Memory of the Holocaust

France’s commitment to preserving and passing on the memory of the Holocaust

At the ceremony of 22 July 2012 commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, President François Hollande reaffirmed France’s commitment to this cause: "As so many of the direct witnesses of the Holocaust are no longer with us, France sees it as her most eminent responsibility to perpetuate the memory. Confronting the darkest pages in her history, she intends to share with the other nations of the world the universal lessons to be learned on understanding totalitarian systems and preventing atrocities."

In recognising "France’s inalienable debt" to the victims of deportation in a speech made on the site of the Vélodrome d’Hiver in 1995, President Jacques Chirac had already made a political gesture widely appreciated by Jewish communities around the world.

A commitment embedded in the framework of France’s foreign policy

"France considers the duty of remembrance and of combating anti-Semitism as a key component of its foreign policy on human rights. As a member of the International Action Group for Memory of the Holocaust since 1999, France is committed to deploying its entire diplomatic, scientific and cultural network to encourage education on human rights and remembrance of the Holocaust" (François Hollande, 22 July 2012).

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, François Croquette is the Ambassador for Human Rights and responsible for the international dimension of the Holocaust.

France is also a member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF), an intergovernmental body set up in 1998 on the initiative of Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. Its current membership comprises the 28 countries committed to the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. The ITF’s aim is to raise awareness among States, and more specifically among political and social leaders, of the need to promote initiatives in the fields of education, research and remembrance of the Holocaust (more commonly referred to in France by the Hebrew term, the Shoah).

The Institut Français, operator for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on cultural diplomacy, has entered into a partnership with the Shoah Memorial in Paris on joint initiatives to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust.

France is also an active supporter of the Aladdin Project launched by UNESCO in 2009, which seeks to disseminate objective knowledge of the Holocaust worldwide; one of the means it uses is the translation into Arabic of certain key works, including Primo Levi’s "If This Is a Man".

Monument commémoratif de la rafle du Vel'd'Hiv à Paris

France also takes part in international conferences to identify and monitor the restitution of property to Holocaust victims. This is the equivalent on the international stage of the work of the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation (CIVS) in France, set up at the instigation of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on 10 September 1999. The CIVS is responsible for examining individual claims put forward by victims or their heirs to compensation for material or financial losses arising from the confiscation of assets during the Occupation, under anti-Semitic legislation enacted by the occupying forces or Vichy authorities.