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The Holocaust in France

the holocaust in france
The Holocaust in France refers to the persecution, deportation, and annihilation of Jews and Roma between 1940 and 1944 in occupied France, metropolitan Vichy, and in Vichy-North Africa, during World War II The persecution began in 1940, and culminated in deportations of Jews from France to death camps in Germany and Nazi-occupied Poland from 1942 which lasted until July 1944 Of the 340,000 Jews living in metropolitan/continental France in 1940, more than 75,000 were deported to death camps, where about 72,500 were killed French Vichy government 1 and the French police participated in the roundup of Jews Although most deported Jews died, the survival rate of the Jewish population in France was up to 75% which is one of the highest survival rates in Europe23


  • 1 Background
  • 2 History
    • 21 From the Armistice to the invasion of the Zone libre
    • 22 Drancy camp
    • 23 From the invasion of the Zone libre to 1945
  • 3 Results
  • 4 Government admission
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
    • 61 Bibliography
  • 7 Further reading
  • 8 External links


In the summer of 1940, there were around 700,000 Jews in the French soil, of which 400,000 lived in French Algeria, and integral part of France, and in the two French Protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco The French mainland, continental France, known as the Metropole, or Metropolitan France French: France métropolitaine or la Métropole, had a population of about 150,000 Jewish nationals during the Interwar period,4 in addition France hosted a large population of foreign Jews who had fled persecutions in Germany By 1939, the Jewish population had increased to 330,000 due to the refusal of the United States and the United Kingdom to accept any more Jewish refugees following the Évian Conference After the occupation of Belgium and the Netherlands in 1940, France hosted a new wave of Jewish immigrants and Jewish population peaked at 340,000 individuals4

At the declaration of World War II, French Jews were mobilized into the French military like their compatriots, and, like in 1914, a significant number of foreign Jews enlisted in regiments of foreign volunteers5 Jewish refugees from Germany were interned as enemy aliens In general, the Jewish population of France was confident in the ability of France to defend them against the occupiers, but some, particularly from Alsace and the Moselle regions fled westwards into the unoccupied zone from July 19406

The armistice agreement of 22 June 1940, signed between the Third Reich and the government of Marshal Philippe Pétain did not contain any overtly anti-Jewish clauses, but did indicate that the Germans intended the racial order existent in Germany since 1933 to spread to Metropolitan France and its overseas territories:

  • Article 3 warned that in the regions of France occupied directly by the Germans, the French administration must "by all means facilitate the regulations" relating to the exercise of the rights of the Reich;
  • Articles 16 and 19 warned that the French government had to proceed to repatriate refugees from the occupied territory and that "The French government is required to deliver on demand all German nationals designated by the Reich and who are in France, in French possessions, colonies, protectorates and territories under mandate"

Under the terms of the armistice only part of metropolitan/continental France was occupied The Vichy government of Pétain governed a new French State l'État français located in southern France, the departments of French Algeria, and France's overseas territories such as Vichy-Morocco, Vichy-Tunisia, Indochina, the Levant, etc The Vichy regime saw its empire as an integral part of non-occupied France, and its anti-Jewish decrees were immediately implemented there, because of the Vichy vision of the empire as a territorial continuation of metropolitan France The Holocaust – France, 1996 568 p published by Yad Vashem Yehuda Bauer, The Holocaust – A History “The French possessions, including those in North Africa, were under Vichy government rule and all the anti-Jewish legislation was applied thereRuth Ginio, French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa, Lincoln, NB–London, University of Nebraska Press, 2006


From the Armistice to the invasion of the Zone libreedit

An anti-Semitic exhibition, entitled "The Jew and France", in Paris, 1941 Two Jewish women in occupied Paris wearing Yellow badges in June 1942, a few weeks before the mass arrest Yellow badge made mandatory by the Nazis in France

