Le Pen Says France Not to Blame for Vel d'Hiv Roundup

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said Sunday that France is not responsible for the 1942 "Vel d’Hiv" roundup in which more than 13,000 Jews were arrested to be deported to Nazi concentration camps. A third of the group were children.

”I think France is not responsible for the Vel d’Hiv," Le Pen said during an interview on RTL radio. "I think in a general way, more generally actually, those responsible were those in power then, this is not France.”

Marine Le Pen on April 8.

Photographer: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/AFP via Getty Images

On the 16th and 17th of July 1942, French police officers arrested more than the Jews in and around Paris at the request of the Nazi German authorities and stationed them in the Parisian cycling arena known as Vel d’Hiv, before deporting them to concentration camps.

In July 1995, French President Jacques Chirac apologized for the action and admitted the responsibility of the French state, contradicting a previous official line according to which the authorities based in Vichy, France during the Second World War did not represent the true country.

"France has been mistreated in minds for years," Le Pen said. "In reality, our children have been taught they had every reason to criticize it, to see only its darkest aspects," she also said. "I want them to be proud to be French again."

For months polls have shown Le Pen on track to reach the second-round of France’s 2017 presidential election. Her popularity is due in part to her effort to distance herself from the extremist views that were the trademark of Jean-Marie Le Pen, her father and founder of the National Front party.

A Kantar Sofres poll published Sunday showed Le Pen and independent Emmanuel Macron tied with 24 percent support, though like all other polls it indicated that Macron would defeat Le Pen by a wide margin in the second round.

(Corrects story that ran on April 9 to make clear location of Vel d’Hiv.)
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