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“The Millionaire Who Never Laughs”

Marcel Dassault (Bloch), a French aircraft engineer who became a major force in the country’s airplane and defense industries until he was imprisoned by the Vichy government for refusing to build aircraft for the Nazis, was born in Paris on this date in 1892. In 1944 he was confined in Buchenwald, where he was targeted […]

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Zemirovsky’s Flight from the Juif

ASSIMILATION AND DISSIMULATION by Zelda Gamson Discussed in this essay: The Nemirovsky Question: The Life, Death and Legacy of a Jewish Writer in 20th-Century France, by Susan Rubin Suleiman. Yale University Press, 2016, 376 pages. from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   THE LIFE could have made a good novel, and she might even have […]

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The “Pope of the Jews”

Angelo Donati, a Jewish businessman and diplomat from the tiny Republic of San Marino who saved several thousand Jews in the Italian occupation zone in France and became known as the “Pope of the Jews,” died at 75 on this date in 1960. Donati, who hailed from Modena, was general consul of San Marino from 19235 to […]

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Varian Fry in Vichy France

Varian Fry, an American journalist who helped more than 2,000 Jewish and anti-Nazi refugees escape the Holocaust through Vichy France, died on this date in 1967 at age 59. As a Harvard freshman, Fry was a founder of Hound & Horn, a literary quarterly, which he co-edited with Lincoln Kirstein. When Fry visited Berlin in 1935, he […]

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Georges Mandel, Resisting the Nazis in Vichy France

Georges Mandel (Jeroboam Rothschild), a journalist with Emile Zola’s L’Aurore, an advisor to Georges Clemenceau, a government minister, and a sharp and prescient opponent of Nazism, was arrested in Bordeaux on this date in 1940. He was released by Petain a few days later after protests were made on his behalf by the presidents of […]

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March 8: A Leap Into Darkness

Leo Bretholz, who escaped death at the hands of the Nazis numerous times, including from a train en route to Auschwitz, died at 93 on this date in 2014. A resident of Vienna, Bretholz fled from Austria after the Anschluss and swam across the Sauer River from Germany to Luxembourg. Arrested two days later, he […]

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December 14: A Rabbi of the Resistance

David Feuerwerker, a rabbi who helped liberate Lyons from fascist rule and then reestablished the Jewish community in that city after World War II, was awarded the Gold Medal of the City of Paris on this date in 1957. Feuerwerker was “an eminent scholar and spiritual leader of French-speaking Jews in North America,” said the […]

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October 24: Algerian Jews

Jews of Algeria, numbering more than 33,000, were granted French citizenship on this date in 1870, a little more than three decades after France colonized the North African country. Algerian Jewish communities dated back to Roman times and the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and were reinforced by the influx of Sephardim after […]

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September 21: Ministre de la Culture

Françoise Giroud (Lea France Gourdji), a writer, screenwriter, journalist, and political activist who co-founded the French news magazine L’Express in 1953 and edited it until 1971, was born to Sephardic Turkish parents in Lausanne, Switzerland on this date in 1916. Giroud also edited Elle magazine from 1946 to 1953 and wrote some thirty books, fiction […]

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September 20: The Turkish Consul Who Saved Jews

Necdet Kent, who as Turkish vice-consul in France saved dozens of Turkish Jews living in France from being deported to Nazi death camps, died at 91 on this date in 2002. Kent served his government in Marseilles, a point of embarkation for many Jews fleeing Europe, from 1941 to 1944. In 1943, upon learning that […]

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