851.4016/11: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

773. The long anticipated statute on Jews is published in today’s Journal Officiel. The measure which presumably has been enacted partly, but only partly, under German pressure stipulates that any person is to be considered as a Jew if he possesses three grandparents of the Jewish race or two Jewish grandparents and is married to a Jew.

The following public offices and positions are forbidden to Jews: Head of State, member of the Government, Council of State, Council of the Legion of Honor, Supreme Court of Appeal, the Audit Office, Office of Mines, Office of Roads and Bridges, Inspectorate-General of Finance, Courts of Appeal, Courts of the First Instance, Justices of the Peace, all elected bodies, consular or diplomatic officials, Secretaries-General of Ministries, Directors-General or Directorate of Central Administrations of Ministries, prefects, sub-prefects, Inspectors-General of administrative services of the Ministry of the Interior, Secretaries-General of Prefectures, all grades of police officials and employees, Residents-General, Governors-General, Governors and Secretaries-General of the colonies, inspectors of the colonies, members of the teaching profession, officers of the armed forces, presidents, directors and secretaries-general in enterprises receiving subsidies from the state, nominees of the Government to posts in enterprises of public interest.

The exercise of all public offices other than those listed above is only open to Jews who (a) are veterans of the Great War, (b) were cited in the Great War, or if they (c) were cited in the orders of the [Page 567] day in the present war, and (d) have been decorated with the Legion for Military Action or with the military medal.

The exercise of the liberal or “free” professions and the duties devolving upon officials of the Ministries and subordinate judicial officials is open to all Jews unless regulations should be issued limiting the number to a fixed proportion.

Under no conditions may a Jew exercise any of the following professions: editor, manager, or reporter of a newspaper, news agency, magazine, periodical with the exception of publications having a strictly scientific nature; president, director of [or?] manager of enterprises connected with the motion picture industry, motion picture script writers, directors and producers and officials of radio broadcasting companies.

Jews now holding a public office or position no longer open to them are to be retired on pension within 2 months.

By special decree Jews in the literary, scientific and artistic fields who have rendered exceptional service to the state may be exempted from the provisions of the statute on Jews.

The statute is also applicable to Algeria, the colonies, protectorates and mandates.

The Journal Officiel likewise publishes a law regarding foreign citizens of the Jewish race. It provides that the prefects are empowered: (a) to intern such Jews in special concentration camps and (b) assign them to a “forced residence” (résidence forcée).

I understand that the measure as promulgated represents the maximum that the Foreign Office and other moderating influences were able to obtain in diminishing its severity. The Foreign Office was well aware of the probable effect on public opinion abroad and on various occasions I have endeavored to remove any doubt as to the interpretation which would be given and the unfortunate effect upon public opinion in the United States from any anti-Semitic laws covering unoccupied France.

Charles-Roux33 this morning and Seguin, Chief of the American Section at the Foreign Office both brought the subject up today.

The former asked me to stress the fact that the measure might have been much more severe: as issued it contains he said no provision for registration of Jews or census of Jews nor does it provide for any confiscation of Jewish property. I said there was little doubt that quite aside from other highly unfortunate aspects it would be in American eyes further evidence that the French Government is dominated as much by Nazi ideas and policies as it is by the German Army. He denied that the law was issued under German pressure and endeavored to explain that the recent large influx of foreign Jews, the disproportionate [Page 568] role played by Jews in French political and financial life, et cetera, had made some measure necessary. It was obvious however that his defense was half-hearted and that he personally deplored the promulgation of the law.

  1. François Charles-Roux, Secretary General of the French Foreign Office.