Home as a Site of Exclusion: The Nazi Occupation, Housing Shortages and the Holocaust in France


During World War II, France faced a housing crisis with over 1.2 million dwellings destroyed or damaged. In addition to the destruction, the German occupiers requisitioned thousands of accommodations including some 6–7,000 locales in Paris. Anti-Jewish persecution forced thousands of Jews from their homes and the average non-Jewish French resident, facing their own housing issues, benefited from the availability of these vacated homes. Paris was the largest city in Europe under German occupation during the war and was home to the largest Jewish community in occupied Western Europe, but perhaps due to its size, we know relatively little about the daily interactions that centered on housing concerns. This article examines the strategies used to solve the housing crisis in France and demonstrates the ways in which housing and Jewish persecution were increasingly intertwined. With a particular focus on Paris, this article argues that a wide variety of individuals actively participated in exclusionary measures to improve their own housing situation. This challenges the view that the non-Jewish population 'protected' 75% of the Jews in France from deportation and death. It reveals, rather, the centrality of housing concerns in facilitating the Holocaust and the complicity of individuals in the exclusion of Jews for economic, ideological, and geographic reasons.


History and Political Science


École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Grant None

Keywords and Phrases

Holocaust; housing; neighbours; Paris

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2631-9764; 1611-8944

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

01 May 2022