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March 14, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 14, 2003
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 14, 2003 PAGE 11 By Philip Carmel PARIS (JTA)--As the lawyers who helped put him behind bars see it, there will be no more Maurice Papon, no more faith- ful civil servants to be brought tive role played by some French people in carrying out the Nazi policy," he said. "But the most important stage was with Papon, because the immense media coverage of the trial allowed French people to trial for doing their adminis- to see that not only Germans trative duties while 6 million were involved in the deporta- Jewswenttotheirdeathsacross tions," Jakubowicz said. Europe. Last month, in a development that angered many Holocaust Survivors, Papon did not even need to turn up at the Paris aPpeals court that upheld a de- cision to free him after he served only three years of a 10-year sentence for complicity in crimes against humanity. According to Arno Klarsfeld, one of the lawyers who suc- ceeded in obtaining that con- Viction in 1998, Papon did no more than %vhat his govern- ment asked him to do." "And that government was the legiti- government of France. PaPon did it like a good civil servant, Klarsfeld told JTA. Papon's in#olvement in the deportations was clear.Asenior official for the collaborationist Vichy regime of Marshall Philippe Petain in the south- western Bordeaux region, Papon signed the documents that led to the deportation of more than 1,500 Jews to Nazi death camps. Papon was part of a group of administrators who enabled the Vichy state to collaborate with the Germans - and more than 70,000 French Jews paid for such complicitywith their lives. But even for Klarsfeld, Papon did not deserve life in prison. "He wasn't like Bousquet," Klarsfeld said, "and there was nothing anti-Semitic in his file. Klarsfeld is the son of Serge He just did what he was told to and Be.ate Klarsfeld, who have do," Rene Bousquet, Vichy's na- f ughtadecades-longcampaign tional police chief and Papon's .to bring Nazi war criminals to superior, was killed by a de- Justice.Theyalsohaveforcedthe ranged gunman in 1993 on the French state to acknowledge the eve of his war crimes trial. role it pla ed in collaborating With the Nazis in the deportation of more than aquarter of French Jewry to Auschwitz. As Arno Klarsfeld freely ad- mits, that campaign is over - and it has been won. Papon was one of many who managed to change sides before- the end of the German occupa- tion, and his administrative prowess enabled his earlier crimes to go unpunished for many years. "After the main perpetrators After the liberation, Papon Were condemned, my father set went on to an illustrious post- t worktoput emainaccom- war career, serving as police Pliees on trial." Klarsfeld said. chief of Paris between 1958 and "Having made German society 1967 and as budget minister in Orne to terms with what it had the French Cabinet during the ~uL n.e, my parents then tu, rned 1970s. .lelrattention to France The Legal action against Papon is shared by Main beganin1981afteranewspaper Ubowicz, anotherofthelaw- article detailed his past. Yers who helped put Papon be- But proceedings against him hind bars. were repeatedly obstructed by 'There are no more survi- French officials reluctant to see ~r$ , Papon is the last one left, a trial dredge up em,barrassing ubowicz, currentlypresident memories of France s collabo- the CRIF umbrella ration with the Nazi organiza- occupiers. Ion of French Jews in the Lyon His trial, which began in Oc- region, told JTA. tober 1997 and was delayed sev- , .Papon'strial represented the eral times by Papon's health ~lrd and most important stage problems before ending inApril me French state coming to 1998, was one the longest in .tern swith its role in the depor- French postwar history. 72,of the country's Jews, Papon's trial and conviction ' oowicz said. was part of a long process that "['he " " ,first stage was putting sawFrancefinallycometoterms Gestapo head Klaus with its role during the Holo- le on trial, which held the caust. to account. Then the trial It tookunti11995 ford French Y.iehy regime militia officer presidentto formally recognize "Touvier showed the ac- that the deportation of French Jews was aided and abetted by the French state itself. Speaking then at the memo- rial to the mass round-up of Jews at the former Velodrome d'Hiver bicycle stadium in Paris, President Jacques Chirac ac- cepted that the Vichy regime was the legal French state at the time of the Holocaust, and there- fore bore direct responsibility along with the Nazis. "The crime of the occupier was seconded by French citi- zens, by the French state," Chirac said. On July 16-17, 1942, French officials herded 13,152 Jews into the Velodrome d'Hiver, from which they were deported to Nazi death camps. Speaking last year at the 60th anniversary of the roundup, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said, "The French state, in organizing these round-ups, betrayed the founding principles of our nation." Suchwordswere virtually unthinkable only two decades earlier, Klarsfeld said. For those Jews deported dur- ing World War II, the appeals court's decision last month up- holding freedom for Papon was difficult to endure. JuliaWallach lives in the same apartment in Paris's llth Dis- trictwhere she was arrested and deported in 1943. For Wallach, there is no question that Papon should not have been let out. "He should die in prison," she told JTA."How many Jews did he let go?" The decision to free Papon was distressing for many victims, said Jeanette Morrud of the Association of Former Jew- ish Deportees in Paris. "It tookalongtime for France to accept what went on under the occupation, but the trials were still very important for the families- even ifittookso long," she said. The 50-year wait to bringwar criminals to justice didn't sur- prise people like Rafael Feigelson. The founder and president of the Association of Jewish Resis- tants, Feigelson told JTA that France had never truly exor- cised its Vichy past. "There was always a bit of esprit de corps among former Vichy administrators after the war. They should have gotten rid of the lot of them after the liberation," Feigelson said. "Some of them I can under- stand; they apologized for what they did," he added. "But Papon? He has never showed remorse, Rishona-Chaverot Hadassah spring fashions last week at Rishona-Chaverot's annual Youth Aliyah Luncheon, members and ests enjoyed spring fashions from Dillard's, modeled by the group's members. The ~Odels included (l-r) MAY LEDERMAN, LINDA WISH, ELLEN MORRELL, RENEE I OBE$ RTS, SHARAN SCHWARTZ, RITA SCHNEIDER, ELLEN TITEN WOJCIK and LHARON WRIGHT. The event was held at the Heathrow Country Club and was chaired ull BUnny Rosen. and he has always been indiffer- ent to the suffering of Jews." Papon could still return to prison if future medical reports find him physically fit enough tocon- tinue his sentence, but Klarsfeld said this is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, a court in Papon's home county in the Paris suburbs has already in- structed the Vichy official to undergo further medical tests. But while the period of trials and convictions is now over, the battle to retain the memory of the Holocaust goes on. '`with time, the victims will disappear," Klarsfeld said. "The tragedy of the Holocaust will enter history and it will become like the destruction of the Sec- ond Temple. At the same time, to make it history, we must transform the personal memo- zis, there remains somethingof ries into the collective memory far greater importance. of the people." Was the Papon '`we didn't do it for educa- trial, then, somethingofanedu- tion," said Fiegelson, who was cationalmessageforfuturegen- decorated with France's high- orations? Perhaps. But for those est military awards and its most like Feigelson who were de- prestigious Legion of Honor. ported and tortured by the Na- "We did it for justice." 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