Interview with Darquier de
Pellepoix, former Commissioner for Jewish Problems of the Vichy government
(Published in L'Express, Oct. 28-Nov. 4, 1978)
"The 6 million Jews who
disappeared? An invention pure and simple! A Jewish
A small tradesman from Cahors, with
a monocle and a borrowed nobility handle to his name, is one of the principals
responsible for the deportation of 75,000 Jews from France. Even today he
regrets nothing. For Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the Commissioner General for
Jewish Problems between May 1942 and February 1944, is not a ghost from the
past. He lives in a village on the borders of the Estremadura and Andalusia. At
this time when the process of Kurt Lischka begins at Frankfurt, one of the
Gestapo's patrons in France, Darquier, the thorough organizer of the lottery at
the Vel' d'hiv' in 1942, makes a statement in a conversation with Philippe
Ganier-Raymond. It must be read and reread rather.
L'Express: Sir, exactly 36 years ago, you delivered to
the Germans 75,000 men, women and children. You are the French
Louis Darquier de Pellepoix:
What numbers are
L'Express: Everybody knows them. They are official.
They can be also found in this document. (I show him Serge Klarsfeld's
"Testimony of the deportation of the Jews from France", open at the right
L. Darquier: That's what I thought: a Jewish document.
Here is again the Jewish propaganda! It goes without saying, you have nothing
else to show me but Jewish documents. And that for a good reason: there are no
L'Express: Oh but there are. Hundreds, thousands of
others, that are not inspired by the Jewish organizations. Having conceded that,
you will understand maybe that the Jews should be interested in the
disappearance of 6 millions of them.
L. Darquier: That figure is an invention pure and simple.
A Jewish invention, certainly. That is how the Jews are: they will do anything
L'Express: You really think what you just said? Could
you repeat that?
L. Darquier: Ah, I see! You too are brainwashed. But you
are all blinded ... You cannot understand that the Jews have only one idea in
their head: to wreak havoc everywhere. And to what end? You know it very well:
to make Jerusalem the world's capital. It is enough to open the newspapers today
to realize that. You came here to accuse me, but ...
L'Express: No, I am not a prosecutor. I am not a Nazi
hunter either. I came to see you to try to understand what went on in a head
such as yours 36 years ago. One item, that's all.
L. Darquier: You are an agent from
L'Express: An agent from Tel-Aviv, if he were
interested in you. would not waste his time asking you
L. Darquier: At any rate, you are wasting your time. I
have nothing to tell you.
L'Express: Again you are mistaken. You already told me
something essential: you are almost a unique case. You are not saying: "I had my
orders. I was following them". Your position appears not to have changed at all
L. Darquier: So you think that the Jewish question dates
since 1942! However, the Jewish question has been a problem for thousands of
years ... As early as the Middle Ages the west, Christianity, was struggling
against the tentacular progression of the Jews. We did not invent the yellow
star. If in the 12 century the need was felt to make the Jews wear the mark,
there was a reason for that. As for our recent history, it is entirely
determined by the search for a solution to the Jewish
Let me ask you a question: have you
ever considered what was the reason why it was necessary to wait for so long to
implement the Balfour Declaration? Have you counted the wars, counted the dead
needed to reach the point we are at today: the settlement of Jews on a disputed
territory? As for me, when the Marshal (Petain) placed me in charge of the
Commission for Jewish Problems, I set myself one goal. A humanitarian goal, mind
you: to make the situation of French Jews as comfortable as
L'Express: You cannot be serious. Who do you think
will believe that?
L. Darquier: I am forgetting that you are an unfortunate
victim of Jewish propaganda. And Jewish propaganda has always been based on a
lie. Always ... Always ... That's what I was saying: during the months while I
was commissioner, I spent the better part of my time trying to alleviate the
troubles of the Jews. It is understood that we are speaking of French Jews. I am
giving you an example. Between you and me, do you think that it was necessary to
deport the Debre family?
L'Express: No. Absolutely not. Neither the Debres nor
any others ...
