AUGUST 28 2015 13:43h

Monaco to compensate after apology for wartime deportation of Jews

Prince Albert II of Monaco visits Yad Vashem

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The tiny Mediterranean principality of Monaco - better known for being a tax haven and playground for the mega-rich - was set Friday to start paying out compensation. a day after the constitutional monarch's apology for the wartime deportation of Jews.

Prince Albert II asked for "forgiveness" as he acknowledged Monaco's role in the deportation of dozens of Jews during World War II.

"To say this today is to recognize a fact. To say it today, on this day, before you, is to ask forgiveness," Albert said at a ceremony on Thursday to commemorate the anniversary of Monaco's rounding up of its Jewish population during the night of August 27-28, 1942, under pressure from the pro-Nazi Vichy regime in neighbouring France.

Sixty-six Jews were arrested that night, a government report revealed earlier in the year, and 45 of them were immediately deported to Nazi Germany from the nearby French city of Nice.

A further 31 Jews were deported from Monaco in 1944 and another 16 Jews normally resident in Monaco were arrested outside the principality and deported.

Only nine out of the 92 deported Monegasque Jews survived the war, the report shows.

Albert unveiled a stone monument inscribed with all the names of the deported at a ceremony attended by family members, Monaco's chief rabbi, and Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld.

The Royal Palace in Monaco said in a statement that Albert's speech would "mark the culmination of a process initiated by the prince in 1993."

"Since the start of his reign, Prince Albert II, in a spirit of transparency, had wanted to go further in this duty of memory by creating in 2006 an aid commission for the victims of spoliation and, in 2011, a group of experts tasked with shedding light on the events that occurred in Monaco between 1942 and 1944," it said.

The February government report - by the group of experts assembled by the prince - led directly to Albert's apology. The commission has received nine applications for compensation so far, Albert said on Thursday.

"We committed the irreparable in handing over ... women, men and a child who had taken refuge with us to escape the persecutions they had suffered in France," Albert said in his speech.

"We did not protect them. It was our responsibility," he said. "In distress, they came specifically to take shelter with us, thinking they would find neutrality."

Albert's father Rainier III consistently resisted pressure from Jewish groups to look into the principality's World War II actions against the Jews.

 

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