Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue

Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue

How a French Priest Together with Jewish Friends Saved Thousands during the Holocaust
Susan Zuccotti
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/04/2013
Format: Hardback 16 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00853-4
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2014 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award, Gold Winner, History

Susan Zuccotti narrates the life and work of Père Marie-Benoît, a courageous French Capuchin priest who risked everything to hide Jews in France and Italy during the Holocaust. Who was this extraordinary priest and how did he become adept at hiding Jews, providing them with false papers, and helping them to elude their persecutors? From monasteries first in Marseille and later in Rome, Père Marie-Benoît worked with Jewish co-conspirators to build remarkably effective Jewish-Christian rescue networks. Acting independently without Vatican support but with help from some priests, nuns, and local citizens, he and his friends persisted in their clandestine work until the Allies liberated Rome. After the conflict, Père Marie-Benoît maintained his wartime Jewish friendships and devoted the rest of his life to Jewish Christian reconciliation. Papal officials viewed both activities unfavorably until after the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), 1962-1965.

To tell this remarkable tale, in addition to her research in French and Italian archives, Zuccotti personally interviewed Père Marie-Benoît, his family, Jewish rescuers with whom he worked, and survivors who owed their lives to his network.

Author Bio

Susan Zuccotti is author of The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival; The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews; Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy; and Holocaust Odysseys: The Jews of Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Their Flight through France and Italy. She has taught Holocaust history at Barnard College in New York and Trinity College in Hartford.


“Gold Medal, World History category, 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards 2014 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award, Gold Winner, History”

“This remarkable tale narrates the life of a courageous French Capuchin priest who risked everything to hide Jews in France and Italy during the Holocaust.”

“Provides a close-up look at how rescue during the Holocaust worked. . . . To reveal in detail what happened over half a century ago constitutes an astonishing piece of sleuthing.”
 — Michael Phayer, author of The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965 (IUP, 2001 )

“Uncovers the story of one remarkable religious and priest during humanity's darkest time. . . . The work is extremely compelling, engaging the reader's full attention, and challenging to put down.”
 — Kevin P. Spicer, author of Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence, and the Holocaust (IUP, 2007)

“This book is highly recommended for all academic libraries.”
 — AJL Reviews

“This book, thoroughly researched and highly readable, stands as a fitting monument to a man whose selfless acts in two countries had lifesaving consequences.”
 — H-Judaic

“Père Marie-Benoît, Zuccotti observes, 'effectively straddled two worlds'. . . , the contemplative world of theological reflection and the active world of rescue and advocacy. Zuccotti's biography reveals the complex ways in which these worlds intersected, as well as the underlying convictions that bound and animated them. It is good to have such a thoughtful narrative of a life so well lived. ”
 — Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“Père Marie-Benoît found a devoted and conscientious biographer in Susan Zuccotti. ”
 — Jewish History

“Zuccotti has produced a fascinating and compelling history, all the more readable both for the careful style in which it is presented (giving it an appeal beyond the academic constituency) and for its human relevance in a world confronting further refugee crises.”
 — French History

“A bright light within a dark, deeply distressing time in history.”
 — Kirkus Reviews

“(Starred Review) Who better to rescue from obscurity an Oskar Schindler–like hero than historian Zuccotti? She has written extensively on the experience of French and Italian Jews in the Holocaust, but it’s more than her impressive credentials and knowledge base that makes this biography an intellectual page-turner accessible to a general audience. This account of the life of Capuchin priest Père Marie-Benoît and his successful efforts to save thousands of Jews offers the perfect amount of detail and context. Relying on archival sources and her own interviews with Marie-Benoît and those he helped to save, Zuccotti’s portrait of the 'Father of the Jews' is as historically important as it is entertaining.”
 — Publishers Weekly

“With Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue, we have before us a book that, in marvelous detail, describes the righteous behavior of a French priest . . . Author Susan Zuccotti, skillfully and in fine detail, describes the Capuchin’s help in raising money from non-Jewish sources . . . How can one not recommend a well-researched and clearly written book that elevates us by illustrating the power of the human spirit in the face of evil and adversity?”
 — National Catholic Reporter

“This biography is a welcome addition to our understanding of the rescue efforts in behalf of Jews by righteous Christians like Marie-Benoît and the Jewish rescue networks with which he worked.”
 — Jewish Book World

“[Zuccotti's] scholarship provides depth and context to the story of Père Marie-Benoît and the perilous landscape in which he operated. Most of all, her biography helps to keep alive the memory of one of the brave men and women whose actions showed that goodness and charity will survive even in the midst of a great evil.”
 — Wall Street Journal

“Susan Zuccotti, in her insightful and thoroughly researched Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue . . . makes the case for the crucial role played by extraordinary individuals during specific historical events. ”
 — Primo Levi Center

“This brave man had shown to the world how a single individual can make all the difference. Zuccotti's well-told story - with extensive notes on every chapter - is a tribute to tolerance and better understanding between all national, religious and racial groups, a challenge to this and future generations. One can only suggest that a large portrait of Père Marie-Benoît should hang in the planned Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance.”
 — Jerusalem Post

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Table of Contents

1 Pierre Péteul: Family Heritage and Education
2 Pierre Péteul and the First World War
3 The Years between the Wars, 1919-1939
4 First Steps toward Jewish Rescue: Marseille, May 1940 to August 1942
5 With Joseph Bass in Marseille, August 1942 to June 1943
6 With Angelo Donati in Nice, November 1942 to June 1943
7 Père Marie-Benoît and the Donati Plan, June to September 1943
8 Early Rescue in Rome, September and October 1943
9 With Stefan Schwamm in Rome: Securing Documents for Jewish Rescue
10 With Stefan Schwamm in Rome: Securing Funds for Jewish Rescue
11 After the Liberation of Rome
12 The Final Decades

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