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The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews /
Susan Zuccotti.
imprint
Lincoln ; London : University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
description
xv, 383 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0803299141 (pbk. : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Lincoln ; London : University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
isbn
0803299141 (pbk. : alk. paper)
catalogue key
11784848
 
Includes bibliographical references (pages [291]-366) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Susan Zuccotti teaches modern European history at Barnard College and Columbia University.
First Chapter


Chapter One

Jews in France before the War

At the time of the French Revolution, the 40,000 Jews of France constituted one of the smallest and most diverse Jewish communities in Europe. Jews had been expelled from the kingdom of France in 1394, one hundred years before the more famous expulsions from Spain. Since that time, only about 500 had managed to trickle back into Paris, and another few hundred resided in other major cities. About 25,000 poor and strictly observant Ashkenazic Jews lived in traditional communities in Alsace and part of Lorraine, French possessions since the seventeenth century. The remaining 15,000 Jews resided in Bayonne and Bordeaux in the southwest, or in the Comtat Venaissin, a territory centered in Avignon and controlled by the papacy until 1791. Sephardic and Comtadin Jews, respectively, they were generally prosperous, educated, and partially integrated into the broader society before 1789.

    The French Revolution electrified Europeans in a multitude of ways, but not least significant was the emancipation of the Jews in 1790 and 1791. France became, with the United States, the first country in the world to grant Jews full political, legal, and social equality, eliminating all formal barriers to their participation in every aspect of life. In the minds of "enlightened" legislators, emancipation was intimately linked to the assumption that Jews would promptly assimilate and become socially and culturally indistinguishable from other citizens. Most Sephardic and Comtadin Jews endorsed that objective without hesitation. Jews from eastern France were somewhat slower to sacrifice their traditional language, customs, and dress, but they too usually succumbed to the lure of integration within a generation or two. Despite the personal and family disorientation that such adaptations must have entailed, most Jews regarded the principles of the Revolution with profound veneration.

    In his memoirs, the writer Julien Benda (1867-1956) eloquently described these attitudes among French Jews of his parents' generation. Benda's mother's family had been French since the reign of Napoleon I; his father had immigrated to Paris from Belgium in 1827, seeking economic opportunity. "I was raised in the spirit of the Republic," Benda recalled. "Democratic principles were ingrained in my bones. These principles, as my parents adopted them, were: civil equality, I mean the abolition of privilege, a secular State, individual liberty." Benda realized that these "revolutionary" concepts were often less appreciated by the non-Jewish French bourgeoisie, and he explained: "The attachment of my father to the Revolution was due in part to the gratitude he felt because it had emancipated his race, given civil and political liberties to the Jews. I often heard him say that it was scandalous that a Jew should oppose it, for without it he would still be in the ghetto."

    The French political philosopher Raymond Aron (1905-83) wrote in a similar vein about his family during the late nineteenth century:

My grandparents, Jews from the East [of France, i.e., Lorraine], exhibited an uncompromising patriotism. I do not believe that they ever asked themselves the question, so fashionable today: Jews or Frenchmen first? Even my father, as far as I can remember, although he was more upset by the Dreyfus Affair than by any other historic event, did not budge from his positions: Freemason in his youth, without religious concerns, with no or almost no Jewish practice, he did not differ, at least superficially, from his university friends, Catholics or atheists, vaguely leftist.

    The "uncompromising patriotism" of French Jews was inextricably linked to their remarkable economic, social, and political achievements during the century following emancipation. In the years of the Bourbon Restoration (1815-30), recently emancipated individuals moved to cities, educated their children in secular state schools, and prepared to enter the mainstream. As an indication of their determination, Jews in the 1820s and 1830s were already proportionally more highly represented than non-Jews in university-oriented lycées and in the prestigious École polytechnique. Under the Orleanist monarchy from 1830 to 1848, Jews began to excel in business, finance, politics, and the professions--developments that became even more dramatic in subsequent regimes. Rothschild Frères, founded in Paris in 1812, was joined within a few decades by numerous other vastly successful Jewish family banks and businesses, including those of the Péreires, Bambergers, Reinachs, Goudchauxes, and Bischoffsheims. Jewish politicians such as Achille Fould (1800-67), Michel Goudchaux (1797-1862), and Adolphe Crémieux (1796-1880) attained positions of power and influence. And in the last decades of the century, there were hundreds of Jewish military officers, including ten generals. They constituted, at times, 3 percent of the regular army officer corps.

