A Jew­ish Mar­shall Plan” The Amer­i­can Jew­ish Pres­ence in Post-Holo­caust France

January 3, 2022

While the role the Unit­ed States played in France’s lib­er­a­tion from Nazi Ger­many is wide­ly cel­e­brat­ed, it is less well known that Amer­i­can Jew­ish indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions mobi­lized to recon­struct Jew­ish life in France after the Holo­caust. In A Jew­ish Mar­shall Plan,” Lau­ra Hob­son Fau­re explores how Amer­i­can Jews com­mit­ted them­selves and hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to bring much need­ed aid to their French coreligionists.

Hob­son Fau­re sheds light on Amer­i­can Jew­ish chap­lains, mem­bers of the Armed Forces, and those involved with Jew­ish phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tions who sought out Jew­ish sur­vivors and became deeply entan­gled with the com­mu­ni­ties they helped to rebuild. While well inten­tioned, their actions did not always meet the needs and desires of the French Jews.

A Jew­ish Mar­shall Plan” exam­ines the com­plex inter­ac­tions, exchanges, and sol­i­dar­i­ties cre­at­ed between Amer­i­can and French Jews fol­low­ing the Holo­caust. Chal­leng­ing the assump­tion that French Jews were pas­sive recip­i­ents of aid, this work reveals their work as active part­ners who nego­ti­at­ed their own role in the recon­struc­tion process.

Discussion Questions

In A Jew­ish Mar­shall Plan: the Amer­i­can Jew­ish Pres­ence in Post-Holo­caust France, Lau­ra Hob­son Fau­re ana­lyzes the post­war encounter between Amer­i­can Jews and the French Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in the after­math of the Holo­caust. Uti­liz­ing sources from six­teen archives in France, Israel, and the Unit­ed States, Hob­son Fau­re crafts a metic­u­lous­ly detailed transna­tion­al social his­to­ry of the inter­ac­tion between Amer­i­can Jews asso­ci­at­ed pri­mar­i­ly with the JDC (Joint Dis­tri­b­u­tion Com­mit­tee) and the US Army that high­lights the vast sums of phil­an­thropic assis­tance that char­ac­ter­ized the Jew­ish Mar­shall Plan, based in deeply held feel­ings of transna­tion­al sol­i­dar­i­ty, which were nonethe­less tan­gled in com­plex social and polit­i­cal dynam­ics. Hob­son Faure’s painstak­ing approach to archival research leaves almost no page unturned, incor­po­rat­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion, oral his­to­ry, press accounts, mem­oirs, and more to craft an inno­v­a­tive, indeed path-break­ing, his­to­ry of the post­war recon­struc­tion of the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in France and the lead­ing role played by the JDC, in a work that will sure­ly become the new stan­dard in the field.