PARIS (Sep. 30)
Ten tons of top secret archives describing in detail the activities of French collaborators with the Nazis during the German occupation of France will be analyzed by French historians and members of the State prosecution. The archives, which consist of several million documents, are believed to be the largest such collection not yet classified by any authority.
The former head of the French Secret Service, Alexandre de Marenches, revealed in a recently published autobiography that upon his appointment as head of intelligence in 1970, he discovered to his amazement that 10 tons of documents were stored without ever having been examined. He said he did not have the means or the staff to undertake a thorough analysis but ordered that a few documents picked at random be examined to ascertain their authenticity.
He said the random selection showed the documents were not only authentic but threw a new and tragic light on the Nazi occupation. According to Marenches they showed that many people, honored as war and resistance heroes, had actually collaborated with the Nazis and even were paid for their services. Marenches who resigned in 1981, said the collaborators included “famous names” among the so-called war heroes.
THOROUGH INVESTIGATION URGED
The President of the National Assembly, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, himself a former resistance fighter, called for an immediate thorough examination of these records. Chaban-Delmas said that leaving them in secret storage as they now are would bring discredit to all former resistance fighters.
Defense Minister Andre Giraud said Monday that the archives will be handed over to the historical department of his Ministry to be examined by its researchers and by the staff of the State Attorney. Giraud said the National Resistance Commission, a consultative body accredited to the Defense Ministry, will also be authorized to examine the documents.
In case of legal proceedings both sides, the State and the Defense, will be given free access to the pertinent papers. Giraud did not say whether the documents will be made available to independent and foreign researchers.
But even if incriminating evidence is found it will not be admissable in French courts because all war crimes, except genocide, are covered by the statute of limitations. The release or publication of the evidence could, however, affect the reputations of countless people including, according to Marenches, prominent national figures.