JEWISH SURVIVAL AND RESCUE IN OCCUPIED FRANCE to be Presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage

Article Pixel
JEWISH SURVIVAL AND RESCUE IN OCCUPIED FRANCE to be Presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage

The Consulate General of France in New York, The World Jewish Congress (WJC), and the Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme in Paris (MahJ) present Jewish Survival and Rescue in Occupied France, on the evenings of March 4 & 5 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan (36 Battery Pl, New York, NY 10280). This two-day symposium features lectures and panel discussions by eminent historians, sociologists, and survivors, including Pierre Sauvage, whose newly remastered documentary Weapons of the Spirit will conclude the event. Jewish Survival and Rescue in Occupied France is a highlight of France and Judaism: 2,000 Years of Intertwined History, a series of conferences and lectures organized by the Consulate in partnership with the WJC, curated by MahJ Director Paul Salmona, and held at various New York City venues.

In Nazi-occupied France, nearly 75% of the Jews were able to survive the Holocaust despite the complicity of the Vichy government with the German authorities. This statistic, unique among European countries, can be explained by the implementation of rescue networks by the Jews themselves, with the help of the population in certain "refuge" regions. Less well known than armed resistance, the role of civil "rescue" was essential to the survival rate and made possible the rebirth of French Judaism after the war. Today France is home to the third largest Jewish community in the world, after Israel and the United States.

Jewish Survival and Rescue in Occupied France convenes experts and witnesses to shed light on this episode of the occupation, little known in the United States-in particular through the example of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, the mountain village, "Righteous among the Nations," to which the Yad Vashem Center in Jerusalem dedicated a part of its garden, and to which the Museum of Jewish Heritage has dedicated a section in its current Auschwitz temporary exhibition. Speakers include, on March 4, Jacques Semelin, historian and expert on the French occupation during World War II; Patrick Cabanel, sociologist and historian of Protestantism in France; and Johanna Lehr, a political scientist who is a specialist in the Jewish resistance; and, on March 5, Pierre Sauvage, survivor and filmmaker; Nathalie Heinich, a sociologist who writes about Le Chambon; and Michèle Cone, who lived in Le Chambon with her parents during the war.

Sauvage's Weapons of the Spirit poignantly recounts the saga of Le Chambon, where the Huguenot community provided the densest, longest-lasting and most successful haven of refuge anywhere in Nazi-occupied Europe. In and around that one village in occupied France, some 5,000 Jews were sheltered-by some 5,000 Christians. Reviewing the film upon its 1990 release, The Washington Post wrote, "The question at the heart of this compelling film is this: How in the middle of great evil did a great good take place? Granted, the question is probably unanswerable, requiring not only an understanding of good but an equal knowledge of evil as well. And Sauvage gets no closer than conjecture. But the circumstances themselves are so provocative, and the acts of the townspeople so remarkable, that explanations aren't actually necessary. All that's needed are the facts."'

Admission to Jewish Survival and Rescue in Occupied France is free. Reservations can be made here.

Jewish Survival and Rescue in Occupied France - Schedule of Events

Please visit the following webpage for updates to the schedule:

Day 1 (Wednesday, March 4)

5pm: Introduction: Philip G. Nord

5:30pm: Lecture: The conditions of Jewish Survival in Occupied France, by Jacques Semelin

6pm: Lecture: From School to the Maquis: Jewish Resistance in France, by Johanna Lehr

6:30pm: Coffee Break

6:45pm: Lecture: The Protestant Roots of the Rescue in Dieulefit, the Cévennes, and the Plateau, by Patrick Cabanel

7:15pm: Q&A

8:30pm: End of Day 1

Day 2 (Thursday, March 5)

5pm: Introduction

5:45 pm: Lecture with Nathalie Heinich: Jewish Intellectuals on the Plateau,

6:30 pm: Sneak preview screening of the 30th anniversary remaster of Weapons of the Spirit (93 min)

8pm: Q&A session and discussion with Michele Cone, Pierre Sauvage, Nathalie Heinich

9pm: End of Day 2

About the Participants in Jewish Survival and Rescue in Occupied France

Jacques Semelin is a historian and political scientist. Professor at Sciences Po Paris and Senior Researcher at the Center for International Studies. He is an expert on the Holocaust and France under German occupation.

Patrick Cabanel is directeur d'études at the Ecole pratique des hautes études. He is an expert on the Vichy regime and French Protestantism.

Johanna Lehr is a Ph.D. in Political Sciences. She studies the relationship between the Jewish French resistance and the post-war educational projects in metropolitan France.

Pierre Sauvage is a French-American documentary filmmaker who was a child survivor of the Holocaust and is a child of Holocaust survivors. He directed Weapons of the Spirit.

Nathalie Heinich is Senior Researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research and currently works at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. She is an expert on the history of Le Chambon.

Michèle C. Cone is an art historian and a fellow at the NYU Institute for the Humanities. She was a child of Le Chambon.

About Paul Salmona, Curator of France and Judaism: 2,000 Years of Intertwined History

Born in 1955, Paul Salmona has the Director of the Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme (MahJ, the Museum of Jewish Art and History) in Paris since 2013. He has also served as the Cultural Development Director of the National institute for Rescue Archaeology (2005-2013) and the Director of the Louvre Auditorium (1992-2005).

Salmona has organized several conferences in the field of Jewish Studies, including Archaeology of Judaism in France and Europe, with Laurence Sigal (2010); Saint Louis and the Jews, with Juliette Sibon (2015); Anti-Semitism in France from the 19th through the 21st Century, with Dominique Schnapper and Perrine Simon-Nahum (2016); Jews and Protestants, with Patrick Cabanel and Thomas Maissen (2017); and Judaism: a Blindspot in the French National Narrative, with Claire Soussen (2019). He has been the curator of the French editions of exhibitions Roman Vishniac, from Berlin to New York 1920-1975 (2015); Golem!: Avatars of a Clay Legend (2017); Jews and Protestants: Crossed Dates, 1517-2017 (2017); and Helmar Lerski: Pioneer of Light (2018).

About the Presenters of France and Judaism: 2,000 Years of Intertwined History

The Consulate General of France in New York is charged with maintaining close relations with official New York institutions and supporting the local French community. Each year the Consulate holds approximately 150 events, which highlight the dynamism of France in various domains, such as gastronomy, politics, economics, and education.

The World Jewish Congress is the international organization that represents Jewish communities and organizations in 100 countries around the world. It advocates on their behalf with governments, parliaments, international organizations, and other faiths. The WJC represents the plurality of the Jewish people and is politically non-partisan. The Talmudic phrase "Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh beZeh" (All Jews are responsible for one another) encapsulates the raison d'être of the WJC. Since its foundation in 1936, in Geneva, Switzerland, the WJC has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Jews and Jewish communities around the world.

In a 17th century mansion located in the heart of the historic Marais district in Paris, Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme (MahJ, the Museum of Jewish Art and History) hosts one of the most beautiful collections in Europe, spanning 2,000 years of the history of European and Mediterranean Jewish communities. The MahJ exhibits judaica, objects, and artworks by Chagall, Modigliani, Soutine, El Lissitzky, Liebermann, and many others.

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You