L. Darquier: Father Debres is a half-Jew, we understand
that. But after all, those people have done service. They are Jews who opted for
France. It would have been extremely unjust to deport them. I have quoted that
case to you, but there are many others. In general, I wanted to group the French
L'Express: That is so true, that in February 1943 you
suggested to the Vichy government a certain number of actions that even the
Germans had not thought of.
"Statement of Louis Darquier de Pellepoix to
the 'Petit Parisien' of February 1, 1943.
I am suggesting to the
1. To implement the mandatory wearing of the
yellow star in the unoccupied zone.
2. To prevent Jews without exception from
access to and performance of public office. No matter what the intellectual
value and the services brought by a Jewish individual may be, the fact remains
that he is Jewish and by that he introduces in the position he occupies not only
a natural resistance to the operations of arianization but also a spirit which
in the long run profoundly modifies the value of the entire French
3. The annulment of the French nationality
of all Jews who acquired it after 1927..
L. Darquier: That story about the yellow star in the free
zone, I do not remember it. It must be again your Jewish
L'Express: Absolutely not so. It is here, black and
white, in Le Petit Parisien of February 1, 1943.
L. Darquier: Perhaps... Perhaps... At any rate, it would
have been a mistake. Because, you know, contrary to what has been repeated quite
often, the yellow star was not popular.
L'Express: And the denaturalization of the Jews, was
that a mistake?
L. Darquier: Oh, no, not that. I said
L'Express: The commissioner who preceded you, Xavier
Vallat, who as a matter of fact was considered too soft by the German
authorities, had set 1932 as the limit for the naturalization year before which
nobody - as a matter of principle - was subject to racial laws. You moved it
back to 1927.
L. Darquier: But of course! It should have been further
L'Express: More Jews deported, is
L. Darquier: Evidently. It was necessary to get rid at
any rate of those foreigners, of those alien residents, of those thousands of
people with no homeland who were at the root of all our woes. They wanted the
war. They brought it about. It was necessary for them to leave. As soon as
possible, as far as possible. That was the second goal I had set myself when I
took office to send all those people to do in their own home what they were
trying to do in ours!
L'Express: How is that, in their own home? In 1942,
the Jewish people had no homeland!
L. Darquier: I mean to say there, I don't know where, in
Poland. The intent was to give them a territory there somewhere. Thus, they
would have ceased being without a homeland! That's what I wanted: to put an end
to the wandering Jew, so that finally, after 2000 years, those people should no
longer be aliens wherever they may be living.
L'Express: That is amazing. In a little while you will
tell me that Auschwitz was straight arrow from the Balfour
L. Darquier: Auschwitz... Auschwitz... You know, there
have been many stories about Auschwitz! One should begin by finding out what
really took place at Auschwitz.
L'Express: A million dead. Among them, countless
children. All gassed.
L. Darquier: No, no, no... That, you will never make me
believe that. It is again that devilish Jewish propaganda that spread and
maintained that legend. I am telling you again that the Jews are always ready
for anything to get talked about, to appear interesting, to become objects of
compassion. As for myself I will tell you what really took place at Auschwitz.
There was gassing. Yes, true. But the lice were
L'Express: What do you
L. Darquier: I mean that when the Jews arrived in the
camp, they were made to undress, as is natural, before they were lead to the
showers. In the meantime their clothes were disinfected. After the war, the Jews
circulated everywhere photographs showing underwear piled up or hanging on
lines. And they groaned..."Look", said they, "that is the underwear of our
brothers who were exterminated!" That is certainly false. But what can you
expect, that's how Jews are. They must always lie.
L'Express: That is what I was saying: you are unique.
Not even Eichmann denied the existence of the final solution. You do. But you
knew it nevertheless.
