Photograph: female emigrant in Paris
Female emigrant in front of a café in Paris, 1936
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Susan Foote


In France, Paris was the centre for exiles who sought refuge there after 1933. Following a veritable wave of people fleeing in the first months of the year, which saw 20,000 Germans alone head into France, many exiles returned to Germany or fled further to other countries. Around 10,000 German refugees lived in the French capital until 1939, which was about 80% of all refugees who had fled to France. The large majority of those were Jews who had been persecuted at home.

The city offered a great many activities for German-speaking artists, and a number of artists, painters, journalists and theatre people already had contacts in Paris. While living in Parisian exile, such artists created a German-speaking cultural landscape. German-language exile newspapers and magazines like the Pariser Tageblatt (later to become the Pariser Tagezeitung) or Freie Kunst und Literatur provided emigrants with publication opportunities. The German Freedom Library began on the first anniversary of the book burnings - 10 May 1933 – to collect books that had been banned and burned in Germany. In addition, German exiles in Paris established associations to provide cultural self-help, such as the Association of German Writers or the German Artists’ Collective.

Besides cultural institutions, political resistance against the regime in Germany also organised itself in Paris, for example at the offices of the exile SPD in the city. Communists, social democrats as well as intellectuals and artists met at the Hotel Lutetia, thus forming the so-called ‘Lutetia Circle’, which aimed to establish a people’s front against Hitler. When the Germans occupied northern France and Paris in May 1940, this led to a mass exile of German emigrants to the unoccupied south of the country.

Further reading:
Flügge, Manfred: „Paris ist schwer“: Deutsche Lebensläufe in Frankreich, Berlin: Verlag Das Arsenal 1992.
Franke, Julia: Paris - eine neue Heimat?: jüdische Emigranten aus Deutschland 1933 - 1939, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot 2000.
Saint-Sauveur-Henn, Anne (Hg.): Fluchtziel Paris: die deutschsprachige Emigration 1933-1940, Berlin: Metropol 2002 (Reihe Dokumente, Texte, Materialien / Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung der Technischen Universität Berlin, Bd. 48).
Vormeier, Barbara: Frankreich, in: Krohn, Claus-Dieter (Hg.): Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration 1933 - 1945, Darmstadt: Primus-Verl. 1998, S. 213-251.
Winckler, Lutz und Hélène Roussel: „Topographie des literarischen und publizistischen Exils in Paris“, in: Krohn, Claus-Dieter (Hg.): Metropolen des Exils, München: Ed. Text  Kritik 2002 (Exilforschung: ein internationales Jahrbuch), S. 131–159.