Interview with Darquier de Pellepoix, former Commissioner for Jewish Problems of the Vichy government (Published in L'Express, Oct. 28-Nov. 4, 1978)
"The 6 million Jews who disappeared? An invention pure and simple! A Jewish invention!"
A small tradesman from Cahors, with a monocle and a borrowed nobility handle to his name, is one of the principals responsible for the deportation of 75,000 Jews from France. Even today he regrets nothing. For Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the Commissioner General for Jewish Problems between May 1942 and February 1944, is not a ghost from the past. He lives in a village on the borders of the Estremadura and Andalusia. At this time when the process of Kurt Lischka begins at Frankfurt, one of the Gestapo's patrons in France, Darquier, the thorough organizer of the lottery at the Vel' d'hiv' in 1942, makes a statement in a conversation with Philippe Ganier-Raymond. It must be read and reread rather.
L'Express: Sir, exactly 36 years ago, you delivered to the Germans 75,000 men, women and children. You are the French Eichmann.
Louis Darquier de Pellepoix: What numbers are those?
L'Express: Everybody knows them. They are official. They can be also found in this document. (I show him Serge Klarsfeld's "Testimony of the deportation of the Jews from France", open at the right page).
L. Darquier: That's what I thought: a Jewish document. Here is again the Jewish propaganda! It goes without saying, you have nothing else to show me but Jewish documents. And that for a good reason: there are no others.
L'Express: Oh but there are. Hundreds, thousands of others, that are not inspired by the Jewish organizations. Having conceded that, you will understand maybe that the Jews should be interested in the disappearance of 6 millions of them.
L. Darquier: That figure is an invention pure and simple. A Jewish invention, certainly. That is how the Jews are: they will do anything for publicity.
L'Express: You really think what you just said? Could you repeat that?
L. Darquier: Ah, I see! You too are brainwashed. But you are all blinded ... You cannot understand that the Jews have only one idea in their head: to wreak havoc everywhere. And to what end? You know it very well: to make Jerusalem the world's capital. It is enough to open the newspapers today to realize that. You came here to accuse me, but ...
L'Express: No, I am not a prosecutor. I am not a Nazi hunter either. I came to see you to try to understand what went on in a head such as yours 36 years ago. One item, that's all.
L. Darquier: You are an agent from Tel-Aviv.
L'Express: An agent from Tel-Aviv, if he were interested in you. would not waste his time asking you questions.
L. Darquier: At any rate, you are wasting your time. I have nothing to tell you.
L'Express: Again you are mistaken. You already told me something essential: you are almost a unique case. You are not saying: "I had my orders. I was following them". Your position appears not to have changed at all since 1942.
L. Darquier: So you think that the Jewish question dates since 1942! However, the Jewish question has been a problem for thousands of years ... As early as the Middle Ages the west, Christianity, was struggling against the tentacular progression of the Jews. We did not invent the yellow star. If in the 12 century the need was felt to make the Jews wear the mark, there was a reason for that. As for our recent history, it is entirely determined by the search for a solution to the Jewish question.
Let me ask you a question: have you ever considered what was the reason why it was necessary to wait for so long to implement the Balfour Declaration? Have you counted the wars, counted the dead needed to reach the point we are at today: the settlement of Jews on a disputed territory? As for me, when the Marshal (Petain) placed me in charge of the Commission for Jewish Problems, I set myself one goal. A humanitarian goal, mind you: to make the situation of French Jews as comfortable as possible.
L'Express: You cannot be serious. Who do you think will believe that?
L. Darquier: I am forgetting that you are an unfortunate victim of Jewish propaganda. And Jewish propaganda has always been based on a lie. Always ... Always ... That's what I was saying: during the months while I was commissioner, I spent the better part of my time trying to alleviate the troubles of the Jews. It is understood that we are speaking of French Jews. I am giving you an example. Between you and me, do you think that it was necessary to deport the Debre family?
L'Express: No. Absolutely not. Neither the Debres nor any others ...
