Explaining Survival: The Hierarchy of Persecution and the Jews of the Department of Vaucluse, 1933-1945

Title: Explaining Survival: The Hierarchy of Persecution and the Jews of the Department of Vaucluse, 1933-1945
Authors: Dallaire, Adrien
Date: 2020-02-12
Abstract: How three-quarters of the Jews of France survived the Holocaust has long been a subject of debate between historians. After the war, top Vichy officials sought to frame their participation in the persecution of the Jews in the best light possible and were amongst the first to articulate what came to be known as the “shield thesis.” The Vichy Regime, so the argument went, had served as a shield against the worst of the German demands regarding the Jews, which had the happy result of saving thousands of them—and, in particular, those of French origin—from destruction. This thesis was subsequently advanced by some of the most prominent scholars in the field, who tended to rally around one of its central tenets: the “French-foreign dichotomy,” the argument according to which the Vichy authorities pragmatically sacrificed the foreign Jews in order to preserve the French Israélites. This dissertation challenges what has become the framework for understanding the Holocaust in France, by examining the lives of the Jews of a small, rural department in southeast France through the prism of quantitative prosopography. It argues that, through its repeated appeals to the “French-foreign dichotomy,” the historiography has overemphasized one factor for explaining the fate of the Jews in France during the war, by bringing together very different individuals into two artificially homogeneous groups, thereby inadvertently obscuring other, more important differences between them. This dissertation shows that there was, indeed, a hierarchy between the Vauclusian Jews, but not one narrowly defined by nationality or country of origin. This hierarchy, moreover, evolved throughout the war and was at times one of persecution or of privilege. In the end, it was this hierarchy—underpinned by a confluence of personal, geographical and temporal forces—that enabled the majority of the 2,826 Jews of the Vaucluse to make it through the war intact.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/40173
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -