Minister of State Serge Telle has given permission for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Dr Shimon Samuels to bring a historian into the archives in the Principality on March 2 to begin exploring official records, in order to throw more light on the wartime experiences of Monaco’s Jewish population, according to the UK’s Jewish Chronicle and Israeli media.
“When I had my first meeting with Mr Telle in Jerusalem, he said something that really shook me,” Dr Samuels said. “He confirmed to me that he was aware Monaco had not done the job of protecting Jewish people and hiding these people from the Nazis like they had promised they would do.
“He looked at me across the table and said: ‘For this, I beg forgiveness’. That showed a certain amount of goodwill,” Dr Samuels said.
According to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, there is already some evidence, gained from historical records elsewhere, pointing to the persecution of Monaco’s Jewish community during the Holocaust, including the seizing of money, the blocking of Jewish bank accounts and the looting of artwork.
In 2015 HSH Prince Albert offered an official apology and unveiled a statue to commemorate the 92 Jews that the country accepts were deported to death camps while the Germans controlled the Principality, a move by the Sovereign that was widely applauded at the time.
But, according to Dr Samuels: “We have documents secured from the Holocaust Memorial in Washington, and from Paris, which show the number is far greater than 92.
“Many were taken when the Italian fascist regime fell to the German Nazis and many fled to Nice and the areas surrounding Nice. We have found the names of many Jews who should have been saved but were not. I cannot give you an exact number of Jews in Monaco who lost their lives, but it almost certainly amounts to hundreds rather than 92.
“We will be asking for some sort of indemnification. We are not talking about a large amount of money. But if we get it, at least there will then be some kind of closure.”
PHOTO: Dr Shimon Samuels Jerusalem Post