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Assemblyman targets Nazi ally among NYC’s Canyon of Heroes

Assemb. Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) speaks at a

Assemb. Dov Hikind (D-Borough Park) speaks at a news conference at the W Hotel Union Square in Manhattan. (Sept. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

ALBANY

A state assemblyman is trying to remove a memorial to the “Lion of Verdun” from Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes because of the Frenchman’s later collaboration with Nazis and the Holocaust.

Assemb. Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said he’s urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to have the memorial to former Marshal of France Henri-Philippe Pétain removed from where it has been embedded in a Fifth Avenue sidewalk near Wall Street since 1931.

Although a hero for France in World War I for his leadership in the Battle of Verdun and other key clashes, Pétain was made chief of state when the Germans overran France in 1940. After the war he was convicted of treason in France for his collaboration with the Nazi occupation. Britain’s The Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers have reported that newly uncovered documents showed Petain “spearheaded the persecution” of Jews in France during the war.

“This was a really bad guy, this is not someone on the periphery,” Hikind said in an interview. “He was a willing participant in the Final Solution in France.”

There was no immediate comment from the mayor’s office.

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