Monaco’s ruler, Prince Albert II, has apologized for his country’s role in deporting Jews to Nazi camps during World War II, during a ceremony in which he unveiled a monument bearing the names of Monaco’s deported Jews.
Seventy-three years ago, under pressure from Nazi collaborationist leaders in France, Monaco police rounded up at least 66 Jews on the night of August 27-28, 1942, including those who had sought refuge from the Holocaust in what they thought was a safe and neutral land. They were among about 90 people deported from Monaco, in addition to Monegasque residents deported from neighboring France, during the war, according to a government report completed this year. Only nine survived.
“To say this today is to recognize a fact. To say it today, on this day, before you, is to ask forgiveness,” Prince Albert said in a speech in presence of Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, who had encouraged Albert’s father, Prince Regnier, to begin examining Monaco’s role in the Second World War.
“We committed the irreparable in handing over to the neighboring authorities women, men and a child who had taken refuge with us to escape the persecutions they had suffered in France,” Albert said. “In distress, they came specifically to take shelter with us, thinking they would find neutrality.”
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor welcomed Prince Albert’s “poignant words at the ceremony, which more than anything, encapsulated the value of this study and introspection that he has personally led in recent years.”
“We welcome the desire of the Principality to properly examine its role during these dark days of the Nazi occupation.”
Monaco was officially neutral at the start of the war, and was later occupied by Italian, then German forces.
Prince Albert said the Monaco government has approved nine requests for compensation for property of deported Jews seized by Monaco authorities.