"Breaking Silences: Tunisian Jewry During Vichy Rule and Nazi Occupation"
Walter Francis, Jr., completed his BA in public relations and history at The American University in Washington, D.C. in 2018, and completed his MA in Jewish Studies with the Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Middle Eastern History under Dr. Daniel Schroeter at the University of Minnesota. He has previously served as an intern and conference assistant at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and as a teaching assistant for American University's University College program.
Walter's project focuses on recovering Tunisian Jewish historical memory of the World War II period. North African Jewry navigated a complex web of relations between and among the many ethnic, linguistic, social and religious communities of colonial North Africa, and the ways in which the Tunisian Jews internalized their experiences under Vichy imperial rule and the brief Nazi occupation is indicative of their attempts to negotiate an identity encompassing their Jewish faith, their Arabic cultural context, and their French colonial political reality. Voiced in oral testimony, published in written accounts, and woven into the government records of the occupying European powers of World War II, Walter hopes the experiences of the Tunisian Jews will expand our understanding of the war as a global, colonial phenomenon.