L. Darquier: Father Debres is a half-Jew, we understand that. But after all, those people have done service. They are Jews who opted for France. It would have been extremely unjust to deport them. I have quoted that case to you, but there are many others. In general, I wanted to group the French Jews separately.
L'Express: That is so true, that in February 1943 you suggested to the Vichy government a certain number of actions that even the Germans had not thought of.
"Statement of Louis Darquier de Pellepoix to the 'Petit Parisien' of February 1, 1943.
I am suggesting to the government:
1. To implement the mandatory wearing of the yellow star in the unoccupied zone.
2. To prevent Jews without exception from access to and performance of public office. No matter what the intellectual value and the services brought by a Jewish individual may be, the fact remains that he is Jewish and by that he introduces in the position he occupies not only a natural resistance to the operations of arianization but also a spirit which in the long run profoundly modifies the value of the entire French administration.
3. The annulment of the French nationality of all Jews who acquired it after 1927..
L. Darquier: That story about the yellow star in the free zone, I do not remember it. It must be again your Jewish propaganda.
L'Express: Absolutely not so. It is here, black and white, in Le Petit Parisien of February 1, 1943.
L. Darquier: Perhaps... Perhaps... At any rate, it would have been a mistake. Because, you know, contrary to what has been repeated quite often, the yellow star was not popular.
L'Express: And the denaturalization of the Jews, was that a mistake?
L. Darquier: Oh, no, not that. I said that...
L'Express: The commissioner who preceded you, Xavier Vallat, who as a matter of fact was considered too soft by the German authorities, had set 1932 as the limit for the naturalization year before which nobody - as a matter of principle - was subject to racial laws. You moved it back to 1927.
L. Darquier: But of course! It should have been further back!
L'Express: More Jews deported, is it?
L. Darquier: Evidently. It was necessary to get rid at any rate of those foreigners, of those alien residents, of those thousands of people with no homeland who were at the root of all our woes. They wanted the war. They brought it about. It was necessary for them to leave. As soon as possible, as far as possible. That was the second goal I had set myself when I took office to send all those people to do in their own home what they were trying to do in ours!
L'Express: How is that, in their own home? In 1942, the Jewish people had no homeland!
L. Darquier: I mean to say there, I don't know where, in Poland. The intent was to give them a territory there somewhere. Thus, they would have ceased being without a homeland! That's what I wanted: to put an end to the wandering Jew, so that finally, after 2000 years, those people should no longer be aliens wherever they may be living.
L'Express: That is amazing. In a little while you will tell me that Auschwitz was straight arrow from the Balfour Declaration!
L. Darquier: Auschwitz... Auschwitz... You know, there have been many stories about Auschwitz! One should begin by finding out what really took place at Auschwitz.
L'Express: A million dead. Among them, countless children. All gassed.
L. Darquier: No, no, no... That, you will never make me believe that. It is again that devilish Jewish propaganda that spread and maintained that legend. I am telling you again that the Jews are always ready for anything to get talked about, to appear interesting, to become objects of compassion. As for myself I will tell you what really took place at Auschwitz. There was gassing. Yes, true. But the lice were gassed.
L'Express: What do you mean?
L. Darquier: I mean that when the Jews arrived in the camp, they were made to undress, as is natural, before they were lead to the showers. In the meantime their clothes were disinfected. After the war, the Jews circulated everywhere photographs showing underwear piled up or hanging on lines. And they groaned..."Look", said they, "that is the underwear of our brothers who were exterminated!" That is certainly false. But what can you expect, that's how Jews are. They must always lie.
L'Express: That is what I was saying: you are unique. Not even Eichmann denied the existence of the final solution. You do. But you knew it nevertheless.
"Service notification of the Central Office of Security of the Reich IV B 4 of June 11, 1942. A meeting took place with the participation, apart from the undersigned SS Chief of Division Dannecker, of those responsible for the Jewish sections in Brussels and the Hague.
