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The Politics of Movement in Wartime Tangier: A Study of Jewish Holocaust Refugees
Until recently, scholarship on the Holocaust—especially within modern Jewish historiography—has been limited to Europe’s continental borders, paying little attention to how European colonies in North Africa experienced the effects of the Holocaust during the Second World War. This paper contributes to this history through the lens of Tangier in northern Morocco in the twentieth century. While recent scholarship has begun to challenge the traditional geographies of the Holocaust, much of the work on the Holocaust in North Africa has focused primarily on the French colonial landscape and Vichy France, overlooking both the Spanish zone in northern Morocco and Tangier as an International Zone. Deemed an International Zone in 1925 until Morocco’s independence three decades later, Tangier evaded direct Spanish and French rule. Thus, the city served as a major sphere of international administration, at the same time allowing for the presence of anti-colonial activity alongside a robust European presence not always aligned with ruling colonial powers. Such was the political and legal milieu that the Jewish refugees of Europe seeking passage through Tangier found themselves in, often having to navigate overlapping and sometimes clashing authorities. Given the complex landscape in Tangier that differentiated the position of the refugees from those living under French jurisdiction, the study of their lived experiences is warranted. At the intersection of the study of the Holocaust and colonialism in wartime Morocco, this paper asks: How did Tangier’s status as an international city affect the settlement of Jewish refugees in Morocco? What were the bureaucratic and legal structures that refugees had to navigate in their passage to safety? How did the framework of an International Zone translate to their lived experiences? To answer these questions, I utilize both personal and colonial archives, such as the memoirs of escapees and French and Spanish colonial archives respectively, in addition to the documents of the Jewish Community of Tangier (the Junta).
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Mediterranean Countries
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