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French Court Applies Abrogated Vichy Laws to Jews; Judge Sharply Criticized

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Sharp criticism of the local Court of Correction for fining several Jews 200 francs each, under the Vichy law, for carrying false identity papers is voiced in the Lyon press today.

The newspaper Lyon Libre, organ of the movement of national liberation, points out that it is necessary that the president of the court be informed that certain changes have taken place recently in France of which, apparently, he is unaware. It ask why the court did not postpone the cases until a general ruling on the situation is issued.

The paper disclosed that other Jews are awaiting trial for failure to register as Jews, despite the government’s abrogation of all racial laws. It urges that machinery be set up for the issuance of provisional identity papers to those who, because of exceptional circumstances, were compelled to destroy their original documents.

The independent daily Le Progres points out that under the Vichy regime Jews and many others had to carry false papers to escape persecution, and says that “the judges should have other things to do at present.”

Many Jews are having difficulty in obtaining new identification papers because they destroyed their original ones and consequently are unable to furnish the proof required before new papers can be issued. This is especially true of refugees from other parts of France who are strangers here and do not have the means, at present, of obtaining copies of vital personal records. The situation of foreigners-both Jews and non-Jews – is likewise extremely complicated, since many of them also had to destroy their papers or had them taken from them in concentration camps.

This is one of the questions which the Center of Action for the Defense of Immigrants, which was formed by a number of prominent French personalities and representatives of foreign groups, immediately after the liberation of the city, is taking up with the authorities. A mass meeting of this organization, held earlier this week, heard several resistance leaders pay tribute to the role of the immigrants in the resistance movement. A message from Mayor Justin Godart, promising France would accord immigrants a just democratic judicial status, was read.

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