New Book Published on the American Jewish Presence in Post-World War II France

July 1, 2014

Laura Hobson Faures new book, Un Plan Marshall Juif: La prsence juive amricaine en France aprs la Shoah, 1944-1954 (A Jewish Marshall Plan: The American Jewish Presence in Postwar France, 1944-1945) sheds light on a largely neglected chapter of research into French Jewish reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of World War II. Her book, which was published in French last year by Armand Colin, focuses on the encounters between representatives of American Jewish relief organizations and French Jewry in postwar France.

Hobson Faure began researching Un Plan Marshall Juif, in 2003, for her doctoral dissertation in Modern history at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris), including three weeks at the JDC Archives. She conducted over 60 interviews, both with French Jews and with American Jewish aid workers who had been present in France after WWII. Her book situates the post-WWII encounters between American Jewish relief institutions and French Jewry in what she terms a transnational context, to demonstrate that these communities exercised a reciprocal and lasting influence on one another in many spheres, including initiatives relating to reconstruction, religious pluralism, and the professionalization of social welfare institutions.

Through its extensive support of a wide range of diverse educational initiatives and Jewish welfare organizations in France, JDC participated in French Jewish organizations in an organizational capacity. As the most prominent American Jewish relief organization in France at this juncture and the first to re-establish its France office after the war, JDC was directly engaged in these cross-cultural encounters. In December 1944, Arthur Greenleigh was sent to France to oversee JDCs refugee operations.

A distinct example of these encounters which Hobson Faure explores in her book is the 1949 founding of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work, named after one of JDCs founders, in Versailles. Hobson Faure explores how JDCs establishment of the Paul Baerwald School, launched to train Jewish social workers from abroad to work in French Jewish social welfare institutions, stands as one of many initiatives modeled on practices and standards imported from the American Jewish community which significantly impacted the relationships between French Jews and American Jewish welfare organizations in postwar France.

Hobson Faure also has a version of her book in English and is actively looking for an academic publisher for the English-language edition.