Perpetrators and the Scope of Their Crimes
Since the 19th century there had existed an antisemitic plan to deport European Jews to the island of Madagascar.
In 1940, these plans were revived by the German Foreign Ministry and the Reich Security Main Office. However, the new parameters opened up by war allowed new, and significantly more extreme, possibilities. The Nazi regime deported the Jewish populations in occupied areas of Poland and France with brutal violence. What’s more, in Alsace and Lorraine some of the non-Jewish French population were also deported.
The Gauleiter of Saar-Palatinate and radical anti-Semite, Josef Bürckel, liked to come across as down-to-earth. This propaganda photo depicts him eating stew at an event celebrating the return of the population to border areas that had been vacated for military purposes in July 1940. He would then be appointed Chief of the German Occupation Administration in Lorraine, while the Gauleiter of Baden, Robert Wagner, would be assigned the same role for Alsace. In their new positions, the two men would see the opportunity to have the Jews from their districts deported. It is assumed that they worked from their own initiative but could be sure of Adolf Hitler’s approval.