    In intellectual and artistic endeavors, the accomplishments of French Jews were equally impressive. By 1895, according to one estimate, 7 of the 260 members of the Institut de France, which included the Académie française and the Académie des beaux-arts, were Jewish. They represented 2.7 percent of the membership, while Jews overall represented about 0.2 percent of the population. One of the first to be so honored, in 1836, was Fromental Halévy (1799-1862), the composer of more than twenty operas, a teacher at the Paris Conservatory, and a chorus master at the Paris Opera. His nephew Ludovic Halévy (1834-1908) was a dramatist and novelist and, especially, the librettist, with Henri Meilhac, of Georges Bizet's Carmen (1875) and of several of Jacques Offenbach's most beloved works, including La Belle Hélène (1865), La Vie parisienne (1867), and La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein (1867). The operettas of Ludovic Halévy and Jacques Offenbach (1819-80), the son of a German cantor and an immigrant to France, came to epitomize the flamboyant, tolerant Second Empire in much the same way that the films of American Jews, many of them also immigrants, set the tone of an era many decades later. Jews also played significant roles in French theatrical circles. Two incomparable actresses of the Parisian stage--Rachel, born Elisabeth Rachel Felix (1821-58), and Sarah Bernhardt, born Rosine Bernard (1844-1923)--were Jewish.

    Among French writers, philosophers, and social scientists, Jewish names are also prominent. To cite only a few examples, Henri Bergson (1859-1941), the internationally recognized philosopher elected to the Académie française in 1914 and awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927, was the son of an assimilated and prosperous Parisian Jewish family, Émile Durkheim (1858-1917), generally regarded as the father of contemporary sociology, was the son of a rabbi from Alsace. Of these two, a historian has written, "One was to rank as the philosopher, the other as the sociologist, of early twentieth-century France"--a remarkable indication of the contribution of Jewish intellectuals to French culture. Also highly esteemed were the philosopher Léon Brunschvicg (1869-1944), the philosopher and sociologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (1857-1939), and the author Marcel Proust (1871-1922), whose mother was Jewish. Other Jewish authors include Julien Benda, Jules Isaac (1877-1963), André Spire (1868-1966), André Suarès (1868-1948), Edmond Fleg (1874-1963), and the brothers Élie and Daniel Halévy (1870-1937 and 1872-1962, respectively), to mention only a few. And in education at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, at a time when Jews in Great Britain and the United States could rarely expect academic careers, French Jewish professors held prestigious chairs at most universities, including the Sorbonne and the elite grandes écoles .

    The career of yet another memorable member of the Halévy family, Lucien Prévost-Paradol (1829-70), perhaps reveals most strikingly the intimate identification of integrated French Jews with their country. Prévost-Paradol, a graduate of the École normale supérieure , was a brilliant liberal journalist, author, politician, and political theorist. In 1866, he was elected as the youngest member of the Académie française. Four years later, while serving as a French minister in Washington, D.C., he committed suicide after receiving news of the Franco-Prussian War.

    The vast majority of the roughly 80,000 Jews in France at the end of the nineteenth century, of course, did not rise to lofty pinnacles within their professions, but nearly all seem to have felt comfortable in their country, free from formal restrictions and widespread hostility. As the pediatrician Robert Debré (1882-1978) recalled of the years of his own childhood, "It did not seem then that the anti-Semitism to which people alluded, relating with horror its ravages in other times and places, could reach us and trouble our human relations. It was only later, at the time of the Dreyfus Affair, that we in France suffered from the unleashing of that passion."

    Similarly, Jules Isaac, grandson of a soldier who had volunteered to play the trumpet in Napoleon I's Grand Army in 1810 at the age of nineteen, and son of another volunteer who came up through the ranks to become an officer in the Imperial Guard in 1870, wrote of his own school days in the 1880s, "Our biblical name never bothered me at all. I had good friends named Gheerbrant, Prébois, Saint-Quentin." He also observed, "I do not recall that at that time the foolish nastiness distilled by anti-Semitism had really reached and wounded me." Nothing in Isaac's early experience prepared him for the virulent anti-Semitism unleashed during the Dreyfus Affair. "I had measured neither its force nor its extent," he confessed. "I did not suspect its deep roots."

