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The only remaining synagogue on the island of Corsica.

The island of Corsica, famous for being the birthplace of Napoleon, has been the home of Jews for nearly 2000 years. At this time the island’s Jewish community numbers only 200 to 400 people. Corsica’s only remaining synagogue is in the city of Bastia, in the island’s northeast corner.

During World War II, the Nazi occupied mainland France co-operated with the Nazis by identifying and deporting its Jews to death camps. Many of the mainland France Jews escaped to Corsica. Although Corsica is a French island, there is a strained relationship between the island and mainland France. As a result, Corsica did not cooperate. In fact, history has shown that of the thousands of Jews on Corsica at that time, only one was deported to the Nazi death camps.

The Corsican authorities’ explanation for not having any Jews to hand over was that there were none on the island. This explanation was accepted by the Vichy government as it was believed on the mainland that there were almost no Jews on Corsica. In reality there were thousands of Jews on Corsica who were sheltered by villagers in remote areas. When zealous police or locals tried to denounce those they suspected of being Jewish, the Corsican authorities reported that they had looked into the allegations but found them to be unfounded.