The XIX Hugo Valentin Lecture with Renée Poznanski

The nineteenth Hugo Valentin Lecture – Survival during the occupation: Did the french people save the jews? will be given by Renée Poznanski, Professor Emerita of History at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

During World War II, 76,000 Jews were deported from France to the Nazi German death camps, of which only 3 per cent survived. Except for a few marginal voices, the consensus today is that the blame for the murder of a quarter of the Jews in France must be placed on the French Vichy regime. However, the statistics show that the high death rate of 25 per cent among the Jews of France is nevertheless significantly lower than in, for example, Belgium and the Netherlands (with 40 and 90 per cent respectively). Why was this so? According to an explanation popularised by Jacques Chirac and supported by some historians and media it was the French population that on its own initiative saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. During the lecture, Professor Poznanski will problematize the argument and investigate whether it is compatible with available historical facts.

Professor Poznanski has published extensively on Jews in France during World War II, with a focus on their daily lives and the relations between Jews and non-Jews. Among Poznanski’s publications are The Jews in France during World War II, (2001), which was awarded the Jacob Buchman Prize for the Memory of the Holocaust, and The Propaganda of the Resistance and the Persecution of the Jews, (2008; 2022, forthcoming in English) which was awarded the 2009 Henri Hertz prize by the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris. Her most recent book (with Denis Peschanski) focuses on the Drancy internment camp (Drancy, un camp en France, Paris: Fayard). She is presently writing a book on the Resistance of Jews in France during World War II.