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Protest by the Central Israelite Consistory of France Against the Deportation of Jewish Foreign Nationals

The Central Israelite Consistory of France, conscious of its duty towards religious solidarity, wishes to express to the head of Government its indignation at the French Government's decision to hand over to the German Government thousands of foreigners of various nationalities who are of the Israelite persuasion. [They] live in the non-occupied zone. Escaping persecution, they had sought refuge in France prior to the war.

The Central Consistory vehemently protests against both the violation of the… right of sanctuary and against the inhuman conditions under which this policy has been initiated by the Authorities of the non-occupied zone.

The Central Consistory has no doubts as to the ultimate fate that awaits the deportees once they will have suffered a hideous martyrdom. Had the Reich Chancellor not declared in his message of February 24, 1942: “My prophecy - whereby during the course of this war, it is not the Aryan humanity that will be annihilated, but rather it is the Jews who will be exterminated - shall be fulfilled. Whatever the outcome of this battle and regardless of its length, this will be its final result”? This extermination program was applied methodically in Germany and German-occupied countries … Information has revealed that several hundreds of thousands of Israelites were massacred or had died in Eastern Europe after having endured atrocious suffering by ill-treatment. Lastly, the fact that the French Government delivered individuals regardless of their physical aptitude – having included the ill, the elderly, pregnant women and children - confirms that the German government … does not intend to use the deported as a labor force but rather to mercilessly and methodically exterminate them.

We, as French citizens, can only be outraged at the fact that for the first time in history, the French government is deliberately violating the right of sanctuary, which, due to our country's secular tradition, we have always respected as a sacred principle.

The Israelites are all the more justified in emphasizing the sacred character of the right of sanctuary, since during the biblical era, their religious law expressly instituted this right; Christianity has taken over the same tradition, and the Church, like the secular authorities, has always upheld this tradition …

The circumstances of this renunciation were most appalling:

As soon as they were unloaded in the non-occupied zone, the unfortunate deportees were treated in the most inhuman fashion; they were crammed into cattle trucks - men, women, children, elderly and ill - all thrown together without provisions or minimal hygienic precautions. Fresh supplies were withheld from these wretched convoys; at certain checkpoints in the non-occupied zone, charitable organizations and religious ministers that attempted to deliver final salvation to these condemned souls were rigorously and brutally denied access to the train platforms.

The members of the Central Consistory, who are almost exclusively veteran combatants, feel compelled to point out to the Government that among those currently facing deportation are foreigners who, during the course of the war, joined the French army and fought under the French banner. For France to now hand over these defenseless individuals would be such an unmentionable act, that the Central Consistory feels that pointing it out to the Government now will suffice to prevent such a step from being taken. [After all, such a step] is liable to shock all of the veteran combatants of France, regardless of their denomination.

The Central Israelite Consistory of France reiterates its earlier protests, wherein it tirelessly demanded that the Jewish foreigners be treated as other foreigners are in all respects. [Furthermore], it is imploring the Government to kindly consider the incalculable moral consequences of the measures that is has imposed; to reiterate that the most noble traditions of France … forbid the delivery of unfortunate beings, doomed to death, to a foreign Government solely because they belong to a specific religion.

Finally, the Central Consistory requests that - should it be impossible to revoke these measures altogether - the Government continue to make the same exceptions it had made in the first convoys – namely, to exclude all veteran combatants, foreign volunteers and their families, isolated children under the age of 18 and young girls, for whom these deportations are liable to have the most disastrous consequences.

The Central Consistory also requests that the parents of children below the age of three, as well as all pregnant women, not be deported.

Source: AIU, CC-1a

Source: Yad Vashem