Eighty years later, the city of Marseille organized, on Sunday January 29, exceptional commemorations around the roundups of 1943 and the destruction of old neighborhoods during the Second World War, which the mayor, Benoît Payan, described as ” crime against humanity “.
“What happened eighty years ago is a tragedy that we must keep track of. Yet for too long it has been forgotten, almost erased from our collective memory.declared Mr. Payan (union of the left). “It took eighty years for a mayor and ministers to recognize this operation together [« Sultan »] who bears a name, a crime against humanity”he added, in the presence of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, whose presence is experienced as a form of national recognition in the face of these events that have long remained in the shadow of history.
“It is at the personal request of the President of the Republic that the members of the government come here to repair this deficiency and sign here its national scope”explained the latter, acknowledging that these “Marseille roundups and the destruction of the old quarters are far too little reported in the history books”.
A complaint for a crime against humanity in 2019
Between January 22 and 24, 1943, a series of raids, among the most important with that of the Vél’d’Hiv’ six months earlier in Paris, was carried out in the old quarters of Marseilles, on the decision of the Nazis who occupied the France and with the active collaboration of the French Vichy regime. Nearly 800 Jews, notably from the Opera district, were sent to extermination camps.
Then a second raid targets “little Naples”, the historic heart of Marseille, behind the Old Port. This popular district was forcibly emptied of its inhabitants, many of them Italian immigrants. Considered by the Nazis to be “a pigsty” and a nest of resistance, these neighborhoods will then be dynamited and wiped off the map. In total, 20,000 people were affected, 15,000 interned in Fréjus (south of France) and 1,642 deported.
“I have waited for this moment all my life, for eighty years. It took a crime against humanity complaint in 2019 by Me Pascal Luongo » so that these dramas “emerge from oblivion”testified Antoine Mignemi, one of the last survivors of this episode, president of the Collectif Saint-Jean January 24, 1943, in front of a fed crowd of Marseillais.
The investigation, opened by a specialized center in Paris, is still ongoing, but could be closed for lack of an identified living presumed author, according to Me Luongo. Former French President Jacques Chirac was the first in 1995 to acknowledge France’s responsibility for the roundups and deportations of Jews during World War II.