Ed and Fran Sonshine Lecture in Holocaust Studies
Aliza Luft (University of California, Los Angeles)
“The Sounds of Silence: Why French Bishops Decided to Support the Statut des Juifs in August 1940”
Date: Monday, February 8 at 4:00pm
Description: This talk examines how French bishops decided to support the Statut des Juifs in the early months of the war. Most historical scholarship on the time period examines bishops’ public statements and suggests they endorsed the statute due to antisemitism or opportunism. However, my analysis of bishops’ diaries and correspondence collected from 8 diocesan archives suggests differently: in between the extreme desires and values held by a minority of bishops, most were uncertain about how to respond to the new regime and its interest in targeting Jews. Complicating matters further, the rupture caused by the Nazi invasion, occupation, and the division of France interfered with the bishops’ abilities to communicate with one another. This chaos, and the selective repression by Nazis of bishops who were once outspoken advocates of Jews, provided opportunities for vocal, pro-Statute bishops to define the Church’s trajectory. Other bishops remained quiet—the Nazis’ threats coupled with a fear they were being secretly surveilled motivated their silence—and their silence was decisive: in a time of disarray when the Church was desperate to determine a stance on the Statut des Juifs, these latter bishops’ silence appeared as a tacit signal in favor of endorsing legal antisemitism.
**This event will be conducted via Zoom. To attend the lecture, please visit *this* link on Monday, February 8th at 4pm.