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Le Pen seeks to whitewash France from its responsibility for the Holocaust

21 April 2017

Historian Laurent Joly said that in the French national psyche, the Vel d'Hiv deportation symbolises the crimes of the wartime Vichy government. They were then deported to concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

Le Pen's comments are in sharp contrast to apologies for the Vel d'Hiv roundup that were issued by then President Jacques Chirac in 1995 and by the current French president, François Hollande.

"I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France".

Le Pen has said repeatedly that France would leave the European Union under her leadership, while Melenchon has said he would pull the country out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Le Pen and her closest allies will hit the airwaves in a series of interviews meant to sway voters tempted by her vision of a nationalist France, unburdened by the European Union and the euro currency.

Israel's Foreign Ministry on Monday said far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen "contradicted historical truth" when she said that her country was not responsible for the rounding up of Jews during the Holocaust.

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French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is supposedly more popular with gay voters than those who are heterosexual.

Le Pen and Macron - dubbed the "fragile favorite" by the Journal de Dimanche - are neck-and neck but both have lost ground slightly and would win 23 percent if the vote were held today.

The head of the International Human Rights Federation, Dimitri Christopoulos, also said he would join the battle against a President Le Pen.

French Jewish organizations also condemned the comments, including the CRIF umbrella Jewish organization and the Jewish Students Union (UEJF).

Le Pen's remarks came just ahead of the Jewish festival of Passover and amid a tide of nationalism and populism sweeping French and European politics.

"Everything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger", he told a cheering crowd in Clermont-Ferrand in central France on Friday.

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The two top vote-getters in the French presidential vote go to a runoff.

Le Pen, 48, is the leader of the populist, anti-establishment, National Front, a party the media describes as far-right, although Le Pen's economic platform has some similarities to those espoused by Bernie Sanders.

Her remark rolled back more than two decades of policy on France's responsibility in the darkest period of its modern history.

Meanwhile, two of the outside contenders in France's presidential election, Francois Fillon and Jean-Luc Melenchon, whipped up support with mass rallies on Sunday, seeking a last-gasp boost ahead of an increasingly tight first voting round.

"Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen", Macron, the front-runner in the April 23-May 7 two-round election, told BFM TV.

Le Pen's main rival in the race, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, said at a news conference Monday that Le Pen made a "serious mistake".

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