Maurice Papon - who died on Saturday, aged 96 - became a symbol of French collaboration with the Nazis because of his role in the arrest, internment and deportation of Jews during World War II.
So, he was a Jew-murdering scumbag but—hey!—he was just following orders.
While I was most interested in Papon's career as a civil servant during the Algerian War, it was impossible to avoid his conviction in 1998 for crimes against humanity.
Doing 'his duty'
To judge by that alone, Papon seemed to have been a willing agent of state-sponsored anti-Semitism during World War II.
Yet the evidence pointed towards a more nuanced judgement.
Papon appeared not to have been motivated by anti-Semitism, but by a willingness to carry out the state's policies regardless of their consequences.
Oh, well that's OK then. He should have been in our civil service; they are all very keen indeed on ensuring that the state's policies are carried out, regardless of the consequences. Sure, it's probably rather disingenuous to even attempt to equate the introduction of ID cards, the stifling of civil liberties which the collusion in the ruthless, systematic murder of 6 million Jews, but you take the point...
At the crux of Papon's defence was the argument that he was a patriot just ensuring that
Yet he was unable to explain how he felt it was his duty to participate in the arrest, internment and deportation of 1,560 Jews from July 1942 to June 1944.
Papon believed a civil servant could not do wrong if he was acting in the service of the state.
Yes, of course, I see that now. How silly of me.
For fuck's sake, what a cunt the man was; and how tragic that the Beeb seem desperate to paint him as the best kind of patriot. Can I stop funding these bastards yet?