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Top French Official Accused of Having Collaborated with Nazis

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A top French official, Maurice Papon, Director of the Office of Budget and Management, is accused of having collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation of France in sending French Jews to concentration camps and ultimate death.

Papon, who holds Cabinet rank in the government of President Valery Giscard d’ Estaing, was charged by the French satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaine, with having willingly helped the Nazis in 1942 and 1943. Papon, a Gaullist Deputy and a former Paris Police Commissioner, served at the time as No. 2 man in the office of French Vichy appointed Governor of Bordeaux.

Papon said today that he had served the Vichy administration as a career civil servant and had helped many Jews avoid deportation. He said that the left-wing paper is trying to smear him as part of its electoral campaign against the incumbent President who is seeking reelection to a second seven-year term.

MAGAZINE CITES EVIDENCE

The weekly claims that Papon served in Bordeaux as the man in charge of Jewish affairs and was instrumental in sending 1,690 Jews to German concentration camps. The investigative magazine published several official letters signed by Papon during the Vichy era requesting police help in conveying the arrested Jews to a transit camp in France where they were due to be handed over to the Germans.

The weekly conceded that Papon also intervened on behalf of a number of local Jews. It says a group of 19 Jewish children were released thanks to Popon’s efforts on their behalf and another group of 20 adults managed to avoid deportation.

Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld said today that his Jewish Documentation Center has several letters and memorandums signed by Papon during the war years in his official capacity which confirm the accusations by Le Canard Enchaine. Papon has served four successive French administrations in top capacities and is considered one of the key men in Giscard’s regime. He is a Commander in the French Legion of Honor.

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