Family trees during Vichy period (WWII)
Until the anti-Semitic laws of the Vichy regime the French Israelites had been little concerned about their origins. Mostly German or sometimes of remotely Provençal, Portuguese or Italian descent all had benefited from the emancipating Revolution of 1789. The Jewish communities then tolerated by the authorities gradually became part of the French nation. The Napoleonic wars and the following ones helped them belong to the country of the Human Rights. For them the history - their history - confirmed by the Republican ideal had begun during summer 1789. Religion was then relegated to the narrow field of privacy. There were no more Jews in France; only Israelites.
The foreign Jews who settled in the country between 1840 and 1938, first from Holland then from Central and also Eastern Europe, all bet on integration and within two generations were to blend into the French crucible while preserving their memory even if assimilation had increased in the first half of the 20th century. Many of them - including the Israelites of old stock but also the Algerian Jews who became French thanks to the 1870 Crémieux Decree - no longer saw their identity outside the national heritage. Immigrants of the first wave (before the Second Empire) competed with the older ones to strengthen their French identity. Republican education, social promotion, political equality and freedom most of all fed their French awareness without limits and called forth sincere gratefulness toward their emancipating nation.
The first statutes of the Jews in 1940 tolled the knell for their pride and tranquility and unconditional love for the homeland of the Human rights. They thought they were French and wanted to be French. The power in place bluntly considered them as foreigners or at best as aliens. From now on they had to provide evidence of their Frenchship through their Jewish (racial for Vichy) ancestors identity. The shame was terrible, disappointment was deep. But displaying the past, the names of the missing, their places of birth, the most remote dates, their occupations or titles became a challenge in front of a contemptuous administration: the Israelites had never been unworthy of the homeland, their integration had been successful, and better yet they could boast being as French as most of the accomplices of the Nazi order.