"Service notification of the Central Office
of Security of the Reich IV B 4 of June 11, 1942. A meeting took place with the
participation, apart from the undersigned SS Chief of Division Dannecker, of
those responsible for the Jewish sections in Brussels and the
Goal. Military reasons prevent this summer
the relocation of German Jews to the eastern operation zone. The commander SS
for the Reich has ordered that a greater number of Jews from South-East Europe
and from the occupied West be transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
the essential condition is that the Jews of both genders be between 16 and 40
years of age. 10 % of Jews incapable of work could be part of that
Decision. It has been decided
that 15, 000 Jews will be deported from the Netherlands, 10,000 from Belgium and
100,000 from France, including the unoccupied zone ".
L'Express: Do you not find that that simple text,
which of necessity alighted on your desk, implies in a barely veiled manner the
L. Darquier: No. I am telling you again that the final
solution is an invention pure and simple. Do you know anyone who saw, with his
own eyes, a gas chamber?
L'Express: Thousands of Auschwitz survivors. Without
taking into account the inquiry commissions of the Allies after the war, and all
visitors to the Auschwitz museum. Me, among others.
L. Darquier: Your gas chamber was manufactured after the
fact. You will not make me change my mind.
L'Express: That may very well be, in fact. You will not
change your mind. Now, these photographs, have you seen them? (I try to show
him the photographs of bodies of women and children pulled out of the gas
chamber. He turns away).
L. Darquier: I do not even want to see them. They are
doctored photographs. You know, I am very well informed. I know that after the
war the Jews fabricated thousands of forgeries and, as I was just telling
L'Express: Well. Now can you tell me what happened to
those people? (I turn before him the pages of Klarsfeld's book, which is a
sort of deportation listing). What happened to the thousand deportees of the
33rd transport - I pick that as an example among others - that left the railway
station of Drancy on September 11, 1942? What happened to Daniel Belchatowski,
aged 10, Solange Grinsztein, aged 2, Raymonde Hubermarm, aged
L. Darquier: How should I know? It was not my job to know
what happened to the Jews afterwards. My job was a purely administrative one. I
was a high French official. I always took care that the problems of Jews in
France should be solved by Frenchmen. And believe me, it was not easy. It was
always necessary to steer a course between Pierre Laval and that raving madman
Dannecker. Between the two of them, it was almost impossible to do a good job.
If I were to do it again, I am telling you directly, I would
L'Express: Your answer raises several questions. Here
is the first one: what exactly do you mean, to do a good
L. Darquier: Separate the grain from the chaff. Protect
the French Jews, I told you already. As a matter of fact, I am going to surprise
you. Do you know that I had many Jewish friends? Afterwards, in the course of
events, they thought it well to cut me. That's life. I am not angry with them.
The more so as some of them helped me, I will tell you about that later. To
return to your question, doing a good job, that consisted of preventing the
Germans from taking the Jewish problem in hand. Had they done so, it would have
been a catastrophe.
"A good choice was made by the Marechal and
President Laval when they entrusted Mr. Darquier de Pellepoix with the
Commission for Jewish Problems... Some assert sometimes that in this country the
anti-Jewish struggle is but a pale copy of German
How naive they are! Do they not know that
the pure Frenchmen of France, and Darquier is one of them, have nothing to learn
from anybody in that matter. "
Andrg Chaumet, vice-president of
the Association of Anti-Jewish Journalisrs. L'Express: Second question. Pierre Laval.
What were your relations with him?
L. Darquier: Quite cordial.
L'Express: Still he had you arrested on February 26,
1944, for "irregularities in the management of confiscated
L. Darquier: But look here! Where did you fish for that?
Laval never had me arrested. We disputed sometimes, true, but Laval was a good
man, he did a good job himself. There were many stories about Laval. Some went
so far as to claim that he was a Portuguese Jew. What a lie! But it is true that
he was ugly. Good God, how ugly he was, that man! But he was not al all Jewish.
He had an ugly mug from the Auvergne, that's the truth. As a matter of fact, I
frequently called him "ugly mug from the Auvergne", and he was not offended. The
same with Petain. The story was told all over that Petain was against my action,
that he hated me. But for one, it was he who nominated me as a commissioner, and
for another, he never disapproved of me. Every time I went to see him, when he
saw me from afar, he exclaimed: "Look, here comes my torturer!" But it was for
laughs. In fact he was laughing. And that did not prevent him from shaking my
hand. As for Laval, he was a good man, very hardworking, very competent.
