Another nonagenarian bastard is dead. As head of the French police, Maurice Papon was a Nazi collaborator under the Vichy regime, overseeing the transfer of at least 1500 French Jews to the camps in Eastern Europe. After the war, Papon furthered the cause of law and order by heading up the Parisian police — a position he acquired in March 1958 after several thousand police officers demonstrated on his behalf, led by the fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen. During the rally that immediately preceded Papon’s nomination as chief, his fellows — many of whom had also served the Vichy government — were heard chanting such inspiring slogans as “Sales Juifs! A la Seine! Mort aux fellaghas!” (“Filthy Jews! Into the Seine! Death to the rebels!”)
The “rebels” to which the policemen referred were of course the Algerians, who had the temerity to beg release from the abusive colonial situation they’d endured for more than a century. Papon, conveniently, had spent the previous two years supervising the detention and torture of those associated with the Algerian resistance. Less than six months after being named prefect of police, Papon oversaw the creation of an urban concentration camp in Paris, where 5000 Algerians were detained; two of the facilities used for the detentions had been similarly employed by the Petain government during World War II. When the FLN intensified its Parisian bombing campaign in August 1961, Papon instituted a racist curfew that confined French Algerians to their homes after 5:30 p.m. During a peaceful October demonstration that brought 30,000 people into the streets, Papon’s men opened fire without provocation and killed scores of protestors.
True to their March 1958 promises, some of Papon’s men tossed Algerian victims into the Seine.