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Hollande 'sorry' for 1942 crime

President admits Jewish round-up at Vel d'Hiv was a 'crime committed in France by France'

PRESIDENT François Hollande admitted at a ceremony to mark the 1942 round-up of Jews in Paris that it was a "crime committed in France by France".

Speaking at the site of the now-demolished Vel d'Hiv velodrome where the 13,152 men, women and children were held 70 years ago before being deported to Nazi death camps, he said:

"The truth is hard, cruel. The truth is that the French police arrested thousands of children and families. Not one German soldier was mobilised for this operation. The truth is, this was a crime committed in France, by France."

Hollande added: "This was also a crime against France, a betrayal of her values; the same values as the Resistance, the Free French, the Just [people who protected the Jews during the war], embodied with honour."

He also praised former president Jacques Chirac for being the first president to recognise France's role in the events when he spoke with "lucidity and courage" in 1995.

After laying a wreath at the Vel d'Hiv memorial he said France had a duty of remembrance and said he would would move to stamp out anti-semitism. His call comes after Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned last week that it was on the increase.

And, referring to the terror killings of three children and a rabbi in Toulouse, he said: "Four months ago ... children died for the same reason as those in the Vel d'Hiv - because they were Jewish."

He said that there would be "no school in France where the Holocaust will not be taught".

Last week a survey found that nearly two-thirds of those under 35 did not know about the Vel d'Hiv - despite a film La Rafleabout it last year that was a major success.
Photo: Leonieke Aalders

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