‘Death to Jews’ French town name dispute a sequel to Spanish saga

The French town marked on this map named "La Mort aux Juifs" translates to "Death to Jews." Credit: Google Maps screenshot.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has sent a letter to France's interior minister complaining about a small French village named La Mort aux Juifs, which translates to "Death to Jews."

The case marks a sequel to the controversy that surrounded a Spanish town, Castrillo Matajudios, which translates to "Kill Jews Fort." In May, the residents of that town voted to change the name.

In the case of the French town, which lies about 70 miles south of Paris, the fact that the name went unchanged "during 70 years since the liberation of France from the Nazis... is most shocking," reads the letter signed by the Wiesenthal Center Director for International Relations Shimon Samuels, reported the Washington Post. The center said the name possibly dates back to around the year 1306, when 110,000 Jews were expelled in the wake of pogroms.

But Marie-Elizabeth Secretand, deputy mayor of Courtemaux—which has jurisdiction over La Mort aux Juifs—called the uproar over the town's name "ridiculous."

"This name has always existed," she told AFP. "Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.... No one has anything against the Jews, of course."

A previous municipal request to change the name of the town in 1992 was refused.

Posted on August 15, 2014 .