Thursday 15 November 2018

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.

General Ferdinand Foch, General Philippe Petain and President Raymond Poincare in the Court of the old Chateau at Mondement (PA)
General Ferdinand Foch, General Philippe Petain and President Raymond Poincare in the Court of the old Chateau at Mondement (PA)

By Associated Press Reporter

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.

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French President Emmanuel Macron, right, walks at the cemetery by the Ossuary of Douaumont near Verdun (Francois Mori/AP)

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.

Press Association

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