PARIS (May. 5)
Prime Minister Jacques Chirac has asked the French school system to conduct special classes on the persecution of Jews under the collaborationist Vichy regime during World War II, to coincide with the trial of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie which opens in Lyon next week.
Referring to the “black pages of history,” Chirac told a press conference Monday that the lessons would focus on the mass deportations and other measures taken against Jews by the pro-Nazi Vichy government headed by Marshall Philippe Petain and Pierre Laval.
“I hope that young people will be informed of a certain number of facts that occurred and which were so profoundly opposed to human rights and respect for human beings,” Chirac said.
Barbie, who has been in French custody since January 1985 when he was expelled from Bolivia, was known as the “butcher of Lyon,” the city in east central France where he was gestapo chief. He has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for the murder and torture of civilians and resistance fighters and the mass deportation of Jews, including children.