LONDON (Aug. 26)
Seventy percent of the Jewish population in occupied France are living in abject misery and are facing starvation as a result of the anti-Jewish measures taken by the occupational authorities, the JTA was told here today by a young French Jew who, after escaping from a war prisoners’ transport going to Germany, recently succeeded in reaching this country.
The JTA informant described the position of the Jews in occupied France as desperate, and declared that although many Frenchmen do their best to help the persecuted Jews, the anti-Semitic movement was undoubtedly making headway both in the occupied and unoccupied zones. He also spoke about the discriminatory treatment of Jews in German war prisoners’ camps.
“I passed through three war prisoners’ camps in the occupied zone before I made my escape from a transport just before reaching the German border,” the informant declared. “No discrimination between Jews and non-Jews was made in the first camp, but in the second, detailed questionnaires had to be filled in by all prisoners, indicating their religious affiliation. There were twenty Jews among about five thousand prisoners, but I suspect that there were more Jews but they were afraid of acknowledging their faith,” he continued. “Jews were not segregated from their fellow-prisoners while still on French territory, but special ‘Jewish lists’ were drawn up to be used for the segregation of Jewish prisoners in Germany.
“Later I had ample opportunity of speaking in unoccupied France to comrades who had witnessed the special treatment meted out to Jewish prisoners in the permanent camps. They were isolated in separate huts and were specifically barred from services organized by the prisoners, such as the internal police, library and kitchen service. At roll calls they were not allowed to line up together with their non-Jewish comrades, but had to stand separately. These rules did not apply to Jews in prisoners’ camps in France, but nevertheless we were treated with the greatest suspicion and not permitted to work outside the camp.
ANTI-SEMITISM TAKES ROOT; NOT LIKELY TO DISAPPEAR AFTER WAR
“When I arrived at Paris, I found the city flooded with anti-Semitic propaganda. Inciting anti-Jewish posters covered the walls in all districts. Special anti-Jewish propaganda films were included in the daily programme of cinema shows, and a vast amount of anti-Semitic literature is produced and widely distributed. These publications do not by any means emanate exclusively or even to a large part from German sources, but are mostly prepared and circulated by reactionary French circles. Leading in the popularization of the anti-Semitic theory is the ‘Nouvelle Revue Francaise,’ and one of the most venomous anti-Semitic writers is Ferdinand Celine, a former leader of the Popular Front, who, after a journey to Russia, joined the party of Jacques Doriot and published a book entitled ‘Mee Culpa.’ His latest book, ‘Les Beaux Draps,’ surpasses in anti-Semitic violence anything published by a Goebbels or a Streicher. It is not astonishing, therefore,” the JTA informant continued, “that under such circumstances the anti-Semitic poison is spreading rapidly among the French population, and while there is also opposition to it, it is difficult to imagine that the effects of this propaganda will disappear, even after the liberation of France.
“The Jews in occupied France,” he said, “have been completely ousted from trade and professions, and their businesses were taken over. Their means of subsistence are rapidly diminishing, and one frequently sees Jews trying to sell their last valuables, or the remainder of stock they succeeded in putting aside at the time their businesses were transferred, in order to buy food at exorbitant prices on the black market which is in the hands of the Germans. When the registration of French Jews was ordered, only very few Jews evaded this as most of them were confident that they could rely on their non-Jewish friends for help in avoiding the consequences of the official measures.”