Baron Rothschild’s Protest Against Abrogation of Cremieux Law Provokes U.S. Reply

Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles today made public the text of a letter he has sent to Baron Edouard de Rothschild, who, as president of the Consistoire des Israelites de France et d’Algiere, protested against the abrogation by Gen. Giraud of the Cremieux Law. The letter reads:

“My dear Baron de Rothschild: You will recall that last week you were good enough to send me the text of a statement which you had prepared for publication regarding the general position of the Jewish community in North Africa and, more particularly, the abrogation of the Cremieux decree of 1870 in relation to the speech made by Gen. Giraud on March 14.

“I felt so strongly that your statement gave a completely erroneous picture of the position of Jews in North Africa and of Gen. Giraud’s measures in their behalf that I immediately telegraphed a summary of it to our representatives there. The following comment, prepared in consulation with an unbiased specialist familiar with the various legal points involved, has just been received. I hasten to send it to you in the belief that you will not wish to allow an erroneous impression of the situation to prevail.

“1. The laws relating to the Jews which were of Nazi inspiration were abolished by Gen. Giraud by an ordinance of the 14th of the current month. The Jews are guaranteed the right to practice the liberal professions including the holding of public office, the right to own property and freely to manage their property, assets and all business enterprises, and the right to attend institutions of learning of all degrees. The Jew is no longer indicated as of a race apart in the civil registry records. By ordering the reinstatement of all public officials, agents and employees excluded because they were Jews, General Giraud effaced an odious past. The order that property sequestered under provisional administration would be restored to the Jews and that the sales of real property and other assets would be null and void was given with the same objective. Consequently, Baron de Rothschild’s affirmation that the decisions of Gen. Giraud are obscure and insufficient are untrue.

“2. French citizenship is retained by Jews born in France or descendants of parents born in France. Baron de Rothschild’s affirmation that they lose their citizenship is untrue.

“3. Only native Algerian Jews were affected by the Cremieux decree. The decree is abrogated but in the near future a procedure will be established whereby native Algerian Jews who desire to become citizens may acquire citizenship. It may be remembered that, following the precedent of 1914-1918, elections are deferred until the end of the war, that is to say, until metropolitan France is liberated. Consequently, native Algerian Jews who desire to participate in those elections will have ample time to become citizens. The affirmation of Baron de Rothschild that Jews will be unlawfully deprived of voting power is likewise absolutely untrue.”

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