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France to Compensate Orphans of WWII

September 7, 2003

PARIS (AP) _ France will compensate thousands of people whose parents were victims of ``Nazi barbarity″ in World War II, including those killed in massacres or for resisting the German occupation, the government said Saturday.

Between 5,000 and 8,000 people will likely be eligible, and will have the choice of either a $30,400 lump sum or monthly payments, said Pierre Mayaudon of the Defense Ministry’s office for war veterans.

The compensation matches that awarded three years ago to 12,600 Jewish orphans whose parents were deported to Nazi extermination camps during the 1940-1944 occupation _ a dark chapter in French history because wartime France’s Vichy regime collaborated with the Nazis.

The July 2000 compensation came five years after President Jacques Chirac acknowledged in a speech that Vichy had represented the French state and seconded the Nazi occupiers’ ``criminal folly.″

Orphans of deported resistance figures and other non-Jewish victims of Nazi atrocities ``considered it unjust″ that they were not covered by the same package, Mayaudon said in a telephone interview.

In a statement Saturday first announcing the new compensation, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said that ``in the interests of justice and fairness″ the package was being extended to ``orphans of victims of Nazi barbarity.″

Compensation will be paid after Hamlaoui Mekachera, secretary for war veterans, determines exactly how many people are eligible, Raffarin said. That process will likely take several months, said Mayaudon, Mekachera’s office director.

Those eligible will include not only people whose parents were killed or deported to death camps for resisting the occupation but also those murdered in massacres of innocent civilians by Nazi troops, he said. Also eligible will likely be those whose parents were rounded up and shot.

In one of the most notorious killings, German troops hanged 99 people in the town of Tulle, central France, three days after the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings in Normandy by Allied forces.

``There were many massacres after the landings because resistance fighters were attacking German forces and the Germans exacted revenge,″ said Mayaudon.

To qualify, people must have lost one or both parents and been minors at the time _ in keeping with the package offered to Jewish orphans.

Families of resistance fighters killed in combat against German forces will not be covered because they receive war pensions, said Mayaudon. Nor will compensation be offered to families of civilians killed in the general course of the war, such as victims of aerial bombardments.

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