"The Best Avenue of Escape"

The French Caribbean Route as Expulsion, Rescue, Trial, and Encounter

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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Can exclusion and rescue constitute the two faces of a same coin? How did the door slam shut on maritime rescue schemes in 1941? How precisely did Varian Fry and HICEM spirit refugees stranded in Southern France to the new world? In answering these questions, this article delineates and analyzes the sinuous routes that led to the emigration of thousands of refugees from Marseille to the French Caribbean in 1940-1941. It exposes some of the ambiguities of this project—including the comparable conditions of refugee internment in Vichy France and in Martinique—and its ultimate undoing. It delves into the encounters and synergies that the exodus engendered, and explores the perspectives of some of the refugees and Martiniquais whose paths crossed.