The Dallas Morning News
Le Pen rejects blame for WWII actions
Vichy government didn’t represent nation, she says
PARIS — Marine Le Pen, a leading contender in France’s presidential race, has prompted an outcry by denying that the French state was responsible for the roundup of Jews in World War II.
Her remark rolled back more than two decades of policy on France’s responsibility in the darkest period of its modern history.
Le Pen said Sunday on RTL radio, “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv”— a reference to the Paris stadium where thousands of Jews were rounded up before being sent to Nazi death camps.
Those responsible “were those in charge at the time,” she said.
Her statement upends the 1995 acknowledgement by then-President Jacques Chirac that the French state was responsible for deportations — not the collaborationist Vichy regime.
It also appears to run counter to her own efforts to rid her National Front party of the stain of anti-Semitism and racism.
Some 13,000 Jews were deported by French police on July 16-17, 1942, many of whom were first detained under harsh conditions at the indoor cycling stadium.
In all, about 75,000 Jews were sent to Nazi concentration camps from France during World War II. Only 2,500 survived.
Other French presidential candidates and Israel’s Foreign Ministry were quick to condemn Le Pen’s remark.
“If one doubted whether Marine Le Pen is far-right, there is no doubt anymore,” Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon told RTL radio.
Le Pen specified in a written statement that she “considers that France and the Republic were in London” during the war, and that the Vichy regime that collaborated with the Nazis “wasn’t France.”