Drancy was a transit camp just north of Paris that was used to hold Jews temporarily until they could be transported to the concentration camps in Poland. It was a multi-storey complex, originally intended to be a public housing project for 700 people. But its close proximity to a railway station made it ideal for holding the thousands of Jews being rounded up in Paris and beyond. Up to 7,000 Jews were housed there at a time.
The camp was run by the French police until July 1943, when it was taken over by the SS.
The badge system in Nazi concentration camps defined and differentiated each prisoner racially, politically and/or sexually.
Yellow Star: Jewish
Green Triangle: Criminal
Red Triangle: Political Prisoner (often Communist)
Black Triangle: “Asocials” (vagrants, Roma gypsies)
Pink Triangles: Homosexuals
Purple Triangles: Jehovah’s Witnesses
If the prisoner was non-German, they had the initial of their place of origin on their badge. If a prisoner fell into more than one category they wore a number of badges (e.g. a Jewish, gay communist would wear a yellow star, pink triangle and red triangle).
Jews were required to wear the yellow badges even before they were interned. Non-compliance, as in Hartmann's case, could lead to deportation.
Note: Hartmann also appears in Faulks's The Girl at the Lion d’Or.
Levi first appears in Birdsong. He loses his brother Joseph in a tunnel, and while searching for him encounters Stephen Wraysford.
Jewish soldiers served on both sides in World War I, and many of the survivors subsequently ended up being deported to the gas chambers by those compatriots in whose name they'd bravely fought.