That Vichy stink

As Ed Lasky has commented, the spirit of Vichy is alive and well in contemporary France, manifested currently in France's support for reducing pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.  Lamentably, appeasement, collaboration, blaming others, and taking credit for the sacrifices of others have been manifested in France far too often. This is a country that still has not apologized for extensive collaboration with the Germans during World War ll, indeed  even honoring collaborators with high positions in its post war government.   

The peaceful, natural death at age 96 of Maurice Papon
the highest-ranking Frenchman to be convicted for a role in the pro-Nazi Vichy regime
considered to be a "symbol of France's  collaboration with the Nazis" is another reminder of the Vichy smell.  

In 1998, 63 years after the end of World War ll, after a long and respected career in the French government and then living in quiet retirement, Papon received
...a 10-year sentence for ordering the arrest and deportation of 1,690 Jews, including 223 children, from the Bordeaux area to Nazi death camps.


...Papon had been a civil servant par excellence. During the war, he held the No. 2 post in Bordeaux' Gironde region in southwest France from 1942-44. Trial documents showed Papon, responsible for Bordeaux's Jewish Affairs department, was greatly appreciated by the Germans for his "efficiency and reliability."

...Papon was promoted five times during the war, becoming police supervisor in the Gironde from 1942-44. Afterward, he became cabinet director of Gaston Gusin, named by de Gaulle to administer Bordeaux when the Germans pulled out in August 1944.
Papon's friendly relationships with the German enemy certainly didn't harm his later career either
He later headed Algerian affairs in the Interior Ministry and went on to head prefectures in Constantine, in eastern Algeria - then part of France - and in Corsica.
And then after the Americans sacrificed their life to liberate France
Papon enjoyed a brilliant political career, easily slipping into the machinery of the postwar state. He rose to become Paris police chief under then-President Charles de Gaulle in 1958, holding the post until 1967. He was named budget minister in 1978 under President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and kept the post until 1981. 
So, why did it take 63 years to even try Papon?
Because of Papon's credentials, and efforts at the highest levels to shield him, the case dragged through France's legal system. In 1994, President Francois Mitterrand admitted he had intervened to stall the case.

Those "highest levels" and most of the French, certainly must have agreed with
...a February 2001 letter to the justice minister, Papon said he had neither "regrets nor remorse for a crime I did not commit and for which I am in no way an accomplice."

...On his final day on the stand, he said he was a victim of "the saddest chapter in French legal history."
And that 10 year prison sentence?  He only served three years. 

As Papon's own lawyer Monsieur Vuillemin triumphantly noted
his client "fought till the end."

"He died a free man," Vuillemin told LCI television.
Liberty, equality, and brotherhood, even for a murderous Nazi collaborator.
As Ed Lasky has commented, the spirit of Vichy is alive and well in contemporary France, manifested currently in France's support for reducing pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program.  Lamentably, appeasement, collaboration, blaming others, and taking credit for the sacrifices of others have been manifested in France far too often. This is a country that still has not apologized for extensive collaboration with the Germans during World War ll, indeed  even honoring collaborators with high positions in its post war government.   

The peaceful, natural death at age 96 of Maurice Papon
the highest-ranking Frenchman to be convicted for a role in the pro-Nazi Vichy regime
considered to be a "symbol of France's  collaboration with the Nazis" is another reminder of the Vichy smell.  

In 1998, 63 years after the end of World War ll, after a long and respected career in the French government and then living in quiet retirement, Papon received
...a 10-year sentence for ordering the arrest and deportation of 1,690 Jews, including 223 children, from the Bordeaux area to Nazi death camps.


...Papon had been a civil servant par excellence. During the war, he held the No. 2 post in Bordeaux' Gironde region in southwest France from 1942-44. Trial documents showed Papon, responsible for Bordeaux's Jewish Affairs department, was greatly appreciated by the Germans for his "efficiency and reliability."

...Papon was promoted five times during the war, becoming police supervisor in the Gironde from 1942-44. Afterward, he became cabinet director of Gaston Gusin, named by de Gaulle to administer Bordeaux when the Germans pulled out in August 1944.
Papon's friendly relationships with the German enemy certainly didn't harm his later career either
He later headed Algerian affairs in the Interior Ministry and went on to head prefectures in Constantine, in eastern Algeria - then part of France - and in Corsica.
And then after the Americans sacrificed their life to liberate France
Papon enjoyed a brilliant political career, easily slipping into the machinery of the postwar state. He rose to become Paris police chief under then-President Charles de Gaulle in 1958, holding the post until 1967. He was named budget minister in 1978 under President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and kept the post until 1981. 
So, why did it take 63 years to even try Papon?
Because of Papon's credentials, and efforts at the highest levels to shield him, the case dragged through France's legal system. In 1994, President Francois Mitterrand admitted he had intervened to stall the case.

Those "highest levels" and most of the French, certainly must have agreed with
...a February 2001 letter to the justice minister, Papon said he had neither "regrets nor remorse for a crime I did not commit and for which I am in no way an accomplice."

...On his final day on the stand, he said he was a victim of "the saddest chapter in French legal history."
And that 10 year prison sentence?  He only served three years. 

As Papon's own lawyer Monsieur Vuillemin triumphantly noted
his client "fought till the end."

"He died a free man," Vuillemin told LCI television.
Liberty, equality, and brotherhood, even for a murderous Nazi collaborator.