French refuse to change name of town called “Death to Jews”

Less than 100 miles from an exhibition in Paris about the city’s liberation from the Nazis, there’s a small French town called “Death to Jews.”

The town, “La Mort aux Juifs” in French, is about 116km (72 miles) south of the French capital.

mort-aux-juifs

“Death to Jews” is a small town, made up of only a couple of houses and a farm. Searching around on Google Earth, I found that one of the houses is (or was) for sale:

death-to-jews-house

The old real estate adage of “location, location, location” comes to mind. Because let’s face it, advocating genocide just doesn’t do for property values what it used to.

Here’s the entirety of the hamlet of “La Mort aux Juifs.”

Screen-Shot-2014-08-12-at-2.48.01-PM death-to-jews-france

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has understandably demanded that the French change the name of the Jew-hating town.

The deputy mayor of “Death to Jews,” while explaining that “no one has anything against the Jews,” called the demand to change the town’s genocidal name “ridiculous.”

From AFP:

“This name has always existed,” [deputy mayor] Marie-Elizabeth Secretand told AFP.”No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn’t surprise me that this is coming up again,” she added.

“Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.”

Sometimes you show respect by not respecting tradition at all.

Interestingly, the city of Paris is currently running an exhibit honoring the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation. As I wrote yesterday, the exhibit, titled “Paris liberé, Paris photographié, Paris exposé” (i.e., “Paris freed, Paris photographed, Paris exhibited”), devotes a single panel in a single room to the role of American troops in liberating the French capital. And that panel is devoted entirely to a discussion of how the American liberators were a bunch of racist criminals.

The museum, which is run by the city of Paris, found it “ironic” that a bunch of racist American servicemen would fight a war to stop “racist” Nazis.

Yes, well, irony is a bitch, mon amie.  Just ask the deputy mayor of  “Death to Jews.”

On a side note, France does have a few other “death to” towns, including (and I’m not making this up):

“Death to Hares”

“Death to Lice”

And my personal favorite:

“The Path of Death to Donkeys” (it’s sounds cuter in French)

Screen-Shot-2014-08-12-at-3.04.51-PM

When all is said and done, the deputy mayor does have a point.

After all, you don’t hear the donkeys complaining.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • planteplume

    Hmmm… I am not sure if this is actually quite right. The article
    seems to be based on some sort of misinterpretation of the village’s
    name.

    “Death to the jews” would literally translate in french as “Mort aux juifs”

    “La mort aux juifs” does not mean “Death to the jews”, but could
    somehow translate as “Where death came to the jews”. i.e. a place where
    jews died sometime long ago (where a pogrom took place for instance, in
    which case the name would have a (very significant) historical function and should (in my opinion) be kept to remind people of what happened here). The “La” is important indeed.

    Another possible meaning of the village’s name (see the french page of wiki, or the english one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Mort_aux_Juifs)
    could be “La mare aux juifs”, i.e “The jews’s pond (or marsh))”, or
    “The liquid manure pond”, “juin” meaning “manure”, being later deformed
    as “juif” (which does not mean that jews were compared to manure, but
    results from an evolution in the way nouns were pronounced.)

    I
    must say that I’ve never heard any representant of the french jewish
    community (arguably large, being the third largest in the world) making a
    fuss about that village.

    The MRAP (movement against racism) did
    ask for the name to be changed in 1992, though. The village’s name on
    the signs has been changed, and now reads “La mare aux geais” (“the Jays
    pond”.)

    The name “La mort aux juifs” appears only on the land register.

    But I agree that the whole thing is a bit murky.

    Very truly yours

  • bertr

    That’s a lot of questions, but they are all are easy and straight forward to answer with the information publicly available to us from Hamas’s own words and documents so lets break them out and find the answers.

    1.Q:how do you explain Israel keeping Gaza and the West Bank under occupation for the 50 years prior to Hamas’s formation?

    A:In 1948 when the British ended their occupation of Palestine, the United Nations divided the land among the local Jewish and Palestinian populations. Immediately after that, the Palestinians invaded Israel. Israel has offered to give back much of the land in exchange for peace and recognition.

    2.Q:Do you blame Hamas for all the homes and land Israel has stolen from Palestinians?

    A:No, history shows us that the blame lies largely on the neighboring Arab states collaborating with Palestinian leadership in attempts to annihilate the Jews,

    3. Q:if Hamas were to demilitarize, what would happen?

    A: Israel would leave the Palestinians in peace. The region would be free from the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Hamas in there charter, which they still refuse to renounce, calls for the genocide of the Jewish people and says all attempts for peace short of this goal are in contradiction with the Islamic Resistance Movement
    Israel on the other hand does recognize the right for Palestinians to have there own state and live in peace. On multiple occasions since the 60s this has been offered to the Palestinians only to be rejected by Palestinian leadership.