Goal. Military reasons prevent this summer the relocation of German Jews to the eastern operation zone. The commander SS for the Reich has ordered that a greater number of Jews from South-East Europe and from the occupied West be transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp. the essential condition is that the Jews of both genders be between 16 and 40 years of age. 10 % of Jews incapable of work could be part of that transport.
Decision. It has been decided that 15, 000 Jews will be deported from the Netherlands, 10,000 from Belgium and 100,000 from France, including the unoccupied zone ".
L'Express: Do you not find that that simple text, which of necessity alighted on your desk, implies in a barely veiled manner the final solution?
L. Darquier: No. I am telling you again that the final solution is an invention pure and simple. Do you know anyone who saw, with his own eyes, a gas chamber?
L'Express: Thousands of Auschwitz survivors. Without taking into account the inquiry commissions of the Allies after the war, and all visitors to the Auschwitz museum. Me, among others.
L. Darquier: Your gas chamber was manufactured after the fact. You will not make me change my mind.
L'Express: That may very well be, in fact. You will not change your mind. Now, these photographs, have you seen them? (I try to show him the photographs of bodies of women and children pulled out of the gas chamber. He turns away).
L. Darquier: I do not even want to see them. They are doctored photographs. You know, I am very well informed. I know that after the war the Jews fabricated thousands of forgeries and, as I was just telling you.
L'Express: Well. Now can you tell me what happened to those people? (I turn before him the pages of Klarsfeld's book, which is a sort of deportation listing). What happened to the thousand deportees of the 33rd transport - I pick that as an example among others - that left the railway station of Drancy on September 11, 1942? What happened to Daniel Belchatowski, aged 10, Solange Grinsztein, aged 2, Raymonde Hubermarm, aged 7?
L. Darquier: How should I know? It was not my job to know what happened to the Jews afterwards. My job was a purely administrative one. I was a high French official. I always took care that the problems of Jews in France should be solved by Frenchmen. And believe me, it was not easy. It was always necessary to steer a course between Pierre Laval and that raving madman Dannecker. Between the two of them, it was almost impossible to do a good job. If I were to do it again, I am telling you directly, I would refuse.
L'Express: Your answer raises several questions. Here is the first one: what exactly do you mean, to do a good job?
L. Darquier: Separate the grain from the chaff. Protect the French Jews, I told you already. As a matter of fact, I am going to surprise you. Do you know that I had many Jewish friends? Afterwards, in the course of events, they thought it well to cut me. That's life. I am not angry with them. The more so as some of them helped me, I will tell you about that later. To return to your question, doing a good job, that consisted of preventing the Germans from taking the Jewish problem in hand. Had they done so, it would have been a catastrophe.
"A good choice was made by the Marechal and President Laval when they entrusted Mr. Darquier de Pellepoix with the Commission for Jewish Problems... Some assert sometimes that in this country the anti-Jewish struggle is but a pale copy of German racism.
How naive they are! Do they not know that the pure Frenchmen of France, and Darquier is one of them, have nothing to learn from anybody in that matter. "
Andrg Chaumet, vice-president of the Association of Anti-Jewish Journalisrs. L'Express: Second question. Pierre Laval. What were your relations with him?
L. Darquier: Quite cordial.
L'Express: Still he had you arrested on February 26, 1944, for "irregularities in the management of confiscated goods".
L. Darquier: But look here! Where did you fish for that? Laval never had me arrested. We disputed sometimes, true, but Laval was a good man, he did a good job himself. There were many stories about Laval. Some went so far as to claim that he was a Portuguese Jew. What a lie! But it is true that he was ugly. Good God, how ugly he was, that man! But he was not al all Jewish. He had an ugly mug from the Auvergne, that's the truth. As a matter of fact, I frequently called him "ugly mug from the Auvergne", and he was not offended. The same with Petain. The story was told all over that Petain was against my action, that he hated me. But for one, it was he who nominated me as a commissioner, and for another, he never disapproved of me. Every time I went to see him, when he saw me from afar, he exclaimed: "Look, here comes my torturer!" But it was for laughs. In fact he was laughing. And that did not prevent him from shaking my hand. As for Laval, he was a good man, very hardworking, very competent. Unfortunately, one must mention that, he understood nothing of the Jewish question.
