.....The intellectual father of French Revolution, Voltaire, wrote of the Children of Abraham: "They are, all of them, born with raging fanaticism in their hearts, just as the Bretons and Germans are born with blond hair. I would not be in the least surprised if these people would not some day become deadly to the human race." This observation came at a time when European Jews cowered in ghettos.
Anticipating the Holocaust, 19th century French socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon had his own solution to the Jewish problem – "either sending back the Jews to Asia or exterminating them."
French anti-Semitism was the original impetus for Zionism. Theodor Herzl, an assimilated Austrian Jew, was so shocked when he encountered Parisian mobs shouting "Death to the Jews" during the Dreyfus Affair, that he was moved to write Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State), starting a movement which would lead to the establishment of the State of Israel within 50 years.
The father of racist theory, Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), was a Frenchman whose advocacy of Aryan supremacy influenced Hitler. In all of occupied Europe, the Nazis found no more willing accomplices to the Final Solution than the French. The Vichy government rounded up 61,000 Jews and handed them over to the Nazis – almost all died at places like Auschwitz.
By contrast, the Italian army (allied with Germany) saved Jews in its zone of occupation in Southern France. The commander of these troops said it was "against the honor of the Italian army" to allow the deportation of Jews in territory it controlled. (The honor of the French army is illustrated by the scapegoating of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus.)