PARIS â€” Far-right French presidential contender Marine Le Pen made “a serious mistake” by denying that the French State was responsible for the roundup of Jews in World War II, her main rival said Monday.
Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist, was among many presidential candidates criticizing Le Pen’s comments Monday.
“Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” Macron, the front-runner in the April 23-May 7 two-round election, told BFM TV.
Le Pen’s father repeatedly has been convicted for anti-Semitism and racism.
Le Pen said Sunday on RTL radio “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” in reference to the stadium where many thousands of Jews were rounded up in July 1942 before being sent to Nazi death camps.
Le Pen later said in a written statement she “considers that France and the Republic were in London” during wartime and “the Vichy regime wasn’t France.”
She argued that that had been the position of France’s heads of state, including Charles De Gaulle, until former president Jacques Chirac “wrongly” acknowledged the state’s role in Jewish persecution in 1995.
“It does not discharge the effective and personal responsibility of the French who took part into the monstrous roundup of the Vel d’Hiv,” she wrote.
Some 13,000 Jews were deported by French police on July 16 and 17, 1942, many of whom were first holed up in harsh conditions at Paris’ Vel d’Hiv, or the Winter Velodrome stadium.
In all, about 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Only 2,500 survived.
After decades of denial, Chirac in 1995 became the first president to publicly acknowledge France’s role in the deportations, issuing a long-awaited public apology at the start of his first term in office.
The Associated Press