From the summer of 1940, Otto Abetz, the German ambassador in Paris, organized the expropriation of rich Jewish families7 The Vichy regime took the first anti-Jewish measures slightly after the German authorities in the autumn of 1940 On 3 October 1940, Vichy passed a set of anti-Jewish laws called the Statut des Juifs "statute on Jews" to solve the Jewish question in areas under its control Article 9of the Statut stated that the law are applicable to France’s possessions of French Algeria, the colonies, the Protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco, and mandates territories The October 1940 Statut was prepared by Raphaël Alibert According to a document made public in 2010, Pétain himself made slight moderations to the term of the law8 The Jewish Statute, “embraced the definition of a Jew established in the Nuremberg Laws” Yahil: 173, deprived the Jews of their civil rights, and fired them from many jobs The statut also forbade Jews from working in certain professions teachers, journalists, lawyers, etc while a Law of 4 October 1940 envisaged the incarceration of foreign Jews in internment camps in southern France such as the one at Gurs These internees were joined by convoys of Jews deported from regions of France, including 6,500 Jews who had been deported from Alsace-Lorraine during Operation Bürckel

During Operation Bürckel, Gauleiters Josef Bürckel and Robert Heinrich Wagner oversaw the expulsion of Jews into unoccupied France from their Gaues and the parts of Alsace-Lorraine that had been annexed in the summer of 1941 to the Reich9 Only those Jews in mixed marriages were not expelled9 The 6,500 Jews affected by Operation Bürckel were given at most two hours warning on the night of 22–23 October 1940, before being rounded up The nine trains carrying the deported Jews crossed over into France "without any warning to the French authorities", who were not happy with receiving them9 The deportees had not been allowed to take any of their possessions with them, these being confiscated by the German authorities9 The German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop treated the ensuing complaints by the Vichy government over the expulsions in a "most dilatory fashion"9 As a result, the Jews expelled in Operation Bürckel were interned in harsh conditions by the Vichy authorities at the camps in Gurs, Rivesaltes and Les Milles while awaiting a chance to return them to Germany9

The Commissariat Général aux Questions juives "Commissariat-General for Jewish Affairs", created by the Vichy State in March 1941, managed the seizure of Jewish assets and organized anti-Jewish propaganda10 At the same time, the Germans began compiling registers of Jews in the occupied zone The Second Statut des Juifs of 2 June 1941 systematized this registrations across the country and in Vichy-North Africa Because the yellow star-of-david badge was not made compulsory in the unoccupied zone, these records would provide the basis for the future round-ups and deportations In the occupied zone, a German order enforced the wearing of the yellow star for all Jews aged over 6 on 29 May 194211

In order to more closely control the Jewish community, on 29 November 1941, the Germans created the Union Générale des Israélites de France UGIF in which all Jewish charitable works were subsumed The Germans were thus able to learn where the local Jews lived Many of the leaders of the UGIF were also deported, such as René-Raoul Lambert and André Baur12

Drancy campedit

The arrests of Jews in France began from 1940 for individuals, and general round ups began in 1941 The first raid rafle took place on 14 May 1941 The Jews arrested, all men and foreigners, were interned in the first transit campas at Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande in the Loiret 3,747 men The second round-up, between 20–1 August 1941, led to the arrest of 4,232 French and foreign Jews who were taken to Drancy internment camp13dead linkdead link

Deportations began on 27 March 1942, when the first convoy left Paris for Auschwitz14 Women and children were also targeted, for instance during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup on 16–7 July 1942, in which 13,000 Jews were arrested by the French police In the occupied zone, the French police was effectively controlled by the German authorities They carried out the measures ordered by the Germans against Jews, and in 1942, delivered non-French Jews from internment camps to the Germans15 They also contributed to the sending of tens of thousands from those camps to extermination camps in German occupied Poland, via Drancy16

In the unoccupied zone, from August 1942, foreign Jews who had been deported to refugee camps in south-west France, in Gurs and elsewhere, were again arrested and deported to the occupied zone, from where they were sent to extermination camps in Germany and occupied Poland 17

From the invasion of the Zone libre to 1945edit

French Jews being deported from Marseilles, 1943

In November 1942, the whole of France came under direct German control, apart from a small sector occupied by Italy In the Italian zone, Jews were generally spared persecution, until collapse of the Italian fascist regime led to the German occupation of all Italian territory in September 1943citation needed

The German authorities took increasing charge of the persecution of Jews, while the Vichy authorities were forced towards a more sensitive approach by public opinion However, the Milice, a French paramilitary force inspired by Nazi ideology, was heavily involved in rounding up Jews for deportation during this period The frequency of German convoys increased The last, from the camp at Drancy, left the Gare de Bobigny on 31 July 194418

