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The Jews of North Africa and the Holocaust - October 2011

Welcome to the 25th issue of Teaching the Legacy. This edition focuses on the fate of the Jews of North Africa during the Holocaust. We feel that this is an important topic, as only recently has it been officially acknowledged that the Jews of North Africa faced the looming prospect of systematic mass murder and the Final Solution – yet unlike the Jews of Europe, they had the fortune to be saved as the tide of the war turned in favor of the Allied armies.

The main article discusses this acknowledgment, and the factual bases for the assertion that the Jews of North Africa would have met the same fate as the Jews of Europe. There are also articles on the Jews of Libya and on the Jews of French North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), which give some factual background as to exactly what did occur in these countries during the war years. We are proud that this newsletter features an interview with Benjamin Doron (Dadush), himself a child survivor from Libya, who made aliyah after the war and fought in the Palmach and the Israeli army. There is also an accompanying teacher’s guide that can be used by educators to discuss the day-to-day life of the Jews in Libya before World War II.

As always, the newsletter features new publications, book reviews, and updates on recent and upcoming activities at the International School for Holocaust Studies and across Yad Vashem. We hope you find this issue interesting and resourceful, and we look forward to your feedback. We hope you find this issue interesting and resourceful, and we look forward to your feedback.

The Jews of North Africa

The Jews of North Africa

In most of the history written on the Second World War, North Africa assumes secondary importance as compared with the main arenas of Europe and the Pacific War. In general, British interests in maintaining free access to the Suez Canal in Egypt and French or Italian colonial interests across the top of Africa fade in importance against the massive confrontation ignited by conflicting German–Soviet aspirations in Europe.However, the theater of North Africa was intensely felt by the armies that fought there, the populations that lived there and the Jewish communities that suffered there during...
North Africa, The Star of David drawn on a German Tank by soldiers of the Jewish Brigade Group

The Jews of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia

On the eve of World War II there were 400,000 Jews in French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, sometimes called the “Maghreb”, meaning Arab North Africa), and another 30,000 Jews in Libya, then an Italian colony. The fate of the Jews in North Africa was different depending on the country in which they were located. In Libya, which was an Italian colony, thousands of Jews were sent to labor camps and concentration camps, and almost 600 died in these camps from hunger and disease. In the three North African countries that fell under the regime of Vichy France, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco,...
The Jews of Libya

The Jews of Libya

Not a single Jew remains in Libya today.Though Libya had been home to a Jewish community for thousands of years, and though the Jews had lived under Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Italian, British, and Arab rule, no trace of this once-thriving community exists anymore. 
The modern history of Libya can be dated from 1911, when Libya became an Italian colony. Indeed, the fact that Libya was an Italian colony and did not fall under the Vichy regime in France made the fate of the Jews of Libya different from that of the Jews of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In the early twentieth century, much...
Marking the Seventieth Commemoration of the Mass Murder at Babi Yar

Marking the Seventieth Commemoration of the Mass Murder at Babi Yar

"No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
… I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here"1.September 28-29, 2011 marks the seventieth anniversary of the victims of Babi Yar. After capturing Kiev on September 19, 1941, the Germans rounded up the city’s Jewish population. In two days, the German mobile killing units (Einsatzkommando), and the German and Ukrainian police murdered 33,771 Jewish people in the Babi Yar ravine, located in northwestern Kiev.This year, on October 3-4, 2011, to commemorate...
Interview with Benjamin Doron, Child Survivor from Libya

Interview with Benjamin Doron, Child Survivor from Libya

Historical overview: Libya during World War IIFrom 1911-1943, Libya was under Italian control. In September 1938 the Italian government issued racial laws, similar to Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, and they were applied to the Jews of Libya in 1940. This was the start of the deterioration of the Jews’ situation.British, Italian, and German troops vied for dominance in the region, and their seesaw battles for Libya also affected the Jews. In 1942, thousands of Libyan Jews were sent to concentration and labor camps in Libya. More details of the fate of the Libyan Jews can be found in “The...
Galina Imshennik. Israel 2008

Righteous Among the Nations: Vladimir and Galina Imshennik

In a world of total moral collapse during the Holocaust, there was a small minority who mustered extraordinary courage to uphold human values. These were the Righteous Among the Nations. They stand in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed during the Holocaust. Contrary to the general trend, these rescuers regarded Jews as fellow human beings who came within the bounds of their universe of obligation. This piece highlights one story of Righteous Among the Nations, in an effort to recognize these heroic individuals. For educators, this topic lends itself...
Raphael Uzan (1922-2009), The German Entry into Nabeul, Tunisia, December 1942, acrylic and inks on paper.

Artifacts from North Africa

This painting is by Raphael Uzan, who was born in 1922. It is entitled, “The German Entry into Nabeul, Tunisia, December 1942”, and was made with acrylic and inks on paper. The painting is part of a series depicting the Germans’ entry into North Africa, and the artist’s internment in the Menzel Temime labor camp. According to Mr. Uzan’s testimony, the occupation of his area lasted six months, during which time he was incarcerated in a labor camp for one week. 
The painting belongs to the Yad Vashem Art Collection, and was a gift of the artist.