Jews and Christians in Vichy France

New and Renewed Perspectives

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Michael Sutton Aston University

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The general picture drawn by Michael Marrus and Robert Paxton nearly forty years ago of the Vichy government’s state antisemitism has stood the test of time and has been reinforced. If an element of revisionism is called for, it is with respect to the role played by some figures within the Catholic hierarchy, especially Pierre-Marie Gerlier, the cardinal archbishop of Lyon. A still more detailed knowledge of Jewish rescue has been built up, which confirms the special position of Le Chambon and the Plateau Vivarais. And yet recent work also shows more clearly that what happened there was integrally part of a much wider story of rescue. The debate between Jacques Semelin, on the one hand, and Marrus and Paxton, on the other, over whether the fate of the Jews in France in 1940–1944 was shaped more by indifference than by consciously held antisemitism raises questions relating to both the history of Christianity and twentieth-century modernity.

Contributor Notes

Michael Sutton is professor emeritus of Modern History and International Relations at Aston University. He has been professeur invité at Sciences Po Lille since 2009. He is the author of Nationalism, Positivism and Catholicism: The Politics of Charles Maurras and French Catholics, 1890–1914 (1982)—French edition: Charles Maurras et les catholiques français, 1890–1914: Nationalisme et positivisme (1994)—and France and the Construction of Europe, 1944–2007: The Geopolitical Imperative (2007). Relating to part of the subject matter of this review essay is his “Henri de Lubac: Reflections on Atheist Humanism, Joachism, and Totalitarianism,” Gregorianum 97, 1 (2016).

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