Cover image for Verdict on Vichy : power and prejudice in the Vichy France regime
Verdict on Vichy : power and prejudice in the Vichy France regime
Curtis, Michael, 1923-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub. : Distributed by AOL Time Warner Book Group, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 419 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
The Jews of France -- Anti-Semitism in France -- Vichy: the French state -- The new anti-Semitic legal system -- From definition to detention -- The Aryanisation process --Detention by Vichy -- Persecution -- Response to persecution -- Between the devil and the deep blue sea -- The judgments of Paris -- Servants of the state and the law -- The churches and anti-Semitism.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DC397 .C87 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



On May 10, 1940, Hitler's Panzer divisions launched an all-out offensive, sweeping through the Low Countries and the Ardennes. Despite France's impressive army and equality in weaponry, by mid-June the Germans had occupied Paris, Days later, a new Frnch government under Marshal Philippe Petain was formed, with its capital in Vichy. For the next four years France was occupied by the Nazis. What actually happened during that fateful period has been hard to assess, for many who collaborated later surfaced as prominent post-war figures in politics, business, and finance. Now finally, after almost six decades, the complex truth is emerging, as long-suppressed files are made public. Using the latest research, Michael Curtis examines the degree to which ministers and officials of the Vichy regime, the legal and administrative system, the Church, the French police, and people in all walks of life, collaborated with the Nazis, especially regarding the fate of France's 330,000 Jews, one-third of whom perished in the Nazi death camps. Despite all we have learned about World War II atrocities, this is a book that will shock and anger.World War II still fascinates readers: this is an important, still relatively little-known aspect of that tumultuous period.Supplements and complements Robert Paxton's book on the subject, published 30 years ago.Analyzes postwar trials, including the recent, highly-publicized trials of Klaus Barbie and Maurice Papon.Reveals that Hitler's ally Mussolini was far more solicitous about and protective of Italian Jews than were the French.Prewar chapters demonstrate how the strength of anti-Semitism in France in the 1930s made Hitler's "final solution"much easier to implement.Answers the question: Why were the French, as opposed to many occupied countries in World War II, such zealous collaborators?

Author Notes

Michael Curtis, distinguished professor emeritus of political science at Rutgers University, is the author and editor of many books on anti-Semitism, France, European politics, and the Middle East

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Was the wartime Vichy regime a helpless victim or an enthusiastic collaborator in Nazi crimes? That question has been the cause of much controversy in France, and according to this comprehensive indictment, "[t]he verdict on Vichy must be guilty." Rutgers political science professor Curtis argues that Vichy's anti-Semitic policies were "a deliberate, autonomous French government policy rather than...a response to German pressure." Vichy passed laws to strip Jews of their civil rights, seize their assets and exclude them from most professions. Worse, the French police apparatus organized and carried out the rounding up of Jews for deportation to the death camps, a task that the small German police contingent in France would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. With more freedom of action than most of occupied Europe, Curtis argues, Vichy was far more complicit in the Final Solution, especially in comparison with occupied Denmark and even the Axis governments in Bulgaria and Fascist Italy, which took concerted action-or at the very least, were less inclined to enforce discriminatory laws-to protect Jews under their jurisdiction. Curtis sets Vichy policy in the context of pre-war right wing and anti-Semitic political tendencies, and explores the post-war consensus that sought to downplay Vichy collaboration in favor of a mythology of heroic national Resistance to the Germans. He goes beyond the Vichy officials themselves to explore the acquiescence or silence of French society-the legal establishment, Church leaders, even left intellectuals like Sartre and de Beauvoir-in the face of anti-Semitic persecution. Drawing on the latest research, Curtis provides a comprehensive, nuanced but morally uncompromising look at France's darkest hour. 8 pages of b&w photos. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Drancy. Vel d'Hiv. Petain. These are just a few words that evoke one of the darkest times in France's history: the Vichy government of 1940-44. Curtis (political science, Rutgers Univ.) has written a detailed condemnation of Vichy's treatment of its Jewish population. Although at the time leaders claimed to be shielding their population from the German occupation, it is clear from Curtis's study that anti-Semitism was rooted in France's history. By 1944, over 75,000 Jews were deported; only about 2500 survived. Reading like a prosecutorial transcript, Curtis's study delineates Vichy's sins by using newly available documentation and statistics and covering subjects such as xenophobia, Aryanization, the church, the law, persecution, and collaboration. Although Curtis does not ignore noble acts performed by French men and women, he does conclude that Vichy is overwhelmingly "guilty." As the "verdict" in this book applies primarily to the Jewish experience, readers will want to have Robert O. Paxton's classic Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944 and the newest comprehensive history by Julian Jackson, France: The Dark Years 1940- 1944. An important work for academic libraries.-Maria C. Bagshaw, Lake Erie Coll. Lib., Painesville, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The role of Vichy France in the Holocaust has engaged historians for a half century. Curtis (emer., political science, Rutgers Univ.) has rendered a "verdict on Vichy," and it is definitive. Immersed in the vast literature of this subject, with the pertinent documents at his fingertips, Curtis has produced a sober, detailed, and fair assessment, explaining the hideous reality of a regime that, wanting to exclude Jews from the life of France, became accomplices in mass murder. Curtis shows how Vichy put into place a series of new, anti-Jewish laws that became the springboard first for "aryanization," which excluded Jews from business and French society, then detention, and, finally, for the shipping of Jews to Auschwitz. The text next surveys those groups involved in this process--politicians and government bureaucrats, the police, artists and intellectuals, the Roman Catholic Church--whose overwhelming response was acceptance of this "new order," which Curtis makes clear came more from French collaboration than from Nazi demands. Succeeding French governments have not been anxious to set this record straight, precisely because so many of their members had pro-Vichy activities to hide. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections. G. P. Cox Gordon College

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
List of Abbreviationsp. xv
Mapsp. xvi
Introductionp. 1
1 The Jews of Francep. 18
2 Anti-Semitism in Francep. 34
3 Vichy: the French Statep. 63
4 The new anti-Semitic legal systemp. 105
5 From definition to detentionp. 111
6 The Aryanisation processp. 123
7 Detention by Vichyp. 156
8 Persecutionp. 171
9 Response to persecutionp. 201
10 Between the devil and the deep blue seap. 226
11 The judgments of Parisp. 270
12 Servants of the state and the lawp. 301
13 The Churches and anti-Semitismp. 322
Conclusionp. 344
Fate of some of the collaboratorsp. 355
Select Bibliographyp. 357
Notesp. 368
Indexp. 398