    4.Q:Will Israel publicly say that upon demilitarization there will be a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank along the 1967 lines?

    A: Israel has always been willing to trade land for peace. In 1978 Israel gave the entire Sinai Peninsula(bigger then the remaining state of Israel to Egypt in exchange for peace and they are willing to do the same with the Palestinians. All that they ask for in return is to be recognized as a Jewish state and to live in peace.

    As recently as 2000 Israel agreed to give the Palestinians all of the West Bank and 95% of Gaza which the Palestinian Leadership rejected and responded by sending waves of suicide bombers

    5.Q: If Israel plans on subjugating the Palestinians forever, then who cares where the resistance keeps their weapons?

    A: The premise of the question is fallacious

  • Diane_Mason

    Except “La Mort aux Juifs” doesn’t mean “death to the Jews” to a native French speaker, due to the presence of the first definite article. You are apparently taking offense at an English translation of a name that doesn’t mean the same thing in the original language.

    “Like some may have already mentioned, the translation, as provided, doesn’t sound accurate to a native french speaker. There is a significant difference between “mort aux” and “la mort aux”. While translating the former by “death to” sounds accurate, translating the latter the very same way is not sounding really accurate or satisfying. It could indeed have meant “a place where Jews have been killed”. This meaning makes sense to me as a native french speaker. Similarly “le champ des morts” (litterally “the field of deads”) is a way of calling a graveyard. It doesn’t for sure mean that one has to “harvest” people’s lifes (in plain it doesn’t mean one ought to kill people).

    It could maybe be still quite convenient for the today’s local inhabitants to adopt a new name for their hamlet, not so much in fact because the actual name would have been meaning indeed “death to Jews”, but rather because it seems apparently to be interpreted as such, even though quite probably mistakenly.”

    and here

    “La-mort-aux-Juifs has been thus named since the 16th century (and not the middle ages as Ms Secretand claimed) when Jews rose up against the local lord’s excessive taxes and were slaughtered by his troops where the hamlet stands now.

    La-mort-aux-Juifs Does Not Translate as “Death to Jews”: it translates as “Jews died here” or, if you want to be less literal and more accurate “The final resting place of Jews”…

    …By the way, claiming that the historical context is irrelevant is, quite frankly insulting to the people who died here: the toponym is literally the Only thing that publicly reminds people that Jews were slaughtered by a petty lordling: Take that away, and the only remaining references will in dusty old historical chronicles of the Orléanais.

    But then again, I shouldn’t be surprised, given how everyone seemed to be happy to pontificate about the hamlet’s name without even display a shred of curiosity about where it came from.”

    From the comments to this post at Salon http://www.salon.com/2014/08/12/jewish_group_wants_france_to_change_this_hamlets_super_racist_name/

  • bpollen

    “This name has always existed”

    Yes. I refer to Genesis:
    “On the first day, God created the heavens and the earth and La Mort aux Juifs.”

  • goulo

    Until now I had no idea of the historical meanimg of the famous common name Matamoros.

    It does show the complexity of this kind of “problematic” name. Should all places and people named Matamoros change their names just because of the name’s etymology?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matamoros

    Perhaps it depends on how obvious & well-known the literal meaning is? (I.e. the meaning of “La Mort aux Juifs” = “Death to Jews” as separate words seems more evident.) I don’t know.

  • judybrowni

    Read below for more of his gibberish!

  • jacobmccandless

    It shall be named…

    Regarde Un Morceau

  • A Kaleberg

    As a Jew, I think they should keep the name. People should remember this crap.

  • simouni

    To be fair, “la mort aux juifs” can’t be exactly translated to “death to jews”, it might also be “death of jews” (on top of the fact that “juif” is not derogatory as I understand “jew” is). In the past, “aux” was used instead of “des” very often, and you can still find it in expressions like “marché aux fleurs” (which is a market OF flowers, so it should be “marché de fleurs”).
    Still, today, “mort aux juifs” is used by anti-semitic people to wish death to jews, so the name is definitely creepy.

  • DCJack

    Wow, I’ve reloaded this page multiple times, just to make sure I wasn’t reading the Onion. Crazy!

  • Agent Michael Scarn

    Did you say that last sentence while looking in a mirror?

