France admits Holocaust role.


Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall


France finally makes its role in the HOLOCAUST official. 70 years after the fact, the French government has accepted a ruling by the “Council of State” recognizing their role in the genocide of almost one hundred thousand adults and children deported to Nazi death camps.  The announcement recognizes the French government at the time as co-conspirators, facilitating the deportation and persecution of citizens believed to be Jewish.  


Artist Marc Chagall was one of the most famous Jewish occupants of Franceduring the German invasion. Arian Fry and the American Rescue Committee were responsible for the rescue of Chagall and many of Europe’s creative intellectuals, changing the international arts community for the next half-century.


Recently the Council of State was asked by a Paris court for an opinion in the request for reparations from the French state by the daughter of a deportee who died at Auschwitz. She also was asking for material and moral damages for her own personal suffering during and after the occupation. The council left the decision up to the Paris court but did add comment to the case by stating; {this council} “considers that because the acts and actions by the state led to the deportation of people considered Jews by the Vichy regime, (they) constituted errors and became its responsibility.” As reported by the associated Press in the Wall Street Journal 2/17/09, further stating, “The council used the opportunity of the ruling to make a “solemn recognition of the collective prejudice suffered (by the deportees), of the role played by the state in their deportation as well as the memory that should remain forever … of their suffering and that of their families.”*

Estee Yaari, spokeswoman for Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial authority responded to the announcement, “This is an important and courageous decision that unambiguously confronts French actions during the Holocaust,” adding, “This has moral significance that will hopefully serve to deepen awareness about the Holocaust in French society, something that is important both for grappling with the events of the past, and their repercussions today,” she said.*

France’s former President Jacques Chirac initiated France’s acceptance of responsibility for their involvement back in 1995. Over $600 million has been paid out to Holocaust victims and their families since 2000.

In 2008, over 500,000 Jews were living in France, the largest resident population of Jews in western Europe.

For more information on Holocaust-era artists go to


Author S. Lander Marks writes and speaks on Holocaust art/artists/art restitution/collecting.

Her presentation “Teaching the Holocaust through Marilyn Manson.” presents the words and images of the Holocaust artists and their role in changing our appreciation of modern contemporary art.”  For information on this program contact the author at:


~ by Lander Marks on February 19, 2009.

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