Cousteau racism revealed in letter
Friday 18 June 1999
On the day the late captain Cousteau was to be eulogised at the Academie Francaise, a French newspaper published the text of a letter he wrote to a friend on 1 May 1941.
Cousteau, then a 31-year-old naval officer, wrote that he and his family could find nowhere suitable to live in Marseilles and that "there will be no decent apartment available until we have kicked out all these ignoble yids who are burdening us".
At the time, the pro-Nazi Vichy government was in power in part of France and beginning the persecution of Jews which led to mass arrests and tens of thousands of deaths in concentration camps.
The letter was discovered by Cousteau's biographer, Bernard Violet, who says that the explorer, television pioneer and inventor of the aqualung often made racist remarks in private.
Cousteau, who died two years ago, was eulogised at the Academie Francaise yesterday by the writer Erik Orsenna, who took his seat-for-life in the citadel of French culture last year.
Mr Orsenna told the newspaper Le Monde that the letter was "clearly ignoble" but reflected its times. If all French correspondence from the era were to be re-read today, "one would find a great deal of anti-semitism of this kind" he said.
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Israel-Gaza conflict: The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The missiles were tragically real
Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
Syria conflict: Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat - ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’
Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...
£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...
Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...