After the Roundup: Escape and Survival in Hitler's France

After the Roundup: Escape and Survival in Hitler's France

After the Roundup: Escape and Survival in Hitler's France

After the Roundup: Escape and Survival in Hitler's France


On the nights of July 16 and 17, 1942, French police rounded up eleven-year-old Joseph Weismann, his family, and 13,000 other Jews. After being held for five days in appalling conditions in the Velodrome d'Hiver stadium, Joseph and his family were transported by cattle car to the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp and brutally separated: all the adults and most of the children were transported on to Auschwitz and certain death, but 1,000 children were left behind to wait for a later train. The French guards told the children left behind that they would soon be reunited with their parents, but Joseph and his new friend, Joe Kogan, chose to risk everything in a daring escape attempt. After eluding the guards and crawling under razor-sharp barbed wire, Joseph found freedom. But how would he survive the rest of the war in Nazi-occupied France and build a life for himself? His problems had just begun.

Until he was 80, Joseph Weismann kept his story to himself, giving only the slightest hints of it to his wife and three children. Simone Veil, lawyer, politician, President of the European Parliament, and member of the Constitutional Council of France--herself a survivor of Auschwitz--urged him to tell his story. In the original French version of this book and in Roselyne Bosch's 2010 film La Rafle, Joseph shares his compelling and terrifying story of the Roundup of the Vel' d'Hiv and his escape. Now, for the first time in English, Joseph tells the rest of his dramatic story in After the Roundup.


During the night of July 16–17, 1942, twelve thousand eight hundred forty-four Jewish men, women, and children were rounded up by the French police and taken to the Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium in Paris, where they were kept for days in unspeakable conditions before being transported in cattle cars to internment camps throughout France. Joseph Weismann, barely eleven years old, was one of them.

While my son was interviewing Joseph for an ap French class he was teaching on the Holocaust, Joseph asked him if he knew anyone who could translate his memoir, Après la rafle, into English. Joseph and I spoke on the phone, and I set to work. It was a moving and inspiring four months. My biggest challenges were keeping the exuberant, authentic voice of an eleven-year-old boy, adapting the 1940s Parisian street slang, and finding names for things (such as architectural features or pieces of furniture) that don’t have an equivalent in English. I hope I have been successful.

The details of young Joseph’s escape from the camp of Beaune-la-Rolande, after his parents and sisters were torn away from him and sent to Auschwitz, are riveting. But how would . . .

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