80 years of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup: Bishop Saliège's letter, which denounced the deportation of Jews in 1942, will be read in the synagogues

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On the initiative of the Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia, the letter of Mgr Jules Saliège, written in 1942, will be read in the synagogues during the next Shabbat, Saturday July 16. It was one of the first public statements in favor of the Jews under the Vichy regime. 

Sunday August 23, 1942, the archbishop of Toulouse, Jules Géraud Saliège, had read in most of the churches of his diocese a letter of protest to denounce the treatment of Jews under the Vichy regime.

While the 80th anniversary of the Vélodrome d'Hiver roundup will be celebrated on Saturday July 16, the Chief Rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia, has asked that this letter be read in the synagogues of France.

“There is a Christian morality, there is a human morality which imposes duties and recognizes rights. These duties and these rights are due to the nature of man. They come from God. We can violate them. It is not in the power of any mortal to suppress them”, wrote the archbishop in this letter, before mentioning the convoys transporting Jewish women, men and children treated as “a vile herd”.

“That children, women, men, fathers and mothers be treated like a vile herd, that the members of the same family be separated from each other and embarked for an unknown destination, it was reserved for our time to see this sad sight. »

“Jews are men, Jewesses are women. All is not allowed against these men, against these women, against these fathers and mothers of families. They are part of the human race. They are our Brothers like so many others. A Christian cannot forget it”, he continued.

This missive had a great impact on public opinion at the time since it was one of the first public stances taken in favor of the Jews, as the website explains. Online Resistance Museum.

However, according to this same site, Mgr Saliège never broke with the Vichy regime and even remained faithful to the Marshal.

Jean Estèbe, professor of history at the University of Toulouse, writes that he was in no way "a partisan bishop, neither the convinced Pétainist, nor the Gaullist, nor even the 'red' bishop who was successively presented ". He considers that his declarations were en ranche “always inspired by religious motives and nourished by the social doctrine of the Church […]. The question of the political regime was not essential for him […]. It condemned all racism and all inhuman practices against a particular category of the population […]. He was a militant of the resistance to Nazi immoralism, not of the resistance to the Vichy regime”.

Considered as "the bishop of the Resistance", the archbishop received the Cross of Liberation in August 1945.

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image credit: Creative Commons / Wikimedia

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