    Unnoticed by the young Debré and Isaac, anti-Semitism began to flourish in France in the early 1880s. The phenomenon was unrelated to demography, for the Jewish community at the time was the smallest in any major European country except Italy. Even in Paris, the 50,000 resident Jews represented only 1.8 percent of the local population. Most Jews were French; until 1880, only a few thousand foreign Jews, most of them German, had immigrated. Roughly 7,000 to 8,000 impoverished and visibly different Russian, Romanian, and Galician Jews arrived suddenly on the scene in 1881 and 1882, escaping vicious pogroms in southern Russia and the Ukraine. That wave soon ceased, however, and between 1882 and 1900, just a few thousand more arrived, settled quietly into poor neighborhoods, and began the process of becoming devoted French men and women.

    As would occur again in the 1930s and in 1940 but in different chronological order, the resurgence of anti-Semitism in France in the 1880s was preceded by a catastrophic military defeat, a fundamental constitutional change, and a European depression. The lightning German victory in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71 severely wounded French national pride and self-confidence. The consequent loss of Alsace and Lorraine to the newly unified German state created a sense of rancor, an upsurge of exaggerated chauvinism, and a thirst for revenge that festered for decades. The same war led to the emergence of the Third Republic, with a governing majority that, after initial uncertainties, became increasingly anticlerical. Catholics felt threatened by government efforts to remove men and women of the Church from teaching positions in the public schools, dissolve the religious congregations, and expel the Jesuits.

    In addition, many average citizens were disenchanted by what the historian Eugen Weber has called the "endless crisis" of the 1880s and 1890s--the recurrent dangers of war with Germany or Britain; threats of political or military coups; sordid financial scandals and corruption; anarchist violence; and rapid industrialization and modernization accompanied by unemployment, strikes, and social disorientation. Then to political, social, and religious insecurities was added the impact of the depression that began in the early 1880s and lasted until well into the 1890s.

    Why did these multiple anxieties provoke popular anti-Semitism, which had remained dormant in France under the Second Empire? Conservatives, Catholics, and extreme Socialists and anarchists who, since the French Revolution, had never accepted a republic or a popularly elected parliament now needed a scapegoat for their troubles. The French Revolution had granted Jewish emancipation. Since most grateful Jews were consequently fervent Republicans, they were in the enemy camp in the eyes of all who opposed the Third Republic. Also, a large proportion of Jews in France in the 1880s had Alsatian roots, spoke French with German accents or intonations, or, like the family of Alfred Dreyfus, actually spoke German itself in addition to French. Even worse, some other Jews had personal roots in Germany and Eastern Europe and spoke German or Yiddish instead of French. To increasing numbers of Germanophobic French chauvinists bent on revenge for the loss of Alsace and Lorraine, these "German" Jews appeared to be potential traitors--as Dreyfus seemed in 1895. And as many Frenchmen, insecure in the wake of their humiliating defeat, became ever more concerned with cultural homogeneity, they began to view Jews in general as internationalists or unassimilable foreigners of dubious loyalty.

    Among Catholics, Jews had been the targets of prejudice and hostility for centuries. The Church had long condemned them for the killing of Jesus and their refusal to convert. In the 1880s, Catholics who equally despised the relentless individualism, materialism, industrialization, and modernization associated with liberalism blamed those conditions on Jews, who seemed to be endorsing and profiting from them. Catholics also noted and exaggerated a Jewish presence among enemy anticlericals. Meanwhile, victims of the depression--small farmers, shopkeepers, artisans, the unemployed--looked for someone to blame. Those jealous of the spectacular and very visible financial successes of a few Jewish banking families, of the gains of Jewish business competitors, or of poor Jewish workers who took scarce jobs for low wages, pointed in that direction. Conservatives, chauvinists, religious anti-Semites, and some antiparliamentarian anarchists and Socialists reinforced the charges, and many humble French men and women listened.

    Also as in 1940, French anti-Semitism around the turn of the century involved a hearty dose of political opportunism. At least one well-known Jew-baiter was honest enough to admit as much. "Everything seemed impossible, or frightfully difficult, without this providential anti-Semitism," wrote Charles Maurras in 1911. "Because of it, everything arranged itself, evened itself off, and was simplified. If one was not anti-Semitic from patriotic will, one became so from a simple sense of opportunism." As in Germany and Austria during the same years, anti-Semitism in France during the last two decades of the nineteenth century became a convenient tool for demagogues on both the extreme Right and the extreme Left--a device intended to attract the disaffected masses and galvanize them against the common enemy, the liberal state.

