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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France

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Richard WeisbergYeshiva University, USA

ISBN13: 9783718658923
ISBN: 3718658925
Published: September 1996
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Format: Hardback
Price: £83.99

The involvement of Vichy France with Nazi Germany's efforts to exterminate Europe's Jews has long been a source of debate and contention. At a time when France is taking more responsibility for its role in the deportation and murder of 75,000 of its Jewish citizens, the author provides a comprehensive account of the French legal system's complicity with Hitler's genocidal campaign during the dark period known as ""Vichy"".;As in Germany, the exclusionary laws passed during the Vichy period formalized institutional antisemitism. In this volume, Weisberg pulls back the curtain on the ways in which the legal community responded to these laws. Private lawyers quickly absorbed the discourse of religious exclusion into the conventional legal framework, expanding the laws beyond their simple intentions, their literal sense and even their German precedents. Anti-Jewish laws slipped easily and with little resistance into the legal canon and French lawyers often enlisted the laws as a means of career advancement.;This volume documents in detail the exclusionary laws themselves, the manner in which Vichy law regarded French Jews (and French Jewish lawyers), and the degree to which Vichy exceeded Nazi expectations. Examining the work of lawyers and judges, policy makers and administrators, prosecutors and defenders, reporters and academics, the author reveals how legalized persecution actually operated on a practical level. Further, he presents a persuasive argument for Vichy law as a Catholic reaction to the Jewish Talmudic approach to law. The book also specifically compares the Vichy experience not only with American legal precedents and practices, but also with post-modern modes of thinking that ironically adopt the complexity of Vichy reasoning to a host of reading and thinking strategies.;While providing a definitive account of Vichy France, the book also raises fundamental and disturbing questions about the ease with which democratic legal systems can be recruited for evil.

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Leon Blum, the ""Stranger"" at Riom - legalized ostracism and Vichy's political trial; the basic scheme of ostracism; the special treatment of Jewish legal professionals; Barthelemy - a Catholic pre-war liberal is called to Vichy; the fight to control the legal fate of Jews - administrators versus magistrates; outnaziing the masters; property law; the professional lives of private lawyers; reforming the courts, reforming - denationalization, special sections et al; academic discourse under Vichy - xenophobia and the Talmudic outsider.