The first leader of France to publicly acknowledge the country’s role in the Holocaust has passed away at the age of 86. Former French President Jacques Chirac, a flag-bearer for the conservative right-wing in France, led the country for two terms.
Chirac was the first French politician to courageously, publicly state for the record that “the criminal folly of the occupiers was seconded by the French, by the French state. France, the land of the Enlightenment and human rights . . . delivered those it protects to their executioners.”
Chirac visited the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Western Wall, on October 22, 1996, in the second year of his first term in office. He found the tight Israeli security that was necessary for a political figure of his stature annoying, and made his objections known to security personnel – who politely ignored his protests and protected him anyway.