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France is opening up police and ministerial archives from the Vichy regime which collaborated with Nazi occupation forces in World War II.

More than 200,000 declassified documents are being made public on December 28. They date from the 1940-1944 regime of Marshal Philippe Petain.

During WWII the Vichy regime helped Nazi Germany to deport 76,000 Jews from France, including many children.

France is also opening files from its post-liberation provisional government.

The Vichy documents come from the wartime ministries of the interior, foreign affairs and justice, as well as the police.Marshal Petain Vichy regime

Some of the archives relate to war crimes investigations conducted by the French liberation authorities after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Speaking to French TF1 television news, historian Gilles Morin said the archives would probably shed new light on the arrest of Jean Moulin, a French Resistance leader who died after his capture and torture by the Nazis in 1943.

Police records and notes seized from French Resistance comrades will now add to the witness statements that researchers have relied on until now, Gilles Morin said.

“There is also a demand from the children of deportees, and of those who were executed, who want to know – and that’s a legitimate demand,” he said.

Previously only researchers and journalists could see some archives, with special permission.

Under French law, public access is provided after 75 years have elapsed – and that is now the case, for 1940-dated documents.

The current mayor of Vichy, in central France, told The New York Times that he was concerned about the enduring stigma attached to his city. It was where Philippe Petain established his collaborationist regime.

Former French Resistance fighter Lucien Guyot told the paper that the Petain government “went far beyond the Germans’ expectations, in particular with the deportation of <<foreign>> Jews, including children, to concentration camps, and they chased us down with a vengeance”.

“But it was the government’s actions that were unforgivable, not this city’s,” he added.

In 1995, then French President Jacques Chirac officially recognized the French state’s responsibility in the deportation of Jews.


Nagasaki has marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing attack on Sunday, August 9.

Speeches at the ceremony criticized the attending PM Shinzo Abe for his plans to loosen the restrictions on what Japan’s military can do.

At least 70,000 people died in the US forces attack, which came three days after another bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Nagasaki was only chosen after a cloud obscured the original target, Kokura.

A solemn ceremony in front of guests from 75 countries, including US ambassador Caroline Kennedy, began with a declaration read out by children.

A minute’s silence and bells marked the time of the explosion in 1945 at 11:02.Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing 1945

Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue then delivered a peace declaration to the ceremony. He said there was “widespread unease” about PM Shinzo Abe’s bid to alter the country’s pacifist constitutional.

A survivor of the Nagasaki attack, 86-year-old Sumiteru Taniguchi, described the injuries he had suffered and said he could not accept Shinzo Abe’s new legislation.

The legislation would allow Japan to engage in combat – in defense of an ally which comes under attack – for the first time since World War Two.

In his address to the ceremony, PM Shinzo Abe said Japan remained “determined to pursue a world without nuclear weapons”.

In a statement read out on his behalf, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “Nagasaki must be the last – we cannot allow any future use of nuclear weapons. The humanitarian consequences are too great. No more Nagasakis. No more Hiroshimas.”

The effects of the atomic bomb were instant and devastating. It destroyed a third of the city, killing thousands instantly and condemning more to death from radiation sickness.

Days later, Japan surrendered, ending World War Two, although the necessity of the two bombs has been debated ever since.


Europe is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on the continent.

European leaders gathered in the Polish port of Gdansk for a midnight ceremony at the site where the first shots of the war were fired.

The Gdansk commemoration was seen as a slight to Russia’s Victory Parade on May 9, which has been boycotted by Western leaders because of Ukraine.

There will also be ceremonies in Paris, London, Berlin, as well as Washington.

The commemoration in Gdansk was marked with a 21-gun salute on the stroke of midnight. Beams of light illuminated a monument to Polish defenders in Westerplatte and the national anthem was played.

In a speech, Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski said the war had started with the co-operation of two totalitarian regimes led by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.Victory in Europe Day 1945

Bronislaw Komorowski went on to say that the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 did not bring freedom but instead communism and the Iron Curtain. Such division finally ended, the president said, with the integration of the region into the European Union.

The event was attended by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the presidents of several countries including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine.

Many other Western leaders – who are boycotting Moscow’s event and for whom the Gdansk commemoration was partly organized – did not attend.

Among those in Gdansk was Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko who said it was possible to draw parallels from history and the current situation in Europe.

“Annexation and invasion, under the pretext of defending ethnic minorities… could all become the new reality,” he said.

Relations between Russia and the West have been soured by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula last year and support for rebels in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Moscow denies it is arming the rebels and sending troops across the border.

Russia, which lost more citizens to the WW2 than any other nation, will stage its biggest-ever military parade during its Victory ceremony in Moscow’s Red Square on May 9.

On May 8, there will be a ceremony in Germany where President Joachim Gauck will lay a wreath at a cemetery for Soviet soldiers. The German parliament will meet in special session.

In London, a remembrance service will be held at the Cenotaph and 200 beacons will later be lit across the country.

In France, where VE (Victory in Europe) Day is a national holiday, President Francois Hollande will lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

In the US, a ceremony will be held at the national World War Two memorial in Washington followed by a fly-past of vintage fighter planes.

On May 8, 1945, Allied forces accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, marking the end of the war in Europe.

However, it was not the end of WW2. It would take another three months before Japan surrendered.