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Bad Faith tells the story of one of history’s most despicable villains and con men—Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, Nazi collaborator and “Commissioner for Jewish Affairs,” who managed the Vichy government’s dirty work, “controlling” its Jewish population.
Though he is one of the less remembered figures of the Vichy government, Darquier (the aristocratic “de Pellepoix” was appropriated) was one of its most hideously effective officials. Already a notorious Nazi-supported rabble-rouser when he was appointed commissioner, he set about to eliminate the Jews with particularly brutal efficiency. Darquier was in charge of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ round-up in Paris in which nearly 13,000 Jews were dispatched to death camps. Most of the French who died in Auschwitz were sent there during his tenure. Almost all of the 11,400 French children sent to Auschwitz—the majority of whom did not survive—were deported in his time. In all, he delivered 75,000 French to the Nazis and, at the same time, accelerated the confiscation of Jewish property, which he then used for his own financial gain. Never brought to justice, he lived out his life comfortably in Spain, denying his involvement in the Holocaust until his last days.
Where did Louis Darquier come from? How did this man—a chronic fantasist and hypocrite, gambler and cheat—come to control the fates of thousands? What made him what he was? These are the questions at the center of this extraordinary book. In answering them, Carmen Callil gives us a superlatively detailed and revealing tapestry of individuals and ideologies, of small lives and great events, the forces of government and of personalities—in France and across the European continent—that made Vichy possible, and turned Darquier into its “dark essence.”
A tour de force of memory, accountability, and acknowledgment, Bad Faith is a brilliant meld of grand inquisitive sweep and delicate psychological insight, a story of how past choices and actions echo down to the present day, and an invaluable addition to the literature and history of the Holocaust.