President Jacques Chirac honored nearly 3,000 French people who rescued Jews from the Nazis, in a ceremony at the Pantheon in central Paris on Thursday.
It is the first such formal tribute to the group, known as the "Righteous of France." Chirac - who 12 years ago became France's first president to recognize the French government's role in the mass deportation of Jews during the Holocaust _ also extended the tribute to those anonymous French nationals who risked their lives to save Jews.
"Thousands of French men and women, from all social classes and professions, and from throughout the political spectrum, made- without questioning it - the right choice," Chirac said at the ceremony in the hallowed Pantheon, Paris' most prestigious resting place.
"They all know the risk they were running: Arrest by the Gestapo, interrogations, torture, and sometimes even deportation and death," he said.