Manhattan BP Levine calls on city to remove Nazi sympathizers from public monument - World Jewish Congress

Manhattan BP Levine calls on city to remove Nazi sympathizers from public monument

Marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine held a press conference joined by descendants of Holocaust survivors, Gideon Taylor, CEO of JCRC-NY, and Menachem Rosensaft, the General Counsel and Associate Executive Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, calling on city leaders to remove the names of former French Nazi-collaborators Henri Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval from the Canyon of Heroes.

Pétain and Laval headed the infamous Nazi-controlled Vichy government during the occupation of France during the Second World War. After the war, both were convicted of treason and sentenced to death for betraying France and its Jewish citizens - 75,000 of whom they sent to concentration camps.

“Removing the plaques is not a whitewashing of history. Rather, it is a refusal to continue to honor two people who made the choice to embody the worst of humanity. Pétain’s World War I contributions and his and Laval’s ticker tape parades will continue to exist in historic records, but their names do not need to remain on Broadway alongside true heroes like Nelson Mandela and Covid-19 pandemic essential workers. France itself has renamed streets that once honored Pétain,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.

With the recent rise in antisemitic vitriol and attacks,it is especially urgent that we act swiftly to remove commemorations of people who allied with the Third Reich and perpetuated genocide against Jews and other marginalized groups in Europe. In a city home to more than one million Jews – many of whose ancestors fled countries ruled by Nazi collaborators – it is painful and shameful for these plaques to exist.

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