France

Question:

I would firstly like to congratulate you on a most informative site involving the holocaust.

I am a final year student at the University of XXXX in Great Britain. I sent you an e-mail some time ago involving my final year project about the effects of the holocaust in modern day French society. However I have not been able to find any information in reply to this query. I understand that you are very busy people, however I would grately appreciate any pointers that you would be able to offer me.

I am especially looking to find responses from Jacques Chirac the current French President involving anti-sematism in France today. My hypothesis is that France continues to deny its part in the holocaust especially that of Vichy and also the Church and the Police, influencing continuing anti-sematic behaviour in France today (in French society and politics).

Again I would be very grateful if you could send me any information that you are aware of French or English.

Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:

Thank you for your reminder of January 21. Our apologies for not responding sooner, but our Questions and Answers group has been overwhelmed with requests.

I regret that we do not have a very large collection of books on the subjects that you touch. Most of our collection covers the period 1875-1950. I will, however, try to mention some sources.

One good book is:

The National Front and French Politics:
The Resistible Rise of Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jonathan Marcus
c.1995, New York University Press
ISBN 0-8147-5535-6

From the back cover:

"[...] Le Pen's xenophobic anti-immigrant message has attracted significant support in France. Indeed the National Front leader has had a major influence upon the terms in which issues like immigration, nationality, and racism are debated in France. [...]"

The book enters into some detail regarding Le Pen's anti-Semitism, but does not appear to touch on any such position by Jacques Chirac. It does mention Chirac's ideas about foreign immigration calling it an "overdose of foreigners."

Another interesting book is:

The Myth of the Jew in France, 1967-1982
Henry H. Weinberg
c. 1987, Mosaic Press (New York)
ISBN 0=88962-358-8

From the preface:

"[...] In a penetrating chapter on Le Monde which will doubtless raise many eyebrows, he dissects the techniques by which it pursued a long campaign of psychological warfare against the Jewish State under the mask of a high-minded objectivity. This campaign of disinformation, infinitely more effective than that of the Communists, with its use of emotionally loaded terms like occupation, résistance, and repression to discredit and blacken Israel's image, was not without its consequences. [...]"

This book only mentions Chirac in passing.

Continuing with anti-Semitism in modern French society:

De Gaulle, Israel & the Jews
Raymond Aron
Translated from the French by John Sturrock
c. 1968, Frederick A. Praeger (New York)
LoC Catalog Card No. 69-16702

From the dust cover:

"Charles de Gaulle's famous press conference on November 28, 1967, provoked serious alarm in France as well as within Jewish communities throughout the world. Many of the General's comments on Israel --including his characterization of Jews as 'an elite people, self assured and domineering' -- drew comparisons with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other virulent expressions of European anti-Semitism. [...]"

And:

Legacies of Anti-Semitism in France
Jeffrey Mehlman
c. 1983, University of Minnesota Press
ISBN 0-8166-1177-7

From the Introduction:

"The four essays in this book -- on Blanchot, Lacan, Giraudoux, and Gide -- are linked by a common temporal disjunction at their core. [...] Gershom Scholem ... observes that the term 'Jew' in postwar Germany had little reality other than as an embarrassing reminder of anti-Semitic contempt. Paradoxically, the term 'anti- Semite in our Western democracies has come, since the war, to be little more than a term of liberal abuse. [...]"

An article from France Presse makes some connection between Le Pen and Chirac:

"Agence France-Presse
Copyright, AFP 1997
19:12 GMT, 04 March 1997

PARIS, March 4 (AFP) - French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen denied Tuesday anti-Semitic comments attributed to him in a book in which he accuses President Jacques Chirac of being a "hostage" of Jewish groups.

The National Front (NF) party leader said comments in the book "Le Roman d'un President" (The Novel of a President), were a "frame-up" and insisted he had only used "very moderate" language to describe a Jewish group.

But the co-authors of the book, Nicolas Domenach and Maurice Szafran, insisted that all comments were correctly and accurately attributed -- and accused Le Pen of having made other comments too strong to report.

Le Pen said he had a recording of an interview he gave to the two journalists and was planning to take legal action.

The biography, to be published next week, quotes Le Pen as saying that Chirac willingly lost the 1988 presidential election to Socialist leader Francois Mitterrand instead of aligning himself with the National Front.

He did so, according to Le Pen, "in exchange for large amounts of money", following a deal with several Jewish organizations -- one of which Le Pen identified as B'nai B'rith.

