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‘An Affront to the Jewish Victims’: French Far-Right Leader Marine Le Pen Lays Memorial Wreath at Monument to Warsaw Ghetto

avatar by Ben Cohen

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right National Rally (RN) in France, lays a wreath at the monument to the Jewish victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. Photo: Attila Husejnow /SOPA Images/Reuters

The leader of the main far-right party in France put in an appearance on Friday at the monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto in the Polish capital, drawing a sharp rebuke from one Jewish leader who called the visit an “affront” to those who perished under Nazi rule during World War II.

Marine Le Pen — the leader of the far-right National Rally (RN) — visited the monument during a trip to Warsaw at the invitation of the Polish government, which is hosting a meeting of far-right and nationalist parties from around Europe on Saturday.

A candidate in next year’s French presidential election, Le Pen solemnly laid a wreath at the monument accompanied by a Polish military honor guard.

Abraham Foxman, the national director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told The Algemeiner that Le Pen’s presence at the monument was “an affront to the memory of the victims who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto.”

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“Her going is political chutzpah,” added Foxman, who survived the Holocaust in Poland as a young child.

“Worse is the Polish government arranging a formal official visit,” he said.

Saturday’s meeting will bring together some of the key leaders of the European far-right, whose agenda is increasingly focused on combating immigration, opposing the EU, curbing the human rights of the LGBTQ community, and revising the narrative of the Nazi Holocaust to exonerate non-Jewish populations of the crime of collaboration with the occupying Germans.

The meeting is being hosted by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the deputy prime minister and leader of the ruling  Law and Justice party (PiS) who is widely regarded as the most powerful individual in Poland. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Marowiecki will also be attending.

In addition to Marine Le Pen, other guests at the meeting will include the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and Santiago Abascala, the leader of Spain’s far-right, anti-immigrant Vox party.

Saturday’s meeting comes two months after Le Pen visited Orban in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, for talks on the future of the European right that also included Polish premier Marowiecki.

Her arrival in Poland at Kaczynski’s invitation signals an abrupt about-face in the Polish government’s attitude to her RN Party.

In 2019, Kaczynski ruled out the possibility of cooperation with the RN over its ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, claiming that the party was among several groups in Europe that were “obviously linked to Moscow and receive its support.”

In addition to the Warsaw Ghetto monument, Le Pen visited separate memorials in the Polish capital to Poles killed by the Soviet Union during the war. Marowiecki is scheduled to host a dinner for the far-right leader on Friday night.

Le Pen is the daughter of France’s most prominent post-war fascist leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen. The founder of the RN’s predecessor, the National Front (FN), the elder Le Pen was infamous for describing the Holocaust as a “minor detail in the history of the Second World War.”

In a dramatic move in 2015, Marine Le Pen seized control of the party from her father, expelling him from its ranks in a bid to rid the RN of its association with openly antisemitic and pro-Nazi politics.

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