    Major landmarks in the sorry tale of nineteenth-century French anti-Semitism can only be mentioned briefly here. In 1882, a bank called the Union générale, which had attracted the investments of French monarchists and Catholics of all types, from aristocrats to thousands of humble country priests and their parishioners, failed. A judicial inquiry blamed the disaster on the wild speculations of the bank's founder and director, Eugène Bontoux, a fervent Catholic previously employed by the Rothschilds. Bontoux himself, however, accused Jewish banks of unfair competition, and the anti-Semitic press fanned the charges for years.

    Four years after the collapse, a two-volume book entitled La France juive appeared. In the course of its 1,200 pages, the author, Édouard Drumont, blamed all the ills of modern France on the Jews, taking occasional swipes at Protestants, Freemasons, and anticlericals. Drumont aimed at a mass readership and attempted to appeal to French men and women in all walks of life. Establishing a pattern that would persist among anti-Semites until the Second World War, he assured workers that Jews were agents of capitalist exploitation, while telling the lower middle classes that Jews were responsible for Marxism. As the historian Jean-Louis Bredin has observed, "Thus [Drumont] was able to reconcile in anti-Semitism counter-Revolutionary thought, the Catholic tradition, and a populist anticapitalism of socialistic tendency. Thanks to anti-Semitism, class conflicts were dissolved." Similar forces would prevail in 1940.

    After a slow start and a lively press campaign, 100,000 copies of La France juive were sold by the end of 1886. Its success was followed by a burst of other anti-Semitic publications, of which the best known were La Libre parole , a daily newspaper founded by Drumont himself in April 1892, and the Assumptionist Fathers' La Croix , dating from the early 1880s. By 1894, the year the Dreyfus Affair began, more than two million copies of various La Croix publications were being printed throughout the country each week. And yet, despite those figures, popular anti-Semitism declined in the early 1890s. The French National Anti-Semitic League dissolved ignominiously in 1890. At the same time, officially anti-Semitic candidates in Parisian municipal elections received a total of only 3,083 votes. Tens of thousands of Parisians turned out for the funeral in 1892 of Captain Armand Mayer, killed in a duel provoked by articles in La Libre parole attacking the numbers and alleged privileges of Jewish army officers. Minister of War Charles de Freycinet declared that the army made no distinctions between Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Deputies unanimously voted it a crime to sow division in the army. And after a brief surge in early 1893 because of its provocative coverage of the Panama Canal scandal, the circulation figures of La Libre parole sank to a few thousand copies by the summer of 1894.

    If racial intolerance was not pervasive in fin de siècle France, neither was it exclusively directed toward Jews. Italians, Belgians, Germans, Poles, North Africans, and even Bretons, Auvergnats, and French southerners in general were unpopular among those with whom they competed for jobs. Against Italians in particular, who numbered roughly 300,000 in the 1890s (25 percent of all the foreigners in France, and nearly four times the number of French and foreign Jews combined), violent and often fatal clashes occurred frequently throughout the 1880s and 1890s. As Eugen Weber points out, "The history of the fin de siècle, which records little physical violence against Jews, is one long litany of outbursts against Italians, rising at times to what could be described as pogroms."

    The comparison is instructive, but there was a difference. Anti-Italian sentiment and more general hostility to migrant labor were largely a spontaneous product of the working class facing hard times. Anti-Semitism was that, and much more. Anti-Semitism was articulated and endorsed by an intellectual and political elite, for its own purposes. Especially in a country like France, where intellectuals were regarded with respect and deference, anti-Semitism sanctioned from above acquired prestige, stature, and a permanent place in the culture that working-class anti-Italianism could never hope to achieve.

* * *

    The arrest for espionage of the Alsatian Jew Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), the court-martial and sentence to perpetual deportation for treason, and the humiliating military degradation ceremony on January 5, 1895, gave popular anti-Semitism in France a new lease on life. Nor was the initial focus on a Jewish officer an accident. "I should have suspected it!" exclaimed Colonel Jean Sandherr, head of the army general staff's intelligence bureau, when investigators suggested Dreyfus's guilt to him. For despite their accessibility to Jews, the upper echelons of the French officer corps were permeated with anti-Semitism. Many officers (including Lieutenant-Colonel Marie-Georges Picquart [1854-1914], who uncovered the most conclusive evidence of Dreyfus's innocence) had been educated in Jesuit schools and reflected the prejudices rampant there. Many were displaced Alsatians who combined the traditional anti-Semitism of the region with personal grudges against perceived "Germans." Many, also, had served in North Africa, where anti-Semitism was more prevalent than in France itself. Poor pay, slow advancement, and the diminishing social status of military service fostered personal frustrations and the search for scapegoats.