Le Pen is also cited as saying "Chirac and the RPR (Chirac's Gaullist Rally for the Republic) committed themselves before B'nai B'rith and other foreign organizations: we will never make any alliance with the National Front."

Based in the United States, B'nai B'rith campaigns against anti-Semitism worldwide, and is recognized as a non-governmental organization by the United Nations.

Le Pen said in particular that he had never called Jacques Friedman, a friend of Chirac, "a very Jewish Jew," nor that ex- minister Nicole Barzach was "his Jewish woman friend" as cited in the book.

In a statement he said he would take legal action "against the falsifiers and their accomplices who relayed the information without even taking the trouble to check their sources."

"Once again we are dealing with politico-media manipulation," he said.

The co-authors of the book, both journalists, said Le Pen had described Barzach using "garbage terms that we decided not to report, and which we will not report."

Insisting that all comments attributed to Le Pen were given "in full," Szafran added that Le Pen broached the issue of Chirac's links with Jewish groups by himself, without prompting from them.

He "went off on that tack without the least suggestion from us," he said, noting that the NF leader did not comment on central points including the allegation that Chirac received money from Jewish groups.

Le Pen's remarks in the book, to be published March 10 by Plon, appeared at the weekend in the Liberation and Le Monde newspapers.

France has 600,000 to 700,000 Jews who celebrated last weekend the 190th anniversary of an historic assembly of rabbis and lay Jews which paved the way for Jews' integration as French citizens.

Chirac marked the occasion on Sunday with a meeting with French Jewish community leaders."

From: Radio France Internationale in March, 1955:

French election news Maguire There have been strong reactions to the drowning of a 29 year-old Moroccan, Brahim Bouarram,in Paris yesterday morning on the sidelines of a parade by the xtreme-right National Front. Gaullist presidential candidate, Jacques Chirac, last night denounced the drowing as a savage attack which seemed to have been racist.

Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, a spokesman for Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin, condemned the attack as an unjustifiable act of hatred in which the Moroccan was deliberately killed by skinheads. Mr Jospin today condemned what he called the racist crime and one of his aides has called for a demonstration later this afternoon in central Paris where the young man drowned. Police authorities in Paris today confirmed that about a dozen skinheads broke away from the march in honour of Joan of Arc, went down to the river bank and pushed the Moroccan into the water.

Last night and today, National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen denied that the death had any connection with the rally. Just before midday yesterday, an stimated 15,000 supporters gathered at the Place de l'Opera to hear Mr Le Pen's position on the presidential election. He refused to call on his supporters to vote for either of the two candidates, but was particularly scathing of Mr. Chirac. Mr Le Pen is to announce his personal preference tonight after the televised debate between Gaullist Mr Chirac, the favourite, and his Socialist rival Lionel Jospin. With an estimated twenty percent of the electorate still undecided, the debate could make or break their chances of winning on Sunday. The votes of National Front supporters look like having an important role to play in determining the result of Sunday's poll.

From: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency

"July 21, 1995

Chirac hailed for citing France's role in Holocaust

MICHEL DI PAZ

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

PARIS -- Jewish leaders here and abroad are hailing French President Jacques Chirac, who this week became the first French leader to recognize publicly France's responsibility for deporting thousands of Jews to their deaths) during World War II.

French Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld described Chirac's speech as a "historic statement" that clearly separated Chirac from his immediate predecessor, Francois Mitterrand.

"This is what we always wanted to hear," Klarsfeld said of the speech. "Chirac's predecessor came twice to the commemoration of the Vel d'Hiv roundups, but he never spoke, and he always refused to recognize the responsibility of France in the arrests and the deportations. President Chirac just did that."

The speech also drew praise from European Jewish Congress President Jean Kahn, who said Jews and everyone who fought against the Nazis "must have been delighted to hear these words."

In Germany, Ignatz Bubis, the chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called on other European leaders to follow Chirac's example and acknowledge their countries' collaboration with the Nazis.

"This collaboration actually took place in all countries occupied by Hitler Germany, with the exception of Denmark and Bulgaria," Bubis said in a radio interview.

"But such a clear admission as that from Jacques Chirac has otherwise come only from the Dutch Queen [Beatrix]. So I am surprised," added Bubis.

The plaudits for the French president followed a speech Chirac made Sunday at ceremonies marking the 53rd anniversary of the first mass arrests of Jews in Paris. The deportations were undertaken by the Vichy collaborationist government in power during the war.

"There are moments in the life of a nation that hurt the memory and the idea one has of his country," Chirac said at a monument located near the Velodrome d'Hiver, the now-demolished cycling stadium where French police held some 13,000 Jews during the infamous July 16-17, 1942 roundups.

