From the Vichy Regime to a Postwar World
The Vichy regime (1940-1944) imposed racist restrictions upon Jews and Muslims in Algeria. This legislation was extended to the Algerian Sahara, but southern Algerian Jews were not sent to labor camps as were Jews in northern Algeria and, when they violated “Aryanization” decrees, they faced relatively light punishment. Some Jews from northern Algeria even attempted to relocate to Algeria’s south during the war. After the Second World War, Jews in southern Algeria experienced the kind of existential horror that northern Algerian Jews experienced during the Vichy years. The Fourth Republic re-extended citizenship to Algerian Jews in 1943, emphasizing that southern Jews remained beholden to civil status laws. France also initiated a series of administrative and electoral reforms imagined by French legislators to democratize the rule of law in Algeria, reconstituting the departments of northern Algeria and the Sahara as an administrative whole. In the Mzab, these developments sparked reactions across the political spectrum; as elsewhere, politics were radicalizing, presaging the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962). Evincing no evident support for Mzabi exceptionalism, Algerian nationalism, or communism, southern Jews occupying an uneasy place in this evolving political landscape. Jewish emigration escalated, while the Mzabi Jewish community captivated various global Jewish philanthropies.
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