Question: A lawyer requested World War II documentation of Jewish residents in Castelferrus, a remote village of Vichy France, in connection with a reparations application.
Answer: The French Jewish Community Records, one of the archival collections held in the JTS Library, includes census records, by department and town, from Vichy France in 1941. The documents state that 25 Jewish families were in Castelferrus on May 27, 1941; an earlier census does not list any Jewish families at this location.
Request: If any readers of this blog can provide additional information about Jews in Castelferrus during World War II, we would appreciate it if you would post it as a comment.
Strategy: We have not found mention of any Jewish population in the remote and sparsely populated town of Castelferrus in published books or articles. However, this location is listed in Zosa Szajkowski's Analytical Franco Jewish Gazetteer, 1935-1945 . The index entry for Castelferrus in the Gazetteer notes that this location is "(cs,r)" p. 301, which means it is a site where a census of Jews was taken, and a site where relief was distributed. The Castelferrus entry refers to archives at JTS and Yad Vashem for census data, without any other specifics.
An Inventory to the French Jewish Communities Record Group 1648-1946 [at the Jewish Theological Seminary], by Roger S. Kohn (1991) has been helpful in locating the census documentation. Although the Inventory does not list Castelferrus in its index, its date index refers to a few sets of documents from a May 27 1941 census of Jews, and from an earlier census.
All the items listed in the Inventory are readily available on microfilm at the JTS Library. Most of the census documents are handwritten; a few are typed. Each page lists villages by department, although not all French departments are included. Three different pages exist for the Tarn-et-Garonne department; two of these pages list Castelferrus.
For each village listed, the number of Jews (or number of Jewish families) is stated. The names of the local rabbi, mohel, shochet, or other official (such as a notary or Jewish scouts contact), some with an address, are also listed for many of the villages.
The census later facilitated the arrest and deportation of the Jews.