Éric Zemmour acquitted of Holocaust denial charge: 'French Nazi collaborator saved Jews'

Several left-leaning anti-racism groups had filed complaints against Zemmour over comments saying a French collaborator with the Nazis had saved most French Jews.

 ERIC ZEMMOUR, leader of the French far-right party “Reconquete!” who is running in this year’s French presidential election, is seen at a campaign rally in Lille, northern France earlier this month. (photo credit: PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS)
ERIC ZEMMOUR, leader of the French far-right party “Reconquete!” who is running in this year’s French presidential election, is seen at a campaign rally in Lille, northern France earlier this month.
(photo credit: PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/REUTERS)

A French court acquitted Éric Zemmour, a French politician, of denying a crime against humanity by saying that a French collaborator with the Nazis had saved most French Jews.

The Appeals Court of Paris last week confirmed an earlier ruling from January by a lower court that said that Zemmour, a Jewish journalist with far-right views who ran unsuccessfully for president in April, was innocent of the action, which is illegal in France.

Several left-leaning anti-racism groups had filed complaints against Zemmour over his 2019 comments saying that Philippe Pétain, whom the Nazis allowed to administer a part of France after they occupied the country in 1940, had sacrificed foreign Jews living in France to save Jewish citizens.

The issue is divisive because it touches on the question of French complicity in the Holocaust. Multiple French presidents since Jaques Chirac have acknowledged collaboration by the French government, and public monuments honoring Petain have been removed across France. (A plaque honoring him remains in place in New York City something that local Jewish advocates want to change.)

But others dispute that history, especially in far-right circles and in some far-left ones. At least one renowned historian, Alain Michel, also advocates the theory that some of Pétain’s policies were guided by a desire to save French Jews.

 French far-right commentator Eric Zemmour, leader of far-right party ''Reconquete!'' and candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, and his companion and campaign advisor Sarah Knafo visit the 58th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture) at the Porte de Versailles exhibition (credit: REUTERS/Johanna Geron) French far-right commentator Eric Zemmour, leader of far-right party ''Reconquete!'' and candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, and his companion and campaign advisor Sarah Knafo visit the 58th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture) at the Porte de Versailles exhibition (credit: REUTERS/Johanna Geron)

The view held by Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld is more widely held. Klarsfeld has called Zemmour’s interpretation “completely false.”

Zemmour last week week announced he would be running for a seat in the French parliament in the June 12 election. He came in fourth in the first round of the presidential elections in April and did not continue to the second and final round in which President Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Party rally.