France releases files from French Nazi collaborators to the public

PARIS -- Hundreds of thousands of files on members of the French resistance, communists and Jews hunted by the collaborationist Vichy government in France during the Second World War are now accessible to the public.

See Full Article

The French government has opened police and legal archives, allowing free access to documents from the regime that collaborated with the Nazi German occupiers between 1940 and 1944, as well as to investigative documents from the post-liberation government.

The order, which was signed on Dec. 24 and came into force Monday, will not only help the work of historians. It will also bring more citizens into the archives' lecture rooms to learn about what happened to their ancestors during World War II.

For instance, families of people arrested under the Vichy regime as well as descendants of collaborationists prosecuted after the war will be able to consult police investigation documents and proceedings of military courts.

WWII archives are kept in different places all around France, depending on their geographical and administrative origin. Many were already available to researchers, but they first had to file complex request forms and it could take months before they got an answer.

Now, anyone can come into a reading room, ask for a document and get it "within a minute or 15 minutes, just the time needed to go and get it from the shelves," says the chief of Paris police archives, Pascale Etiennette.

Marshal Philippe Petain's collaborationist government, which signed an armistice with the German occupiers in 1940, remains a sensitive issue in France. Some French people supported Petain's government while others engaged in the Resistance movement led by General Charles De Gaulle.

The decision by the French government to open the archives came in response to a call by French historians, including Gilles Morin, a Second World War specialist.

"Many people who were doing research about their father or grandfather who had been deported for example, as we often see, were blocked by these administrative obstacles," he said.

Historians don't expect any major revelations, since the period has already been extensively studied, but hope to gain a more detailed understanding of events.

"Let's be clear, there won't be any revolution in what we already know about WWII but we'll finally have the possibility to work, understand several things, the Franco-German relationships, between Vichy and the collaborationists, the people, the elites," Morin stressed.

To the regret of the historians, documents classified as national defence are not covered by the new government order and most of the archives of the French intelligence services regarding the the Second World War period remain out of reach.

"Here we have a problem because everything, or almost everything, is top-secret," historian Francois Le Goarant de Tromelin said.

He is currently working on the case of Adolphe Rosenthal, a Jewish jeweler murdered in Paris in September 1941 under unclear circumstances.

Getting access to archives "will help some families but mainly, it will help them psychologically because it will tell them what really happened," the historian told the AP while studying the 91-page police report about Rosenthal's murder dating from October 1941. "Some people, as this man here, have been assassinated but we don't know why, we don't know what happened (...) We might know it 70, 80 years."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Mourning, memorials amid probe into warehouse fire

    World News CBC News
    As investigators searched for signs of a crime in the fire that killed at least 33 in an Oakland warehouse during a late-night dance party, survivors and teary-eyed friends of those who perished viewed the charred building from a distance, placed flowers on several small memorials and embraced each other to mourn their losses. Source
  • Schools closed as N.S. set to debate legislation to impose teachers' contract

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX - Classes have been cancelled for all students at public schools across Nova Scotia on the first day of a labour disruption that could last through the week. Teachers were being allowed in public schools, but students are being kept out after the provincial Liberals announced the closures Saturday. Source
  • Man rescued after car falls into sinkhole in San Antonio

    World News Toronto Sun
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS First posted: Monday, December 05, 2016 08:34 AM EST | Updated: Monday, December 05, 2016 08:38 AM EST Source
  • Public servant steals nearly $1 million in computer parts from DND

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A former federal public servant who stole nearly $1 million in computer parts from the Department of National Defence and sold some of them on the classified website Kijiji has pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust. Source
  • 'We have lost everything': Syrians return to ravaged Aleppo

    World News Toronto Sun
    ALEPPO, Syria — Amina Hamawy burst into tears and then fainted when she returned to eastern Aleppo to find that looters had ransacked her home. “Where am I? What happened?” she asked after her husband and daughter revived her. Source
  • The long trip home: evacuees return to Kashechewan after 2014 flood

    Canada News CBC News
    It's so long, KashKap. Four hundred evacuees from Kashechewan First Nation to prepare to return home, two years after flooding forced them to set up temporary homes — and lives —in Kapuskasing. The evacuees have been staying in apartments, paid for by the government, while new homes were built to replace the mouldy houses they used to live in. Source
  • Confusion over SIDS, SUDI and an undetermined cause of death in infants

    Canada News CBC News
    Death is never an easy conversation, especially when it involves children. But one Dr. Dirk Huyer does regularly as Ontario's Chief Coroner. He estimates about 40 per cent of those are him explaining a complicated answer to grieving parents: the child's cause of death is undetermined. Source
  • Investigators seek clues in Oakland warehouse fatal fire, friends mourn

    World News CTV News
    OAKLAND, Calif. -- As investigators searched for signs of a crime in the fire that killed at least 33 in an Oakland warehouse during a late-night dance party, survivors and teary-eyed friends of those who perished viewed the charred building from a distance, placed flowers on several small memorials and embraced each other to mourn their losses. Source
  • Trump taps former rival Ben Carson as housing secretary [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump, moving to complete formation of his Cabinet and decide other key administration posts, chose former campaign rival Ben Carson on Monday to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Source
  • Nova Scotia teachers, province dig in heels as students kept out of class

    Canada News CBC News
    There's a bit of chaos in Nova Scotia this morning — schools are closed and parents are scrambling to find child care as the dispute between the provincial teachers union and the government spills over into the everyday lives of residents. Source