Nazis planned to exterminate Jews of N. Africa

The recent publication of Himmler’s diaries confirms that the Jews of North Africa were to be included in Nazi plans for the extermination of the Jews. Here is a summary by Edith Shaked (with thanks: Rona):

Holocaust scholars tend to define the ‘Jews of Europe’ as those living on the continent of Europe. But it is clear from the 1942 Nazi Wannsee conference that the 700,000 Jews marked for slaughter or slavery must have included the Jews of North Africa, who numbered between 400,000 and 465,000 Jews – according to the historians of North African Jewry Michel Abitbol and Joseph Toledano. (There were also some 30,000 Jews living under Italian Fascist occupation in Libya.)

On December 10, 1942 Himmler reported to Hitler on “Juden in Frankreich 600-700.000 abschaffen” (‘Jews in France 600-700.000 to be deported or to be finished off’: the German word is a bit ambiguous.)

Immediately after Himmler’s report to Hitler he made the following note: “The Führer has given orders to arrest and deport the Jews and other enemies of the Reich in France. But this shall happen only after talks with Laval. This concerns some 6 to 700.000 Jews.”

The only country directly occupied by the Nazis was Tunisia. The Jews in Nazi-occupied Tunisia (Nov. 1942-May 1943) suffered for six months under antisemitic Nazi terror spread by the infamous SS-Obersturmbannführer Walter Rauf, who pioneered the construction and distribution of gas vans.

A Judenrat was created. Tunisian Jews were subject to acts of violence and terror:hostages were seized, property confiscated, Jews ill treated and randomly snatched from street corners and private homes, synagogues stormed, worshippers beaten up. There were executions and deportations. Around 5,000 were sent to forced labour camps near the front lines.

It has been estimated that about 100 Jews perished during the period of recruitment: some were murdered in cold blood by their German guards; others died from ill-treatment and disease. Still others were killed in aerial bombing.

The Tunisian Jews were faced with an existential threat. The Germans were indeed planning to exterminate them. An SS unit was preparing gas chambers near Kairouan. Plans were thwarted only because they ran out of time. Tunis was liberated on May 7, 1943.

Tunisian Jewish victims:

Tibi in the resistance of Sousse, deported to Europe, died
Assous in resistance of Hodjeb El Ayoun, deported to Europe, died
Mounier in resistance, died during mission
Joseph Chemla deported to Buchenwald, died in Torgau
Gilbert Chemla deported to Buchenwald, died in Torgau
Jean Chemla deported to Buchenwald, died in Torgau
Rousseau Ruhlmann deported, died
Cohen-Hadria died in Auschwitz
Raymond Samama died in Oranienbourg
Victor Nataf shot by the Nazis, as a spy for the Allies
Serge Moatti deported to Auschwitz, came back
Victor Silvera deported to Auschwitz, came back
Andre Assuied in Djebibina, died in forced labor camp
Emile Hababou shot by a German guard, 1/23/1943, Bizerte camp
Alfred Hababou shot by German guard, nicknamed “Grandma,” Bizerte
Elie Saadoun shot by German guard, nicknamed “Grandma,” 2/9/43
Victor Lellouche killed by soldier Walter, nicknamed “the killer”
Simon Allali
Jacques Attal
Ed. Bellaiche
Albert Boccara
Gilbert Cohen
Joseph Cohen
Moise Cohen
Felix Ghidalia
G. M. Guedj
Joseph Haddad
Maurice Haddad
Joseph Hassan
Lucien Naccache
Ab. Sitbon
Alfred Smadja
Elie Taieb Zerah
Andre Haddad
Maurice Kalfon
Asher Gino Uzan
Albert Slama

Edmond Azria 2/16/43 Chalom Guez 2/24/43
Robert Amram 1.43 Jacques Cohen 4.43
Joseph Chelly
Gilbert Mordechai Mazouz,
shot on a long march 9.12.1942
Roger Ktorza, rescued by Saada J. Saffar

(compiled from Sabille, Jacques. Les Juifs de Tunisie sous Vichy et l’Occupation. Paris: Edition du Centre de Documentation)


  • Oui, c’est choquant. Beaucoup de gens sont soit indifferents, soit ignorants de ce qui s’est passe.

  • le bras droit de Rauff à Tunis , Theo Saewecke a été jugé par contumace en 1998 à Turin pour des crimes commis en Italie apres son passage à Tunis.
    il est décédé depuis. son adresse nous était connue(bad Godesberg)
    nous avions essayé (sans succés) de mobiliser la communuaté juive en Freance pour nous associer à ce procés.
    je regrette vraiment que la mémoire de nos victimes en Afrique du Nord n’ait pas rencontré la mibilisation qu’elle mériterait.
    Serge G.mazouz

  • There is a mistake on your list. the name Joseph Chelly Mazouz is untruth , i think it is Joseph Chelly AND Gilbert Mordehai mazouz.
    Gilbert mazouz was my uncle and was shot by nazis during a long walk , the 9 december 1942. he was the first jew who was killing in Tunisia .
    The sionist newspaper LA VOIX JUIVE gave him a tribute in dec 1943.
    Serge Gilbert Mazouz