    If the army's initial focus of suspicion on Dreyfus was an anti-Semitic act, however, other factors helped determine his conviction. The handwriting on the celebrated memorandum discovered at the German embassy in Paris and revealing the existence of a French traitor bore an unfortunate resemblance to Dreyfus's. His haughty demeanor and uncongenial personality, his linguistic and economic ties to his Alsatian birthplace, his class origins in a newly enriched upper bourgeois family rather than in the genteel, often impoverished nobility that provided so many French officers, and above all, the army's pressing need, in the glare of relentless journalistic scrutiny, to find a culprit, all played a role in distracting Dreyfus's judges from the evidence of his innocence. Those same factors, combined with the army's conviction that an admission of error and fallibility would irreparably weaken both the nation and the military, continued to discourage revision for twelve years, in the face of ever more overwhelming evidence in its favor. To contemporaries willing and able to understand the immensely complex case, whether Dreyfusard or anti-Dreyfusard, the Dreyfus Affair was in the last analysis only partially about Jews at all. It was primarily about an individual sacrificed to the needs and priorities of the nation and the social order.

    To largely urban masses fanned by a scurrilous popular press, however, the Jewish question remained paramount, releasing an appallingly primitive, vulgar, and violent popular hatred. In the days and weeks following the publication of Émile Zola's famous article "J'Accuse" on the front page of L'Aurore on January 13, 1898, thousands of young people marched through the streets of scores of French cities, calling for the death of Jews, smashing Jewish storefronts, and attempting to break into homes and synagogues. Meanwhile, in French Algeria, a virtual pogrom lasted for days, and several people were killed. Anti-Semitic leagues flourished, and 25,000 people, including 1,000 army officers, contributed to a fund established by La Libre parole to help the widow of Major Hubert-Joseph Henry, who had committed suicide in prison after being arrested for lies and forgeries of documents implicating Dreyfus. Letters accompanying the contributions, many from humble workers and artisans, explained motivations in the most lurid fashion. "Death to the Jews" was a restrained expression when compared to pathological calls for roasting, hanging, gassing, vivisection, and massacre, accompanied by references to Jews as kikes, pimps, lice, plagues, cancers, and filthy beings.

    The year 1898 was the high point, or, more appropriately, the low point of the Dreyfus Affair, however, and when justice finally prevailed, it did so quietly. At least as difficult to understand as the Affair itself is its peaceful, uncontested resolution. After 1898, the anti-Dreyfusard public, as if purged and shamed by the exhibition of its basest instincts, seemed to have lost interest, and efforts by the popular press to stir up anti-Jewish sentiments in the last years before revision were largely ignored. Alfred Dreyfus, who would have been lynched in many French cities in 1898, was acquitted by the High Court of Appeal in 1906, reinstated as a captain in the army, and awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor. He returned to active service during the First World War, without recorded incidents, and died in 1935. His tragedy and triumph discredited anti-Semitism in France for the next twenty years. It would not resurface as a popular force until the decade of his death.

    While the years just before the First World War may have been a period of vague unease for much of the European bourgeoisie, they were for French Jews "a golden age of symbiosis." With anti-Semitism distinctly out of favor, Jews could generally live with their image of themselves comfortably intact. They were French, different from the majority only in religion. As such, they rejected the term Jew ( Juif ), which implied a distinct culture, and called themselves Israélites . Many were also highly successful. Although Jews now constituted just 0.25 percent of the national population, they pointed proudly to the three to six Jewish members of the Chamber of Deputies during these years, or 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the total. When André Spire, Léon Blum, and Paul Grunebaum-Ballin were admitted to the Council of State and Henri Bergson to the Académie française (not without some anti-Semitic protests), Jews had risen to the highest levels in the civil service and in the world of letters. By 1939, they constituted approximately one-third of all Parisian bankers, at least 12 percent of the doctors, 9 percent of the dentists, 10 percent of the lawyers, and 12 percent of the journalists.

    In religious matters, most French Jews were only mildly observant. Pierre Abraham regarded his mother and grandmother as typical of bourgeois women of all faiths around the turn of the century. Their attitudes were

the same as those of Catholic or Protestant women toward their Church. They went to the synagogue for the major holy days of the year, and for the anniversaries of family deaths. They contributed publicly to the charitable agencies of the Consistoire . At home, they gave charity to recognized beggars.... In these ways, they fulfilled their religious duties.

