France and the Holocaust
Annotated Bibliography

Elizabeth Ciarrocca, a senior history major at the University of California Santa Barbara who is currently working on a Honors Thesis concerning the leaders of the Holocaust in France, looks at the situation Jews in France faced during World War II.  Based on the examination of the works by Michael Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Renée Poznanski, and Susan Zuccotti, Elizabeth argues that the Holocaust in France was encouraged b French anti-Semitic trends which created a climate where the French offered assistance to the German forces, who without such aid, could not have carried out, to such ends, the Final Solution in France.  This page was completed for a web project for an introductory lecture course on the Nazi Holocaust. 

Poznanski, RenéeJews in France during World War II.  Translated by Nathan Bracher.  Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1997.  (jump to)

Zuccotti, Susan.  The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews.  New York: Basic Books, 1993.  (jump to)

Marrus, Michael R. and Robert O. Paxton.  Vichy France and the Jews.  New York: Basic Books, 1891. (jump to)

Jews in France During World War II

Renée Poznanski

Poznanski, Renée.  Jews in France during World War II.  Translated by Nathan Bracher.  Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1997. 

Renée Poznanski’s publication, Jews in France during World War II (originally published in French, Les Juifs en France pendant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, in 1997, and published in translation by Nathan Bracher in 2001) provides a very detailed look at the Jewish community as it existed under Vichy’s Collaborationist government.  Her book goes to great lengths to give extensive descriptions of the evolution of Jewish policy and discrimination in France, the conditions for Jewish prisons in French concentration camps, and the reactions from the Jewish communities.  While other books such as Paxton and Marrus’s Vichy France and the Jews deal with the political side of Vichy’s policies towards the Jews, Poznanski deals more with the social situation of Jews and how they endured the hardships of the war years.  As Poznanski points out in her preface, her goal was to “bring them [Jews] out from under the legal texts that summarily meted out their fate….whereas Jews have often been treated only as objects or victims of history, I strive to restore to them their role as subjects” (preface xv).  Poznanski achieves this with numerous references to personal accounts and individual stories.  She creates a picture of the Jewish community as made up of individuals, each with their own unique story and history.  This book does not focus on how the Nazis tried to erase Jewish individual identity, but rather shows how the Jewish people endured and survived the long years of dehumanization.  

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The Holocaust, the French and the Jews

Susan Zuccotti

Zuccotti, Susan.  The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews.  New York: Basic Books, 1993. 

Susan Zuccotti writes a good book surveying the Holocaust as it took place in France.  Her book is somewhat easier to read than her counterpart Renée Poznanski.  However, Zuccotti is a good starting point to introduce yourself to the subject of Jews in France.  Like Poznanski, Zuccotti makes use of personal accounts and interviews to explore this topic.  Zuccotti dedicates a large portion of her book to describing how the remaining portion of the French Jewish population, some 250,000 people survived.  In view of all the literature looking at how the French were collaborators who were responsible for the death of Jews in France, Zuccotti looks at how Jews survived because of the direct intervention of French citizens, or simply because of their silence.  While the number of French Jews who died in the Holocaust is significant in comparison to other countries, the number of French Jews who survived is significant in comparison as well.  More Jews in France survived than in other German occupied countries.  Zuccotti is concerned with the public opinion in France and how the French dealt with the pressures of Vichy while being surrounded by Jewish neighbors.  It is because of the public opinions of the French and their decisions, whether it be to hid the Jews or actively aid them or to simply remain silent during active police roundups from an anti-Semitic government, that, despite so many deaths, so many French Jews were able to survive. 

Book Reviews of The Holocaust, the French and the Jews

The Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Summer 1995 v27 n1 p109 (book review) (link)

The Economist, Sept. 11, 1993 v328 n7828 p88 (book review) (link)

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Vichy France and the Jews

Michael Marrus and Robert O. Paxton

Marrus, Michael R. and Robert O. Paxton.  Vichy France and the Jews.  New York: Basic

Books, 1891.

Robert O. Paxton, this time in a partnership with Michael Marrus, published yet another book in 1981 that changed the history of Vichy France.  Paxton’s first book, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1941, was the first of its kind of acknowledge the extent of France’s Collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II.   In this book, Vichy France and the Jews, Paxton and Marrus examine Vichy’s anti-Semitic policies and their contribution during to the Holocaust.  Marrus and Paxton focus on the political side of the Holocaust in France, explaining in depth how Vichy engaged in a collaboration with the Nazis to deport Jews to the East.  In the conclusion, Marrus and Paxton present an interesting argument to the question of what degree of knowledge Vichy possessed about the final destination of the Jews.  The explanation of work camps was logical: it was a time of war and Frenchmen themselves were being recruited to Germany to work in the factories there under the Service du travail obligatoire  (although it should be noted that this was obviously not a very popular program).  At the beginning of the war, Germany had used France as a dumping ground for their unwanted Jewish population so when in 1942, Germany offered to take them back, Vichy did not question the decision because they wanted to rid themselves of the refugees.  However, France was still the only country to initiate their own anti-Semitic policies.  Vichy was a government that was operating on a foundation of fallacies and fell into an assumption that “the German authorities would be grateful to the French for pursuing a parallel anti-Jewish policy, and would respond by yielding greater authority to the French over this and other spheres of national activity”(Marrus and Paxton 368).  And when Germany did not invade Britain or win the war, Vichy fell to blame for the actions that it took against its citizens.

A Book Review of Vichy France and the Jews

Stanley Hoffman, writing for the New York Times, November 1, 1981. (link)

UCSB History 33d course homepage

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Vichy France project page

Jews in France;
the Shield
the Final Solution

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