THE HOLOCAUST, THE FRENCH, AND THE JEWS by Susan Zuccotti

THE HOLOCAUST, THE FRENCH, AND THE JEWS

KIRKUS REVIEW

 In a vividly narrated reexamination of the historical record, Zuccotti (History/Barnard; Italians and the Holocaust, 1987) tells the horrifying story of the fate of French Jews at the hands of the Nazis and their Vichy collaborators. With its egalitarian legacy from the French Revolution, France was traditionally one of Europe's most enlightened societies in extending civil rights to Jews. But beneath this tradition, Zuccotti says, lay a deeper, more ancient one of anti-Semitism, which surfaced in modern times during the Dreyfus affair (1895) and at other moments of crisis for France. After its fall to Germany in 1940, France was divided into an occupied zone and the nominally independent Vichy Republic. In both regions, Zuccotti says, French bureaucrats and police cooperated with the Nazis in implementing laws to identify and segregate Jews--with French police, for example, interning Jews in camps established by Vichy officials in the unoccupied zone. In policies that affected both French and foreign Jews, the Nazis--with official French assistance--rounded up thousands in the occupied zone: Zuccotti emphasizes the terrifying roundup in Paris on July 16, 1942, which began the systematic deportation and destruction of Jews in France. By autumn 1942, those interned in the Vichy Republic were being delivered on a large scale to the Nazis. The author records disparate French attitudes toward the arrests, ranging from indifference or malicious satisfaction to sympathy and support for the victims. Indeed, French apathy (which contrasted with widespread, active anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe) may have been responsible for the relatively high survival rate (76 percent) of Jews in France. Zuccotti also dwells on the courage of relief organizations and of individual Protestant and Catholic workers (as opposed to many in the Church hierarchy, who supported Vichy) who hid and sheltered thousands throughout the country. A balanced yet heartrending contribution to Holocaust literature.

Pub Date: July 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-465-03034-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993




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