cover image The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews

The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews

Susan Zuccotti. Basic Books, $30 (383pp) ISBN 978-0-465-03034-7

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)