Unfortunately, one must mention that, he understood nothing of the Jewish
L'Express: We will go into details
soon. Dannecker ...
L. Darquier: He was a mental case. I had troubles without
end with him.
L'Express: What kind of troubles?
L. Darquier: Well, that was stronger than himself: every
time he saw a German Jew on a list, he did all he could to save him from
deportation! The cosmopolitan Jews without a homeland never had a better ally
than he was.
July 6 1942. Wire from Dannecker to Berlin,
summarizing his July I conversation with Eichmann on the subject of future
"At the moment only the alien Jews without a
homeland should be gathered. In a second stage will be gathered the Jews
naturalized in France between 1919 and 1927".
L'Express: It seems to me on the contrary that you
agreed very well with Dannecker. All documents go to prove
L. Darquier: Absolutely not so. The Germans never stopped
throwing a monkey wrench in my affairs.
L'Express: Well! Then what is the meaning of this note
of May 29 1943, written by Roethke, Dannecker's successor, to Knochen:
"Darquier has repeatedly asked us to support his projects of laws, since he
has lost for quite a long time all hope that the French government will accept a
single one of his projects?"
L. Darquier: That is another forgery! A forgery done
after the fact by the Jews! Ah, those Jews, they are priceless! They are ready
for anything to create a scapegoat. They made of me a character in a novel. They
absolutely wanted to accuse me of everything. Me, who helped them so much! But
they never had me. In fact, it was very hard to get me, since I died
L'Express: How is that?
L. Darquier: I will tell you... In 1944, when it all
started cracking, I started thinking of my own health. A comrade took me to
Toulouse, another took me to Bordeaux, and a third one made me pass into Spain.
And then came the Liberation. A fine day, they alighted on someone who
resembled me to an astonishing degree. It was a completely hysterical time, you
know. They arrested no matter whom, they shot people at random. Then, they
took that poor chap and the mob was shouting: "It is Darquier! It is
Darquier! Shoot him!" Just between you and me, I always thought that there were
some of my friends in that crowd. To go on...In short! They shot that poor
unfortunate man in my stead. And then a few years passed. They discovered that I
was safe and sound, living. Then they condemned me to death. In contumacy. On
December 10, 1947. They could do no other (he laughs a little). But
afterwards, let me tell you that they gave me a royal
L'Express: They never asked that you be
L. Darquier: Never. What do you imagine? After all, I may
as well tell you: until recently, I have always had the best relations with the
French embassy in Madrid. We saw one another frequently. Sometimes I went to
On August 27, 1978, the spokesman of the
Minister of Justice declares: "Louis Darquier de Pellepoix has been sentenced to
death in contumacy, on December 10, 1947, for treating with the enemy. His
sentence has been prescribed since 1968. He is only forbidden to reside in
France all his life".
L'Express: If I understand correctly, the author of the
great lottery of July 1942 is not guilty of a crime against
L. Darquier: In the first place, the great lottery, as
you call it, I had nothing to do with it. It had been decided well before. I had
been a commissioner for a few weeks. I knew nothing.
L'Express: What is terrible with you is that as you
never stop telling frightening stories, whoever wants to ask you for mere
information finds himself obliged to become an accuser. You had not been a
commissioner for a few weeks. You had been heading the anti-Jewish oppression
since the month of May. Over two months! And you had already made decisions that
surprised even the Germans.
L. Darquier: It is funny that you come to talk to me
about the great lottery. That great lottery: Bousquet was the one who organized
it. From top to bottom. Bousquet was the chief of police. He did it all. Now,
you know what was his end, the end of Bousquet? He got five years of national
indignity. They say he helped the "resistance! " What a farce! And he ended up
being a director of the Bank of Indochina. Ah, he knew how to shift for himself,
Bousquet! Still it was he who organized everything.