L'Express: We will go into details soon. Dannecker ...
L. Darquier: He was a mental case. I had troubles without end with him.
L'Express: What kind of troubles?
L. Darquier: Well, that was stronger than himself: every time he saw a German Jew on a list, he did all he could to save him from deportation! The cosmopolitan Jews without a homeland never had a better ally than he was.
July 6 1942. Wire from Dannecker to Berlin, summarizing his July I conversation with Eichmann on the subject of future lotteries.
"At the moment only the alien Jews without a homeland should be gathered. In a second stage will be gathered the Jews naturalized in France between 1919 and 1927".
L'Express: It seems to me on the contrary that you agreed very well with Dannecker. All documents go to prove it.
L. Darquier: Absolutely not so. The Germans never stopped throwing a monkey wrench in my affairs.
L'Express: Well! Then what is the meaning of this note of May 29 1943, written by Roethke, Dannecker's successor, to Knochen: "Darquier has repeatedly asked us to support his projects of laws, since he has lost for quite a long time all hope that the French government will accept a single one of his projects?"
L. Darquier: That is another forgery! A forgery done after the fact by the Jews! Ah, those Jews, they are priceless! They are ready for anything to create a scapegoat. They made of me a character in a novel. They absolutely wanted to accuse me of everything. Me, who helped them so much! But they never had me. In fact, it was very hard to get me, since I died twice...
L'Express: How is that?
L. Darquier: I will tell you... In 1944, when it all started cracking, I started thinking of my own health. A comrade took me to Toulouse, another took me to Bordeaux, and a third one made me pass into Spain. And then came the Liberation. A fine day, they alighted on someone who resembled me to an astonishing degree. It was a completely hysterical time, you know. They arrested no matter whom, they shot people at random. Then, they took that poor chap and the mob was shouting: "It is Darquier! It is Darquier! Shoot him!" Just between you and me, I always thought that there were some of my friends in that crowd. To go on...In short! They shot that poor unfortunate man in my stead. And then a few years passed. They discovered that I was safe and sound, living. Then they condemned me to death. In contumacy. On December 10, 1947. They could do no other (he laughs a little). But afterwards, let me tell you that they gave me a royal peace!
L'Express: They never asked that you be extradited?
L. Darquier: Never. What do you imagine? After all, I may as well tell you: until recently, I have always had the best relations with the French embassy in Madrid. We saw one another frequently. Sometimes I went to their receptions.
On August 27, 1978, the spokesman of the Minister of Justice declares: "Louis Darquier de Pellepoix has been sentenced to death in contumacy, on December 10, 1947, for treating with the enemy. His sentence has been prescribed since 1968. He is only forbidden to reside in France all his life".
L'Express: If I understand correctly, the author of the great lottery of July 1942 is not guilty of a crime against humanity...
L. Darquier: In the first place, the great lottery, as you call it, I had nothing to do with it. It had been decided well before. I had been a commissioner for a few weeks. I knew nothing.
L'Express: What is terrible with you is that as you never stop telling frightening stories, whoever wants to ask you for mere information finds himself obliged to become an accuser. You had not been a commissioner for a few weeks. You had been heading the anti-Jewish oppression since the month of May. Over two months! And you had already made decisions that surprised even the Germans.
L. Darquier: It is funny that you come to talk to me about the great lottery. That great lottery: Bousquet was the one who organized it. From top to bottom. Bousquet was the chief of police. He did it all. Now, you know what was his end, the end of Bousquet? He got five years of national indignity. They say he helped the "resistance! " What a farce! And he ended up being a director of the Bank of Indochina. Ah, he knew how to shift for himself, Bousquet! Still it was he who organized everything.
L'Express: I am sorry to sound like a cop, but how did you spend the days of July 16,
and 17, in 1942?
