Deportation of Foreign Jews from Paris

The German registration programme was conducted with the assistance of the French authorities from the Vichy regime.

In France the gradual implementation of German racial laws continued. On the 20th-21st August 1941 there was another series of arrests in Paris. Jews were ordered to register with the police and Jews without French passports were detained. They were shipped off to the notorious ‘internment camp’ at Drancy in the French suburbs from where they would soon be shipped off to concentration camps in the East. The general conditions in Drancy were appalling – with disease, overcrowding, malnutrition and lack of medical care contributing to a high death rate even before people were put on the cattle wagons.

The German racial laws were enforced with the co-operation of many in the French authorities and the French government. Some argued that they had to co-operate with the Germans over the foreign Jews in order to be able to assist the French Jews. This was the sort of slippery compromise that the Nazi’s took full advantage of – it was only a matter of time before French Jews became targets.

Some in the French establishment were enthusiastically anti semitic. Conditions in Drancy were said to have improved after the Germans took full control of it in July 1941.

Most of the foreign Jews who were now detained had fled from the German occupation of other European countries - there was nowhere left for them to go in mainland Europe.

Their ultimate destination was a concentration camp in eastern Germany or Poland. Their chances of surviving the war were slim.

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