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The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews


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Tells the stories of ordinary and extraordinary French men and women, arguing that the French reaction to the Holocaust was not as reprehensible as it has been portrayed

About the Author

Susan Zuccotti teaches modern European history at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the author of The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival (Nebraska 1996), which won the National Jewish Book Award in 1987.


Zuccotti ( The Italians and the Holocaust , LJ 2/15/87) has written another fine, highly readable Holocaust study. While 250,000 (or 76 percent) of France's Jews survived the war, they survived despite the vicious anti-Semitism of the Vichy government, which often zealously anticipated Nazi requests for rooting out Jews--especially foreign-born Jews--and deporting them on trains to death camps. The Vichy government had little mercy for children or the elderly. Fortunately, many French citizens aided Jews either actively, by warning them of upcoming raids or hiding Jewish children, or passively, by simply not informing on them. Altogether, it is a checkered history. This book should be read in conjunction with an important study by Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (Basic Bks., 1981). Highly recommmended for most libraries.-- Paul Kaplan, Dakota Cty. Lib., Eagan, Minn.

"This is an important work of 20th-century history. It is admirably researched, but remains lucid. It is, of necessity, sometimes harrowing, but illuminates moments of selfless heroism. Above all, it details a period of French history which has for too long been known to foreigners in only the broadest outlines... This is a valuable book deserving a wide readership."--Morning Star, 13 December, 1999 "Valuable and lucid ... Susan Zuccotti's book is admirable in many important ways."--New York Times Book Review "A book on the French occupation needs to point out that a lot of Jews were saved and a lot of Frenchmen acted well. Susan Zuccotti ... accomplishes exactly that."--Forward

Despite the French Vichy regime's complicity in the roundup and deportation of Jews to Nazi death camps, roughly three-fourths of France's Jews, an estimated 250,000 people, survived. Zuccotti, author of the National Jewish Book Award-winner Italians and the Holocaust , attributes their survival partly to ``benign neglect''--the vast majority of French men and women kept silent, allowing Jews to remain in hiding or to cross borders. Many Jews in France with fake papers and ration cards survived by living quietly and taking odd jobs, abetted, according to Zuccotti, by the passive goodwill of hundreds of thousands of French men and women who simply went about their own business. Using a wealth of archival documents, the author chronicles the clandestine networks of Jewish rescue organizations, the heroic efforts of armed Jewish resistance groups and the assistance provided by non-Jews such as the 3000 residents of Le Chambon who hid some 5000 Jews in their homes. She also charts the treachery of Vichy politicians and of countless French collaborators who joined fascist leagues to hunt down resistants and Jews. European history professor at Barnard and Columbia, Zuccotti forces us to rethink the French response to the Holocaust in this challenging book. Photos. (July)

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