26 June 2006
Recently a development occurred in France, so that -with fashion term- all of its codes began to be broken down. What is going to happen after this event may put Paris in very tough situation. Turkish public opinion is hearing France voice especially about two matters. The first is due to French support for the Armenian false accusation concerning the genocide. In a full solidarity with Armenians France call upon Turkey that “Everybody should make peace with their history,” as if Turkey is not. Moreover, French Parliament is an assembly which has acknowledged the Armenians’ false accusations. It doesn’t sound strange to France that parliaments pass a judgment on history.
The latter issue which Turkish public opinion is hearing about Paris is the genocide committed by France in Algeria. France refuses to accept the crime in spite of many documents proving the crime and Paris argues that it is necessary “to leave history to historians.” Moreover French Parliament has no attitude or view about the issue.
In the eye of Turkish public, now France is brought up with a new matter and it is again related to a genocide. French state and its railway company were convicted of taking a role in deportation of Jews to the concentration camps and they were sentenced to pay compensation.
France's state-owned railway, the SNCF, said it would appeal a conviction for complicity in crimes against humanity in which it was ordered to pay compensation along with the French government for deporting Jews during the Second World War. The company had been sentenced for same accusations, but each time it had judgments overruled, arguing that it had no choice other than to implement the orders under the German occupation. However, France for the first time was sentenced for “collaboration in crime against humanity.”
In international law, “collaboration in crime against humanity” is a serious crime as “crime against humanity.” Law doesn’t accept any pretext or reasons like “obligations of the conditions” or “orders.”
The railway company first insisted on “time-out.” Later the argument established on the ground that “Vichy government, which was collaborating with Germany, was in power during that time. The matter was so simple for the French state that you can be partner in a crime if the conditions determine obligations and if there are orders. Even it shouldn’t be considered as crime since Vichy was in power!
I wonder if that is possible. Did the conditions in that period of time really give the France state any other choice since we need to evaluate every time in its conditions?
Yet the documents proves the vice versa, moreover the most terrifying fact is that Jean-Marie Le Pen, a French politician, has recently said that “the German-Nazi occupation was not bad and inhuman as it is claimed.”
Clearly saying that it was not so bad that his country passed through a Nazi occupation, “Nationalist” Le Pen added in an interview in RTL, “It is true that the German occupation in France was relatively the least painful. There were some extreme activities but these can be considered as normal in a country with 555.000 kilometers square.”
Le Pen had said that “Gestapo was a police force safeguarding French people.” Moreover “if Germans had committed massacres in France, as it is claimed, they wouldn’t have needed to establish concentration camps.”
The National Front leader, Le pen, blames those who are arguing the contradictory claims of misinforming the public opinion. His statement in 1987 that “Gas rooms are details of history caused a great reaction. He was sentenced for repeating the statement in Munich again in 1987.
Bruno Gollnisch, a representative of the National Front in the European Parliament, addressed the parliament last year and said “historians should prove the existence of gas rooms.” It seems that the National Front thinks that “the matter should be left for historians” as it is the case for the genocide in Algeria.
Le Pen had 18 percent of votes in the 2002 elections. The 79 years old witness of the Jewish genocide will run for the 2007 elections. Public opinion polls indicate that Le Pen will get more votes in 2007 than the elections in 2002.
The situation in France is so. But we need to take a look at the Vichy government, which is blamed by the railway company. However that is not so easy. There are very strict prohibitions in France regarding the Vichy era. France is the country in Europe that has the toughest restrictions on archives. However it is certain that Germans didn’t determine Jews and collect them as easy as in France than anywhere else. France, which call itself as “Grande Nation”, that is to say, “Great Nation”, knows the truths about the said era by courtesy of Kurt Werner Schaechter, who take refugee in France from Austria in 1938. Kurt Werner Schaechter illegally seized 12.000 top secret documents during 1991 and 1992.
The documents lights the way to the Vichy government. The documents, which caused the pressure from prosecutor office over Schaechter, lights the way to the French crimes against Jews in the Vichy era. Schaechter keeps publishing the documents in spite of all the pressures.
According to Schaechter, the Vichy government carried out the state terror with its mechanisms in its land to save the French state. That is to say, the genocide was committed –so or such- in international and inter institutional cooperation between Germany and France.
Schaechter’s mother and father were taken by French police in 1943 and they were killed in Ravenbrück and Sobibor concentration camps.
According to the documents published by Schaechter, there was a competition in this matter between German and French states. French police seized Jews from their homes in Marseille in south France. According to few hundred survivors from the city, the German and French officers were carrying out “the competition for collecting Jews” according to the written agreement between German General Oberg and his French counterpart Bousquet.
The agreement dated August 8, 1942 was determining the task distribution concerning “collecting Jews.” Bousquet said in the court in 1947 that “this agreement and collaboration provided to save sovereignty rights of French state and its permanency.”
According to Schaechter, Albert Sarraut, the interior minister in France then, concerned about public security and carrying out policing services when the German threat grew in 1938. With these concerns, the opponents against Vichy were eliminated and the cooperation started in June 1940.
