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A civics lesson for france

Laurent Joffrin welcomes the trial of Maurice Papon. But he also reminds those too young to emember that the Gaullists had good reason not to dig too deep into the pit of wartime compromises

By Laurent Joffrin   November 1997

Liberation

6th October 1997

One simply had to judge Maurice Papon. The defence argues that, 50 years on, he is no longer the same man. But the argument does not hold. The sight of those yellowing photographs of Jewish children with terrified faces, being taken away by two French gendarmes, is enough to make one support the trial. It is Papon’s signature, after all, which figures at the bottom of the wretched order to deport them. How could he not be called on to explain himself? Papon, the zealous high functionary, has never-according to Jean Daniel-revealed the slightest degree of…

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