of the perpetrators of the Holocaust, most of us think about the Germans or possibly Eastern European states like Poland and the Ukraine but how many of you knew the extent that 'allied' nations took part in the murder of millions of people?

One example of collaboration was in July 1942, when 13,000 Jewish people were rounded up by French police and imprisoned in the Vel' d'Hiv (a velodrome). Although this terrible event was ordered by the Nazis, the French authorities collaborated assisting the Nazis in organising the plans and eventually carrying out the deeds themselves. The people that were rounded up were eventually deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where few survived. In 1995, fifty three years after the murder of French by the French, did a President of France feel the need to apologise for the crimes of his countrymen. The question is why did French authorities happily round up French citizens and deliver them into the hands of the conquerers of the French? 

Many other countries assisted the Nazis with the destruction of their Jewish people during the war. The Dutch civil service was put at the disposal of the Nazis to deport Jewish people. Like in the French round ups that took place, Dutch policemen were used to deport Dutch people to Auschwitz. This terrible situation where people are turning on their own countrymen unfortunately took place across Europe and across the world. 
We are not going to list the number of countries that happily collaborated with the Nazis across the world, but let us assure you that the number is disgustingly high. 

To us, one of the worst things about the collaboration was the lack of recognition after the war. Many people expect victims of the Holocaust to move on, to stop talking about, stop going on about it but how can they without closure? The terrible thing is that these countries and their perpetrators got away (basically) scot free. We have talked quite extensively about moving forward to create a better future and we still stand by that but to learn anything from the past we have to know the past. We have to know that French and Dutch people turned their backs on their own citizens and handed them over to certain death. We have to know that people were rounded up and taken to death camps. We have to know this to ensure that it doesn't happen again. The only explanation is that high levels of prejudice existed all over the world and was not exclusive to Germany or Ukraine. Like people, States must take responsibility for their actions and create a path where we can, using education, move forward learning from our mistakes to make sure that each day is a little better than the previous.

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