The following is the second of three articles on “Anti-Semitism in France” by the Paris correspondent of the Jewish Daily Bulletin and Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The third article will appear tomorrow.
Beginning with February, 1933, the flood of Jewish refugees from Germany descended upon France. French authorities and population greeted these uninvited guests with exceptional hospitality. Anti-Jewish persecutions in Germany found an indignant echo in all circles of the French society. A whole series of committees, headed by the outstanding representatives of French politics, science, art and literature, were formed for the reception of Jewish refugees and for protest against Germany’s return to the customs of the Middle Ages. About five months passed under this mood. The first inspiration cooled off, other voices began to be heard.
The bulk of German refugees naturally turned to those provinces and cities where it would be the easiest for them to settle down, that is, in the parts given to France by the Treaty of Versailles: in Alsace and Lorraine.
The population of these two provinces speaks a dialect akin to the German language. In many cities German refugees found prewar acquaintances and connections. Here they entered an environment not unduly differing from their native German towns. But it was this very circumstance which disturbed the French public and authorities.
FEAR SPURS BIAS
Fear arose in France lest the newly-arrived German refugees retard the “Frenchifying” of the old French provinces just liberated from the German yoke. There was also an admixture of military considerations, the presence of a huge mass of recent German citizens being held undesirable in the regions bordering on Germany. These considerationsâ€”wholly serious and sincereâ€”served as the first impetus to the change of attitude first to German refugees, and by indirection toward the Jewish population generally.
On the other hand, in the left political circles, which theretofore showed the greatest sympathy toward German refugees, in whose midst they found a great number of people of like trend of mind, there shaped up a change in regard to the Jewish political activity, naturally aimed against Germanyâ€”a change, dictated by general political considerations.
JEWS AS SCAPEGOATS
The most radically inspired circles of the French society in their desire for peace, wanted to avoid further cleavage in relations with Germany. On this path they came to collide with the Jewish aspirations. A conflict resulted, which was expressed in the growth of anti-Semitism in this medium which was seemingly closed to such influences. Its sharpest reflection the conflict found in the “unhappy” phrase of the Radical Premier Daladierâ€”a phrase seized on thereafter by the organ of the left wing of the Radical Party Volonte. The substance of the remark dropped by Daladier reduced itself to the following: “We French want to live in peace with Germany, with all and any Germans. We recommend to the Jews, and particularly to the Jewish journalists, not to try to make us quarrel with Germany.”
PRESS BEGINS ATTACK
This was seized upon by a part of the press as a direction to begin attack on the Jews. With means “unknown,” the mulatto Darius (now in jail in connection with the Stavisky swindle) created a large daily newspaper Midi, in which another journalist Tome started his baiting against the Jews who “desire to drag us into a new war with Germany.”
This campaign lasted several monthsâ€”up to the time of the closing of this paper occasioned by the arrest of its editor. The same fate overtook the Company VolontÃ©, whose editor also landed in jailâ€”also in connection with the Stavisky case. Nevertheless, both these companies reached their goal: That part of the French society upon which neither Leon Daudet in the Action Francaise nor Francois Coty in the Ami du People could have effect, was left under the impression that the Jews are preparing a new war” in order to obtain revenge on Hitler for his anti-Semitic policy.”
The “ideological” influence of events in Germany did not pass without traces for certain circles of French population. One Marquis Fabre-Luc made an attempt to create in France a party similar to the German National Socialist Party. His effort was not successful, or rather has not yet been successful, but it is symptomatic. Leon Daudet resolved to have his say, too. In a two-hour oration in Havo Hall the leader of the French royalists developed his idea regarding the part of the Jews in the “ideal” French state.
Daudet did not say anything new and original: The thought of dividing the Jews into three categoriesâ€””deserving,” with full rights of “real” Frenchmen, those on “condition” and those without any rightsâ€”does not belong to himâ€”but it is significant that such an idea could have been publicly formulated and did not encounter an appropriate opposition. This also is a very characteristic symptom of the times through which France is passing.
‘MUSHROOM’ PAPERS SPRING UP
We should note at the same time that in recent months there appeared a great many sheets, the first issues of “newspapers,” bearing an obvious imprint of the fountains nourishing them, and usually without “subsequent” issues, as for instance Anti-Juif and others.
It is possible after the foregoing to speak of “anti-Semitism in France?” It seems to us that this is premature. There undoubtedly is evident a certain growth of moods favorable to the rise of anti-Semitism, but it is still to early to conclude from this that France will be beaten by that stream of hatred of humanity which passed like such a stormy wave over the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. It is difficult to be a prophet in our days, but one wants to believe that which the future is sketching in less threatening lines â€”even in defiance of the current reality.
To Be Concluded Tomorrow
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.