Hidden details of France’s collaboration in the wartime Holocaust when tens of thousands of Jews were deported to their deaths are today publicly available for the first time
EDITOR’S NOTE: During the German occupation of France during WWII, there were a great many brave French resistance fighters who risked their lives to repel the Nazi hordes. But the French government itself was working with Hitler as a partner to exterminate the Jews that lived there.
Archives kept under lock and key for up to three quarters of a century have been opened for the first time, as the country faces up to its Nazi past. All of the documents relate to the Vichy Regime, which was led by Marshal Philippe Petain between 1940 and 1944.
This was a time of often enthusiastic collaboration with the Third Reich, as French police and paramilitary organisations were among the many who rounded up ‘enemies of the state’ and sent them to Germany for extermination.
Concentration camps in France 1938 – 1946:
Russian photographic proof of concentration camps set up by the French in collaboration with the Nazis.
Many of the 76,000 Jews killed came from major cities including Paris, where an occupying German garrison worked closely with their French allies. Numerous crimes were also committed in the so called ‘free zone’ down south, where Petain ran his puppet government in the spa town of Vichy.
The newly opened archives can be ‘freely consulted’ by civil servants and historical researchers ‘subject to the declassification of documents covered by national defence secrecy rules’, according to a new decree.
They will included disturbing stories of how French Jews were pinpointed and then betrayed, and names of those responsible will be listed.
It comes six years after France’s Council of State, the country’s highest judicial body, said the Vichy government ‘held responsibility’ for deportations, and could not solely blame them on the Germans.
Vichy – The French Collaborationist Newsreels:
Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, World War I hero, became prime minister of the Vichy government of France. His collaboration with Adolf Hitler sold the french people down the river, and sent French Jews to the concentration camps. In this video he is telling them to ignore the obvious and follow the Nazis. He suffered a traitor’s fate and died old, alone and rejected by his nation, and rightly so.
It ruled that Nazi officials did not force the French to betray their fellow citizens, but that anti-Semitic persecution was carried out willingly by organisations including Paris police and SNCF, the national railway.
Post-war French governments had earlier refused to acknowledge any role in the Holocaust by the Vichy regime.
The ruling in 2009 was partially criticised for stating that there would be no payments for the survivors or families of victims, because all had been compensated ‘as much as was possible, for all the losses suffered’.
The Nazi plan to exterminate the entire race of Jewish people:
But lawyers around the world, and especially in the USA and Israel, are working hard to change that. The Council called for a ‘solemn recognition of the state’s responsibility and of collective prejudice suffered’ by the deportees.
During his term of office, which ended in 2007, President Jacques Chirac made the most outspoken reference to the Holocaust by a French head of state, saying: ‘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.’ Today, France has western Europe’s largest Jewish community of around 500,000. Many still complain of discrimination and persecution, saying that anti-Semitism remains prevalent in France. source