“We Must Save the Jews” was the subject of the second and final installment of a program on the Resistance on France 2 last week. I almost avoided it out of (very) latent resentment that for many in French officialdom during the Occupation the guiding principal seemed to be “we must deport the Jews” or at least “we must localize the Jews so the Germans can deport them.” But in fact, the program did not ignore this (it even educated me to the fact that while France deported some 72,000 Jews, including 11,000 children, it also didn’t deport 250,000, thanks in no small part to righteous gentiles). French acceptance of the deportation was courted by propaganda which included the local equivalent of the ‘Degenerate Art” exhibition in Berlin in 1938, an exhibition on famous degenerate Jews, all of whom seemed to have ‘hooked noses,’ which brings us to Guy de Maupassant, whose stories will themselves be featured on France television next month.
Commencing his “Mademoiselle Fifi” yesterday, I came upon this description of one of five demoiselles Germans occupying a Normand chateau procure for a fete: “a Jew in whom the hitched nose confirmed the rule that all Jews have curved beaks.”
If the German Occupation wakened a resistance to the deportation of Jews, in finding the one country whose officials not just acquiesced in but helped organize the deportations, it counted on a latent anti-Semitism to grease the chute.