The Nazis in France sought relief from Second Front nerves in new persecutions of Jews. Thousands were rounded up in Paris and tight-packed into the Vélodrome d'Hiver, where Parisian crowds used to cheer favorite bicycle racers. Not only Jewish refugees from Central Europe, but French Jews, too, were marked for deportation to work in slave battalions. An order was issued directing the sterilization of Jewish children seized in Paris.
So strong was the stench of this new wave of sadism that it reached the nostrils of the Vatican, whose late Pope Pius XI had called anti-Jewish excesses "Sacrificium Patriarchae nostri Abramae" (Sacrifice of our Father Abraham). Lunching with Marshal Petain last week, Monsignor Valerio Valeri, the Papal Nuncio to France, turned the conversation to what was happening in Paris. Fidgeting uneasily, the old Marshal admitted the problem was "unpleasant," but added: "The Pope understands and approves my attitude." A brief silence fell. The grizzly, spade-bearded Nuncio said softly: "The Holy Father neither understands nor approves."