Emmanuel Macron's office backpedals plans to honour Vichy France leader Marshal Pétain on Armistice Day

Emmanuel Macron had said on Wednesday that the Nazi collaborator was 'a great soldier'


The French presidency has backpedalled remarks by Emmanuel Macron that he would honour wartime Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Pétain at Armistice Day commemorations on Saturday.

Mr Macron had said the leader of the Vichy France puppet state during the Second World War was “a great soldier” because of his service fighting Germany in the previous world war.

But the French President’s spokesman Benjamin Griveaux later said there was “never a question” of recognising Pétain alongside other French veterans of the First World War, but conceded his office may not have been “sufficiently clear” on who would receive honours.

Mr Griveaux wrote on Facebook that only those leaders whose honour had not been “tainted” would be recognised, naming military leaders such as Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch, Joseph Joffre and Émile Fayolle.

The statement continued: “Not Pétain, who was struck with national indignity for collaborating with Nazi barbarism in an odious and criminal manner.

“Pétain served in 1914. He contributed to the victory of 1918. But nothing will come to hide or forget the Pétain who betrayed, collaborated and — the ultimate infamy — signed and implemented the decree on the status of Jews.

“Nothing, no one.”

Mr Macron had said on Wednesday during a visit on Wednesday to Charleville-Mezieres, a town in eastern France that once lay on the front line between French and German troops, that he considers it “entirely legitimate that we pay homage to the marshals who led our army to victory. Marshal Petain was a great soldier in World War One.”

His remarks were swiftly condemned by Crif, the umbrella body representing French Jews.

Crif leader Francis Kalifat said: “the only thing we remember about Philippe Petain is that he was, in the name of the French people, held in national disgrace during his trial in July 1945.

“I am shocked that we can honour a man who, it must be remembered, was himself responsible for the deportation of Jews from France, including the Vel’ d’Hiv raid.”

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