# 76 / Editorial

Lines of Demarcation

The high school version of French history teaches us that the country was split in two under the German occupation of World War II: the Occupied Zone of the north, where military administration exercised direct control; and the Free Zone of the south, where Philippe Pétain and the toadies of the Vichy Regime were left a mostly free hand. This is a useful implication, but in fact there were depending, on how one counts, five or six distinct administrative units in occupied France. A stretch of northern France was attached to the German military administration for Brussels. The whole of the Atlantic Coast was classified as the Forbidden Zone, where the Wehrmacht constructed maritime defenses. Parts of the Franche-Comté remained part of France but were sealed off to the return of refugees, who might impede Hitler’s future plans to establish a German settler colony. And last was Alsace-Lorraine, which the Third Reich outright annexed.

The theme of this week’s last summer reprise is les années noires, or France under the occupation. We begin in Alsace, where the Third Reich’s drive to incorporate the area led to the opening of the only concentration camp on French territory. The universities were not spared in this campaign: the premises of the Université de Strasbourg were seized to form the new Reichuniversität Straßburg, where the sadists and quacks of race science were given free rein. The director of the new university’s anatomy institute ordered up the cadavers of Holocaust victims to constitute a skeleton collection for ‘study.’ Long after the war, in the bowels of the university, pieces of this macabre inventory were still being discovered. Maelle Partouche, a doctoral student in political science at the Université de Strasbourg and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, examined this spring the university’s coming to grips with this past. Even though the Reichuniversitat shared no personnel with the pre- and post-war Université de Strasbourg, school officials convened a commission to ensure that no human remains of Holocaust victims were still in university collections. The commission also laid out new standards in bioethics for the medical students of today and tomorrow. Partouche tracked these proceedings for K., which are detailed in the first article of this week’s summer reprise.

The action of the second article in this week’s reprise occurs in the so-called Free Zone, in the depths of what Frenchmen call la France profonde. In 1942, as the deportation of Jews to concentration camps intensified, some Frenchmen chose the path of rescue, helping Jews hide and flee from their persecutors. Perhaps nowhere was the spirit of resistance stronger than in the Huguenot town (and environs) of Chambon-sur-Lignon, in the rural departément of the Haute-Loire. The residents of Chambon-sur-Lignon, the entire town of which is celebrated as being a collective Righteous Among the Nations, sheltered thousands of Jews during the occupation. One of them was André Chouraqui, who after the war became a crucial advisor to David Ben-Gurion, the translator of a pioneering new French translation of the Bible, and an advocate for reconciliation among the Abrahamic faiths. His stay in Chambon coincided with that of Albert Camus, who had come to the mountainous region in search of a cure for his tuberculosis. Nathalie Heinich, a sociologist who lives in both Paris and Chambon, relates the tale of Camus and Chouraqui’s shared exile, when neither man had become whom he was to be. The article is adapted from a speech she gave this month at Chambon-sur-Lignon on the occasion of the town’s annual March of Remembrance.

The third article in this week’s reprise centers on someone who is neither hero nor villain (nor even real in the literal sense). Mr. Klein, the title character of the 1975 movie directed by Joseph Losey and starring Alain Delon, is a Parisian art dealer (the capital is in the Occupied Zone) content to profit off the spoliation of his Jewish clients. He lives in his sumptuous apartment, where he receives in a silk bathrobe and cavorts with his nubile mistress. But his life changes as he chases after his Jewish doppelgänger, a transformation that Jean-Baptiste Thoret evaluates in the last of this edition’s reprinted pieces, “The End of Robert Klein.” Klein’s metamorphosis lends a different resonance to the habitual admonition to “not be a bystander.”

Created in 1941, following the annexation of Alsace-Moselle to the Reich, the Reichsuniversität Straßburg was part of the Nazis’ plan to Germanise its annexed territories. What exactly happened within the walls of the University when it was in Nazi hands? We know, for example, that the director of its anatomy institute built up a collection of skeletons of murdered Jews… In 2016, an international and independent Historical Commission was set up, whose mission was to shed light on the history of the Reichsuniversität between 1941 and 1944. The Commission’s aim was to evaluate the University’s medical collections to ensure that no human remains from victims of Nazism were still in the collections, and to provide recommendations for the ethical training of current and future medical staff. Review of the Commission’s final report..

Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Protestant town, is the only Is the only French municipality to have been honoured – in the name of the entire Plateau Vivarais-Lignon – with the title of “Righteous Among the Nations”. On 10 August 1942, a group of young people read a letter of public protest against the Vel d’hiv’ roundup and the persecution of the Jews in front of the Temple. This year, on the occasion of the “march of remembrance” organised every 10 August in this hallowed site of French history and memory known for hosting refugees (since the Spanish war), Resistance fighters and Jews hunted by the Nazis, Nathalie Heinich will read a text about the presence of both Albert Camus and André Chouraqui in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon from August 1942, which K. is pleased to publish this week.

July 1942. Robert Klein is a Parisian art dealer who takes advantage of the Occupation to enrich himself on the backs of Jews forced to sell the pieces of art they own at low prices. One day, he receives a copy of “Information Juive” in his name. But isn’t Klein a good French Catholic? Who is this double? Is it a misunderstanding? A manipulation? Klein goes in search of this Other… and thereby of himself. Jean-Baptiste Thoret revisits Joseph Losey’s film on the occasion of its release on Blu-ray and an edited volume commenting this masterpiece made in 1976.

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.