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SWC Condemns Remarks By Former French Prime Minister Barre

March 8, 2007

WIESENTHAL CENTER SLAMS REMARKS BY FORMER FRENCH PRIME MINISTER BARRE THAT OPPOSING DEPORTATIONS OF JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST “WERE NOT A MAJOR NATIONAL INTEREST” FOR FRANCE

Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center today  issued a strong condemnation of remarks made last week by former French Prime Minister Raymon Barre-in an interview on “France Culture,” a state-run radio station-in which he stated that opposing the deportation of Jews from France during World War II had not been a “matter of major national interest.” Barre also claimed in the interview that the French Jewish community had turned convicted French Nazi criminal Maurice Papon into a “scapegoat.”

In a statement issued today by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center denounced Barre’s comments as “precisely reflecting the very attitude which prompted the collaboration of so many French officials in the implementation in France of the Nazi program for the annihilation of the Jewish people throughout Europe. Barre’s attempts to minimize or relativize the guilt of the Nazis’ willing French collaborators is proof that certain elements of French society continue to refuse to acknowledge the enormous share of French guilt in the fate of French Jewry during the Holocaust.”

According to Zuroff:
“While Maurice Papon was not the most important of the many French Nazi war criminals who collaborated in the mass murder of their Jewish countrymen, his guilt as proven in a French court was unquestionable. The fact that so many of his superiors, and those who bore even a greater share of the guilt for the murder of tens of thousands of French Jews deported to Nazi death camps in Poland during the Holocaust, were never prosecuted for their crimes is the direct responsibility of postwar French governments who consistently ignored their crimes morally and judicially. Barre’s comments last week show and prove exactly how and why this happened.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156/www.wiesenthal.com