The path to Vichy : antisemitism in France in the 1930s
On this total of , Jews, approximatively 25, French Jews and 50, foreign Jews were deported. According to historian Robert Paxton, 76, Jews were deported and died in concentration and extermination camps. Including the Jews who died in concentration camps in France, this makes for a total figure of 90, Jewish deaths nearly a quarter of the total Jewish population before the war. This fact has been used as arguments by supporters of Vichy. During the Vel'd'hiv raid of July , Laval ordered the deportation of the children, against explicit German orders.
Paxton pointed out that if the total number of victims had not been higher, it was due to the shortage in wagons, the Resistance of the civilian population and deportation in other countries notably in Italy. After the liberation, France was swept for a short period with a wave of executions of Collaborationists.
Women who were suspected of having romantic liaisons with Nazis, or more often of being Nazi prostitutes, were publicly humiliated by having their heads shaved.
Many convicted Collaborationists were then amnestied under the Fourth Republic , while some civil servants, such as Maurice Papon, succeeding in holding important functions even under Charles de Gaulle and the Fifth Republic Finally came the period for amnesty and graces e. He was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad, but Charles de Gaulle commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.
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Most convicts were amnestied a few years later. In the police, collaborators soon resumed official responsibilities. This continuity of the administration was pointed out, in particular concerning the events of the Paris massacre of , executed under the orders of head of the Parisian police Maurice Papon, who was convicted only in for crimes against humanity.
Some of the more prominent officers were executed, while the rank-and-file were given prison terms; some of them were given the option of doing time in Indochina with the Foreign Legion instead of prison. Singer Tino Rossi was detained in Fresnes prison, where, according to Combat newspaper, prison guards asked him for autographs.
Pierre Benoit or Arletty were also detained. Journalist Robert Aron estimated the popular executions to a number of 40, in , provoking de Gaulle's surprise, who estimated the real number to be around 10,, which is the figure today admitted by mainstream historians. Approximatively 9, of these 10, refer to summary executions in the whole of the country, which occurred during battle.
In absolute value numbers , there have been fewer legal executions in France than in neighboring, and much smaller, Belgium, and fewer internments than in Norway or the Netherlands. Famous Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld spent decades trying to bring them before the courts. Jacques Ploncard d'Assac became counsellor of Salazar in Portugal.
In former Vichy official Paul Touvier was convicted of crimes against humanity. Maurice Papon was convicted in , released three years later, and died in The official point of view of the French government is that the Vichy regime was an illegal government distinct from the French Republic, established by traitors under foreign influence. While the criminal behavior of Vichy France is acknowledged, this point of view denies any responsibility of the state of France, alleging that acts committed between and were unconstitutional acts devoid of legitimacy.
In particular, pressures exerced by Pierre Laval have been denounced by historians, alleging that thus, the vote did not satisfy Constitutional legality See subsection: Conditions of armistice and 10 July vote of full powers. One of these rules, for example, stated that:. This is a clear denial of the engagement of civilians, in particular foreign Jews, who took an active part in the Resistance in France. Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front in and several times condemned for Holocaust denial, racial hatred, and negationism, thus declared in the s, when he was actively engaged in the rehabilitation of Collaborationists:.
This isn't sure. It was much easier to resist in London than to resist in France.
Although this claim is rejected by the rest of the French population and by the state itself, another myth remains strong today, and is more widespread than this one. However, this nationalist argument which pretends to legimitate the French state collaboration has been rejected by several historians who are specialists of the subject, among them US historian Robert Paxton, who is widely recognized and whose foreign origin permits a more distant and objective judgment on the matter, and historian of the French police Maurice Rajsfus.
Both were called on as experts during the Papon trial in the s. The armistice let it a breathing space. He always said no. It even opposed itself, at first, to German plans. Their idea was not to make of France an antisemitic country. The historical turn took place in , with the defeat on the Eastern Front. This is the second Vichy. They always complained about the lack of staff. How can one pretend the reverse when such technical and administrative means have been put to this aim? At the summit of the hierarchy, it knew, from the start, that the departure of these last ones was unavoidable.
Paxton then evoked the case of Italy, where deportation of Jewish people had only started after the German occupation — Italy surrendered to the Allies in mid And the French authorities complained about it to the Germans. Download our mobile app for on-the-go access to the Jewish Virtual Library. Basic History. Introductory History to The Holocaust. Could We Have Stopped Hitler? Life for Jews in Pre-War Germany. Simon Wiesenthal's 36 Questions.
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World Response to the Holocaust. Holocaust Denial. Holocaust Survivors. This essay will deal specifically with the saving of Jews in France, taking into account the political tradition of France, and the special circumstances that evolved in the country from the fall of Paris in mid Paris, France, Confiscation of Jewish property by the French authorities, at the behest of the Vichy regime.
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