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How Bad Was Vichy France?
I ask how many Jews were deported by Vichy: Jacques splutters and tells me to ask the Jews. I meet the adjoint for tourism, Jean-Louis Bourdier, a doctor, like so many politicians in this town. He is an urbane, intelligent man, only too aware of the conflicting points of view in the museum debate. I suggest it might be healthy for Vichy to admit its past. Dr Bourdier is circumspect. We'd end up like the Pope, who apologises for the Crusades and the Inquisition.
The Vichyssois are humiliated by this past, they don't want to talk about it. No, I think it is a bit too soon. After more than 60 years? Dr Bourdier smiles. Castel is the third in the tripartite share of Vichy mineral waters. He immediately transferred his shares to his wife, Liliane. This produces Phas and Vichy cosmetic products. Liliane Bettencourt is now France's richest woman. After five days in Vichy, I, too, start to question whether this fairy-tale landscape could have once hosted a vicious fascist regime.
Yet, under the Vichy regime, as well as the Jews, Gypsies and anti-Nazis who disappeared, mentally ill people were allowed to starve to death in their asylums. Mitterrand, when he was president, justified France's disclaiming responsibility for the period, "because France, the Republic, did not exist". But France did exist, and others remember it even if Vichy would prefer not to.
Sophie Carraccio works in Vichy's tourist office, promoting conferences and trade fairs. Sophie, who is half English and half French, gives the example of Schmidt Cuisine: the company was interested in holding a conference before pulling out because,"as one young German conference booker said, 'If we come, it looks as if we endorse the Vichy regime. Keeping silent has economic as well as psychological repercussions. The protection given to the guilty during France's postwar years makes sickening reading.
Maurice Papon, secretary general of the Regional Prefecture in Bordeaux, responsible for deporting 1, Bordeaux Jews to death camps, was promoted to chief of police in Paris in and became budget minister in Raymond Barre's Cabinet in the late s. Papon was also accused of being responsible for the murder of Algerians who, during a demonstration for Algerian independence, mysteriously disappeared in the Seine in The actual number of those murdered has never been revealed. Papon was charged with crimes against humanity in and brought to trial in Bombs exploded in Vichy during the trial.
Corsican nationalists claimed responsibility, spotlighting Vichy as a symbol of the colonialist state. Bousquet, who was also protected by Mitterrand, never came to trial and was assassinated in France, unlike Germany, was never denazified. Former collaborators and fascists were useful to French governments who felt threatened by a communist revival. On a subliminal level, the old war between anticlerical revolutionaries and Catholic conservatives still simmers in the French psyche.
Robert Liris, a retired history teacher, is fascinated by the "Vichy Syndrome". It is as if the second world war continues in the psyche. There was a Vichy state and there was a royalty that fought the English. There is a connection between the two mentalities. Liris taught the Vichy period for longer than is usually recommended by the national curriculum. Were local parents upset? This place is so full of history that is inside people. I go in search of traces of this past and find two antique shops. The owner is taciturn.
A second antiquarian is a talkative young man who takes his Catholicism "very seriously". He complains about the Gypsies who come into town. Somehow, he senses my Romanian and Lithuanian Jewish origins. Sixty years ago, such a suspicion would have surely threatened my life. I can't wait to get out. The municipality has cemented over the name of the hotel, but the letters protrude, ghost-like, through the coating. Three hours later, I am in Paris at the Gare du Nord. I have some time left before the London train.
These French blacks, Jews and Arabs may dislike one another, but they live together here pretty well. For the first time in five days, I am at home. The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and Clarifications column, Wednesday May 22 The acknowledgement was edited out in error. The following apology was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and Clarifications column, Saturday August 17, The general has made it clear that he did not fight against the British and Gaullists in north Africa and was in fact a liaison officer for the US forces in Morocco for three months.
He also took part in missions against the German forces, for which he was mentioned six times in dispatches. A royal decree December 31, orders the Dominicans in the Philippines not to meddle in affairs of government. For the first time in his experience the Corsican had to meet the forces of a nation and not of a government. Top Definitions Quiz Examples Vichy government. New Word List Word List. Save This Word! Give these words new meaning by adding them to your lexical repertoire and proving that untranslatable words translate pretty well to your vocab.
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