They did not, however, abide by all the traditional religious proscriptions. Forbidden by Jewish law to utilize mechanical transportation on the Sabbath, they descended from their coach fifty meters from the door of the synagogue. Abraham's grandmother read the Jewish prayer book daily in Hebrew but understood "no more [of it] than an elderly Catholic lady reading her rite in Latin." Judaism was a meaningful part of the family tradition, but individual members defined it very much in their own way.

    Was French anti-Semitism really as dead at the turn of the century as Jews so eagerly wanted to believe? Many remember some blemishes. Charles Lopata, born in France in 1903 to poor Lithuanian immigrants, roamed the streets of Paris freely as a child and often heard the epithet " sale Juif " ("dirty Jew"), but his friends, usually non-Jews, always defended him? Pierre Abraham, whose family had been French for generations, remembered that his brother Marcel was often beaten by other boys at the Lycée Condorcet during the Dreyfus Affair, but that by the time he entered the school in 1901, the mood was calmer. However, he wrote,

throughout my years of study my comrades never let me forget for long my fundamental flaw. A good grade in composition, a kind word from a teacher, an exemption from gym class, a quarrel during recess, everything was a pretext for insults in the younger classes, for crueler insinuations in the older classes.

In 1902, Abraham was taunted by a teacher for being not truly French and therefore not expected to remember the date of Napoleon's victory over the Prussians at Jena, even though none of his classmates knew it either. He was convinced that his father's career with the French railroad suffered because of his Jewishness until 1918, when the fact that his three sons had fought for France overcame pettier concerns. Until the post-World War I period, Abraham concluded, the family's Judaism was "a weight difficult to forget in the most banal of daily events."

    While 1914 disrupted the peace of a golden age, it confirmed Jewish patriotism. On August 3, 1914, the Fédération des sociétés juives de France, an association of foreign Jewish organizations in France, issued an appeal in French and Yiddish. It stated that, "if we are not yet French by law, we are in heart and soul, and our most sacred duty is to put ourselves immediately at the disposition of this great and noble nation in order to participate in its defense." Ten thousand foreign Jews are believed to have enlisted from a total immigrant Jewish population in France in 1914 of perhaps 40,000. Some 46,000 native and foreign Jews were mobilized and 6,500 were killed, from a population in 1914 of about 120,000. One victim, killed in action on April 13, 1915, was Robert Hertz, the son of a German immigrant and himself a graduate of the École normale supérieure and a professor of philosophy. In a letter to his wife from the front, Hertz had expressed the love of country so typical of native and foreign Jews alike:

Yes, I am filled with gratitude toward the country which accepts and overwhelms me. Nothing is too much to repay that, so that my little son may always walk with his head high and not know, in a restored France, the torment which poisoned many hours in our childhood and youth. "Am I French? Do I deserve to be?" No, little fellow, you have a country and you will be able to make your footsteps resound on the land while reassuring yourself: "My papa was there and he gave everything to France."

    For Jews in the war, the terms union sacrée and "fraternity of the trenches" were more than just pretty words. Thirty-seven rabbis served along with Catholic priests and Protestant ministers as army chaplains, and stories of mutual support abound. The best known involves the grand rabbi of Lyon, Abraham Bloch (1859-1914), an army chaplain killed while bringing a crucifix to a wounded Catholic soldier. His story and that of Hertz and others favorably impressed the nationalist writer Maurice Barrès (1862-1923). In 1902, Barrès had written of French Jews, "For us, la patrie is our soil and our ancestors, the land of our dead. For them, it is the place where their self-interest is best pursued." In 1917, Barrès admitted, "Many Israélites , settled among us for generations and centuries, are natural members of the national body." For Barrès, it was a profound concession.

(Continues...)