In French Algeria, General Henri Giraud and later Charles de Gaulle, the French exile government restored de jure French citizenship to Jews on 20 October 194319


Of the approximately 330,000 Jews in metropolitan France in 1939, 75% survived the Holocaust, which is one of the highest survival rates in Europe3 France has the third highest number of citizens who were awarded the Righteous Among the Nations, an award given to "non-Jews who acted according to the most noble principles of humanity by risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust"20 About 75,000 Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps and death camps and 72,500 of them died2

Government admissionedit

For decades the French government declined to apologize for the role of French policemen in the roundup or for any other state complicity It was argued that the French Republic had been dismantled when Philippe Pétain instituted a new French State during the war and that the Republic had been re-established when the war was over It was not for the Republic, therefore, to apologise for events that happened while it had not existed and which had been carried out by a state which it did not recognise For example, former President François Mitterrand had maintained this position The claim was more recently reiterated by Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front Party, during the 2017 election campaign2122

On 16 July 1995, the President, Jacques Chirac, stated that it was time that France faced up to its past and he acknowledged the role that the state had played in the persecution of Jews and other victims of the German occupation23 Those responsible for the roundup, according to Chirac, were "4500 policemen and gendarmes, French, under the authority of their leaders who obeyed the demands of the Nazis" 24

To mark the 70th anniversary of the roundup, President François Hollande gave a speech at a monument of the Vél d'Hiv roundup on 22 July 2012 The president recognized that this event was a crime committed "in France, by France," and emphasized that the deportations in which French police participated were offenses committed against French values, principles, and ideals He continued his speech by remarking on French tolerance towards others25

In July 2017, also in commemoration of the victims of the roundup at the Vélodrome d'Hiver, President Emmanuel Macron denounced his country's role in the Holocaust and the historical revisionism that denied France's responsibility for 1942 roundup and subsequent deportation of 13,000 Jews "It was indeed France that organised this roundup", he said, French police collaborating with the Nazis "Not a single German took part," he added Neither Chirac nor Hollande had specifically stated that the Vichy government, in power during WW II, actually represented the French State26 Macron on the other hand, made it clear that the Government during the War was indeed the French State "It is convenient to see the Vichy regime as born of nothingness, returned to nothingness Yes, it’s convenient, but it is false We cannot build pride upon a lie"2728

Macron did make a subtle reference to Chirac's 1995 apology when he added, "I say it again here It was indeed France that organized the roundup, the deportation, and thus, for almost all, death"2930

