Fifty Hunted Jewish Families in France Hang Themselves in Suicide Pact
Explaining that because of the “fluidity” of the situation the exact number of Jews remaining at present in the occupied and unoccupied sections of France is difficult to ascertain, the Commissariate for Jewish Affairs, in a broadcast over the Vichy radio today, ridiculed the recent allegation by the French anti-Semitic newspaper Gringoire that 2,700,000 Jews are now in France. The Vichy broadcaster estimated that there are about 165,000 Jews in the occupied zone at present and about 150,000 in the so called free zone.
The Tribune de Geneva, one of the leading Swiss newspapers, today publishes an eye-witness account of the situation of the Jews under Vichy, related by a Swiss citizen who recently returned from unoccupied France. At Sete, a coastal city in south-eastern France, he reported, fifty or sixty Jews who had been hiding in the woods, hanged themselves, after first hanging their children, when it became clear that the French police would soon Geize them. When the gendarmes did arrive they found only bodies dangling from the tree limbs; not a single Jew remained alive. In the entire diocese of Toulouse, only two priests refused to read the Archbishop’s pastoral letter protesting the deportations, from their pulpits, he disclosed.
Other Swiss papers carry an account of the seizure of Jews who had sought refuge in the wooded plateaus on Mont Saleve, near the Swiss border. The Jews were hunted down like criminals or animals, the report states. The same dispatch declares that many persons living along the Franco-Swiss border are making a lucrative profession of aiding Jews to slip across the frontier to comparative freedom.
Meanwhile, the pro-royalist L’Action Francaise, which is now published in the unoccupied zone, expresses indignation today at the reports being circulated abroad concerning Vichy’s treatment of Jews. “France will defend herself against these charges and may even take the offensive,” the royalist organ asserts, adding that Laval is merely ridding the country of “the plague of foreign Jews.”