The Round up of Marseille (22–24 January 1943) took place in the Old Port of Marseille under the Vichy regime during the German occupation of France. Assisted by the French police, directed by René Bousquet, the Germans organized a raid to arrest Jewish people. The police checked the identity documents of 40,000 people, and the operation sent 2,000 Marseillais first to Fréjus, then to the camp of Royallieu near Compiègne, in the Northern Zone of France, and then to Drancy internment camp, last stop before the extermination camps. The operation also encompassed the expulsion of an entire neighborhood (30,000 persons) before its destruction. Located in the Old Port, the 1st arrondissement was considered by the Germans to be a "terrorist nest" because of its small, windy and curvy streets For this occasion, SS leader Carl Oberg, in charge of the German Police in France, made the trip from Paris, and transmitted to Bousquet orders directly received from Himmler. It is a notable case of the French police's collaboration with the German occupiers.
The operation was intended to reshape the area of the Old Port, a popular neighborhood whose small, curvy and windy streets were considered dangerous by the German authorities. The Germans used for this an urbanist plan prepared by French architects who supported the ideology of the "National Revolution" (Révolution nationale) supported by Vichy. They decided to almost totally destroy the 1st arrondissement of Marseille. According to Himmler's orders the arrested population was to be evacuated to the concentration camps in the Northern Zone of France, in particular Compiègne. The Old Port itself was to be searched house by house by the German police, assisted by their French counterparts, and then the buildings dynamited.
Mandated by the head of Vichy, Pierre Laval, Bousquet demanded on 14 January 1943 that the operation be postponed for a week to better organize it and have reinforcement from police force. Furthermore, while the Germans were about to limit themselves to the 1st arrondissement of Marseille, Bousquet spontaneously proposed to extend the operation to the entire city. According to historian Maurice Rajsfus, he also requested complete freedom of action for the French police, which he obtained from SS Karl Oberg.
According to historian Jacques Delarue, who was a witness of the operation, 200 police inspectors from Paris and elsewhere, 15 compagnies of GMR and squads of French constabularies (Gendarmerie) and of mobile guards (guardes mobiles) were brought to Marseille for the operation. In total, "approximatively 12,000 police men found themselves concentrated in Marseille.". On 22 January 1943 the Old Port was completely locked-out. The city, except for the more wealthy, residential, neighborhoods, was searched house-by-house over a period of 36 hours. "In total, following tens of thousands of controls, nearly 2,000 Marseillese... found themselves in the death trains." wrote historian Maurice Rajsfus. 1,500 buildings were destroyed.
For reasons of military order and to guarantee the safety of the population, the German military authorities officially ordered the French administration to proceed immediately with the evacuation of the north end of the Old Port. For its part, the French administration decided on the grounds of internal security to carry out a vast police operation to rid Marseille of certain elements whose activities posed great risks to the population. The French administration worked hard to avoid mixing up the two operations. Sizeable police forces carried out numerous searches in the quarter. Entire neighbourhoods were surrounded and identity checks were made. More than 6,000 individuals were arrested and 40,000 identities were checked.
The newspaper Le Petit Marseillais of 30 January 1943 added:
Let us be clear that the operations for the evacuation of the Old Port were carried out exclusively by the French police and that they did not give rise to any incidents.
In the future, when we shall write the history of Marseilles, we will underline this remarkable feat that by having evacuated the old patrician neighborhood, which had been dishonored by the 20th century, the operation had used French and German policemen, as a group of engineers and physicians.
A photo taken during this operation, and known since the beginning of the 1980s, shows head of French police René Bousquet posing with regional German police head Bernhard Griese of the SS, a high level officer of Totenkopf, regional prefect Marcel Lemoine, and Pierre Barraud, delegate prefect to the prefectoral administration of Marseille.
While 30,000 were expelled from their neighborhood, people from the criminal underworld, such as Paul Carbone, had voluntarily surrendered in the beginning of the week, to be jailed while the "horrible show" happened Several hundreds of Jews of Marseille, whether French or foreign, were first sent to Fréjus, than to the camp of Royallieu near Compiègne, and finally to Drancy internment camp, from where they were sent to the extermination camps. In total, 2,000 Jews were put on the death trains. On 23 March 1943, Röthke of the SS noted that the French Jews arrested in Marseille were almost all "criminal scoundrels" ("canaille criminelle"), "as the French police repeatedly told me without being asked for", and that "when they were transferred from Compiègne to Drancy, they first had to be submitted to a special cleaning operation because they were so dirty and flea-bitten that the French direction of the camp judged an immediate intervention necessary to avoid epidemics in the camp".
Events from the year 1943 in France.German military administration in occupied France during World War II
The Military Administration in France (German: Militärverwaltung in Frankreich; French: Occupation de la France par l'Allemagne) was an interim occupation authority established by Nazi Germany during World War II to administer the occupied zone in areas of northern and western France. This so-called zone occupée was renamed zone nord ("north zone") in November 1942, when the previously unoccupied zone in the south known as zone libre ("free zone") was also occupied and renamed zone sud ("south zone").
Its role in France was partly governed by the conditions set by the Second Armistice at Compiègne after the blitzkrieg success of the Wehrmacht leading to the Fall of France; at the time both French and Germans thought the occupation would be temporary and last only until Britain came to terms, which was believed to be imminent. For instance, France agreed that its soldiers would remain prisoners of war until the cessation of all hostilities.
Replacing the French Third Republic that had dissolved during France's defeat was the "French State" (État français), with its sovereignty and authority limited to the free zone. As Paris was located in the occupied zone, its government was seated in the spa town of Vichy in Auvergne, and therefore it was more commonly known as Vichy France.
While the Vichy government was nominally in charge of all of France, the military administration in the occupied zone was a de facto Nazi dictatorship. Its rule was extended to the free zone when it was invaded by Germany and Italy during Case Anton on 11 November 1942 in response to Operation Torch, the Allied landings in French North Africa on 8 November 1942. The Vichy government remained in existence, even though its authority was now severely curtailed.
The military administration in France ended with the Liberation of France after the Normandy and Provence landings. It formally existed from May 1940 to December 1944, though most of its territory had been liberated by the Allies by the end of summer 1944.René Bousquet
René Bousquet (French: [ʁəne buske]; 11 May 1909 – 8 June 1993) was a high-ranking French political appointee who served as secretary general to the Vichy regime police from May 1942 to 31 December 1943. For personal heroism, he had become a protégé of prominent officials before the war and rose rapidly in the government.
In 1949, he was automatically convicted as a Vichy official and sentenced to five years of Indignité nationale, but his sentence was reduced due to beliefs that he also aided the Resistance and attempted to preserve some autonomy for French police during the Nazi Occupation. Excluded from the government, he went into business. After receiving amnesty in 1959, Bousquet became active again in politics, supporting left-wing politicians through the 1970s, and becoming a regular visitor of François Mitterrand after his election as president in the 1980s.
In 1989, after years of increasing accusations about his activities during the war, Bousquet was accused by three groups of crimes against humanity. He was ultimately indicted by the French Ministry of Justice in 1991 for his decisions during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in 1942, which led to Jewish children being deported and killed in eastern Europe Nazi extermination camps. Bousquet was assassinated in 1993 by Christian Didier shortly before his trial was to begin.