PARIS (Feb. 12)
French television will start showing tomorrow night the first installment of the NBC-TV “Holocaust” series. A record audience of some 15 million people is expected by TV experts. The program will be shown in spite of a strike by TV technicians who decided to air the program nonetheless.
French television first turned down the film on artistic and historic grounds. Heads of France’s three state-controlled channels also claimed the price demanded by the producers was far too high. It was only after a series of mass protests led by Health Minister Simone Veil, herself a former Auschwitz inmate, that one channel decided to acquire the rights and air it within the framework of one its most popular programs, “Screen files,” which consists of a film followed by a debating panel.
The showing of the series has sparked interest about the entire Holocaust period, Magazines and newspapers are giving front-page coverage to the period and recall that 120,000 Jews were deported from France, including some 60,000 French nationals, and that less than 3000 returned alive. Mrs. Veil’s parents as well as most of her other relatives died in a concentration camp.
Hundreds of books and several films dealing with the Holocaust and the terror of the Nazi regime have been produced in France. Few, however, have dealt with the role played by French collaborators with the Nazis. A French film, “The Sorrow and the Pity,” which describes some of these episodes, has never been shown on television and has been distributed exclusively in the smaller an cinemas and not over the wider commercial network.
The scandal caused by the interview granted by the former Vichy government High Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, Darquier de Pellepoix, last October to L’ Express has brought the entire issue to the fore front. Young Frenchmen increasingly try to find out how their elders behaved during this period and the “Holocaust” series is expected to further increase the interest.