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

  • LIVE: Crown tells jury Douglas Garland held a longtime grudge before triple slaying

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    It was a years' long grudge against Alvin Liknes over a pump design which led Douglas Garland to plot what ended in a triple-homicide, a prosecutor said Monday. Crown lawyer Vicki Faulkner told a Calgary jury Garland stewed over the fact Liknes patented the pump -- "a pump that never made anybody famous. Source
  • New candidates for Heritage Minutes proposed by filmmakers

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Organizers behind Canada’s Heritage Minutes are asking filmmakers to draft up their best proposals for new additions to the series on key moments or figures in the country’s history. Historica Canada says they’ll produce two new one-minute films this year that join recent additions like the stories of Viola Desmond and Chanie Wenjack. Source
  • Cop who killed Don Dunphy testifies

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The Newfoundland police officer who shot and killed Don Dunphy at his home on Easter Sunday 2015 says he did a “cursory background check” to assess any potential threat before visiting him. Const. Source
  • Revelers, rally-goers to clog D.C. for Trump's inauguration

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to clog the nation's capital for Donald Trump's inauguration and a major demonstration the day after, but how many will actually arrive to party or protest is an open question. Source
  • Woman gets 7 years for stabbing great uncle to death after he sexually assaulted her

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    MELFORT, Sask. — A Saskatchewan woman has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the fatal stabbing of her 70-year-old great uncle. Candace Gail Moostoos of Melfort was convicted by a jury last October of manslaughter in the death of Alpheus Burns. Source
  • Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s widow arrested in California

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — The wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter was arrested Monday by the FBI, a U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official said Noor Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in the San Francisco area and is due in court Tuesday in California. Source
  • Vice chief of defence staff Mark Norman temporarily relieved of duty

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — One of the military’s highest ranking officers has been temporarily removed from his post. Vice chief of defence staff Mark Norman was relieved of his military duties by his boss, defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance, in a letter dated Jan. Source
  • 'Was this the leaker of Fake News?'; Donald Trump lashes out at CIA director on Twitter

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — His inauguration days away, president-elect Donald Trump is continuing to lash out at critics in the intelligence community and Democrats in Congress who are vowing to skip his swearing-in ceremony. The tough-talking Republican questioned whether the CIA director himself was “the leaker of fake news” in a Sunday night tweet. Source
  • Woman who burned daughter alive for marrying man gets death

    World News Toronto Sun
    LAHORE, Pakistan — A prosecutor says a court has sentenced a woman to death for burning her daughter alive for marrying a man of her choice in eastern Pakistan. Abdur Rauf said judge Chaudhry Ilyas in eastern Lahore on Monday convicted Parveen Bibi of burning to death Zeenat Rafiq a week after her marriage to Hassan Khan last June. Source
  • Hamilton man killed in Mexican nightclub shooting

    Canada News CBC News
    The Canadian nightclub industry is mourning a veteran in event security who died in a shooting at a music festival in Mexico early Monday. Friends have identified Kirk Wilson, 49, who was from the Stoney Creek area of Hamilton, as one of five people who died when gunshots rang out at the BPM electronic music festival. Source