L. Darquier: What was there so extraordinary on July 16 and 17, 1942?
L'Express: The great lottery. Thousands of men, women and children crowded at the V61odrome d'hiver before they were shipped to Auschwitz.
L. Darquier: You will easily understand that I cannot remember precisely what I was doing on that day.
But in all probability I went to my office, to deal with current matters. Always, always, those administrative tasks.
L'Express: You did not go to the Vel' d'hiv' to see what was going on?
L. Darquier: Certainly not! Why would I have gone? I am telling you again that Bousquet was the one who organized everything.
Minutes of the meeting on Avenue Foch of July 4, 1942. Present were: Commander Dr. Knochen, Chief Commander SS Dannecker, High Commander SS Schmidt. On the French part: Bousquet, State Secretaryfor the Police, Darquier de Pellepoix, French Commissioner for Jewish Problems. 11...A commission shall be set up by the French in which there should be besides a representative from the Jewish Problems, a representative from the State Secretary for the Police... Bousquet immediately declared that the direction of the commission must be in the hands of the Commission for Jewish Problems... It must be noted here that Darquier de Pellepoix almost gave the impression that he was overwhelmed accepting such a responsibility ."
L. Darquier: Well, yes! Somebody had to do that job. If I had not been the one, it would have been somebody else. A German, maybe.
L'Express: You were the Germans' man. They put you there.
L. Darquier: Another fable. The Marshal nominated me for the commission. Knowing well the facts. Knowing full well that I alone - with a few others - was capable of completing the anti-Jewish struggle within the limits of French law.
L'Express: A fact which did not prevent you at all from going to complain to the Germans when the government of Vichy, alarmed, refused to implement your proposals.
L. Darquier: False! False! Extremely false! You have no right to say that! You have a right to be intoxicated by Jewish propaganda, but not to that extent ...
L'Express: You very much wrote the following: I do not believe from the bottom of my heart and conscience that the French state is capable of proceeding with that national renewing. What is needed -and my French heart obliges me to ask this of you, Germans - is that you should take upon yourself the governance of France by allowing us to act for ourselves." One can search through the archives of all of occupied Europe, there will not be found a single other example of such servility to the nazis. You were asking for a Gauleiter!
L. Darquier: Quite on the contrary, I was prevaricating. By putting on a show of following them, of coming to meet their desires, I was keeping in my own hands (in French hands) the reins of the anti-Jewish struggle. Laval did not understand that strategy at all. In that respect he made nothing but blunders.
L'Express: Let us come back to that great lottery.
L. Darquier: If you wish. But I really have nothing else to add.
L'Express: But you have. The children. I have a document here. A service note from the Gestapo. It is annotated by Dannecker.
L. Darquier: That madman!
L'Epress: This note is the German translation of your report after the lottery of the Vel' d'hiv'. You were complaining that only 8,980 persons were arrested. And Dannecker writes on the margin: "That goes to show Darquier's activity ". And further on he adds: "Over 4, 000 children ". Sir, what happened to all those children?
L. Darquier: It was not me I am not responsible for that. It was Laval. I am breaking myself in pieces repeating to you that he understood nothing of the Jewish question. Do you know what Laval did? When he was told of a massive deportation, he said: "In the first place, do not separate the children from their mothers." It was he who demanded that the children should be deported with their parents. An ass's decision. I wanted that the children should be taken in by public assistance.
L'Express: Perfectly true.
Urgent wire from Dannecker to Berlin (unknown addressee) summarizing Laval's position on July 6, 1942.
"Conferences with the French government yielded up to this day the following results:
"President Laval proposed that when deporting the Jewish families from the occupied zone children less then 16 should be included. The problems of Jewish children who remain in the occupied zone does not interest him. I am asking you to make an urgent decision, and telegraph it, to let us know if when the 15th transport of Jews leaves, children below 16 should also be deported"
L. Darquier: You see, it was not me.
L'Express: I take note of the fact that you do not dispute that document. How about this one?
