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The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

The leader of Vichy France was tried in 1945 and con­victed of trea­son

EM­MANUEL MACRON has said that Mar­shal Pé­tain, the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor whose ad­min­is­tra­tion helped de­port of tens of thou­sands of French Jews to death camps, will be hon­oured with a cen­te­nary trib­ute be­cause he was “a great sol­dier”.

France’s lead­ing Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tion, Crif, said it was “shocked” at the de­ci­sion, which the French Pres­i­dent an­nounced on Wed­nes­day.

“I con­sider it en­tirely le­git­i­mate that we pay homage to the mar­shals who led our army to vic­tory,” Mr Macron said.

“Mar­shal Pé­tain was a great sol­dier in World War One.”

But Crif leader Fran­cis Kal­i­fat said: “The only thing we re­mem­ber about Philippe Pe­tain is that he was, in the name of the French peo­ple, held in na­tional dis­grace dur­ing his trial in July 1945.

“I am shocked that we can hon­our a man who, it must be re­mem­bered, was

him­self re­spon­si­ble for the de­por­ta­tion of Jews from France, in­clud­ing the Vel’ d’Hiv raid.”

Pé­tain be­came a na­tional hero af­ter he helped lead the French army to vic­tory in the Bat­tle of Ver­dun dur­ing the First World War.

But af­ter the Ger­man cap­ture of France in 1940, he was ap­pointed to head the Vichy govern­ment, a pup­pet state set up by the Nazis.

Dur­ing the fol­low­ing years, over 75,000 Jews in France were rounded up, with the full help of the Vichy po­lice forces, and sent to con­cen­tra­tion camps, where they were killed. This in­cluded the Vel’ d’Hiv raid in 1941, when Vichy forces gath­ered over 13,000 Jews, in­clud­ing thou­sands of women and chil­dren, to send to the gas cham­bers at Auschwitz.

Af­ter the war, Pé­tain was tried and con­victed for trea­son, but his death sen­tence was com­muted to life im­pris­on­ment be­cause of his age and First World War ser­vice. He died in 1951.


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