Chirac pays tribute to French WWII deportees

25th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 24 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac led his nation's tribute Sunday to the tens of thousands of French men and women deported by the German occupiers in World War II and called for a ceaseless fight against racial and religious prejudice.

PARIS, April 24 (AFP) - President Jacques Chirac led his nation's tribute Sunday to the tens of thousands of French men and women deported by the German occupiers in World War II and called for a ceaseless fight against racial and religious prejudice.  

"On the threshold of this new millennium, and so history does not repeat itself, the international community has the duty to watch over the respect of human rights and universal values," Chirac told several hundred people at a ceremony in central Paris to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi prison camps.  

"Everywhere in the world the authors of crimes against humanity should know they will be unremittingly hunted down, put on trial and condemned without weakness."  

His audience included Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, government ministers and former deportees including Simone Weil, an ex-president of the European Parliament, who was deported to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.  

Historians calculate that 141,000 people were deported between 1939 and 1945. Of these 75,000 were Jews, only 2,500 of whom survived. Another 66,000  were deported for reasons other than their race or religion, including 42,000 resistance fighters, of whom 23,000 survived.  

Chirac said he had come to bring a "message of humanism and loyalty, of will and hope" in "this Europe at last reconciled, united around the ideal of peace and democracy."  

He said the Holocaust "means we must fight without mercy against all forms of racism and anti-Semitism, against any kind of revisionism, against all those who proclaim the inequality of men."  

As he has done in the past he acknowledged that "French people, the French state had helped this work of death." But many French people had "contributed to saving two thirds of France's Jewish community."  

Chirac referred to the memory of resistance fighters, but also of deported Catholic and Protestant clergymen, freemasons, gypsies, handicapped people and homosexuals.  

"Tolerance and the refusal of discrimination are part of the intangible keystone of human rights," he said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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