France’s Vichy-era archives made accessible to public

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Hundreds of thousands of previously classified or difficult-to-access documents from France’s Vichy government have been made accessible to the public.

The newly opened police and legal archives from the Nazi puppet regime that governed France between 1940 and 1944 include files on Jews, members of the French resistance and communists, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The French government order making the documents available was signed on Dec. 24 and implemented Monday. While some of the documents were already available to researchers, many could be obtained only after submitting time-consuming and complex paperwork.

Now, anyone seeking a document can get it “within a minute or 15 minutes, just the time needed to go and get it from the shelves,” the chief of Paris police archives, Pascale Etiennette, told the AP.

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The decision to open the archives came at the request of French historians, including Gilles Morin, an expert on World War II.

“Many people who were doing research about their father or grandfather who had been deported for example, as we often see, were blocked by these administrative obstacles,” he said, according to the AP.

“Let’s be clear, there won’t be any revolution in what we already know about World War II but we’ll finally have the possibility to work, understand several things, the Franco-German relationships, between Vichy and the collaborationists, the people, the elites,” Morin said.

The order does not include archives of the French intelligence service or documents classified as national defense.

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