Republicanism on the Borders: Jewish Activism and the Refugee Crisis in 1930s Strasbourg and Nice
With the close focus that local-level analysis affords, the cases of Strasbourg and Nice provide historical insight that diverges from the often-portrayed circumstances in Paris and reveal new details about the nature of Jewish activism and the refugee crisis. By the 1930s, French Jews had forged networks of social and political contacts through years of engagement in republicanism, civil rights, and the fight against anti-Semitism. These contacts, both Jewish and non-Jewish, supplied valuable resources to aid foreign refugees in spite of ever-increasing obstacles. Drawing from extensive archival research in Strasbourg, Nice, and Paris, this paper will underline that while activists in both cities did appeal to national institutions or political officials in Paris, they most often invested their energy in local connections and grass-roots efforts, which in the end bore more fruit than national alliances. Further, it will argue, their activities did not cease with the onset of war in 1939. Rather, they intensified into the first months of war and, ultimately, prewar Jewish activities influenced survival techniques during the war.
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