The Holocaust in France - 20th Century - French Jews and The Holocaust

French Jews and The Holocaust

See also: Vichy regime : "French Jews vs. foreign Jews": myth or reality?, Jewish death toll, and Statute on Jews

In 1940, early in World War II, France and its allies in the Low Countries were defeated by Nazi Germany, and the Jews there fell victim to the Nazi Holocaust. In the early months of the war there were probably some 350,000 Jews living in France, some of whom were refugees from Germany. Antisemitism was particularly virulent in Vichy France during World War II. The Vichy government openly collaborated with the Nazi occupiers to identify Jews for deportation and transportation to the death camps (about 75,000 were killed). As early as October 1940, without any request from the Germans, the Vichy government began passing anti-Jewish measures (the Statute on Jews), prohibiting them from moving, and limiting their access to public places and most professional activities. In 1941, the Vichy government established a Commissariat général aux questions juives (1941-1944), which worked with the Gestapo to begin rounding up Jews for the concentration camps in 1942, including the notorious Vel' d'Hiv Roundup on 16 and 17 July of that year. Between 1942 and July 1944, nearly 76,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps from France, of which only 2,500 survived. Drancy, outside of Paris, was the primary camp for Jews being deported to the Nazi German death camps in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Further information: Timeline of deportations of French Jews to death camps

It was designed to hold 700 people, but at its peak in 1940 it held more than 7,000. It is interesting to note, however, that the majority of Jews deported from France and killed during the Holocaust were non-French Jews. Until severe pressure was brought to bear by Nazi Germany, Vichy sought in many instances to protect its native French-born Jews, especially those who had assimilated into the culture or converted to Catholicism.

On the other hand, France has the third highest number of Righteous Among the Nations (according to the Yad Vashem museum, 2006). This award is given to "non-Jews who acted according to the most noble principles of humanity by risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust".

Read more about this topic:  The Holocaust In France, 20th Century

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