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France

French WWII resistance fighters warn against voting for Marine Le Pen

Text by Louise NORDSTROM

Latest update : 2017-05-03

With just days to go before the final round of the presidential election, several French resistance fighters have spoken out against the rise of the far-right and the dangers of electing Marine Le Pen president, calling it a "deadly risk" for France.

While commemorating the national day of resistance and deportation on Sunday, an Auschwitz survivor and two French resistance fighters recalled the horrors of World War II and warned of the imminent threat the far-right poses to France.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re accused of demonisation for we have [already] known ‘ordinary devils’ capable of orchestrating hell… For our country, the values of the Republic, our children and grandchildren, this deadly risk can’t be taken,” Auschwitz survivor Denise Toros Marter, resistance fighters Sidney Chouraqui and Louis Monguilan said in an address read out at a ceremony at France’s former camp for deportees, Le Camp des Milles, near the southern town of Aix-en-Provence.

“We know that those attracted by the extremists aren’t extremists themselves. But this was also the case for many of the French or German people momentarily seduced by [France’s Nazi-allied wartime leader Marshal Philippe] Pétain or [Adolf] Hitler without imagining the future horrors they would commit,” they said.

“Today, nationalist extremism risks conquering the power in our country and this represents the most imminent danger to our liberty and the unity of our people,” they said, alluding to far-right candidate Le Pen and the increasing popularity of her anti-immigrant National Front party.

'An insult to the friends we lost'

Also on Sunday, 93-year-old French resistance fighter Christiane Cabalé – who was deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944 – ordered members of the National Front party to leave a commemoration ceremony held in the western city of Saint Nazaire.

“I won’t make a speech, but just want to say that the presence of the National Front here is a disgrace and an insult to the friends we lost. I ask that you leave,” local newspaper Ouest-France quoted her as saying.

Last month, Le Pen made headlines after saying that France was not responsible for the war-time round-up of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track in Paris, who were then sent to Nazi death camps.

"I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it's those who were in power at the time. It's not France," she had said, referring to the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy-regime led by Pétain at the time.

Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972, has also been convicted on repeated occasions for anti-Semitic and racist comments and for calling the Holocaust a "detail of history".

Le Pen has estranged herself from her father in recent years, however.

Only a handful of those who fought in the French resistance during the 1939-1945 World War are alive today, and work hard to keep the memory of what they fought against from being forgotten.

Date created : 2017-05-02

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