Initially liberal in its response to refugees from Nazism in 1933, France soon closed its borders to them. Thereafter, refugees encountered a regime of exclusion and antipathy. Historians confront the problem of explaining the reasons for exclusion. Anti-Semitism is often alleged to be motive-force, but this misleadingly imposes on an earlier period our understanding of the Vichy regime and its anti-Jewish legislation. This article investigates the nature of the French responses to those in flight from persecution in Nazi Germany in 1933, and questions whether it is proper to study this period in the context of events after 1940. It argues instead that French refugee policy in the 1930s emerged from the context of anti-foreign measures implemented in response to the economic stress of the late 1920s. Its study of the crisis in 1933 identifies the pressures that shaped France's exclusionary policies and its antipathy to the plight of the refugees.
Field of Research
210307 European History (excl British, Classical Greek and Roman)