First meeting of the Committee organizing the lottery. Present were: Dannecker, Heinrischsohn, Darquier de Pellepoix, etc. on July 8, 1942.
"Opening the meeting Darquier de Pellepoix notes that the occupying authorities stated their readiness to unburden the French state of the Jews and proposes to meet to discuss the technical implementation of the deportation... There were to be arrested in Paris about 28, 000 Jews... The anti-Jewish police inspectors and the women's auxiliaries sort their cards and group them by district... The Jews will then be gathered at the various town halls and transported to the place of gathering (the Vel' dhiv ). "
L. Darquier: Well. On paper I am responsible of what happened. But in reality it was Bousquet whose shoulder was at the wheel. He and his dirty police! And, I did not want an anti-Jewish police! I wanted a French police, who should have shouldered their responsibilities, do you see? But there was nothing I could do!
L'Express: You claim that you had nothing to do with the great lottery?
L. Darquier: Absolutely. I was just an official. I was so far removed from the reality of things. And I was so busy saving the good Jews, the French Jews...
July 23, 1942. Letter of Darquier de Pellepoix to Laval.
... The General Commission for Jewish Problems has been requested to place at the disposal of German authorities 32,000 Jewish men and women (22,000 from the occupied zone and 10, 000 from the unoccupied zone)... More actions were taken on July 16 and 17 and would yield the following figures: 3,095 men and 5,885 women.
11... My meeting of today with the occupying authorities made it possible for me to note that they were very dissatisfied. The number of trains provided for that purpose by the German authorities is adequate for the transportation of 32,000 Jews.
P? - Allow me to suggest the following supplementary actions:
1. Arresting all cosmopolitan Jews without a homeland., 2. Arresting all Belgian and Dutch Jews and all alien Jews who do not have a recent passport... 3. If, after taking those steps, the envisaged figure is not yet reached, it would be expedient to contemplate filling it by resorting to the Jews and Jewesses whose French naturalization is dated after January 1, 1927 "
L'Express: That year 1927 was an obsession with you. That year is found in almost all of your statements. Why is that?
L. Darquier: Because it was between 1927 and 1936 that we had here in our home the great invasion of people without a homeland, who came from everywhere and from nowhere. People who wanted to ruin us. People who wanted us to fight their war in their stead. And who, above all, did not want us to prepare for war. People who wanted us defeated, who wanted us ruined. You are too young: you do not know how it was before the war.
L'Express: I know one thing, at any rate: in 1935, one year before the popular front, a man like you was elected to the municipal council in the XVIIth district. And on what unique platform? Anti-Semitism.
L. Darquier: That is false. I was elected on a nationalist program! It is altogether different. And then in the first place, the word anti-Semite is an improper word...
L'Express: God knows if you used it though!
L. Darquier: It may be! But it would have been an error. After all, the Arabs, they too, are Semites. Do not mix it up... But I would like you to know, dear sir, in 1935, after the Stavisky affair and all the rest, being a nationalist implied being against the Jews. Because of the corruption, and of that Jewish garnering of all means of communication. At that time there was but one press that was not under the Jewish enterprise: the right wing press! And, I repeat, they wanted the war, the Jews. I had fought in 1914, 1 had done what is called "very admirable service". I had no intention to repeat that. And what is more, fight to be defeated! As a matter of fact, it was a Jew - you will like that - Georges Mandel himself wrote in the thirties: "It is the democracies that declare the wars ". If a Jew...
L'Express: Whom your friends of the Militia assassinated...
L. Darquier: That is more complicated than that. If a Jew now should come to own that sort of thing, it must well be true. You do not believe it? Now, the Jews wanted the war. I did not want it. Or if one wanted it then one should prepare seriously for it. But it was the Jews precisely who, pretending to be pacifists, refused to do it. That is why I was anti-Jewish.
L'Express: When did it happen? Where?
