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Vichy Plans Internment of Foreign Jews in North Africa; Round-up Intensified

June 18, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Huge concentration camps are already being constructed by the Vichy Government in French North Africa to which foreign Jews in France will be deported unless they are able to emigrate soon, according to information received from Vichy today.

Almost a week before the new French anti-Jewish decrees were published, Vichy’s Ministry of Interior circularized prefects of departments informing them of the impending measures and instructing prefects of departments with large numbers of foreign Jews to clear them out. These Jews were given four days to leave their homes and move to Department Correze in central France, which apparently is to serve as a concentration center pending their transportation to Africa.

This circular, which was in the hands of the Marseille prefecture by June 9, resulted in intensification of the mass round-up of Jews in the streets which had previously been in progress. The former practice of taking them to the steamship Massilia, where they were medically examined and those found fit transported to Africa for work on the trans-Sahara railway, has been discontinued recently. It is reliably reported that only a few hundred Jews were transported to the Sahara.

Special provision has been made for certain classes of foreign Jews who will not be interned in Africa but will be required to take up residence in small villages.

Although seeking to accelerate Jewish emigration from unoccupied France, the authorities intend to close down Camp Les Milles, which was especially established for refugees about to emigrate. The inmates will be transferred to Camp Le Vernet, which is one of the worst of the camps. Intervention by refugee-aid agencies succeeded in postponing this development for the time being.

It is learned authoritatively that the French anti-Jewish decrees had been prepared for publication by Xavier Vallat, Vichy’s Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, at least ten days before their appearance in the Official Journal on Saturday but were held up because of the Syrian situation, which alarmed and shocked the population. The reaction of the French population to the Levant developments was of such an unfavorable nature that the Government announcement was delayed for fear it should aid further to the popular dissatisfaction. When the decrees were published, they aroused considerable criticism, particularly in the Marseille and Nice districts.

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