851.4016/40: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Leahy) to the Secretary of State

708. The Journal Officiel of June 14, 1941, publishes two new decree laws further amplifying the anti-Semitic statute issued last October (Embassy’s telegram No. 773, October 18, 4 p.m.;67 and despatch 26, October 26, 194068).

Under the new statute the following persons are defined as Jews: (1) descendants of 3 grandparents of the Jewish race; (2) descendants of 2 grandparents of the Jewish race if the person has a spouse who also has 2 Jewish grandparents; (3) persons practicing the Jewish religion as of June 25, 1940, who are descendants of 2 grandparents of the Jewish race.

The new decrees also provide for the registration of all Jews within 1 month’s time and provides penalties of imprisonment and fines or both for persons who fail to comply with this requirement. It also further extends the number of professions which are barred to persons of the Hebrew race to include all professions which have a “speculative character” such as banking, brokerage, money changing, loan agencies, real estate loan agencies, etc. Vallat, Jewish Commissioner General for Jewish questions, in a press conference announced that a decree is also being prepared limiting the number of Jews who may practice medicine or law to 2 percent of the total.

He also stated that Carcopino, Secretary of State for Education, has proposed limiting the number of Jewish students to be admitted into the universities to 3% of the total number of students. He added that laws limiting the participation of Jews in business and agriculture are also envisaged.

The decree provides that the Government may make exceptions for persons who have rendered exceptional service to the state or whose family has been established in France for at least five generations and whose families have rendered meritorious service.

There has been no great reaction among the French people to the new decree. As one French Jew who is favorably known to the Embassy and to the Department said “how can one expect any public indignation at these new laws aimed at us when there is such apathy and lack of indignation about what happened to those thousands expelled from Alsace-Lorraine?”

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A number of people believe that the Government will take increasing steps to make the lot of persons of the Jewish race more difficult but that it is proceeding slowly to prevent possible public resentment so that it cannot be accused of aping too closely its Nazi masters.

The full texts of the decrees are being sent forward by pouch.68a