L. Darquier: I must tell you that I am from Cahors. At Cahors, we did not love the Jews. That is how it is. An old tradition. It must go back to the Middle Ages. But I am repeating to you that I was not elected on an anti-Jewish platform. There was a national tendency. That tendency elected me doubtlessly because of my behavior on February 6, 1934. Here, look here. (He pulls up the leg of his pant and shows me a hole in his right calf). That one, I did not get it in the trenches. I got it on February 6. The people of Paris knew that I was fighting for my ideas. Physically. That must have impressed them.
June 1936. Meeting of the Municipal Council of Paris.
Mr. Darquier de Pellepoix, speaking of Mr. Georges Hirsch: "If I discriminated among Jews, I am doing it again saying that you are a dirty little Jew... The most racist people on earth are the Jews. ... As long as you will not be rid of those people, the national existence of the country will be threatened... "
L'Express: You must own that you were the Nazis dream. Since 1936 you were asking all over Paris for actions - denaturalizing, among others - that not even they dared impose in 1942.
L. Darquier: Again, you have no idea what was the atmosphere in this country in the thirties. The Jews were all over. They had all levels of command. When I struck Leon Blum in the face, and I do not regret it...was a natural thing, a thing that many other Frenchmen dreamt of doing. At the time, one could not love one's country, desire peace, without finding oneself pitted against the Jews. It was impossible! But I must say nevertheless, that the French are finicky people. They have a skin sensitivity to demographic variations. When there are too many Jews, when they feel surrounded, pressured by the Jews, they start shouting: "Out with the Jews!" Eventually they get out in the streets. But as soon as you kill 50 Jews, they start crying out loud. I would say about the French in general that they are moderately anti-Jewish.
L'Express: The fact is that those moderately anti-Jewish people elected you decidedly. In 1935. They elected one, yourself, who declared at a meeting on March 11, 1937 at the Wagram Railway station: "The Jewish question must be solved most urgently. Let the Jews be exiled or massacred." Even at Nuremberg at that time it seems to me that the language was more convoluted...
L. Darquier: It was a figure of speech. I, you know, never wanted anyone dead.
L'Express: Not even the Jews you sent to Auschwitz?
L. Darquier: I wanted to see them gone, I was not interested in the rest. It was none of my business.
L'Express: I find that you had a very unique punctiliousness in your persecution. Thus, on September 9, 1942, you wrote the following internal note:
7he General Commissioner has noted that in the correspondence of certain bureaus the Jews were described as 'Israelites'. 77ze use of that description is due to Jewish influence which by forbidding the word 'Jew' managed to realize in words the main means of defense of Jewry which pretends that the Jewish question is nothing but a religious question. At the General Commission for Jewish Problems a Jew must be called a Jew, and the usage must not be 'Mr. Levy' or 'Mr. Dreyfus' but 'the Jew Levy' and 'the Jew Dreyfus'...
Signed Darquier de Pellepoix
Distributed to all Vichy bureaus.
L. Darquier: So what? What is your objection? Are the Jews not a race? Is it not true that they hide behind their pretended religion to perpetrate their mischief all over the earth? Really, I do not see what you find to cavil at in that memo. It is perfectly harmless. There is no trace of persecution, as you say.
L'Express: Whoever spoke of race in 1942 in France to describe persons or to describe a people is an accessory to genocide. Is that not so?
L. Darquier: But, finally, there was no genocide, for heaven's sake! You must put that idea out of your head.
L'Express: Do you know that the process of Kurt Lischka will begin shortly in Germany. I have it from a reliable source that the Frankfurt tribunal would be happy to have your testimony.
L. Darquier: You said Lischka? Who is that man?
L'Express: Generally speaking, the chief of the Gestapo in Paris between 1940 and 1943.
L. Darquier: I see, a petty German official. I must have met him two or three times. But there is decidedly something that you do not manage to understand: I met very few Germans.
L'Express: That is exactly what is frightening. Your decisions were not directly dictated from Berlin. Do you know what Knochen stated to the prosecutor on January 4, 1947 right before his trial?
