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"To the Wide Jewish Masses"

To the wide Jewish masses, Undzer vort, newspaper article 1942
Undzer vort, Paris, September 1942

Since the German military defeat of France in the summer of 1940, underground movements had emerged in France to resist German occupation and Vichy collaboration. The underground Communist Party had been running its own military resistance organization, Francs-tireurs et partisans (FTP, Irregular combatants and partisans) since the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941. In the spring of 1942, a sub-organization, Francs-tireurs et partisans-Main-d'œuvre immigrée (FTP-MOI, Irregular combatants and partisans-Immigrant movement) was created for the various communists in France who were of "immigrant" origin.

Fighters in the four detachments of this organization were overwhelmingly Jews. They either joined as part of large Romanian and Hungarian immigrant contingents, or they formed part of the "Jewish detachment" of FTP-MOI. Jews in these units included recent Jewish refugees from elsewhere in Europe, former volunteers from the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, or simply French Jews "of immigrant origin" whom others did not consider to be fully French. Jewish communists became part of the general network of French resistance organizations through FTP-MOI and the French Communist Party. They had a separate Jewish detachment that produced leaflets and publications for the company in Yiddish.

On July 16, 1942, German authorities and French police started a large round-up action in Paris with the goal of capturing about 27,000 "foreign" Jews.1 Thousands of Jews were detained at the local indoor cycling stadium called the Vélodrome d'Hiver (also known simply as the Vél d'Hiv)2 before being deported via local transit camps to the killing center at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Weeks later, an underground communist Jewish paper called Undzer vort ("Our word") published an article urging Jews to consider the implications of the summer deportations. The article calls for revenge, armed struggle, and inter-ethnic solidarity. It also denounces Jewish informers and collaborators, including those who served on the German-controlled central institution of French Jewry called the Union générale des israélites de France (UGIF).

For more on the round-up, as well as a general history of the Holocaust in France, see Renée Poznanski, Jews in France during World War II (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2001).

To learn more about the so-called Vél d'Hiv roundup, see the related Experiencing History item, Oral History with Marcelle Duval

Pierre Laval (1883-1945), head of government in the Vichy regime.

A cycling track and stadium in Paris.

"Snatchers," literally, those who catch. From the Yiddish verb "khapn," to catch. The term "khaper" bore a historical association from the Russian empire. When Tsar Nicholas I passed a mandatory conscription law for Jewish boys, the so-called "khappers" kidnapped Jewish boys to meet quotas.

This is a reference to Jewish informers and collaborators.

This was the Paris address of UGIF, the Jewish umbrella organization mandated by the collaborationist French state. The authors of the article clearly perceived it as collaborationist.

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To the Wide Jewish Masses

Brothers and sisters!

Since July 16th, a hunt for Jews in Paris has continued. From Thursday July 16th until Sunday the 19th, 20,000 men, women, and children were torn out of their homes with brutal force. The French police and gendarmerie, which Laval1 put to the service of the occupier, did not differentiate between old and young, between sick and healthy. The sick were dragged out from their beds, mothers had to take in their hands their children sick from scarlet fever, diphtheria, measles, etc. All were chased from their homes, not being allowed to take with them more than a small suitcase and a covering.

The cruel, wild, inhuman, barbaric, and sadistic scenes from these "black days" will forever remain scored in the memory of Paris Jews and the whole population. Everything that took place in the houses and collection points cannot be compared with the organized mass murder of Vélodrome d’Hiver,2 where 12,000 persons were confined. It has been confirmed that the bloody Hitler bandits not only want to carry out an expulsion of Paris Jews but aim towards their complete physical extermination. Animals led to the slaughter are treated more humanely than the Jewish mothers with their children inVélodrome d’Hiver. If not for the immediate, large protest storm of the French population, the Nazi murderers would continue the torment and torture of 12,000 Jews. In V. H. on the 6th day, fathers were torn with force from their children and wives, in order to be taken away to the work camps of the Hitlerian tyranny. The women and children were taken away to the concentration camps of Pitiviye [Pithiviers] and Ban-la-Roland [Beaune-la-Rolande]. Here the separation of mothers and children was prepared. All children, beginning at two years old, are pushed into a concentration camp, at the same time as their mothers are working someplace in Hitler Germany.