Copyright © 1993 BasicBooks, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1993-07:
Zuccotti ( The Italians and the Holocaust , LJ 2/15/87) has written another fine, highly readable Holocaust study. While 250,000 (or 76 percent) of France's Jews survived the war, they survived despite the vicious anti-Semitism of the Vichy government, which often zealously anticipated Nazi requests for rooting out Jews--especially foreign-born Jews--and deporting them on trains to death camps. The Vichy government had little mercy for children or the elderly. Fortunately, many French citizens aided Jews either actively, by warning them of upcoming raids or hiding Jewish children, or passively, by simply not informing on them. Altogether, it is a checkered history. This book should be read in conjunction with an important study by Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (Basic Bks., 1981). Highly recommmended for most libraries.-- Paul Kaplan, Dakota Cty. Lib., Eagan, Minn. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1994-01:
The now familiar story of the fate of Jews in France during WW II receives a vivid retelling at Zuccotti's hands. Author of a well-received study, The Italians and the Holocaust (CH, Sep'87), Zuccotti does not attempt a definitive treatment of the subject in her new book; the evolution and application of the Vichy government's antisemitic policies are more thoroughly analyzed by Michael Marrus and Robert Paxton's Vichy France and the Jews (CH, Apr'82). Instead, Zuccotti focuses on the popular responses, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to the relentless persecution imposed by the Nazis and their French collaborators on native and, especially, immigrant Jews. In drawing chiefly on the extensive memoir literature of those who survived (approximately 75% of native born Jews, but only around 55% of the foreign born), she puts a personal face on the victims and those who tried to aid them. Their anguished and heroic experiences are recounted in detail. The benign neglect and vague goodwill of the French people as a whole helped redeem their leaders' xenophobic inhumanity. An excellent narrative. General; community college; undergraduate. L. D. Stokes; Dalhousie University
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1993-06-14:
Despite the French Vichy regime's complicity in the roundup and deportation of Jews to Nazi death camps, roughly three-fourths of France's Jews, an estimated 250,000 people, survived. Zuccotti, author of the National Jewish Book Award-winner Italians and the Holocaust , attributes their survival partly to ``benign neglect''--the vast majority of French men and women kept silent, allowing Jews to remain in hiding or to cross borders. Many Jews in France with fake papers and ration cards survived by living quietly and taking odd jobs, abetted, according to Zuccotti, by the passive goodwill of hundreds of thousands of French men and women who simply went about their own business. Using a wealth of archival documents, the author chronicles the clandestine networks of Jewish rescue organizations, the heroic efforts of armed Jewish resistance groups and the assistance provided by non-Jews such as the 3000 residents of Le Chambon who hid some 5000 Jews in their homes. She also charts the treachery of Vichy politicians and of countless French collaborators who joined fascist leagues to hunt down resistants and Jews. European history professor at Barnard and Columbia, Zuccotti forces us to rethink the French response to the Holocaust in this challenging book. Photos. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A book on the French occupation needs to point out that a lot of Jews were saved and a lot of Frenchmen acted well. Susan Zuccotti . . . accomplishes exactly that."Forward
"A book on the French occupation needs to point out that a lot of Jews were saved and a lot of Frenchmen acted well. Susan Zuccotti . . . accomplishes exactly that."- Forward
"This is an important work of 20th-century history. It is admirably researched, but remains lucid. It is, of necessity, sometimes harrowing, but illuminates moments of selfless heroism. Above all, it details a period of French history which has for too long been known to foreigners in only the broadest outlines. . . . This is a valuable book deserving a wide readership."--Morning Star, 13 December, 1999"Valuable and lucid . . . Susan Zuccotti's book is admirable in many important ways."-New York Times Book Review"A book on the French occupation needs to point out that a lot of Jews were saved and a lot of Frenchmen acted well. Susan Zuccotti . . . accomplishes exactly that."-Forward
"This is an important work of 20th-century history. It is admirably researched, but remains lucid. It is, of necessity, sometimes harrowing, but illuminates moments of selfless heroism. Above all, it details a period of French history which has for too long been known to foreigners in only the broadest outlines. . . . This is a valuable book deserving a wide readership."--Morning Star, 13 December, 1999 "Valuable and lucid . . . Susan Zuccotti's book is admirable in many important ways."--New York Times Book Review "A book on the French occupation needs to point out that a lot of Jews were saved and a lot of Frenchmen acted well. Susan Zuccotti . . . accomplishes exactly that."--Forward
"Valuable and lucid . . . Susan Zuccotti's book is admirable in many important ways."New York Times Book Review
"Valuable and lucid . . . Susan Zuccotti's book is admirable in many important ways."- New York Times Book Review
"Valuable and lucid . . . Susan Zuccotti's book is admirable in many important ways."-New York Times Book Review. "A book on the French occupation needs to point out that a lot of Jews were saved and a lot of Frenchmen acted well. Susan Zuccotti . . . accomplishes exactly that."-Forward.
