The fate of the Jews

As the Nazis came into power, non-Aryan people were degraded. The Jews were used as scapegoats and became the object of murderous persecution. 

 

Persecution of the Jews

In Germany, the Jews were persecuted as soon as the Nazis came into power in 1933. Nazi anti-Jewish policy was meant to drive the Jews out of Germany. Between 1933 and 1939, it is estimated that more than 250 000 German Jews emigrated. Amongst them were the physicist Albert Einstein, the philosopher Hannah Arendt and the photographer André Friedmann, better known as Robert Capa.

Extermination of the Jews

During his campaign in the USSR, Hitler called for the elimination of Soviet Jews in 1941. These were the first systematic anti-Semitic killings.

Late 1941, the outright extermination of the Jews was decided. In January 1942, during the Wannsee Conference, the leading Nazi dignitaries worked on the implementation of the "Final Solution to the Jewish problem". They planned the systematic slaughter of millions of European Jews by gassing in extermination camps.

The facts show that close to three million Jews were exterminated in Nazi camps between 1942 and 1945.

The Jews in France

Under Vichy France, the first anti-Jewish measures were enforced in the autumn of 1940. The Statute on Jews of 3rd October 1940 excluded French Jews from certain professions such as teacher, lawyer, journalist... The law of 4th October 1940 on foreign nationals of Jewish race held that foreign Jews would be shut in internment camps.

The French State created the Commissariat Général for Jewish Affairs in March 1941. An anti-Semitic propaganda was implemented under its leadership, including the exhibition "The Jew and France".

On 29th May 1942, a German edict made it mandatory for all Jews over 6 years old to wear the yellow badge.

Under the collaboration policy, the Vichy government delivered Jews to the Germans. The French police organised the Vel’ d'Hiv Roundup in July 1942; more than twelve thousand Jews were arrested , imprisoned in the Winter Velodrome (the Vel’ d'Hiv), then led to Drancy, before being transported to the extermination camps.

 

With the contribution of  Rémy Desquesnes
Historian