  • There is a mistake on your list. the name Joseph Chelly Mazouz is untruth , i think it is Joseph Chelly AND Gilbert Mordehai mazouz.
    Gilbert mazouz was my uncle and was shot by nazis during a long walk , the 9 december 1942. he was the first jew who was killing in Tunisia .
    The sionist newspaper LA VOIX JUIVE gave him a tribute in dec 1943.
    Serge Gilbert Mazouz

  • Hello anon,
    You dismiss the explanation that the Nazis ran out of time, but it is true. Rommel was defeated at the battle of Al-Alamein, and that was the turning point in the war. You argue that Muslim countries were kinder to their Jews than Christian – I disagree. You only have to consider the case of Spain, a most Christian country, which protected its Jews during the war, even though, like Turkey, the country was more or less sympathetic to Hitler. There was no question of the Nazis fearing to ‘offend the Moslems’- there was much anti-Jewish propaganda against the Jews in Muslim countries.Almost 200 Jews died in a pro-Nazi pogrom in Iraq and 600 Jews died in camps in Libya. And of course there was the Palestine question: the Mufti of Jerusalem was an ally of Hitler and had plans for gas chambers in Nablus if the Nazis ever conquered the Middle East.

  • Clearly Jews were better off in Moslem countries, even those under German Nazi occupation, or the Fascist French and Italians, then they were in Occupied Christian Countries.

    Was this because the Nazi’s feared offending the Moslem Populations by killing the Jews? Or Did the Nazi’s consider the Moslems inferior so they were less concerned with Jews being in the mix, in African and Arab countries?

    Either of these explanations is more possible than simply a matter of logistics or timing. The explanation that the SS was inefficient or ran out of time just doesn’t make ring true, especially when contrasted to the Jews of Christian Countries say Hungary (where my father was from). Or Italy compaired to Lybia.

    Jews in British Mandate Palestine, and French Mandate Lebanon were attacked; well those in Turkey were protected by the Moslem government.

    It is ironic that in our zeal we forget our history. The word anti Semitic refers to both Jews and Moslems, in the crusades both Jews and Moslems were targets, the Spanish Expelled both the Jews and the Moslems, etc….

    Many a German Jew from Germany, (including a good friend of my father’s) received asylum from the Nazi’s in Istanbul Turkey (Turkey was part of the Axis in World War I, but not in WW II) and Iran… at a time when America (but not their scientists), Switzerland (but not their gold), and others turned Jews away, (Ironically the Japanies were helpful. Meanwhile the French and Dutch, … betrayed not only those who had sought asylum from Germany, but also their own citizens’.

    The difference in dietary rules between an orthodox and a reform Jew are far greater then between a Moslem and a Jew. And certainly Jews and Moslems have much more in common than Jews and Christians, since there is an absolute rule in both religions that forbids the worshiping a human god.
    The Koran although considering Jesus the son of G-d, and a Prophet, and that he ascended to heaven directly (without being crucified and resurrected), is clear, that he nor any human, is in no way God, or Part God.

    In the Torah Israel is warned not to take help from other countries, but invariably does. The current state of Israel would well advised to miss trust the support from Christian countries (for instance from rightwing, white Christians in America), against the Moslems.

    A far more practical alliance would be the Moslems and the Jews against the Christians (who eat pork, and worship Jesus)

    • Unfortunately Jews have fared worse under Muslims than we ever have under Christians. The operative difference between the experience under each group being the mechanisation of genocide by the Nazis that allowed a much more efficient killing machine. For those operating under the same assumption (as you) I always recommend Maimonides Second Epistle to Yemen (despite the title sounding like a religious document it is Maimonides' response to the Jewish leadership in Yemen regarding the genoicide in Yemen against Jews). He has some interesting things to say about Turkey by the way.

      As for your belief that we share more religiously with Muslims, please educate yourself about the Arabic word "Dhimmi." A Jew can never be anything more than subhuman in the eyes of a Muslim with even cursory knowledge of Islam.

  • I think Yad Vashem has made a real effort in the last few years to include the Jews of North Africa in the overall Holocaust picture.

  • Michel Abitbol has a lot of info on this subject in his book, Les Juifs d’Afrique du Nord sous Vichy [Paris 1983]. He talks about Jews sent to labor camps in Tunisia during the German occupation, etc.

    Yad va-Shem has also published a book on Jews’ experiences in Libya and Tunisia during the war and the German occupation.

  • This has long been known although I was not aware of the mention in Himmler’s diaries. A list of Jews in the various European countries was distributed at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin. This conference did not decide on the mass murder, as some mistakenly believe. That decision had already been made. Rather Wannsee was a conference of Nazi officials to organize the genocide. The list appears in a photo in Gitta Amipaz-Silber’s book, The Jewish Resistance Group in Algeria, 1940-1942 (in Hebrew; Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense Publ. House, 1983), between pp 48 and 49. The various European countries are listed. France appears as follows:
    Frankreich/ Besetzten Gebiet
    [Frnace/Occupied territory] 165,000
    Unbesetzten Gebiet
    [unoccupied territory] 700,000
    The figure for the Unoccupied Territory obviously includes North Africa.

    This list also appears in a photo in the French edition of Amipaz-Silber’s book:
    La Resistance juive en Algerie, 1940-1942 (Jerusalem: Rubin Mass 1986), p 215


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