Two types of Jewish communities were established in Nord-Pas-de-Calais on the eve of the war: the families in the large towns and cities (Lille, Valenciennes, Dunkirk), who were integrated into France and the Republic for generations; the Polish Jewish community, established in the mining area during the inter-war period, had retained its own strong particularities.
The Morgenstein family, a Jewish family who were victims of the persecution, Lens, May 1942
Both were victims of a dual persecution: the one from the Germans and the one that resulted from the application of the "status of Vichy Jews". The persecution, which was discrete and methodical at the end of 1940, worsened abruptly in 1942: work camps were set up along the coast and it became compulsory to wear the yellow star starting from June. A big raid, organised on 11 September 1942, carried out by the German police with the assistance of the French police, led to the deportation and execution of more than 500 people in Auschwitz.