Jean-Luc Melenchon, the left-wing French leader, recently denied his country’s responsibility over the roundup and deportation of French Jews during the WWII.
Melenchon strongly criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for his comment that Paris was responsible for the deportation and death of French Jews during the Great War. President Macron had acknowledged the European country’s Holocaust-era guilt during a Holocaust commemoration event on July 16.
Melenchon said it was unfortunate that the president acknowledged France’s guilt without knowing the ‘actual’ history. He explained that the legitimate French government was in exile in Britain during the WWII and the Vichy government, a client state of Nazi Germany, was in power in Paris. So, according to the left leader, it was the Vichy government (and not the French government) that committed the crime.
Melenchon, popularly known as an anti-Israel lawmaker, argued that the French people should not be blamed for a crime they didn’t commit. “On the contrary, through its resistance, its fight against the (German) invader and through the reestablishment of the republic when the (Germans) were driven out of the territory, the French people proved which side they were actually on. No, no, Vichy is not France!” he said.
(Vel d’Hiv memorial)
Melenchon further criticised the French president for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take part in the commemoration marking the 75th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv deportations of thousands of French Jews, saying that Netanyahu is “the leader of the extreme right-wing government in Israel.”
Melenchon slammed Macron also for describing ‘anti-Zionism’ as a form of anti-Semitism. “It’s a very old thesis. This is the first time when this argument has been made official by the president of our Republic,” he stressed.
(Macron at Vel d’Hiv)
History suggests that French police officers enclosed more than 13,000 Jews at the Winter Stadium or Velodrome d’Hiver on July 16-17, 1942 and imprisoned men, women and children there for days in unsanitary conditions and without sufficient water. The action led to dozens of fatalities. Later, France transported the Jews to Nazi death camps in Eastern Europe.
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