North Africa and Its Jews during WWII

In an article by Dan Michman, chief historian at Yad Vashem (YV): “On 20 January 1942, senior German officials gathered at a villa in Wannsee, Berlin to clarify the organizational aspects of the plan to systematically eradicate the Jews. According to the protocol drafted by Adolf Eichmann, it was made clear—several times—that the discussion concerned “the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem in Europe.” Thus arises the question: to what extent did the Nazi regime plan on murdering Jews outside of Europe?

Was the fate of the Jews who found themselves under German rule—or that of Axis powers—beyond Europe’s borders the same as those within?[2]

the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem in Europe:” This quotation does not appear even once in the protocol; and there is a big difference between Jewish problem and Jewish question.

“‘in Europe’ is not in italics. It appears that the author of this article wanted to promote his point of view.

One must be very accurate when writing about the Holocaust.

* Thus arises the question: to what extent did the Nazi regime plan on murdering Jews outside of Europe? Was the fate of the Jews who found themselves under German rule—or that of Axis powers—beyond Europe’s borders the same as those within?

It seems that these two questions challenge the historical record of one master plan, with YV’s own artificial division of Europe. They seem to indicate a specific goal and purpose. It appears that these questions, incorrectly using “outside of Europe” and “beyond Europe’s borders” will justify having 2 Holocaust centers: YV for the Jews of “Europe” of today (without French North Africa), and one for the other Jews, at Ben Zvi. My friend who is in the Holocaust business told me yesterday: They must have received a lot of money. They did. And it seems they want to spend it on Jews of Europe of today, not Imperialistic Europe.

Both questions reflect false and artificial issues; it seems that they are both based, on purpose, on geographic location. They ignore the historical political realities of the time, of an imperialist Europe. And, it seems there is an attempt to challenge the historical record, revealing NOW a fundamentally misleading approach to the history of the era.

“The French possessions, including those in North Africa, were under Vichy government rule and all the anti-Jewish legislation was applied there.”[3] 

YV books: “The Comprehensive History of the Holocaust” (a multi-volume series which summarizes the present state of research on the Holocaust, according to several major introductory topics, such as the Final Solution, and according to each European country. The volumes on the history of the Holocaust in Hungary, Yugoslavia, France, … have already been published in Hebrew. … The series will also be published in English).” So, YV published “History of the Shoah: France. In Hebrew; 596 p. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1996. “Summary: History of the Jews of France during the Shoah have a special character … the book deals with the fate of the Jews during World War II, … during the period between the two wars … and during the first years after  World War II. The book also deals with history of the Jews in North Africa, ruled by France.”[4] YV correctly agrees that they are part of France and Europe. And YV did collect documents, photos, and publish on North African Jewry.

It appears now, that they changed their mind. These two questions at the conference, based on this geographic division, have a purpose of later justifying a division of a center for Holocaust in Europe to be at Yad Vashem, and a center for Holocaust outside Europe to be located at Ben-Zvi. But, the historical evidence is very clear:

1. The Nazi plan on murdering Jews in French North Africa was directly and naturally connected to the extension of anti-Jewish laws by pro-Nazi Vichy France. There was not a specific plan for them; there was only one Nazi master plan: to kill all the Jews. October 25, 1941. Hitler told Heydrich and Himmler: It is good that we are preceded by an aura of terror for our plans to exterminate Jewry.

All historians agree that the fate of the Jews was directly linked to WWII, (and not to outside or inside Europe of today) Prof. Gerhard L. Weinberg stated: “The Jews they killed had come into their reach because of the war” (and not because of a specific plan of “murdering Jews inside or outside Europe. 

Gerhard adds: “What I am trying to clarity is the extent to which developments in the military and diplomatic course of the war and in the Holocaust intersected with each other, and how a failure to take this intersections into account reduces our ability to understand either.” ”) (Ref. G. L. Weinberg, The Holocaust and WWII.” In Lessons and Legacies II, pp. 26-32, 1998).

March, 1942. Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary on 27 March 1942: ‘No other government and no other regime would have the strength for such a global solution of this question,[5][6]  More importantly, the countries of French North Africa were not considered outside Europe, as per a German document relevant to the Jewish question – these North African countries were listed under title: Other European Countries.”

Yehuda Bauer interviewed by michael Dunn in 1993, stated: “The Holocaust was perpetrated by the Nazis for very specific reasons. They saw the Jews the ultimate enemy … Murder him … And it wasn’t directed against the Jews of country ‘x’ but against the concept of the Jew. The Jew. Anywhere. Everywhere.” It’s a historical fact.

And there was only one Nazi plan: Whenever you can, during the war, kill the Jews.

It appears that YV, unlike Bauer their academic advisor, is ignoring the reality of the Nazi master plan and global solution to the Jewish question.

2. Was the fate of the Jews who found themselves under German rule—or that of Axis powers—beyond Europe’s borders the same as those within? Again, we see here the artificial division between inside and outside Europe. Before, during and after the Holocaust, French North Africa was not considered “beyond Europe’s borders; it was definitely part of Europe. Again, it seems that there is an attempt to challenge the historical record, revealing a fundamentally misleading approach to the history and the political geography of the era. Beyond imperialist Europe, one may mention Cuba.

And the historians at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum clearly state: “The history of the Holocaust in France’s three North African colonies (Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) is intrinsically tied to France’s fate during this period.

All historians categorically state that the fate of the Jews depended on the countries’ response to cooperation with German demands. And that’s what decided the fate of the Jews, not the location. Germany attempted to export its Jewish policy to those countries it occupied, such as … France … or that fell under its influence…The countries’ response to cooperation with German demands … varied. Factors that determined support … included
1. the changing political climate …,
2. the perception of a German defeat …;
3. the intensity of antisemitism in a country, or the lack thereof;
4. the willingness of the population to view Jews as their fellow nationals rather than as a foreign element; and
5. the willingness of the general population to oppose the persecution and deportation of Jews.
6…. in the light of laws that segregated and persecuted Jews … the success …also required the cooperation of the political leadership & bureaucracy, which promulgated decrees that segregated Jews from the rest of society.”



[3] Walter Laqueur, Judith Tydor Baumel, eds. The Holocaust Encyclopedia. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001


[5]  The Goebbels Diairies, 1942-1943, ed. And trans. Louis P. Lochner (Garden City, N. Y., 1948), 148.

[6] Marrus, Michael R., The Holocaust in History. University Press of New England, Hanover, 1987, p. 28.


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