January 30, 1997 in Nation/World

Long-Silent War Crimes Figure Claims French Jews Played Role

Compiled From Wire Services

Maurice Papon, the former French official facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity in World War II, has broken a long silence and accused French Jews of helping to organize deportations to Nazi death camps.

Vigorously denying any guilt and blaming foreign forces in New York for orchestrating a campaign against France and him, Papon said that any “objective” trial of the collaborationist Vichy government would show that Jews “took part - under threat, of course - in these operations.”

Speaking in a television interview, his first public appearance in several years, Papon, 86, said he knew a prominent Jew living in France whose role was “to select those Jews who stayed in Drancy and those who were deported to Germany.” Drancy was a large French transit camp where Jews were held before being sent to Auschwitz and other camps.

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