This article attempts to demonstrate that remembering the rescuer in genocide is fraught with conflict. Data taken from psychoanalytic practice and the arena of public discourse is presented to illustrate these crises in remembering. The forgetting of German rescuers in German public discourse is particularly thought provoking. The vicissitudes of memories of the successful Rosenstrasse demonstrations by the Gentile wives of the two thousand Jewish workers arrested in the Fabrikaktion in 1943 in Berlin is discussed in detail, including the present-day Historikerstreit regarding the “real merit“ of these demonstrations. Holocaust survivors' memories of being rescued by Germans are also addressed. Finally, a tentative psychoanalytic conceptualization of the conflict inherent in remembering and acknowledging such rescue behavior is attempted.
The French Caribbean Route as Expulsion, Rescue, Trial, and Encounter
Eric T. Jennings
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.
The Rescue of Jews in Marseille and Nice, 1940-1943
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.
From History to Historiography
Two obstacles blocked the incorporation of the rescue of Jews in France into the Resistance movement. The first, which can be traced back to the sources of the social imaginary, had to do with the fear of stirring the old demon of the Jewish problem by referring specifically to the fate awaiting the Jews. The second was inseparable from the meaning attached to the Resistance ever since its inception, which focused on political opposition to Vichy and on the liberation of France and never included rescuing those whose lives were in danger. This double marginalization (from the History of the French people as a whole and from that of the Resistance) survived liberation and gave way to three different historiographies: that of the French Resistance, that of the rescue of the Jews, and that of Jewish resistance. The history of the rescue of the Jews in France should be studied through an integrated perspective that leads to thinking about the Resistance as a whole, organized and unorganized, Jewish and non-Jewish.
Does it Count as a Rescue When a Jew Saves a Fellow Jew?
This article explores the relief, rescue, and resistance activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson and the Association des Israélites pratiquants (AIP) in Vichy France. The rabbi's prior experience in clandestine activities and spiritual resistance in the Soviet Union served as a training ground for the resistance work he eventually undertook in Vichy. Schneerson and his family were able to shelter, feed, and educate more than eighty children during the war, save at least fifty-three children from deportation, and help smuggle at least thirty-five children to Switzerland. That Schneerson and his family survived and rescued Jewish refugees in Vichy France, a regime that willingly deported nearly half of its foreign Jewish population to death camps, demonstrates that he and his wife Sara were not novices in clandestine work. Indeed, their staunch resistance to Vichy antisemitism was largely a legacy of Hasidic resistance to antisemitism under Soviet rule.
The Institutionalization of the Category of "Righteous of France"
Although the title of "Righteous among the Nations" has been awarded in Israel since 1963, foreign governments did not show any interest in this commemoration until the late 1990s. Since then, however, a growing number of European governments have adopted the term. Of all the countries to which this commemoration has spread, the French government's appropriation of the Israeli terminology may have gone the farthest, forging a new national commemorative expression: the "Justes de France." This essay explores how the French lexical appropriation has taken place, paying particular attention to the role played by Jewish rescuers in this process. In doing so, it seeks to introduce a new perspective into the current debate on the transnationalization of memory: to what extent do the different states interested in the commemoration of the "Righteous," in this case Israel and France, speak the same language and whose language is it?
The Reclaiming of Girls’ Education Discourses in Malala Yousafzai’s Autobiography
The cause of girls’ education in developing countries has received unprecedented attention from international organizations, politicians, transnational corporations, and the media in recent years. Much has been written about the ways in which these seemingly emancipatory campaigns reproduce historical discourses that portray women in former colonies as in need of rescue by the West. However, to date little has been written about the ways in which young women’s and girls’ education activists represent themselves. In this article I analyze I Am Malala, the autobiography of Pakistani girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai, written for her own age group. Using a feminist, poststructuralist approach to discourse analysis, it considers the way in which Yousafzai negotiates and challenges discourses around young women, Pakistan, and Islam. I conclude that a truly emancipatory understanding of girls’ rights would look not to the words and policies of powerful organizations but, rather, to young women themselves.
The Shafia Young Women as Worthy Victims
This article focuses on the coverage of the murders of the young Shafia women. Based on an analysis of the coverage published in The Globe and Mail (July 2009 to March 2012), I argue that the young women were constructed as exceptional and worthy victims of a particularly heinous crime—honor killing—allegedly imported from Afghanistan by the Shafia patriarch. I interrogate the different threads that were interwoven to construct these young women's representations to make them intelligible as girls and young women. Within the coverage, the trope of culture clash anchored in an Orientalist framing worked to consolidate their representations as worthy victims and re-inscribe the national imaginary of Canadian society as egalitarian, tolerant and beyond gender violence. These different maneuvers served to accomplish a kind of posthumous rescue in a domestic context akin to the strategies of rescue implemented by Western powers in the War on Terror to save Afghan women.
History and Memory
Robert O. Paxton and Shanny L. Peer
Amidst so many works devoted to the Shoah, the rescue of Jews is a relatively neglected subject. This is especially so in the case of France, for reasons explored by Renée Poznanski in her introductory essay to this special issue. The papers published here were presented at a conference on the rescue of Jews in France and the French Empire during World War II, held at the Maison Française of Columbia University on 24–25 March 2011.1
Acknowledging and Honoring Rescuers of Jews
Since 1962, Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial, has pursued a program to honor non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. Basically, every non-Jewish person who saved at least one Jewish person, while placing his or her own life and freedom at risk, and exacted no payment as a precondition for such help, and the story's evidence is confirmed by beneficiary party—then such a person may qualify to the traditional Jewish title for non-Jews, of Righteous Among the Nations. To date, some 23,500 persons, from all walks of life have been awarded this prestigious title. However, while many of these honorees worked in tandem with Jewish rescuers, no similar program exists for the latter. Recent Holocaust historiography has uncovered stories of many Jewish rescuers, who either worked individually or in conjunction with Jewish clandestine organizations, to save dozens and hundreds of their coreligionists. In doing this, they multiplied the risks to themselves as Jews on the run, of being uncovered by the Nazis and suffering the fate reserved for all Jews under the Final Solution program. This article underlines the need for the creation of a program to identify and acknowledge the role of Jewish rescuers to Jews.