Re­vul­sion over Le Pen de­nial on Shoah round-up

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

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”.

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