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France not responsible for round-up of Jews during Second World War, says Le Pen

Far-right French presidential contender Marine Le Pen made "a serious mistake" by denying that France was responsible for the round-up of Jews during the Second World War, her main rival said.

Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist, was among many presidential candidates criticising Ms Le Pen's comments on Monday.

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

Ms Le Pen's father has been repeatedly convicted for anti-Semitism and racism.

She told RTL radio on Sunday "I don't think France is responsible for the Vel d'Hiv", in reference to the stadium where many thousands of Jews were rounded up in July 1942 before being sent to Nazi death camps.

Ms Le Pen later said in a written statement she "considers that France and the Republic were in London" during wartime and "the Vichy regime wasn't France".

She argued that that had been the position of France's heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle, until former president Jacques Chirac "wrongly" acknowledged the state's role in Jewish persecution in 1995.

"It does not discharge the effective and personal responsibility of the French who took part into the monstrous round-up of the Vel d'Hiv," she wrote.

Some 13,000 Jews were deported by French police on July 16 and 17 1942, many of whom were first holed up in harsh conditions at Vel d'Hiv, or the Winter Velodrome stadium, in Paris.

In all, about 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. Only 2,500 survived.

After decades of denial, in 1995 Mr Chirac became the first president to publicly acknowledge France's role in the deportations, issuing a long-awaited public apology at the start of his first term in office.

AP

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