The hunt, the Jew-catching has not yet stopped, the wild Hitler beast takes as its goal the physical extermination of the Paris Jewish population. Until [now], only immigrant Jews have been affected, mostly from Poland. The same bestial plan, however, has also been prepared for all other Jews, French and immigrant. The beast is not yet satisfied, it needs to have more blood and more prey. Thousands of Jews who followed the warning and call of the Communist Party succeeded in saving themselves. There, where the police encountered barricaded doors, there, where the Jews [illegible] their French neighbors, there where there was resistance, the "khapers"3 retreated, and the Jews saved themselves. In those cruel days, the French people strengthened their friendship and solidarity with us. Strengthened by the active help of the French masses, the French Jews decided to put up active resistance against further attempts at deportation.

Cruel should be our revenge!

Avenging the barbaric crime is the holy obligation of every Jew today. How can our blood be quelled after such a cruel mass murder of our brothers, fathers, and children? Will we leave unpaid the breaking apart of thousands of families, the sentencing of thousands of men and women to death, the tearing of mothers away from their children? Will we let go unpunished the deaths of scores of innocent little Jewish children who died in their mothers' hands? Their mothers will never forgive us if we don't answer with hate and revenge—from which nothing should restrain us, the blood of the Nazi murderers should flow! Our desire for revenge must not be quieted until the Nazis die like beasts. One thought should dominate in each hour of the day: how to cause damage to the murderers and how to get even with them.

This today is the very desire of every honest Jew, but from the bunch of dirty blackguards from the Nazi community who want to benefit from misfortune, in order to snatch souls and worker-hands by their brown waists. Their hands are spotted with the blood of our brothers. The Izraelovitches4 took part in the preparations for carrying out the expulsion. Today, they offer the tortured and tormented "liberation" for the price of becoming a volunteer slave, there at the murder of their closest and dearest. If, however, the brown Jews from the Rue de la Bienfaisance5 and the great patrons have no boundaries in their shameful treason, the majority of the Jewish population, however, remains firmly determined not to let themselves be dragged into the Nazi net. In the day of the final reckoning, they will get their dues, as is deserved by dirty [illegible].

The hour for struggle and victory has arrived.

The wild Nazi bacchanalia with respect to the Paris Jews arrives... [at the moment] when the Nazi regime approaches its end. In order to save himself from death, Hitler exerts his last strength on the Soviet front, throwing his last reserves, he receives crushing blows from the Red Army, which defends heroically every step of its earth. Hitlerism pays dearly for its temporary successes, and after another several such successes, it will not have anyone to continue the fight with. At the same time, it is already forced to divert large armies to Western Europe because of the danger of the second front. The day is not far off when the American and English armies will strike Hitler with their whole mighty power.

The French people is already preparing to begin an armed struggle for its liberation, like all other nations in Europe. No force can deter it from this. Not the bloody terror, not the antisemitic baiting, and not the demagoguery of Laval and Pétain. The final battle for liberation begins. The Nazi fortress is being stormed from all sides, and under the blows of the Soviet Union, England, and America, and oppressed peoples, it will collapse, covering under its ruins the despised Hitler clique.

To arms, Jews, brothers!

Jewish men, Jewish youth!

The Nazi executioners have not broken, rather strengthened our desire for battle and battle-cheer. We don't belong to those who capitulate right in the moment when victory is close. On par with the French people, let's take our weapons in hand, let us stand in the lines of the partisans, who are the avant-garde of the Jewish masses, the kernel of the Jewish battalions in the French people's army, which will be born in the decisive battle. Leave the atelier and workshops, where you're working for the enemy! Destroy the machines, smash the equipment, help those who don't capitulate but rather fight on! Help the partisans! Help the families who saved themselves from deportation! Equip yourselves with weapons! Become closer to your French neighbors! Organize house committees to put up collective resistance! Join the battle, in order to avenge the torture that those closest to you have had to withstand, to avenge the murdered children, in order to put an end to the Nazi barbarism! To the fight for chasing out the occupier, for liberating all the oppressed and deported! For an independent France, without antisemitism and Jewish persecution, for the victory of the Soviet Union, America, and England over the bloody Nazi beast!

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Undzer vort, Paris, September 1942
Date Created
September 1942
Page(s) 2
Undzer vort
Paris, France
Document Type Newspaper Article
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