Testament of Marc Bloch

(March 18, 1941)


The testament of the French Jewish historian of the Middle Ages, Marc Bloch (1886-1944), who was a member of the resistance.


Clermont-Ferrand, March 18, 1941

Wherever I die - be it in France or abroad - and whenever it may occur, I leave it to my dear wife or, failing such, to my children the task of arranging my funeral to the best of their judgment. The funeral shall be of an entirely civil nature: my loved-ones are well aware that I have no need for any other kind. However, my wish is that on that day - either at the house of the departed or at the cemetery - a friend will agree to read the following words: I have not requested that the Hebrew prayers be recited over my grave, even though their rhythm has accompanied so many of my ancestors, as well as my father himself, to their final resting place.

During my entire life, I have, to the best of my ability, striven towards a total sincerity of expression and spirit. I hold the indulgence of lies - regardless of the pretexts it may adorn itself with - as the worst plague of the soul. As one much greater than I [had requested], I would readily have my tombstone read no other motto than these simple words: Dilexit veritatem . That is why … at this time of ultimate farewells, where every man has the task of epitomizing himself, no appeal has been made on my behalf in the name of an effusive orthodoxy whose credo I do not recognize. But it would be even more odious to me if one were to perceive in this gesture of integrity of mine something resembling a cowardly renunciation.

Therefore, I affirm - face-to-face with death, as it were - that I was born a Jew, and that I have never entertained any thoughts of either denying it or of being tempted to do so. In a world afflicted with the most atrocious barbarity, is not the generous tradition of the Hebrew prophets, which Christianity - in its purest form - has adopted in order to expand upon, one of our best reasons to live, to believe and to struggle? As a stranger to any denominational formalities or so-called racial solidarity, I have felt throughout my life first and foremost simply French. Attached to my homeland by a long family tradition, nurtured on its spiritual heritage and its history and, in truth, incapable of conceiving of breathing at ease elsewhere, I have loved it and served it with all my strength. I have never sensed that my being Jewish hindered these feelings of mine in any way. It has not been my fate to die for France during either of the two wars. At least, I can in all sincerity offer this testimony in return: I am dying, as I lived, an honorable Frenchman. Subsequently, my five quotations shall be read, assuming that the text will have been obtained.

Source: Bloch Mark, L'etrange De faite, Paris, Gallimard, 1990, pp. 111-112


Source: Yad Vashem