The Commissariat Général Aux Questions Juives and the “Final Solution” in France: Laurent Joly, Vichy Dans La “Solution Finale”: Histoire du Commissariat Général Aux Questions Juives and Carmen Callil, Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family, Fatherland and Vichy France
This is a review article on two recent books about Vichy France. Neither Laurent Joly’s massive book on the Vichy Commission on Jewish Questions (CGQJ) nor Carmen Callil’s volume on Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the second commissioner of the CGQJ, profoundly changes our view of Vichy collaboration with Germany over the deportation of Jews in France. Still, each offers important contributions for an understanding of the Holocaust in France. Callil writes a veritable history of Vichy while tracing the biography of the racist antisemite, Louis Darquier. Joly contributes the first detailed history of the CGQJ since Joseph Billig’s 1955 volumes. By tracing the negotiations between Vichy and its own agency, the CGQJ, and between Vichy and Germany, Joly demonstrates that most earlier works on Vichy underplay the degree of German influence on Vichy decisions. Still, Joly holds Vichy accountable for its actions and wonders whether more Jews might have been saved had Vichy resisted German demands. Finally, Joly includes a long section analyzing the backgrounds and motivations of the high and low officials of the CGQJ. This research will be extremely useful for many historians to come.