Jewish Relief Committee in Grenoble Emerges from Underground; Resumes Aid to Jews

Approximately 1,500 of the more than 3,000 Jews known to have been living in this city and in the Grenoble district before the anti-Jewish persecutions resumed their normal pursuits today after many months of underground existence. All but a handful of them are either French or foreign refugees.

The local Jewish relief committee, which functioned underground all through the Nazi terror, keeping in contact with over 400 families hiding throughout the district, today opened its office in Grenoble to dispense relief and to register the Jewish survivors and help them to become rehabilitated.

Meanwhile, the surviving Jews held a memorial meating today for two Jewish leaders of the resistance movement, J. Breifski and J. Samois – both Jews from Poland – whom the Gestapo executed last December. The first regular synagogue service since the liberation of the city will be held in Grenoble this Friday evening by Major Earl Stone of Chicago, senior Jewish chaplain of the 7th Army.

At the outbreak of the war there were only forty Jewish families in Grenoble. They were soon joined by twenty Jewish families from Alsace-Lorraine and by some 3,000 refugees both of French and foreign citizenship. In August 1942, after the Vichy regime ordered the registration of all Jews, the French police rounded-up Jews in Grenoble and arrested about six hundred foreign Jews who were subsequently deported. This was the first major deportation, and small scale deportations continued until the city was occupied by the Italian Army.

The period from November, 1942 until September, 1943 was a “breathing spell” for the Jews in Grenoble, since the Italian military authorities discouraged anti-Jewish persecution and released interned Jews. The full scale persecutions began when the Germans displaced the Italians. They continued until the very eve of the city’s liberation. Direction for the anti-Jewish drive was given by a special “Jewish section” of the Gestapo which had its headquarters in Grenoble.

No one here is able to estimate the number of Jews killed by the Gestapo and its Vichy henchmen, but some of the villages near Grenoble witnessed scenes of appalling savagery. Jews were murdered even as late as August 21. In February, 1944 the Vichy militia bombed the synagogue building in Grenoble and destroyed it together with the Holy Scrolls.

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