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France opens WWII collaboration archives
Records released online as French continue to grapple with legacy of collaboration with Nazi Germany in occupied France and under the Vichy regime.

The French government was on Monday to begin releasing online WWII-era records on collaboration with Germany, several newspapers reported on Sunday – 200,000 records that have been sealed for three-quarters of a century.

 

 

According to the Guardian, the records were taken from "the foreign, justice and interior ministries as well as from France’s provisional government after liberation."

 

 

Train car in France used to deport Jews to concentration camps (Photo: AFP)
Train car in France used to deport Jews to concentration camps (Photo: AFP)

 

During the Second World War, France was divided into two zones after its defeat in the spring of 1940: the occupied zone, which included Pari, and the so-called free zone, largely known today as Vichy France because of its capital city, which remained an independent country that was dependent on Germany and collaborated with it.

 

While Vichy France has widely become known as a symbol of French collaboration with the Nazis, this does not seem to be the most accurate picture. Historian and author Thierry Worth told the New York Times that the newly-opened records prove that collaboration was more common in the occupied zone, and what's more, Vichy is the region that "France’s largest force of Resistance fighters, ‘Maquis du Mont Mouchet'."

 

Plaque in Vichy, France commemorating 80 parliamentarians who voted against dissolving th Third Republic and forming the Vichy regime (Photo: Gilad Halpern)
Plaque in Vichy, France commemorating 80 parliamentarians who voted against dissolving th Third Republic and forming the Vichy regime (Photo: Gilad Halpern)

 

Vichy residents pointed out to the Times that the far-right National Front party has never been very popular in the area. Former Resistance member Lucien Guyot told the newspaper that the Vichy government headed exceeded German expectations in its deportation of Jews to camps. “But it was the government’s actions that were unforgivable, not this city’s," he told the Times.

 

The legacy of collaboration has remained an ongoing controversy. This past April, Holocaust victims' descendants filed a class-action lawsuit claiming France's national railway seized the property of tens of thousands of Jews and others sent to Nazi concentration camps.

 

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