Most of Morocco was a French protectorate since the Sultan had been made to sign the Treaty of Fez with the Republic of France in March 1912. After this, Morocco was effectively administered by a French Resident-General. A small part of Morocco around the city of Tetuan came under Spanish control, while the Tangiers area received a Special Statute. When German forces overran France in 1940, the armistice signed on 22 June left the new French government in Vichy in charge of its North African territories, and of the French military stationed there. On 7/8 November 1942, sections of the Moroccan coast became landing sites for “Operation Torch”, the allied invasion of North Africa. Vichy military forces resisted for three days, then ceased fire. For the rest of the Second World War, Morocco was a part of the allied war effort. The country has been fully independent since 1956.
In 1939, Morocco had a total population of 7 million people and the largest Jewish presence in French North Africa. Out of the 200,000 Jews in the country, 180,000 were Moroccan subjects, 12,000 were French citizens and the rest held various other nationalities. As a protectorate of Vichy France, the country was subject to the Jewish Statute of 3 October 1940, which was made applicable and modified, in certain respects, by a series of royal decrees (dahirs) and orders: Jews were banned from public office, quotas were applied to them in education, and those living in European neighbourhoods were forced to go back into walled Jewish quarters. In general, however, Jewish institutions in Morocco were able to preserve a greater degree of autonomy than those in neighbouring Algeria. Out of the 7,000 Moroccans who were sent to forced labour camps, about 2,000 were Jews. They were deported to camps in Morocco, near Bouarfa, Boudenib, Missour, Oued Djem or Tendrara.
After independence, records relevant to Moroccan citizens remained in the country, while those relevant to French citizens were transferred to France, where they are held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Morocco’s archival structures are still under construction. The National Archives of Morocco (Archives du Maroc) in their present form were inaugurated in June 2013.
Within the country itself, the Museum of Moroccan Jewry (Musée du Judaïsme Marocain) in Casablanca is sure to contain material on the history of the Jews in Morocco, especially the private collection of Nelly Ben-Attar, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s representative in North Africa (1940-1947). The National Archives hold some copies of French sources, copied material from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a number of Jewish newspapers. Outside of Morocco, the Ben Zvi Institute (Yad Ben Zvi) holds a catalogue on Moroccan Jewish newspapers that can be found at the Institute itself or at the National Library Jerusalem.
EHRI Research (Summary)
EHRI was able to establish a high probability of finding Holocaust-relevant material in Morocco. Research on Moroccan Jewry is relatively important within the country – there is a research group focusing on Moroccan Jewry (Groupe de recherches et études du Judaïsme Marocain) at the Humanities Department of Mohammed V-Agdal University (Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines à l’Unversité Mohammad V-Agdal) in Rabat. There are also a number of archives and institutions that are likely to be relevant for Holocaust research in the future. EHRI has identified the Musée du Judaïsme marocain de Casablanca and the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco as good starting points. Furthermore, the recently established National Archives of Morocco possess good inventories and are likely to hold Holocaust-relevant material.
Outside of Morocco, research on the country’s involvement in the history of the Holocaust can be conducted based on sources EHRI identified and described in France, but also in the United States and in Israel. In France, there is important material on the Holocaust period in Morocco at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministère des Affaires Étrangères), at the Centre of Diplomatic Archives of Nantes (Centre des Archives diplomatiques de Nantes) and at the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum holds selected copies of sources from the abovementioned French archives, but also from the National Library of Morocco. Furthermore, the USHMM possesses a number of oral history interviews, private papers and correspondence, photographs and contemporary news footage pertaining to the history of Jewry in Morocco and the Holocaust. EHRI has also identified a number of finding aids to the Holocaust-relevant sources at the USHMM.