National Front leader Marine Le Pen revealed her tri-colored stripes again when she recently exonerated the French for rounding up thirteen thousand Jews at the Paris Vélodrome d’Hiver cycling track in 1942 for the Nazis. The Vélodrome d’Hiver, known colloquially as the Vel d’Hiv (pronounced “Val-deev”), has been a site of great infamy since the war, with Right and Left disputing how much, if any, guilt France should accept for what occurred. In her usual direct fashion, Le Pen said in a television interview, “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv.”
This statement is correct on two levels and incorrect on a third.
Strictly speaking, the Third French Republic died in June 1940 when France capitulated to Germany and Hitler danced his jig (but actually didn’t) at Compiègne. From then until the end of the war, there was no French Republic, its leadership having been exiled to London and its “Free French” army fighting overseas under Charles de Gaulle. It was Philippe Pétain’s Vichy France, not Marine Le Pen’s “France,” which carried out the Vel d’Hiv roundup (under duress from the Germans, of course). One could justifiably argue that the French Republic had even less responsibility for Vel d’Hiv than the British Crown had for the excesses of Oliver Cromwell (and England did not have the excuse of being occupied by a hostile foreign power).
Of course, such argumentation amounts to little more than a clever dodge. It is technically true, but avoids dealing with what’s really on people’s minds these days. The official line of the French government for fifty years after the Second World War was, don’t apologize and don’t accept the guilt for something the official French government did not do. But when people call on French leaders to apologize for Vel d’Hiv, they are hunting for bigger game than the current French government. Rather, they are looking to indict the French people themselves, and to convince them to reduce or abandon their nationalistic sympathies.
French President François Hollande summed up this anti-French sentiment during his 2012 apology speech in which he claimed that “[t]he truth is that this crime was committed in France, by France.” Socialists tend to push for the softening of borders and national identities, so it makes sense that a socialist like Hollande would say such a thing. After all, if “France” committed such despicable crimes, who in their right mind would want to be French?
Another example of this kind of thinking can be found in the 2011 film Sarah’s Key. The film flashes back and forth between a Jewish couple and their daughter during the roundup of French Jews in 1942 and a journalist in 2009, Julia Jarmond, who is attempting to track down their daughter, Sarah, who managed to escape. It is an excellent film in that it accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: engender sympathy for the victims of the roundup and depict the French as struggling with guilt over it, even seventy years after the fact. However, at times the film’s anti-French bias is anything but subtle. Early on, Julia informs a junior colleague that the reason why there was so little photographic evidence of the roundup was because it was perpetrated not by the Germans, but by “the French.” Later, when Julia takes her colleague to the site which would have been the entrance to the stadium (it was demolished in 1959), he comments that there is no sign that anything had ever happened there. Julia then walks away, muttering something about the “irony of history” as the camera pans to the French flag flying high.
Yes, the film is more complex than this. When interviewing an old lady who had lived near the stadium during the war, the lady says, “What could we have done, anyway? Call the police?” In the historical sequences, a sympathetic French guard lets Sarah and a friend escape from their internment camp, and a French couple hides and protects Sarah from the Vichy French authorities. In the modern segments, there are no French villains who wish to deny or hush up what had happened. In all, the French are portrayed as decent human beings, even the ones who were living during the roundup.
Still, a portion of Jacques Chirac’s historic 1995 speech, which officially accepted French guilt for the roundup, is shown during a critical moment in the film and is portrayed as great and noble. Here is the snippet:
These dark days sully our nation’s history forever. Seventy-four trains left for Auschwitz. Seventy-six thousand Jews were deported from France and never came back. Yes, the criminal madness of the occupier was, as we all know, abetted by French citizens, abetted by the French state.
See? The guilt for the Vel d’Hiv roundup is collective. It is a stain on the history of France. Never mind that it was perpetrated by nine thousand police under the auspices of an unelected government which was acting under duress from its conquerors. For the sins of those nine thousand, all French must take the blame.
Denying such an absurd accusation is the second, and more important, way in which Marine Le Pen is correct. The French as a people, especially those living today, are not to blame for Vel d’Hiv and should not be made to feel guilt over it. As Le Pen puts it quite plainly, “We have taught our children that they had every reason to criticize France, to see only the darkest historical episodes perhaps. I want them to be proud of being French once more.”
Yes, like so many bad things in history, the Vel d’Hiv roundup happened. Yes, many French eagerly or not-so-eagerly collaborated with the Germans to make it happen. Yes, it was tragic. Such things should be admitted and never denied. But guilt? What purpose does that serve?
I’m reminded of a line spoken by Julia’s editor early on in Sarah’s Key. After revealing that the daughter of a Vel d’Hiv deportee had finally won her lawsuit against the French government, he quips, “I guess Chirac’s speech in ’95 at the Vel d’Hiv has finally served some purpose.”
You see, that’s another purpose guilt serves: not only does it weaken the nationalistic resolve of an entire people, it also enriches their enemies. A great nation finally admits culpability for some historical wrong, and the victims and their descendants come out of the woodwork demanding reparations.
They say power loves a vacuum. Well, so does greed. If people can sniff a way to make a buck without earning it, they will do it. That the French taxpayers and the French government are perfectly innocent of what happened at Vel d’Hiv is no matter. If these plaintiffs really wished to seek justice, they should file suit against the descendants of those nine thousand policemen and government officials who collaborated with the Nazis. But there would be no money in that, so, of course, they don’t adopt that course. And what about the descendants of those who resisted the Nazi invasion or who were killed as a result? Should they be exempt from ponying up for the payola? If we are interested in justice, they should be. But they’re not.
The reason why they are not leads me to the reason why Le Pen’s statement, for all its truth, is incorrect . . . politically incorrect, that is. Those in France who see themselves as other than French, and who wish to take advantage of those who indeed are French, occupy influential positions in France, and there are people like them throughout the West. Many of these people are Jews, yes. But many are not. In either case, they are the ones who determine what can and cannot be said in polite society, and what Le Pen said was indeed impolite. Why? Because the French feeling rotten about being French and ceding land and resources to primarily Muslim foreigners who wish to replace them makes the ends of our globalist elites that much easier to achieve. They would like to ultimately establish a one-government, miscegenistic, socialist utopia which realizes Marx’s dreams of economic leveling and perfect equality. But you can’t accomplish this as long as the French are proud of being French and, by extension, European whites are proud of being European and white.
This is why Marine Le Pen said the right thing and deserves credit for it. This is also why nationalism must make a serious return in Europe and why White Nationalism must emerge as a serious political force beyond Europe. Without nationalism, the French and the other indigenous white Europeans will have no defense against the globalists who ultimately wish to destroy them, which is a crime far worse than what happened at the Vel d’Hiv.