Then Cheyneau de Leyritz established two concentration camps called “Camp de Noe” and “Camp de Vernet” in Toulouse. Thousands were sent to both camps. The duty of these camps was to make Jews wait until the time for their extermination came in German concentration camps. According to the documents published by Schaechter –but not by France- for example, the records of passengers in the train deporting Jews from France to Auschwitz on May 23, 1944 were taken with great care and attention. According to the records, the citizens of neutral and alliance countries were put into the trains.
Schaechter doesn’t think that the crimes were committed just desire for killing and crimes. According to the documents, Germany was paying good money. The railway company sent 500.000 people to death with at least 780 trips during 1942 and 1944. Only 2500 people survived. France got 200.000 Franks for each trip.
Moreover the properties belong to the Jews, who were sent to death, was reaching a very great deal. René Bousquet, Vichy's chief of the National Police, often demanded the list of confiscated properties to be renewed.
René Bousquet declered to his all police agency in a telegram on September 9, 1942. that all “the seized jewelries, money, money letters and other moveable properties was belong to the state. For example, the chief of Recebedou camp announced with proud that they seized properties worth 848.354 Franks.
The process of “transportation of Jews” and “benefits” continued until the day occupation ended. Vichy and his executioners saw the end in May 1944 and focused on eliminating “the witnesses and documents.”
On 24 May, 1944, the police department in Toulouse began to send the witnesses to the concentration camps. According to the documents, the last transportation was carried out on July 1, 1944. In this trip, about 800 people were transported to the concentration camp in Dachau after a painful journey lasted for 56 days.
Schaechter points out that these transportations were masterpiece of logistics. Because Germany had lost the control over many points on the route but the train continued to take its way. Railway was committed to the orders given in night on August 26, 1944.
It took 12 years after the end of war for French courts to move against Vichy government.
Maurice Papon, who was responsible for what happened in Bordo, was tried, but he was the police chief in Paris during 1958-1961. He was also responsible of killing 300 Algerians and then throwing them to river Seine on October 17, 1961.
Papon was assigned as finance minister after huge protests against the disaster called “the 1961 Paris massacre.” Papon, who had 73 percent of Jews in Bordo be arrested, sent 81 children just on the ground that “they had Jewish origins” to the German gas rooms on August 1942. But nobody touched him or “couldn’t touch him.”
He was sentenced to ten years after a long trial in 1997. During the trial, Papon refused to apologize to the victims and their families and treated the court rudely. At last he was sentenced for being responsible for arresting 1560 people and their deportation as if “the sentence was a crossroad.”
There is another detail about the trial. The prosecutor was supposed to demand life long sentence, but he demanded only 20 years. Papon went to jail in 1999 due to the conviction but he was “forgiven” for “state of health.”
Nobody should think that Papon is a racist, no his closest friend was socialist François Mitterand.
Another event again concerning Vichy era took place in 1993. A man, who was supposed to come with the court notification, phoned René Bousquet, Vichy's chief of the National Police. The calling person gave the date and number of the document without any mistake. After few hours, the right code for the alarm system of Bousquet’s apartment was entered. The person, who had René Bousquet open the door, fired him. Bousquet died and the attacker was seized “in few minutes.” The suspect was tried and he was sent to one of mental hospitals on the ground that he has no criminal capacity. That was the last thing which was heard about him.
It is not known how the suspect, who has no criminal capacity, found the date and number of document and how he entered the codes to the system. In the same frame, it is unknown how police seized the man in few minutes after the murder without knowing features or name of the person.
These question were newer asked to Mitterand, the common friend of both Bousquet and Papon. Maybe they would be asked in the court....
This way René Bousquet, who was tried for what he had done during Vichy’s government and then was acquitted for being “a French patriot” and “saving sovereignty rights of French state and its permanency,” became history.
Let us turn to today again, France’s railway run with its 8.900 workers day and night to send people to the death camps. Since the middle of 90’s Paris has been arguing that there is no continuity between Vichy era and French state after the war. Paris tries to get away with the crime against humanity in this way. However, law proved that the railway company had collaborated in the crime against humanity so there is continuity.
The court proved that the company deported more Jews than “what Germany was demanding” and even “the passengers were transported in wagons for animals even though the government paid for them to have third class trip.”
Arno Klarsfeld is advocate for France's state-owned railway, whose name is sticking out with this trial. His father, Serge Klarsfeld, helped to put many Nazi war criminals in front of court. Arno klarsfeld is an advisor to Nicolas Sarkozy, interior minister in France. As it is well known by readers of Diplomatic Observer, Sarkozy’s another advisor is Patrick Devegian, advocate of terror organisation, ASALA.
Now France lives trough a trouble which it tried to lay for other countries. It didnt make any good to blame other and colloborate in the genocide like they eat snails and also are proud of their kitchen.
France get into tough days with this judgement. France,“colloborator in the crime against humanity”, have to make peace with its history. No doubt that European Union, which is a project of peace and civilisation, and its values will help France in this matter. No doubt Turkey will pull its duties weight in the well deserved way.