Michael Oren, the distinguished Israeli diplomat and scholar, recently published an essay on the Tablet Magazine website, about the Holocaust in France, as portrayed in a popular, long-running French television series, Un Village Francais.
Unfortunately, this article by Oren, who was Israel's ambassador to the United States between 2009 and 2013 and who has doctorate in Near Eastern history from Princeton, confirms the profound observation of Prof. Gerhard Weinberg, the 92-year-old dean of American World War II historians, that "most of those who write about the Holocaust do not pay sufficient attention to the way that the military developments of the war impacted the subject they study."
While Oren writes that it was not "until 1995 did President Jacques Chirac finally acknowledge France's role in the deportation of more than 75,000 Jews, most of whom didn't return," he inexcusably overlooks that another 275,000 Jews, citizens and immigrants, survived the brutal Nazi Occupation that lasted more than four years.
This remarkable survival rate of nearly 80% is attributable to the heroism, skill and sacrifices of Allied soldiers from America, Great Britain, Canada, France and Poland; and to the incredible bravery and sacrifices of tens of thousands of French men and women, including many leaders of the Catholic Church, who actively resisted the deportations beginning in the second half of 1942.
Of the 75,000 Jews deported from France, 42,000 Jews were transported to the Nazi death camps between late March 1942 and early November 1942, which was the pivotal month of the war against Nazi Germany and her allies, as the tide had turned in favor of American and British Commonwealth forces in North Africa, and in favor of the Red Army at Stalingrad.
Secondly, the 65-year-old Ambassador Oren, who grew up in New Jersey and immigrated to Israel in 1979, factitiously claims:
"A Village Francais tells the story of Villeneuve, a picturesque Provencal town…[whose] inhabitants lead unexceptional lives ... until the day the Germans storm in."
In reality, Provence, in southeastern France, was not occupied by German troops until Sept. 1943, more than three years after the Wehrmacht destroyed the French Army in seven weeks in the spring of 1940. On June 21, 1940, the government of Marshall Philippe Petain, the newly appointed Prime Minister and World War I hero, signed the Armistice with Nazi Germany.
Petain's collaborationist government, headquartered in Vichy, administered southern and central France until November 10, 1942. Two days earlier, more than 100,000 American and British soldiers landed in Vichy-controlled Morocco and Algeria ("Operation Torch"), where for several days they had encountered fierce armed opposition from Vichy's army, navy and air force personnel, before they surrendered and switched sides to the Allies.
Two days after the landings in French Northwest Africa, Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to seize Vichy-controlled central and southern France. However, between November 1942 and September 1943, all of southeastern France between the Italian border and the Rhone River, and from the Mediterranean as far north as Lyon, including Provence, was controlled by Italian soldiers, who did not assist in the deportation of France's Jews to Nazi death camps.
But in Sept. 1943, after suffering colossal defeats by the Americans and British in Tunisia and Sicily, Italy surrendered to the Allies (Benito Mussolini had been deposed in late July), and its army unsuccessfully tried to switch to the Allies. Only then did the German Army seize this large area of southeastern France, and ruthlessly rule it until mid-August 1944.
On Aug. 15, 1944, a little more than two months after the landings on the Normandy coast in northwest France, of American, British and Canadian soldiers and paratroopers, Franco-American troops stormed the beaches of the French Riviera, and they quickly captured the naval base at Toulon and the great port of Marseille.
By mid-September 1944, American and French forces had dashed up the Rhone Valley, liberated Lyon, and joined up with the American Third Army racing east from the Normandy.
In short, Provence was only controlled by the German Army and SS for one year of a more than four-year Occupation.
Incredibly, Ambassador Oren's tendentious essay devotes only three meaningless sentences to the incredible skill, heroism and sacrifices of the American GIs who liberated almost all of France.
They included my late father, Barney Schulte, a decorated combat soldier in Gen. George Patton's crack Sixth Armored Division, which helped spearhead the liberation of France, beginning with the breakout from Normandy in the last week of July 1944.
Ambassador Oren's father, Lester Milton Bornstein, also fought with the U.S. Army in Normandy.
But more than 210,000 American soldiers and pilots were killed, wounded, captured or missing-in-action during the titanic six months of battles in France.
My father's first cousin, Simon Levy, a medic in the 29th Infantry Division, was killed in Normandy in Aug. 1944 and is buried beneath a Jewish Star in the American Military Cemetery in Brittany.
Finally, Ambassador Oren, who as far as I can determine has written no other articles about World War II, should stick to subjects he is knowledgeable about, and he should not propagate disgracefully superficial and erroneous judgments about the most destructive war in human history, in which between 70 million and 85 million people perished.
Mark Schulte is a retired New York City schoolteacher and mathematician who has written extensively about science and the history of science. Read Mark Schulte's Report's — More Here.
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