L'Express: I am sorry to sound like a cop, but how did
you spend the days of July 16,
and 17, in
L. Darquier: What was there so
extraordinary on July 16 and 17, 1942?
L'Express: The great lottery. Thousands of men, women
and children crowded at the V61odrome d'hiver before they were shipped to
L. Darquier: You will easily understand that I cannot
remember precisely what I was doing on that day.
But in all probability I went to my
office, to deal with current matters. Always, always, those administrative
L'Express: You did not go to the Vel' d'hiv' to see
what was going on?
L. Darquier: Certainly not! Why would I have gone? I am
telling you again that Bousquet was the one who organized
Minutes of the meeting on Avenue
Foch of July 4, 1942. Present were: Commander Dr. Knochen, Chief Commander SS
Dannecker, High Commander SS Schmidt. On the French part: Bousquet, State
Secretaryfor the Police, Darquier de Pellepoix, French Commissioner for Jewish
commission shall be set up by the French in which there should be besides a
representative from the Jewish Problems, a representative from the State
Secretary for the Police... Bousquet immediately declared that the direction of
the commission must be in the hands of the Commission for Jewish Problems... It
must be noted here that Darquier de Pellepoix almost gave the impression that he
was overwhelmed accepting such a responsibility ."
L. Darquier: Well, yes! Somebody had to do that job. If I
had not been the one, it would have been somebody else. A German,
L'Express: You were the Germans' man. They put you
L. Darquier: Another fable. The Marshal nominated me for
the commission. Knowing well the facts. Knowing full well that I alone - with a
few others - was capable of completing the anti-Jewish struggle within the
limits of French law.
L'Express: A fact which did not prevent you at all
from going to complain to the Germans when the government of Vichy, alarmed,
refused to implement your proposals.
L. Darquier: False! False! Extremely false! You have no
right to say that! You have a right to be intoxicated by Jewish propaganda, but
not to that extent ...
L'Express: You very much wrote the following: I do
not believe from the bottom of my heart and conscience that the French state is
capable of proceeding with that national renewing. What is needed -and my French
heart obliges me to ask this of you, Germans - is that you should take upon
yourself the governance of France by allowing us to act for ourselves." One
can search through the archives of all of occupied Europe, there will not be
found a single other example of such servility to the nazis. You were asking for
L. Darquier: Quite on the contrary, I was prevaricating.
By putting on a show of following them, of coming to meet their desires, I was
keeping in my own hands (in French hands) the reins of the anti-Jewish struggle.
Laval did not understand that strategy at all. In that respect he made nothing
L'Express: Let us come back to that great
L. Darquier: If you wish. But I really have nothing else
L'Express: But you have. The children. I have a
document here. A service note from the Gestapo. It is annotated by
L. Darquier: That madman!
L'Epress: This note is the German translation of your
report after the lottery of the Vel' d'hiv'. You were complaining that only
8,980 persons were arrested. And Dannecker writes on the margin: "That goes
to show Darquier's activity ". And further on he adds: "Over 4, 000
children ". Sir, what happened to all those children?
L. Darquier: It was not me I am not responsible for that.
It was Laval. I am breaking myself in pieces repeating to you that he understood
nothing of the Jewish question. Do you know what Laval did? When he was told of
a massive deportation, he said: "In the first place, do not separate the
children from their mothers." It was he who demanded that the children should be
deported with their parents. An ass's decision. I wanted that the children
should be taken in by public assistance.
L'Express: Perfectly true.
Urgent wire from Dannecker to
Berlin (unknown addressee) summarizing Laval's position on July 6,
"Conferences with the French
government yielded up to this day the following results:
"President Laval proposed that
when deporting the Jewish families from the occupied zone children less then 16
should be included. The problems of Jewish children who remain in the occupied
zone does not interest him. I am asking you to make an urgent decision, and
telegraph it, to let us know if when the 15th transport of Jews leaves, children
below 16 should also be deported"
L. Darquier: You see, it was not
L'Express: I take note of the fact that you do not
dispute that document. How about this one?
