The fate of France’s Jews during World War II has become an unlikely topic of debate in the run-up to the French presidential electionThe ceremony fro, exhumed by a revisionist candidate’s widely debunked claims that the Nazi-allied Vichy regime offered them protection. FRANCE 24 spoke to historian Jacques Sémelin, whose latest book sheds light on the real reasons some 200,000 French Jews survived the Holocaust.
Sémelin’s quest began more than a decade ago, following an interview with the late Simone Veil, the revered politician and Holocaust survivor who was recently inducted into the Panthéon of French heroesU.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks o. During their conversation, back in 2008, Sémelin found he could offer no easy answer to the following question: “How is it that so many Jews were able to survive in spite of the Vichy government and the Nazis?”
Of the roughly 320,000 Jews established in France at the start of the war, an estimated 74,150 – most of them foreign nationals – were deported by Nazi Germany with the complicity of its allies in the Vichy regime, according to data compiled by the renowned French historian and Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld. The figures translate into a survival rate of 75 percent, one of the highest in Nazi-dominated Europe, well above the 25 percent documented for the Netherlands or neighbouring Belgium’s 45 percent.RELATED: Pakistan's dangerous 'Great Game' in Afghanistan comes full circle
Understanding this French exception is the focus of Sémelin’s recent books death toll stood at 4,636 out of 90,410 confirmed cases., “Une énigme fran?aiseThe athlete who competed Sunday had tested positive in an, pourquoi les trois quarts des juifs en France n’ont pas été déportés” (A French enigma, why three-quarters of Jews in France were not deported), based on 10 years of painstaking research on the fate of Western Europe’s largest Jewish community at the time.