Researcher: Dr. Galit Haddad

After the stinging defeat of the French army, 1.8 million French soldiers fell into captivity at the hands of the German enemy, among them over 10,000 soldiers of Jewish descent. Thanks to the Geneva Convention of 1929, which required humanitarian protection of prisoners of war, the majority of these soldiers returned to their countries of origin at the end of the war rather than being executed for being Jews. The purpose of this research is to track and examine the experience of captivity among the Jewish prisoners in the German POW camps. Dr. Haddad’s study primarily focuses on the issue of how these prisoners’ Jewish identity was expressed, since the majority considered themselves first and foremost as French citizens, patriots loyal to the values of the Republic. In addition, Dr. Haddad considers the treatment these prisoners received from their fellow, non-Jewish captives – treatment that ranged from a sense of brotherhood arising from a shared fate and national identity to outright Anti-Semitism.

Since Dr. Haddad joined the Center, her efforts have been mainly dedicated to locating and collecting primary sources such as POW diaries and correspondence, as well as testimonies assembled by the organization Engagés Volontaires Juifs dans l’Armée Française. She has also established contact with families of Jewish prisoners of war who left behind written and oral testimonies.

During her stay in Paris, Dr. Haddad conducted archival research at Les Archives Nationales and the Mémorial de la Shoah, which shed new light on the Vichy regime’s policy regarding POWs of Jewish origin. She has also begun analyzing Red Cross reports of the period, some of which describe the discriminatory attitude towards Jewish POWs in contrast to their non-Jewish fellow prisoners.

The initial findings of this project were presented at two symposiums organized by the Center on the subject of Jewish soldiers in World War II. Dr. Haddad’s lectures focused on the phenomenon of captivity in modern warfare, life in the POW camps, the policy of the Vichy regime, and the attitude of the Germans towards Jewish POWs.

Conferences

  • May 19, 2016
    As part of the Center’s symposium “Les combattants juifs de la Seconde Guerre mondiale”, Dr. Haddad delivered a lecture entitled “Prisonniers de guerre français d’origine juive: l’expérience de la captivité militaire (1940–1945)”.

  •  April 20, 2017
    As part of the Center’s symposium “Jewish Soldiers in World War II”, Dr. Haddad delivered a lecture entitled “The Experience of Captivity: French Jewish POWs in German Camps (1940–1945)”.

Events

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