"Valuable and lucid . . . Susan Zuccotti's book is admirable in many important ways."New York Times Book Review. "A book on the French occupation needs to point out that a lot of Jews were saved and a lot of Frenchmen acted well. Susan Zuccotti . . . accomplishes exactly that."Forward.
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, February 2000
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Summaries
Main Description
Many recent books have documented the collaboration of the French authorities with the anti-Jewish German policies of World War II. Yet about 76 percent of France's Jews survivedmore than in almost any other country in Western Europe. How do we explain this phenomenon? Certainly not by looking at official French policy, for the Vichy government began preparing racial laws even before the German occupiers had decreed such laws. To provide a full answer to the question of how so many French Jews survived, Susan Zuccotti examines the response of the French people to the Holocaust. Drawing on memoirs, government documents, and personal interviews with survivors, she tells the stories of ordinary and extraordinary French men and women. Zuccotti argues that the French reaction to the Holocaust was not as reprehensible as it has been portrayed.
Main Description
Many recent books have documented the collaboration of the French authorities with the anti-Jewish German policies of World War II. Yet about 76 percent of France's Jews survived--more than in almost any other country in Western Europe. How do we explain this phenomenon? Certainly not by looking at official French policy, for the Vichy government began preparing racial laws even before the German occupiers had decreed such laws. To provide a full answer to the question of how so many French Jews survived, Susan Zuccotti examines the response of the French people to the Holocaust. Drawing on memoirs, government documents, and personal interviews with survivors, she tells the stories of ordinary and extraordinary French men and women. Zuccotti argues that the French reaction to the Holocaust was not as reprehensible as it has been portrayed.
Main Description
Many recent books have documented the collaboration of the French authorities with the anti-Jewish German policies of World War II. Yet about 76 percent of France's Jews survived-more than in almost any other country in Western Europe. How do we explain this phenomenon? Certainly not by looking at official French policy, for the Vichy government began preparing racial laws even before the German occupiers had decreed such laws. To provide a full answer to the question of how so many French Jews survived, Susan Zuccotti examines the response of the French people to the Holocaust. Drawing on memoirs, government documents, and personal interviews with survivors, she tells the stories of ordinary and extraordinary French men and women. Zuccotti argues that the French reaction to the Holocaust was not as reprehensible as it has been portrayed.
Main Description
Many recent books have documented the collaboration of the French authorities with the anti-Jewish German policies of World War II. Yet about 76 percent of France's Jews survived-more than in almost any other country in Western Europe. How do we explain this phenomenon? Certainly not by looking at official French policy, for the Vichy government began preparing racial laws even before the German occupiers had decreed such laws. To provide a full answer to the question of how so many French Jews survived, Susan Zuccotti examines the response of the French people to the Holocaust. Drawing on memoirs, government documents, and personal interviews with survivors, she tells the stories of ordinary and extraordinary French men and women. Zuccotti argues that the French reaction to the Holocaust was not as reprehensible as it has been portrayed.Susan Zuccotti teaches modern European history at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the author ofThe Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival(Nebraska 1996), which won the National Jewish Book Award in 1987.
Main Description
Many recent books have documented the collaboration of the French authorities with the anti-Jewish German policies of World War II. Yet about 76 percent of France's Jews survived--more than in almost any other country in Western Europe. How do we explain this phenomenon? Certainly not by looking at official French policy, for the Vichy government began preparing racial laws even before the German occupiers had decreed such laws. To provide a full answer to the question of how so many French Jews survived, Susan Zuccotti examines the response of the French people to the Holocaust. Drawing on memoirs, government documents, and personal interviews with survivors, she tells the stories of ordinary and extraordinary French men and women. Zuccotti argues that the French reaction to the Holocaust was not as reprehensible as it has been portrayed. Susan Zuccotti teaches modern European history at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the author of The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival (Nebraska 1996), which won the National Jewish Book Award in 1987.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Jews in France before the Warp. 7
War Begins, 1939-1940p. 31
Racial Laws, 1940-1941p. 51
Internment Camps in the Unoccupied Zone, 1940-1941p. 65
Roundups and Deportations, May 1941-June 1942p. 81
The July Roundup, Paris, 1942p. 103
Expulsions from the Unoccupied Zone, August-September 1942p. 118
Attitudes toward the Jews, 1942p. 138
Arrests of Foreign Jews, September 1942-February 1943p. 157
No Holds Barred, January-December 1943p. 172
The Final Abandonment, 1944p. 190
Jewish Rescue Organizationsp. 210
Survival and Non-Jewish Rescuersp. 227
Crossing Frontiersp. 247
Jews in the Armed Resistancep. 260
Conclusionp. 279
Notesp. 291
Indexp. 367
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