French Jewish Resistance

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Numerous Jews took part in the various movements of the French Resistance during WW2. However some chose to join the M.J.S. (Mouvement de Jeunesse Sioniste) to bring specific help to the Jews that needed it.

Paul Giniewski who was an active member of the M.J.S. during the war has just written a book about this organization and its activities.

Indeed unlike the majority of the French population, French Jews, as well as the foreign Jews who had fled Germany and other Nazi-occupied territories, needed forged papers, hiding places and money to stay alive.

The movement was set up in 1942 and its creators saw their mission as being Jewish rescuers of Jews. They established their headquarters in the maquis in a chalet near Grenoble and joined forces with other Jewish rescue groups to smuggle Jewish adults and children into Switzerland and Spain.

They also worked with other French Resistance organizations, considering the liberation of France as part of their duty as French citizens. In fact Paul Giniewski recalls that he forged papers for French partisans who were also policemen. What’s more the organization occasionally got help from loyal French priests. Thus when he and other Jewish partisans were arrested by the French militia, a local priest intervened before they were executed and they were freed.

The M.J.S. was made up of right and left-wing Jews, some were religious while others saw themselves as atheists. Rabbi René Kapel was their chaplain and offered spiritual help along with lectures about Jewish history and Judaism.

Unfortunately the book which recounts these events, Une Résistance juive. Grenoble : 1943-1945, has not been published yet but I am very eager to read it.

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16 thoughts on “French Jewish Resistance

  1. In a broadcast on Radio France last Sunday (August 23), the host of “Maison d’Etudes”, Victor Malka, interviewed Paul Giniewski about his book, which had just been published, it appeared, although I can’t find it on amazon.fr. Until next Sunday, you can listen to the podcast of this programme on http://radiofrance-podcast.net/podcast09/rss_10182.xml Well worth hearing, as indeed is Victor Malka’s programme every Sunday morning.

    • Just to add to my note above – according to the fnac website, this book will appear next month. It’s certainly one I shall be buying!

      • I heard the program too; hence my post and will most certainly buy the book once it is released. I used to mention that I heard about a book on that program but since nobody seemed to have heard about it I gave up. You are apparently the first one who has.

    • The interview of Paul Giniewski was fascinating, all the more so I reckon as he was part of the organization himself. His brother was the leader; he went to Israel after the war.

  2. Thank you for posting on this topic. The role of Jews in the resistance is not very known. Most people see Jews only as victims, for logical reasons of course, but don’t know much about the ones that actively tried to combat the Nazi’s. Our school adopted the monument of Jewish resistance in our city and we have a ceremony there every year.

  3. Thank you for this bit of history.

    A friend’s father lived in France during the war. He was warned by his parents not to go outside. An older sister who was a teen disobeyed her parents, and she was captured and killed.

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  6. if ever published in english, i’d read it….my father was a partisan in the jewish resistance in vichy, france, outside of Toulouse and not too far from the Pyrenees mountains…..

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