First meeting of the Committee
organizing the lottery. Present were: Dannecker, Heinrischsohn, Darquier de
Pellepoix, etc. on July 8, 1942.
"Opening the meeting Darquier de
Pellepoix notes that the occupying authorities stated their readiness to
unburden the French state of the Jews and proposes to meet to discuss the
technical implementation of the deportation... There were to be arrested in
Paris about 28, 000 Jews... The anti-Jewish police inspectors and the women's
auxiliaries sort their cards and group them by district... The Jews will then be
gathered at the various town halls and transported to the place of gathering
(the Vel' dhiv ). "
L. Darquier: Well. On paper I am responsible of what
happened. But in reality it was Bousquet whose shoulder was at the wheel. He and
his dirty police! And, I did not want an anti-Jewish police! I wanted a French
police, who should have shouldered their responsibilities, do you see? But there
was nothing I could do!
L'Express: You claim that you had nothing to do with
the great lottery?
L. Darquier: Absolutely. I was just an official. I was so
far removed from the reality of things. And I was so busy saving the good Jews,
the French Jews...
July 23, 1942. Letter of
Darquier de Pellepoix to Laval.
... The General Commission for
Jewish Problems has been requested to place at the disposal of German
authorities 32,000 Jewish men and women (22,000 from the occupied zone and 10,
000 from the unoccupied zone)... More actions were taken on July 16 and 17 and
would yield the following figures: 3,095 men and 5,885
11... My meeting of today with
the occupying authorities made it possible for me to note that they were very
dissatisfied. The number of trains provided for that purpose by the German
authorities is adequate for the transportation of 32,000 Jews.
P? - Allow me to suggest the
following supplementary actions:
1. Arresting all cosmopolitan
Jews without a homeland., 2. Arresting all Belgian and Dutch Jews and all alien
Jews who do not have a recent passport... 3. If, after taking those steps, the
envisaged figure is not yet reached, it would be expedient to contemplate
filling it by resorting to the Jews and Jewesses whose French naturalization is
dated after January 1, 1927 "
L'Express: That year 1927 was an obsession with you.
That year is found in almost all of your statements. Why is
L. Darquier: Because it was between 1927 and 1936 that we
had here in our home the great invasion of people without a homeland, who came
from everywhere and from nowhere. People who wanted to ruin us. People who
wanted us to fight their war in their stead. And who, above all, did not want us
to prepare for war. People who wanted us defeated, who wanted us ruined. You are
too young: you do not know how it was before the war.
L'Express: I know one thing, at any rate: in 1935, one
year before the popular front, a man like you was elected to the municipal
council in the XVIIth district. And on what unique platform?
L. Darquier: That is false. I was elected on a
nationalist program! It is altogether different. And then in the first place,
the word anti-Semite is an improper word...
L'Express: God knows if you used it
L. Darquier: It may be! But it would have been an error.
After all, the Arabs, they too, are Semites. Do not mix it up... But I would
like you to know, dear sir, in 1935, after the Stavisky affair and all the rest,
being a nationalist implied being against the Jews. Because of the corruption,
and of that Jewish garnering of all means of communication. At that time there
was but one press that was not under the Jewish enterprise: the right wing
press! And, I repeat, they wanted the war, the Jews. I had fought in 1914, 1 had
done what is called "very admirable service". I had no intention to repeat that.
And what is more, fight to be defeated! As a matter of fact, it was a Jew - you
will like that - Georges Mandel himself wrote in the thirties: "It is the
democracies that declare the wars ". If a Jew...
L'Express: Whom your friends of the Militia
L. Darquier: That is more complicated than that. If a Jew
now should come to own that sort of thing, it must well be true. You do not
believe it? Now, the Jews wanted the war. I did not want it. Or if one wanted it
then one should prepare seriously for it. But it was the Jews precisely who,
pretending to be pacifists, refused to do it. That is why I was
L'Express: When did it happen?
