BOOK (In Process)

On August 15, 1942, ten French bishops met secretly behind the sanctuary of the Notre-Dame church in Le Puy. Their plan was to coordinate a protest on behalf of Jews in France. One month prior, French police arrested 12,884 Jews in Paris and its suburbs and confined them to the Vélodrome d’hiver indoor cycling stadium before deporting them to Auschwitz, where less than a handful survived. Despite the fact that Jews in France had been arrested and detained in internment camps throughout the country since May 1941, French bishops had until this moment remained silent concerning the state’s violence against Jews and even, at times, endorsed it. For example, in December 1941, Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier proclaimed, “no one more than I recognizes the evil that Jews have done to France.” Yet merely ten months later he walked to his pulpit in coordination with four other bishops and declared, “The Jews are our brothers. They belong to mankind…. No Christian dare forget that!”

A mass of Parisians gathered at the Basilica Church of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre to attend a religious service and pray for peace. (AP Photo, August 27, 1939)

My book examines how French bishops during the Holocaust in France deviated from their support for Vichy to help save Jews despite the high personal and institutional costs associated with defection. The Catholic Church was a primary source of political and moral guidance during the Holocaust in France. When French bishops endorsed the Vichy regime, they legitimized discrimination by officially supporting anti-Semitic policies. Later, their defection from this stance and protest of the French state’s persecution of Jews de-legitimized the Vichy regime and mobilized Catholics on behalf of European Jewry. In the end, French civilians saved the second-largest number of Jews in any occupied country during the Holocaust. I analyze newly available historical sources written in French, Hebrew, and Italian collected from sixteen archives in eleven cities across France, Italy, USA, and Israel, to explain how individuals and institutions trade the benefits of stability for the risky behavior associated with collective action in violent contexts.

Archives, France
Archives diocésaines de Cambrai (Nord-Pas-de-Calais)
Archives diocésaines d’Annecy (Annecy)
Archives historiques du diocèse de Lille (Lille)
Archives diocésaines de Lyon (Lyon)
Archives historiques du diocèse de Marseille (Marseille)
Archives diocésaines de Montauban (Toulouse)
Archives historiques du diocèse de Nice (Nice)
Archives historiques du diocèse de Paris (Paris)
Archives diocésaines de Toulouse (Toulouse)
Archives Diplomatiques (Paris)
Archives de l’Alliance Israélite Universelle (Paris)
Archives Nationales (Paris)
Centre National des Archives de l’Eglise de France (Paris)

Mémorial de la Shoah, Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine (Paris)
Site-Mémorial du Camp des Milles (Aix-en-Provence)

Archives, USA 
Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants
Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives
Vatican Secret Archives 
International Tracing Service Records 
(All the above from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) 

Archives, Israel
Yad Vashem, World Center for Holocaust Research

Archives, Italy
Archivio Apostolico Vaticano, Papa Pio XII e la Seconda Guerra Mondiale



 

Primary Sources on "Jewish Questions Under Occupation and After Liberation" from the diocesan archive of Lyon, France.