Revulsion over Le Pen denial on Shoah round-up
A COMMENT by far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen that the roundup and subsequent gassing of French Jews during the Holocaust was not the responsibilty of France has prompted outrage among Jewish leaders in the country.
Sacha Gozlan, the President of the French Union of Jewish students, called Ms Le Pen’s statement “revisionist” and Crif, the representative council of Jewish institutions in France, said it was “an insult to France, which honoured itself in 1995 by recognising its responsibility in the deportation of France’s Jews.”
Speaking to the LCI French television network on Sunday, Ms Le Pen, leader of the National Front, said: “I don’t think France is responsible for vel d’hiver… I think that, generally speaking, if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.”
In July 1942, over 8,000 Jews in Paris were confined in the velodrome d’hiver, a cycling arena and stadium. They were deprived of food, water and sanitary facilities and, together with 4,000 other Jews from across France, were subsequently transported to Auschwitz.
The complicity of the French police in the round-up is well documented.
In 1995, Jacques Chirac, then the French President, publicly apologised for France’s role in the atrocity. Just a year beforehand, his predecessor, Francois Mitterand, refused to do so, saying “France is not responsible.”
“The vel d’hiv round-up was organized by René Bousquet, secretary-general of the Vichy police, by 4,500 French police and gendarmes who arrested more than 13,000 Jews, including 4,000 children, in Paris and in the regions around Paris on 16 and 17 July 1942,” said Crif.
Ms Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded France’s National Front, famously described the Holocaust as “just a detail” of history.
Ms Le Pen later attempted to clarify her comments, saying that the Vichy government that collaborated with the Nazis was “not France”, and that “this does not at all exonerate the actual personal responsibility of those who took part in the vile vel d’hiver round-up”.