  • ChaCubed

    Ah, humans, they really can justify every thing they want to justify.

  • Matt Rogers

    Let’s take the “genocide challenge”! Can you think of a difference between calling for genocide and teaching about a genocide that has occurred? Hint: they don’t really follow the same logic.

  • Jul Jet

    It’s a plural/generic ‘you’ btw.

  • Jul Jet

    I know, if you were this article would not have come to being.

  • Indigo

    While we’re erasing archaic nomenclature, how about restoring the original European proper name of our continent and droping the reference to that Italian map-maker. “America” from Amerigo Vespucci is like calling our continent “Rand” from Rand McNally. Reputable maps after the Conquest name this continent “Nova India.” A little presumptuous perhaps, but no harm and no map-maker advertising either.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yep, I saw that. There was a spanish town with the Kille the Jews too, didn’t see if they changed the name.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Slightly different. I think we can all agree that “Kill the minorities” is probably unacceptable as the name of any town anywhere. As for not naming towns after famous people who committed crimes against other peoples they took over, then we should pretty much write everybody off the list, including probably several of the native populations we wiped off the face of the planet, since they weren’t terribly nice to their neighbors either

    I give you, the Incas – sound familiar?

    “Through threat, negotiation, or bloody conquest, Pachacutec and his successors began to subjugate nearby provinces, determining the number of taxpaying peasants and installing local Inca governors and administrators before their armies moved on. If co-operative, local elites were allowed to retain their privileged positions and were rewarded for their collaboration. If uncooperative, they were exterminated, with their supporters.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/04/why-incas-performed-human-sacrifice

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Seems to have worked.

  • GarySFBCN

    Yes. It is from St. James.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Not quite getting your point.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Juif is not “Jew” as a slur. It simply mean Jew as in Jewish. It’s not a slur any more than Greektown is a slur, IMHO. Here’s wikpedia on Villejuif:

    The name Villejuif can be literally translated as “Jewish Town”, but the area has no historical connections with the Jewish population of Paris. The name is believed to be a corruption of a Gallo-Roman name, Ville Juvius, meaning the villa of Juvius.[1]

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Not quiet understanding your point.

  • Jul Jet

    It’s only a name. By this logic we should stop teaching the Holocaust because it teaches how people killed jews for being jews. Damn stupid people… You never fail to amaze me with your apathy.

  • rudolf schnaubelt

    I think Matamoros means Moor (Muslim) killer. Like matador means bull killer.

  • goulo

    That seems like saying:

    “Americans refuse to change name of ranch called ‘Niggerhead’”

    because of Rick Perry’s notoriously named hunting camp.
    http://gothamist.com/2011/10/02/rick_perrys_offensively-named_hunti.php

    Sure, technically SOME Americans/French refuse to change it, but that
    kind of baiting headline makes it sound like the entire country is opposed.

  • Douglas de la Brodoff

    Not surprising, I don’t really understand why there is still a part of Paris and Metro Stop called Villejuif, which basically translates as JewTown!

  • MJ

    As dreadful as it is, it’s another reminder of the endless fascination of France. You feel yourself smack IN history.

  • Drew2u

    EDIT: Really? HTML code doesn’t work anymore? Anywho: Washington RacistTerm logo.

  • GarySFBCN

    The ‘we’ throwing stones is the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. That we (presumably citizens of the United States) should “clean up our own mess ” is a good idea, but it has nothing to do with this situation.

    There is no global, institutional macro-level effort to rid the world have hurtful/harmful names. So we are left with episodic efforts and they are better than none at all.

    Perfection is the enemy of good. This isn’t perfect. But it is good.

  • caphillprof

    Yes let’s rewrite our history. Let’s pretend it didn’t happen. Let’s forget the past. Perhaps we can forget the future to.

  • nicho

    Well, the US has named several towns and a posh college after a guy who committed genocide against native Americans using germ warfare — distributing smallpox-infected blankets. He also considered wiping out the natives by setting dogs on them, but was hindered only by a lack of sufficient dogs. We haven’t changed any of those names. Maybe we should clean up our own mess before we throw stones at a postage-stamp sized crossroad in France.

  • DRoseDARs

    A single row of maybe a dozen of bulldozers would take care of the problem. Lose the name or lose everything. Ce la vie.

  • GarySFBCN

    There was a similarly-named city in Spain. They changed it this year. Here is more information about that – it’s interesting:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2603164/Spanish-town-change-contains-phrase-Jew-Killer-local-slang-drinking-lemonade.html

    But the name Matamoros (kill the Muslims) does persist – it is even a common surname.

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