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The Jewish Statutes in Vichy France and Public Opinion
Laborie discusses methodological problems in studying specific reactions and public behavior regarding the Vichy anti-Jewish legislation, and the difficulties in explaining the silence and indifference prevalent during the first month of the Vichy regime. He surveys the spectrum of reactions: active antisemitism, the silence of the Catholic clergy (with some exceptions), the timid protests expressed by Resistance organizations and the communists’ stronger reactions. Only after the second statute of June 1941 did the Resistance denounce the anti-Jewish persecution in clear terms. Proposing “tentative explanations” for the government’s policy and the dominant inertia, Laborie remarks that a permanent substratum of antisemitic feeling linked with other cultural factors came to the fore with the specific context of the early 1940s. The fate of the Jews was not a major concern of the French people as a whole.