Emmanuel Macron praises general who became leader of Vichy France
Philippe Petain led the French army to victory at Verdun in 1916 but later found infamy as the head of the regime that collaborated with the Nazis.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has waded onto controversial ground by praising a First World War general who subsequently collaborated with the Nazis in the Second World War.
Marshal Philippe Petain led the French army to victory in Verdun in 1916, but gained infamy and a conviction for treason for his actions as leader of Vichy France in 1940 to 1944.
Mr Macron said on Wednesday in Charleville-Mezieres that Petain deserved praise for being “a great soldier” in the First World War, although he took “fatal choices during the Second World War”.
France’s leading Jewish group, the CRIF, called Mr Macron’s words “shocking” and “an insult”.
Petain was complicit in the 1942 deportation of 13,000 Jews from France in the Vel’ d’Hiv round-up that was part of the Holocaust.