See alsoedit

  • Izieu


  1. ^ http://wwwbbccouk/history/worldwars/jewish_deportation_01shtml
  2. ^ a b "Le Bilan de la Shoah en France Le régime de Vichy" bseditionsfr 
  3. ^ a b Yad Vashem 1
  4. ^ a b "La persécution nazie" freefr 
  5. ^ Blumenkranz 1972, IV, 5, 1
  6. ^ Philippe 1979, p 227
  7. ^ « De la haine dans l'air », par Jérôme Gautheret et Thomas Wieder, Le Monde, 27 juillet 2010
  8. ^ "Pétain a durci le texte sur les Juifs, selon un document inédit" Le Point 3 October 2010 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Krausnick 1968, p 57
  10. ^ See report by the Mission d'étude sur la spoliation des Juifs
  11. ^ Philippe 1979, p 251
  12. ^ Philippe 1979, chapter « La Guerre »
  13. ^ "Les rafles de 1941" Source : Claude Singer, Historien, enseigne à l'université de Paris I DUEJ Revue "Les Chemins de la Mémoire n° 119 - Juillet-Août 2002 pour Mindef/SGA/DMPA Chemins de mémoire, site du Ministère de la Défense 
  14. ^ Blumenkranz 1972, p 404
  15. ^ Tal Bruttmann, « Au bureau des affaires juives L'administration française et l'application de la législation antisémite », La Découverte, 2006
  16. ^ Blumenkranz 1972, pp 401-5
  17. ^ René Souriac and Patrick Cabanel 1996 Histoire de France, 1750-1995: Monarchies et républiques Presses Universitaires du Mirail p 215 ISBN 2-85816-274-3 
  18. ^ Bénédicte Prot "Dernier convoi Drancy-Auschwitz" Retrieved 16 September 2012 
  19. ^ Jacques Cantier, L'Algérie sous le régime de Vichy, Odile Jacob, 2002, page 383
  20. ^ Yad Vashem, About the Righteous, Statistics Accessed 20 September 2011
  21. ^ http://wwwnytimescom/1995/07/17/world/chirac-affirms-france-s-guilt-in-fate-of-jewshtml
  22. ^ https://wwwwashingtonpostcom/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/10/marine-le-pen-doesnt-deny-that-french-jews-were-handed-over-to-nazis-but-she-claims-france-is-not-to-blame/utm_term=f7c819631209
  23. ^ http://wwwnytimescom/1995/07/17/world/chirac-affirms-france-s-guilt-in-fate-of-jewshtml
  24. ^ "Allocution de M Jacques CHIRAC Président de la République prononcée lors des cérémonies commémorant la grande rafle des 16 et 17 juillet 1942 Paris" PDF wwwjacqueschirac-asso in French 16 July 1995 Retrieved 17 July 2014 
  25. ^ https://wwwtheguardiancom/world/2012/jul/22/francois-hollande-wartime-roundup-jews
  26. ^ https://booksgoogleca/booksid=bRshMk5sBxUC&pg=PA52&dq=plaque++velodrome+d'hiver+boulevard+de+Grenelle&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjaj76q_5DVAhWI8YMKHViEC94Q6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=plaque%20%20velodrome%20d'hiver%20boulevard%20de%20Grenelle&f=false, p=53
  27. ^ https://wwwtheguardiancom/world/2017/jul/17/france-macron-denounces-state-role-holocaust-atrocity-paris-1942
  28. ^ https://wwwnytimescom/2017/07/17/world/europe/macron-israel-holocaust-antisemitismhtml
  29. ^ https://wwwwashingtonpostcom/world/europe/macron-hosts-netanyahu-condemns-anti-zionism-as-anti-semitism/2017/07/16/dfba544a-ca1f-40f9-82e6-98575393798c_storyhtmlutm_term=5317a6227cc3
  30. ^ http://wwwbbccom/news/world-europe-40622845


  • Berg, Roger 1947 Crimes ennemis en France in French vol V - La Persécution raciale Paris: Service d'information des crimes de guerre - Office français d'édition 
  • Blumenkranz, Bernhard 1972 Histoire des Juifs en France in French Toulouse: Éditeur OCLC 417454239 
  • Cohen, Asher 1996 The Shoah in France Jerusalem: Yad Vashem  The book deals with the fate of the Jews in metropolitan France and in Vichy-North Africa, ruled by France
  • Kaspi, André 1991 Les Juifs pendant l’Occupation in French Paris: Seuil ISBN 978-202013509-2 
  • Marrus, Michael; Paxton, Robert 1995 Vichy France and the Jews Stanford University Press ISBN 0-8047-2499-7 
  • Philippe, Beatrice 1979 Être juif dans la société française in French Montalba ISBN 2-8587-0017-6 
  • Poliakov,Léon Article in Yiddish, The Fate of the French Jews The story of the persecution of the Jews of Vichy North Africa appeared in three separate paragraphs, under the general title of France The article appeared in a section of the Algemeyne Entsiklopedye devoted to the Holocaust in various countries New York: Shulsinger Pubs and Dubnov Fund & Entsiklopedye Komitet, 1966
  • Poznanski, Renée 1997 Les Juifs en France pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale in French Hachette ISBN 978-2012352704 
  • Yahil, Leni, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932–1945 New York: Oxford University Press, 1990

Further readingedit

  • Carroll, David 1998 "What It Meant to Be "A Jew" in Vichy France: Xavier Vallat, State Anti-Semitism, and the Question of Assimilation" SubStance 27 3: 36–54 JSTOR 3685578 
  • Weisberg, Richard H 1996 Vichy law and the Holocaust in France Studies in Antisemitism Amsterdam: Harwood Academic ISBN 3718658925 
  • Zuccotti, Susan 1999 The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews Repr ed Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press ISBN 0803299141 
  • Poznanski, Renée 2001 Jews in France during World War II Hanover: Brandeis University Press ISBN 978-1-58465-144-4 

External linksedit

  • France at the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure EHRI
  • France at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum USHMM
  • The Holocaust in France - at Yad Vashem website
  • Children's homes in France during the Holocaust - an online exhibition at Yad Vashem website

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