About 4,000 of the Jews, those without families, were sent to the Drancy internment camp near Paris. They were then deported to Auschwitz. The remaining 9,000, which included 4,000 children, were kept at the Vel d'Hiv for a week and then sent directly to the Auschwitz death camp.

"It is difficult to evoke them, because those dark hours tarnish forever our history, and are an insult to our past and our traditions," said Chirac.

He then added the words Jewish leaders had never been able to elicit from his predecessor: "Yes, the criminal folly of the occupier was assisted by French, by the French state."

"France, homeland of the Enlightenment and of human rights, land of welcome and asylum, France, on that very day, accomplished the irreparable," he said. "Failing her promise, she delivered those she was to protect to their murderers."

The comments by Chirac, who was elected to the French presidency less than two months ago, stand in stark contrast to the position of his predecessor regarding France's wartime past.

During a television interview last year, Mitterrand sought to distance the actions of the collaborationist Vichy regime from the French Republic. Mitterrand was an officer in the Vichy regime in 1942, but later worked with the Resistance.

"The republic had nothing to do with all that. I do think that France is not responsible," he said. "Those who are accountable for those crimes belong to an active minority who exploited the [French] defeat. Not the republic and not France. I'll never ask for forgiveness in the name of France."

Mitterrand also drew the ire of many for failing to apologize for his postwar friendship with Rene Bousquet, the Vichy regime's chief of police who ordered the infamous Vel d'Hiv roundups.

In his speech Sunday, Chirac attacked "the spirit of hatred" that not only marked the Nazi era, but could be found in present-day France in the form of the extreme right-wing National Front, headed by Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The "racist crimes" by such groups as the National Front, Chirac said, "stem from the same sources" as Nazism.

The anti-immigrant National Front scored surprise victories in France's nationwide municipal elections last month, winning mayoral races in several cities.

In the southern city of Toulon, the Jewish community boycotted the local commemoration of the wartime Jewish deportations because they were presided over by the newly elected National Front mayor, Jean-Marie Le Chevalier. To show their defiance, members of the French Union of Jewish Students replaced a wreath laid by the mayor with one of their own."

and, from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

"March 7, 1997

B'nai B'rith outraged at French extremist's charges

LEE YANOWITCH

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

PARIS -- Jewish groups are denouncing French extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen for alleging that President Jacques Chirac is controlled by Jewish organizations.

Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Front, was quoted as saying that Jewish organizations had paid the conservative Chirac not to make an electoral alliance with Le Pen's party.

A book to be released next week features an interview with Le Pen, in which he is quoted as saying, "Chirac is in someone's grasp. And whose? Jewish organizations and especially the notorious B'nai B'rith...

"In agreement with them, in exchange for enormous sums of money and pressure, and with exceptional international support, [Chirac] agreed to lose the presidential election in 1988 rather than make an agreement with me," Le Pen says in the book, which is titled "A President's Novel" and co-authored by Nicholas Domenach and Maurice Szafran.

Some of Chirac's conservative colleagues tried to convince him in 1988 to make such a deal in order to prevent then-Socialist President Francois Mitterrand from being re-elected.

The French branch of B'nai B'rith said it refused to enter into a war of words with Le Pen, who was giving "free rein to his obsessional litany through the eternal Judeo-Masonic plot.

"He tells so many stories that he ends up believing them," a representative of the branch said.

But in Washington, leaders of the international Jewish organization held a news conference to blast the French politician.

"Le Pen's lies are outrageous and insulting," said Sidney Clearfield, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith, at the group's headquarters. "B'nai B'rith has never had a pact with Mr. Chirac or with any other politician.

"Le Pen detests B'nai B'rith because we support many causes he loathes, such as immigrants' rights, respect for other cultures and human rights for all people," Clearfield added.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Le Pen denied that he had made the derogatory comments attributed to him in the book. He also threatened to sue the book's authors.

The National Front -- which advocates expelling France's 3 million immigrants -- is enjoying growing popularity in France, where last month it gained control of a fourth southern town in municipal elections.

Le Pen himself won 15 percent of the vote in 1995 presidential elections. CRIF, France's umbrella group for secular Jewish organizations, denounced what it called "Le Pen's anti-Semitic fantasies." CRIF President Henri Hajdenberg said he wanted to see legal action taken against Le Pen, who has in the past made anti-Jewish statements though he denies accusations of racism or anti-Semitism.

I regret that we can not offer you more information on what appears to be a very important subject.

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE

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