L. Darquier: Knochen was not a madman like Dannecker. I absolutely want to make a note of that.
L'Express: Knochen said: "After the arrival of Darquier de Pellepoix, the General Commission for Jewish Problems became excessively zealous, coming to meet halfway all our desires and occasionally overstepping. "
L. Darquier: But certainly... Put yourself in the place of that man. He is on trial, he will say anything to save his skin. It is natural. It is human...
L'Express: And then, there is the famous meeting in Paris with Heydrich, Bousquet and you, in May 1942, on the very day of your nomination. What did you have to tell each other, you and Heydrich?
L. Darquier: In the first place, I did not want to meet with that man. But Knochen insisted, and I ended by accepting, saying to myself that after all it was better to find out what was in Heydrich's mind. So I went. We shook hands. We exchanged a few words. We saw each other for five minutes, all in all.
L'Express: You did not talk on that day about steps to take in the weeks and months to come?
L. Darquier: No. I do not know what he may have said to Bousquet and what Bousquet said to him, but as far as my own conversation with Heydrich is concerned, I assure you that it was perfectly insignificant.
L'Express: I summarize: Bousquet and you received a free hand from the Germans to carry out the anti-Jewish repression, the arrests, the lotteries. They must have trusted you! And, in the end, those very Germans helped you pass into Spain...
L. Darquier: That is not true. It was French people who saved me. But since you are coming to that epoch, I am going to surprise you. Do you know who it was that led me from Bordeaux to Spain over the mountains? A woman, a half-Jewish woman, who as a matter of fact was using her father's Jewish name. I saw her again, later, at Barcelona, we were very close until her death. That amazes you, does it? And just now I was telling you that I was left in royal peace. Do you know owing to whom? To Jews, to a great extent. To good French Jews, whom I had helped in difficult times. Among others, a certain Worms. I am not going to tell you any more...
L'Express: Thus, contrary to what is being said quite frequently, far from getting rich from Jewish property, you allowed certain great families to keep their riches? You had the tanners and furriers from the XIth district sent to Auschwitz, and you protected the great capitalists of the XVIth district? In fact, that is not illogical...
L. Darquier: I refuse to answer that kind of questions. I am reminding you that my sentence has been prescribed.
L'Express: Thus, you came to Spain...
L. Darquier: Yes. And in the beginning my wife and I were as poor as Job. I read, I don't know where, that I had a suspenders business. That is untrue. I sold suspenders, true, but as a street vendor, in the gardens of the Retiro in Madrid. But fortunately the tribulation did not last long. That is because I maintained good friends in Spain; from the times of the civil war. Military people. They helped me. They put me back on my feet. They protected me.
L'Express: What military people?
L. Darquier: You will not find that out. I hate informing, my dear sir. I will tell you that I became the official translator of the Oficenia diplornatica. I translated the official speeches of Franco's ministers. I also translated "The Red Book of the Gibraltar". Later, I could set up my little language school.
L'Express: And for a very long time you were there, under your own name, in the Madrid telephone book, that is true... However you were luckier than Laval. The Spaniards extradited him.
L. Darquier: Not at all. If he had stayed in Madrid, quietly, like me, nothing would have happened to him. But one fine day his wife said to him: "Let us return. You did nothing. They will not dare touch you ". And he returned, to please his wife. You know the rest. They shot him, the poor old man... The poor ugly mug from the Auvergne...
L'Express: In 34 years, nobody came to see you, nobody tried to kidnap you, nobody threatened you?
L. Darquier: Nobody ever... Oh yes... Three years ago, somebody, a French voice, rang me up to call me names. He said: "Scumbag! We will take your hide ". I was frightened. Not so much for myself. For my family. I called immediately my military friends to ask for special protection from them. They gave it to me immediately. After that, nothing!
L'Express: Do you feel regret sometimes? Remorse?
L. Darquier: Regrets for what? I do not understand your question.
1) That was a purely formal law; after March 1941, French police were arresting Jews who were French since 1897, to deliver them to the Germans!
2)Darquier's protector was General Barroso Sanchez-Guerra.