Père Marie-Benoît and Joseph Bass

The Rescue of Jews in Marseille and Nice, 1940-1943

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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Père Marie-Benoît was a French Capuchin priest who helped rescue thousands of Jews in Marseille, Nice, and Rome during the Holocaust. Unlike most non-Jewish rescuers, however, he worked regularly with courageous, dynamic Jewish men who became close personal friends. This article examines his cooperation with his first Jewish associate, Joseph Bass, who set up the Service André for Jewish rescue in Marseille. With Bass and his assistants, Père Marie-Benoît hid Jews in small units throughout the region; created networks to supply fugitives with food, documents, money, and moral support; enlisted help from sympathetic local bureaucrats; and avoided dependence on large Jewish assistance organizations. Working together, the Jews and non-Jews were much more effective than either group could have been alone. Père Marie-Benoît later applied these techniques to rescue activities in Rome. This article also examines why Père Marie-Benoît became involved in Jewish rescue in the first place, and shows that his wartime experiences determined his subsequent lifelong dedication to Jewish-Christian reconciliation.