L. Darquier: I must tell you that I am from Cahors. At
Cahors, we did not love the Jews. That is how it is. An old tradition. It must
go back to the Middle Ages. But I am repeating to you that I was not elected on
an anti-Jewish platform. There was a national tendency. That tendency elected me
doubtlessly because of my behavior on February 6, 1934. Here, look here. (He
pulls up the leg of his pant and shows me a hole in his right calf). That
one, I did not get it in the trenches. I got it on February 6. The people of
Paris knew that I was fighting for my ideas. Physically. That must have
June 1936. Meeting of the Municipal
Council of Paris.
Mr. Darquier de Pellepoix,
speaking of Mr. Georges Hirsch: "If I discriminated among Jews, I am doing it
again saying that you are a dirty little Jew... The most racist people on earth
are the Jews. ... As long as you will not be rid of those people, the national
existence of the country will be threatened... "
L'Express: You must own that you were the Nazis dream.
Since 1936 you were asking all over Paris for actions - denaturalizing, among
others - that not even they dared impose in 1942.
L. Darquier: Again, you have no idea what was the
atmosphere in this country in the thirties. The Jews were all over. They had all
levels of command. When I struck Leon Blum in the face, and I do not regret
it...was a natural thing, a thing that many other Frenchmen dreamt of doing. At
the time, one could not love one's country, desire peace, without finding
oneself pitted against the Jews. It was impossible! But I must say nevertheless,
that the French are finicky people. They have a skin sensitivity to demographic
variations. When there are too many Jews, when they feel surrounded, pressured
by the Jews, they start shouting: "Out with the Jews!" Eventually they get out
in the streets. But as soon as you kill 50 Jews, they start crying out loud. I
would say about the French in general that they are moderately
L'Express: The fact is that those moderately
anti-Jewish people elected you decidedly. In 1935. They elected one, yourself,
who declared at a meeting on March 11, 1937 at the Wagram Railway station:
"The Jewish question must be solved most urgently. Let the Jews be exiled or
massacred." Even at Nuremberg at that time it seems to me that the language
was more convoluted...
L. Darquier: It was a figure of speech. I, you know,
never wanted anyone dead.
L'Express: Not even the Jews you sent to
L. Darquier: I wanted to see them gone, I was not
interested in the rest. It was none of my business.
L'Express: I find that you had a very unique
punctiliousness in your persecution. Thus, on September 9, 1942, you wrote the
following internal note:
7he General Commissioner has
noted that in the correspondence of certain bureaus the Jews were described as
'Israelites'. 77ze use of that description is due to Jewish influence which by
forbidding the word 'Jew' managed to realize in words the main means of defense
of Jewry which pretends that the Jewish question is nothing but a religious
question. At the General Commission for Jewish Problems a Jew must be called a
Jew, and the usage must not be 'Mr. Levy' or 'Mr. Dreyfus' but 'the Jew Levy'
and 'the Jew Dreyfus'...
Signed Darquier de
Distributed to all Vichy
L. Darquier: So what? What is your objection? Are the
Jews not a race? Is it not true that they hide behind their pretended religion
to perpetrate their mischief all over the earth? Really, I do not see what you
find to cavil at in that memo. It is perfectly harmless. There is no trace of
persecution, as you say.
L'Express: Whoever spoke of race in 1942 in France to
describe persons or to describe a people is an accessory to genocide. Is that
L. Darquier: But, finally, there was no genocide, for
heaven's sake! You must put that idea out of your head.
L'Express: Do you know that the process of Kurt
Lischka will begin shortly in Germany. I have it from a reliable source that the
Frankfurt tribunal would be happy to have your testimony.
L. Darquier: You said Lischka? Who is that
L'Express: Generally speaking, the chief of the
Gestapo in Paris between 1940 and 1943.
L. Darquier: I see, a petty German official. I must have
met him two or three times. But there is decidedly something that you do not
manage to understand: I met very few Germans.
L'Express: That is exactly what is frightening. Your
decisions were not directly dictated from Berlin. Do you know what Knochen
stated to the prosecutor on January 4, 1947 right before his
L. Darquier: Knochen was not a madman like Dannecker. I
absolutely want to make a note of that.
