In fact, some 150,000 Jews had fled to the southern Vichy area hoping to escape the worst of Nazi persecution. But they were to be sadly disabused of this hope. Indeed, life in Vichy France was no better for Jews than life in the Nazi-occupied north. Jewish businesses were ruined and around 40,000 Jews were consigned to concentration camps, where the conditions were appalling.
And, worst of all, Vichy officials co-operated with the Nazis in their horrific plans to exterminate Europe’s Jews. In 1939 France had a Jewish population of 330,000, with around half of those being recent arrivals who had come to escape Nazi persecution elsewhere in Europe.
But France didn’t turn out to be a safe haven for the Jews. What actually happened was that Vichy officialdom colluded with the Nazis in the Holocaust. Almost 76,000 Jews, some refugees and some French citizens, were arrested in France and deported to Nazi concentration camps where they met their deaths. So, Jews in Morocco, ruled by Vichy France, also had plenty to fear.