Thursday, March 11, 2010

Castelferrus: Holocaust Documentation in JTS's French Archives

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.

1 comment:

  1. My mother was in Castelferrus for 2 1/2 years during the war. Originally from Vienna, she arrived via train from Belgium with her parents when Hitler invaded Belgium, and saved many Jewish lived with he help of her father. Part of her story has been documented, and she was honored by the Israeli Ambassador to Austria on Yom Ha'Atzmaut in Vienna in 2008. I live in South AFrica but am traveling to Israel to meet my mother on May 9th, and we are going to France to Castelferrus to honor the Jews who were hiding there during the war. My mother, who lives in Israel and is almost 86, would like to know who the lawyer is who is interested, and what his/her connection is with this village. My mother remembers the names of every single Jewish person there, and also the name of every villager, policeman, the postman, etc. who was involved in all her work to rescue as many people as she could. My mother is Elly Braun nee Shlesinger. I am Hadassah Auerbach. My e-mail address is and I can be reached at 2711-786-8909.