Sarah’s Key – What I’ve Learnt


I have to say that like Sarah I didn’t know anything about the events happening to thousands of Jews in Paris in 1942. I should be say ‘I’m sorry’ for not knowing.

The roundup mentioned in the book is called “Vel D’Hiv” short for “Velodrome D’Hiver”, which is the place the French authorities took thousands of Jews after being detained in Paris on 16 July 1942. The name “Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup” is derived from the nickname of the Vélodrome d’Hiver (“Winter Velodrome”), a bicycle velodrome and stadium where most of the victims were temporarily confined. The roundup was one of several aimed at reducing the Jewish population in Occupied France. According to records of the Préfecture de Police, 13,152 victims were arrested, including more than 4,000 children. They were held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver in extremely crowded conditions, almost without water, food and sanitary facilities, as well as at the Drancy, Pithiviers, and Beaune-la-Rolande internment camps,[2] then shipped by railway transportsto Auschwitz for extermination.

visu_enfants02 vel-d-hiv-plaque-2-c- Vel D'hiv 3 th1 rafle_vel_d_hiv_exposition_1 le-vel-d_hiv-rempli-de-juifs-en-juillet-1942-c2ab-prc3aats-c2bb-c3a0-c3aatre-dc3a9portc3a9s 70-ans-rafle-vel-dhiv-16-17-juillet-1942-L-Umi8DP

From the Velodrome D’Hiver the families were taken to camps like Drancy, Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande. Sarah and her parents are taken to Beaune-la-Rolande from where Sarah manages to escape.

The Drancy internment camp was an assembly and detention camp for confining Jews who were later deported to the extermination camps. It was located in Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris. Between June 22, 1942, and July 31, 1944, during its use as an internment camp, 67,400 French, Polish, and German Jews were deported from the camp in 64 rail transports, which included 6,000 children. Only 1,542 remained alive at the camp whenAllied forces liberated it on 17 August 1944.

19112a 1220984105_camp-de-Drancy Drancy

Pithiviers internment camp was a Nazi transit camp in Pithiviers, France during the Second World War. Children were separated there from their parents; the adults were processed and deported to concentration camps farther away, usually Auschwitz.

DMPA numŽrisation 7436 Frankreich, Internierungslager Pithiviers

The camp that the novel portrays is Beaune-la-Rolande. 18,000 Jews were held in the camp, most of them to be transported to Auschwitz. The camp was closed in August 1943.


In 2002 it was the anniversary of the Vel D’Hiv.

tag,0000 binary_PM1E87M0ZP201-BASEIMAGE

The apartment where four-year-old Michel dies is in le Marais. Le Marais is a historic district in Paris, France. Long the aristocratic district of Paris, it hosts many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance. Sarah’s family lived at 36 rue de Saintonge.

descarga rue de saintonge

In the book apart from Paris, Julia goes to find Sarah to America. She goes to Roxbury in  Litchfield County, Connecticut.

IMG_5365 roxbury

Julia also goes to Lucca in Tuscany where Sarah’s son lives.

Ariel-view-of-Lucca descarga (1)

After reading the book, I also learned that there is a film based on this novel, starred by Kristin Scott Thomas.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s