The Dallas Morning News

Le Pen rejects blame for WWII actions

Vichy government didn’t represent nation, she says

- Sylvie Corbet and Elaine Ganley, The Associated Press

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.”

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MARINE LE PEN

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