The French government is to release more than 200,000 wartime records, related to the 'puppet' Vichy regime's willful collaboration with Nazi occupying forces during the Second World War. The files, which have been held in the Police Museum in Paris for more than 75 years, record how the French government deported 76,000 Jews from its territory during the war.
According to the order, names of those who were responsible for the deportations will be available to the public, under supervision from defence and security heads. The trove of documents related to the Vichy Regime, which was led by Marshal Philippe Petain between 1940-1944 also contain records of war crime prosecutions in France, Germany and Austria, as well as cases taken before military and maritime tribunals.
The release comes almost six years after France's Council of State, the country's highest judicial body, held the Vichy government responsible for deportations of Jews and said the blame could not be solely put on the Germans. In the ruling, the court stated that, "Nazi officials did not force the French to betray their fellow citizens, but anti-Semitic persecution was carried out willingly by organisations including Paris police and SNCF, the national railway." However, no compensation was ever given to survivors or the families of the victims.
Thierry Wirth, a Vichy historian and author told the New York Times that the files' declassification would provide a true picture of France's collective involvement and expose names behind the planned deportations. France has had a history of anti-semitic tension especially during the 1970s and 1980s and has continually denied assisting the Holocaust.
Recent attacks have also spurred up with French Jewish watchdog, Service de Protection de la Communaute Juive, saying in one of its reports that the number of anti-Semitic attacks recorded in France during the first quarter of 2015 increased by more than 84% over the corresponding period last year.