Part or chapter of a book
The Notion of Social Reactivity: The French Case, 1942–1944
Probing the Limits of Categorization. The Bystander in Holocaust History
New York - Oxford : Berghahn Books
224 - 245 p.
France, Holocaust, social reactivity, civil resistance
In some countries, France has a strong reputation for antisemitism. This stems from the Dreyfus Affair and even more so from the Vichy government's role in the deportation of Jews during World War II. In their pathbreaking study "Vichy France and the Jews" (1981, Michael Marrus and Robert Paxton reconstructed the stages of the French state's collaboration with the Nazis. Eighty thousand Jews, French and foreign, were killed in the Holocaust, 25 percent of the Jewish population identified as such in 1940. This therefore means that 75 percent of the Jews in France escaped this fate, as Serge Klarsfeld, the most prominent Jewish public figure regarding the remembrance of the Holocaust in France, has regularly reminded us. Michael Marrus and Robert Paxton did not take into account this reality - the fact that a vast proportion of the Jewish population of France did survive, giving the country one of the highest survival rates in Nazi-occupied Europe. It is a blind spot in the general historiography of the Holocaust in France. How can this "French paradox" be explained, since it is generally assumed that the French were strongly antisemitic? I have recently addressed this question thoroughly, and this chapter draws heavily on these findings...