PARIS, April 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC rejected comments made by French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen seeking to minimize France's role in the Holocaust.
In a radio interview, the candidate of the far-right National Front said, "I don't think France is responsible for the Vél d'Hiv. I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it's those who were in power at the time. It's not France."
"Marine Le Pen's whitewashing of French complicity in the Holocaust is astonishing and unacceptable," said Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Director of AJC Europe and AJC France. "It denies the historical record – and the French government's own acknowledgement of its role in the Nazi crimes against the Jewish people."
Ms. Le Pen was referring to the notorious mass arrest by French policemen of some 13,000 Jewish men, women and children – and the detention of many of them in the Vélodrome d'Hiver – in Nazi-occupied Paris on July 16-17, 1942. Most of those arrested were sent to Auschwitz. By the war's end, some 77,000 Jews living on French territory had been deported and murdered in Nazi concentration camps and killing centers.
In 1995, French President Jacques Chirac forthrightly recognized France's responsibility for the deportation of Jews on French territory. Speaking at a ceremony marking the 53rd anniversary of the Vél d'Hiv roundup, Chirac said: "These dark hours forever sully our history and are an insult to our past and our traditions. Yes, the criminal folly of the occupiers was seconded by the French, by the French state. France, the homeland of the Enlightenment and of the rights of man, a land of welcome and asylum, on that day committed the irreparable. Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners."
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee