Thursday 8 November 2018

Macron and the rehabilitation of Pétain, Vichy and my relatives

News is coming in of the French President's intention to rehabilitate Marshal Pétain, nominally for his World War One record but these things are symbolic. Pétain led the Vichy regime which collaborated with the Nazis in WW2. He and his regime helped the Nazis deport some 74,000 Jews to their death (as well as co-operating in the killing of some 2000 others in France). My father's uncles were deported to Auschwitz because of Vichy's collaboration which involved drawing up lists of Jews, creating a network of camps to incarcerate Jews, seizing their possessions, enforcing the wearing of the yellow star and putting up signs saying 'Enterprise Juive' (Jewish business).

As well as this collaboration with European genocide, Vichy arranged for the forced labour of 250,000 French workers to work in German factories and on German farms. It created the 'Milice' an armed militia which went to war against the French Resistance carrying out summary executions in fields, streets and houses.

To commemorate Pétain in any way is an outrage and an insult to hundreds of thousands of people.

On November 20, there will be the ceremony at the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris to commemorate the departure of Convoy 62 to Auschwitz from Paris on that date which was the train that took my father's uncle and aunt. I will be there with Emma-Louise Williams and it has suddenly become a highly political matter. I've been asked to say a few words at the ceremony and I'm wondering whether the Foundation which runs the Memorial have made some kind of public statement about Macron over this.