French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen holds those French who took part in “vile” deportations of Jews during the Holocaust “personally responsible,” but excuses the nation.
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen set off a controversy earlier this month when she remarked on LCI television, “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv.”
More than 13,000 Jews were gathered at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track in Paris and deported to Nazi death camps.
Le Pen explained the French leaders fled and the status of the ruling Vichy government was a de facto puppet of Nazi Germany.
“I think that, generally speaking, if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.”
Free France was the government-in-exile of France, led by Charles de Gaulle and forces that fought with the Allies against the Axis powers. It was seated in London from June 1940 until the end of the war and organised the “French resistance.”
Le Pen later explained, “Like Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand [have claimed] France and the Republic were in London during the occupation.” Le Pen was adamant the Vichy regime did not represent France.
Le Pen distinguished between claims that France was responsible for the deportations of Jews during the Holocaust, and individual French citizens who were responsible for their personal roles.
“This does not at all exonerate the actual personal responsibility of those French who took part in the vile Vel d’Hiv round-up and all the atrocities committed in that period,” Le Pen clarified.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin attacked Le Pen for breaking from previous French presidents who accepted general responsibility for the deportations of Jews.
“This declaration is contrary to historical truth, as expressed in the statements of successive French presidents who recognized France’s responsibility for the fate of the French Jews who perished in the Holocaust,” the statement read.
Former president Jacques Chirac and current president François Hollande both apologized for the role played by French police in the 1942 deportations ordered by the Nazi regime.
Chirac’s predecessor, François Mitterrand never apologized, claiming, like Le Pen, that France was not responsible for carrying out Nazi orders.
Of the more than 300,000 Jews living in France at the beginning of the war, some 75,000 were deported to death camps, where most perished. The survival rate of the French Jewish population was, however, among the highest in Europe.
By World Israel News staff