If you thought the DaVinci Code was good, wait till you read about this French village.
About 132 miles north of Paris is the small hamlet of Roubaix. You would never really even know it by its current condition, but this little French town was once a bustling industrial powerhouse. By the late 18th century, Roubaix emerged as a regional textile manufacturing center and by 1800, the population had already doubled to over 8,ooo. As the 19th century industrial boom continued, workers were required and there was a great influx of Belgians who were fleeing their home country for better economic opportunities. As a result, Roubaix ranked number one of all the French towns in terms of population growth rate during the first half of the 19th century. That was a five-times increase!
By 1866, Belgians accounted for 30,486 members of the population and by 1872, its number had increased to 42,103 residents. At the turn of the 20th century, Roubaix had reached a stunning population of 124,661 people.
For four years during World War I, Roubaix was occupied by German forces from 1914-’18 and during that period, Roubaisians were deported for compulsory labor elsewhere and because it was a combat zone for the Western Front, unusual numbers of casualties were reported here as well. By the end of that great war, the population had dropped to about 113K people.
That is the end of the story for Roubaix.
Or so it seemed?
Throughout the rest of the 20th century, the population continues to decline and the urban decay continues to spread. There is a dearth of jobs so that the unemployment rate skyrockets to a shocking 22%. The poverty levels have touched more than 65% of the town’s residents. This is serious.
After World War II, however, a phenomenon occurred that was not paid a lot of attention. Jews began to flood the small town and its population actually reflected one of the largest Jewish centers in France. One of the first and most revered temples was built there and housed the Sefer Torah of Roubaix, a hand-written Torah, one of the holiest books in Judaism. In 1990, without much fanfare, the Jews in Roubaix suddenly handed their most sacred book over to a temple in nearby Lille. And without so much as a word, shut down the temple and left town. In 2000, the house in which the Sefer Torah was created 123 years before was demolished as part of an “urban renewal” project.
Why is all of this relevant? Fast forward by almost 20 years and we are back in Roubaix for a different reason, one which, on the surface seems to be relatively remote in connection, but upon closer inspection, reveals a deep and seething hatred that has plagued this society since the early 1990s.
Read on the following page about how police officers in modern-day Roubaix are battling a new set of deadly traps set for them by an age-old enemy; one that has been under their very noses this whole time.