L'Express: Knochen said: "After the arrival of
Darquier de Pellepoix, the General Commission for Jewish Problems became
excessively zealous, coming to meet halfway all our desires and occasionally
L. Darquier: But
certainly... Put yourself in the place of that man. He is on trial, he will say
anything to save his skin. It is natural. It is human...
L'Express: And then, there is the famous meeting in
Paris with Heydrich, Bousquet and you, in May 1942, on the very day of your
nomination. What did you have to tell each other, you and
L. Darquier: In the first place, I did not want to meet
with that man. But Knochen insisted, and I ended by accepting, saying to myself
that after all it was better to find out what was in Heydrich's mind. So I went.
We shook hands. We exchanged a few words. We saw each other for five minutes,
all in all.
L'Express: You did not talk on that day about steps to
take in the weeks and months to come?
L. Darquier: No. I do not know what he may have said to
Bousquet and what Bousquet said to him, but as far as my own conversation with
Heydrich is concerned, I assure you that it was perfectly
L'Express: I summarize: Bousquet and you received a
free hand from the Germans to carry out the anti-Jewish repression, the arrests,
the lotteries. They must have trusted you! And, in the end, those very Germans
helped you pass into Spain...
L. Darquier: That is not true. It was French people who
saved me. But since you are coming to that epoch, I am going to surprise you. Do
you know who it was that led me from Bordeaux to Spain over the mountains? A
woman, a half-Jewish woman, who as a matter of fact was using her father's
Jewish name. I saw her again, later, at Barcelona, we were very close until her
death. That amazes you, does it? And just now I was telling you that I was left
in royal peace. Do you know owing to whom? To Jews, to a great extent. To good
French Jews, whom I had helped in difficult times. Among others, a certain
Worms. I am not going to tell you any more...
L'Express: Thus, contrary to what is being said quite
frequently, far from getting rich from Jewish property, you allowed certain
great families to keep their riches? You had the tanners and furriers from the
XIth district sent to Auschwitz, and you protected the great capitalists of the
XVIth district? In fact, that is not illogical...
L. Darquier: I refuse to answer that kind of questions. I
am reminding you that my sentence has been prescribed.
L'Express: Thus, you came to
L. Darquier: Yes. And in the beginning my wife and I were
as poor as Job. I read, I don't know where, that I had a suspenders business.
That is untrue. I sold suspenders, true, but as a street vendor, in the gardens
of the Retiro in Madrid. But fortunately the tribulation did not last long. That
is because I maintained good friends in Spain; from the times of the civil war.
Military people. They helped me. They put me back on my feet. They protected
L'Express: What military
L. Darquier: You will not find that out. I hate
informing, my dear sir. I will tell you that I became the official translator of
the Oficenia diplornatica. I translated the official speeches of Franco's
ministers. I also translated "The Red Book of the Gibraltar". Later, I could set
up my little language school.
L'Express: And for a very long time you were there,
under your own name, in the Madrid telephone book, that is true... However you
were luckier than Laval. The Spaniards extradited him.
L. Darquier: Not at all. If he had stayed in Madrid,
quietly, like me, nothing would have happened to him. But one fine day his wife
said to him: "Let us return. You did nothing. They will not dare touch
you ". And he returned, to please his wife. You know the rest. They shot
him, the poor old man... The poor ugly mug from the
L'Express: In 34 years, nobody came to see you, nobody
tried to kidnap you, nobody threatened you?
L. Darquier: Nobody ever... Oh yes... Three years ago,
somebody, a French voice, rang me up to call me names. He said: "Scumbag! We
will take your hide ". I was frightened. Not so much for myself. For my
family. I called immediately my military friends to ask for special protection
from them. They gave it to me immediately. After that,
L'Express: Do you feel regret sometimes?
L. Darquier: Regrets for what? I do not understand your
1) That was a
purely formal law; after March 1941, French police were arresting Jews who were
French since 1897, to deliver them to the Germans!
protector was General Barroso Sanchez-Guerra.