Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau, the world’s most beloved mime, was born on this date in 1923 in Strasbourg, France. Born Marcel Mangel, he took the name Marceau (an homage to French Revolutionary general François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers) to hide his Jewish identity following Germany’s occupation of France. Marceau’s father, a kosher butcher, was killed in 1944 in Auschwitz while Marcel and […]

Read More

The Uncivil Servant: Revolutionary Bandits

by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits: The Crime Spree that Gripped Belle Epoque Paris, by John Merriman. Nation Books, 2017, 327 pages. FRENCH ANARCHISM, so important in the history of leftwing politics, giving the world Louise Michel and Sébastien Faure and providing a home to so many exiles, was […]

Read More

Michel de Montaigne

Writer and philosopher Michel de Montaigne, born Michel Eyquem on this date in 1533, was a major figure in the French Renaissance. His mother was Jewish, but converted to Protestantism, while his maternal grandfather was a crypto-Jew whose family converted to Catholicism. It is thought that there were conversos on his father’s side as well. Montaigne heard and […]

Read More

The Plague and the Jews of Strasbourg

On this date in 1349, the city of Strasbourg, located along today’s French-German border, arrested its Jews and charged them with poisoning wells to cause the Black Death (in reality, bubonic plague), which was sweeping through Europe and ultimately killed between one-third and sixty percent of the continent’s population. The next day, according to Jakob […]

Read More

The Uncivil Servant: After the Revolution

IN THE INTENSE NOW AND MAY ’68 IN FRANCE by Mitchell Abidor   WE ARE JUST a few months from the fiftieth anniversary of the events of May ‘68, the great uprising that seemed as if it would topple the French ruling class but which, in the long run, proved that ruling class’s flexibility and strength. […]

Read More

The Butcher of Lyon

Klaus Barbie, a Nazi functionary who became known as the “Butcher of Lyon” for personally torturing members of the French Resistance in the Lyons region, was arrested in Bolivia on this date in 1983. He would be convicted of war crimes in France and die in prison in 1991. Barbie was recruited by American intelligence after the war and aided […]

Read More