We are gratified that France will not include Marshal Philippe Pétain, who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, in its Armistice commemoration this weekend.
For days, there seemed to be confusion within the French government about the status of an honor for Pétain. It is important that the choice was made not to recognize him as a war hero for his World War I service. The confusion points out the continued need to educate future generations about the Holocaust and the events that led up to this horror against the Jewish people and so many others.
While he was the prime minister of the collaborationist government Vichy France, Pétain’s government and police force deported more than 75,000 French Jews to concentration camps. More than 72,000 of them were killed.
Pétain was convicted of treason for his crimes during the war and ultimately sentenced to death. His complicity in the murders of French citizens and collaboration with the genocidal Nazi regime cannot be whitewashed.
Israel has recognized almost 4,000 French citizens as Righteous Among the Nations. These men and women bravely risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. They are the true heroes, not Pétain.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org