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France

Top court recognises France's role in deporting Jews

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Latest update : 2009-02-17

France's Conseil d'Etat recognised on Monday the country's complicity in the deportation of some 76,000 Jews under the Vichy regime during World War II. It did not announce any new reparations for the families of victims.

REUTERS - France's top administrative court
ruled on Monday that the state was responsible for the
deportation of French Jews during World War Two, but appeared to
close the door on major new compensation for victims' families.
 

Some 76,000 Jews were arrested in France between 1942 and
1944 and transported in appalling conditions to Nazi
concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Only 3,000 returned.
 

Monday's landmark ruling by the Conseil d'Etat court
establishes a legal recognition of France's role in the
deportations and was welcomed by Jewish organisations.
 

"The Conseil d'Etat recognises the error and responsibility
of the state," the court said in a written statement.
 

"This persecution, in a total break with the values and
principles ... enshrined in the declaration of human rights and
the traditions of the Republic, inflicted exceptional damage of
extreme gravity," it added.
 

Former President Jacques Chirac was the first French leader
to acknowledge state complicity in the deportations in an
historic speech in 1995, breaking with past efforts to
dissociate France from the collaborationist Vichy regime.
 

His recognition of French involvement opened the way for
victims' families to seek compensation and the authorities have
since given hundreds of millions of euros to plaintiffs.
 

The Conseil d'Etat issued its ruling after a minor court
sought guidance over the liability of the state in the case
brought by daughter of a deportee.
 

The top administrative court said the junior courts could
decide on compensation, but added that the state had already met
its obligations and respected European norms.
 

"Taken together, these various measures ... have compensated
as much as is possible ... the losses suffered as a result of
the actions of the state, which collaborated with the
deportation," the ruling said.
 

Serge Klarsfeld, a famous French Nazi hunter whose own
father was deported from France, welcomed the ruling.
 

"This ruling is satisfying," he was quoted as saying by Le
Figaro newspaper website. "France is now showing itself to be a
leader amongst countries facing up to their past."
 

He added that reparations was no longer a major issue.
"Those who are currently seeking more compensation have often
already received something."

Date created : 2009-02-17

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