PARIS (Jul. 10)
For the second time this year, vandals have desecrated plaques commemorating the seven Jews who were executed on the orders of convicted war criminal Paul Touvier.
Vandals set a fire sometime last week that charred the memorial on the wall of the Rillieuxla-Pape cemetery — located near Lyon, in southeastern France — where the seven hostages were executed on June 29, 1944.
The vandals painted the memorial plaques with swastikas, Stars of David and anti-Semitic inscriptions such as “We won’t be the Palestinians of Europe” and ” Jews Beware.”
In April, Touvier, 79, was found guilty of crimes against humanity for ordering the executions of the hostages in reprisal for the murder by the French Resistance of the Vichy propaganda minister, Philippe Henriot.
Touvier was at the time the local head of the intelligence service of the militia, the 30,000-member collaborationist civilian armed force created by the Vichy regime.
Touvier is the only Frenchman to be convicted of crimes against humanity. He was given the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Less than a month after Touvier was convicted, the plaque at the Rillieux-la-Pape cemetery was smashed and thrown into a nearby field.
On June 28, French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua unveiled three new plaques and lashed out against the “bad smell of racism and anti-Semitism and the allegations of those who do not want to recognize the shameful parts of our past.
“In the name of the government of today, we reaffirm that what happened under the occupation” is “forever held in contempt,” he said.
No suspects have been charged in either of the two acts of desecration, and no groups have claimed responsibility.