Mark Levine wants Pétain and Laval names removed from Broadway Canyon of Heroes


Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said the city must remove the names of Nazi collaborators Henri Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval from the Canyon of Heroes — almost 100 years after they were honored with a ticker-tape parade.

“There are difficult calls here on the Canyon of Heroes and the question of reconsidering modern monuments in general, but all of us should agree that Nazi collaborators are simply beyond the pale,” Levine, who is Jewish, told The Post.

Pétain and Laval fell into international disgrace after they collaborated with the Third Reich in sending thousands of Jews to their deaths while respectively serving as the top leader and prime minister of Vichy France following the 1941 German conquest.

Laval, the French prime minister at the time of his Oct. 22, 1931 parade, was executed for his crimes in 1945 while Pétain died in prison in 1951 twenty years after his own ticker tape held just four days after that given to his future fellow fascist-loving Frenchman.

Their ignominious falls were particularly rough for Pétain, a man admired worldwide as “The Lion of Verdun” who stopped the Germans from overpowering allied forces in a key 1916 battle of the First World War.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine holding a microphone in a gloved hand in front of a blurry building
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine says Broadway is no place to honor the names of Nazi collaborators like Pierre Laval and Henri Philippe Pétain.
Getty Images

Megan Rapinoe and other members of the World Cup winning US Women's Soccer Team waving American flags during a parade in their honor
New York City has held ticker tape parades for more than a century to honor admired figures like the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team.

Despite their roles in one of the biggest crimes in human history, New York City enshrined their names into the Broadway sidewalk two decades ago alongside a long list of military heroes, politicians, sports idols and others honored with parades declared by mayors.

“You might assume that names were added throughout the last century,” Levine said of the names etched onto the Broadway sidewalk. “This is a fairly recent development.”

History has hardly been kind to some of the people once honored by New Yorkers such as former South Vietnam strongman Ngo Dinh Diem, who was honored on Broadway six years before dying in a 1963 military coup backed by the United States.

An older white man with a white mustache with a suit sitting at a desk in an old black and white photo.
French WWI hero Henri Phillippe Pétain became a widely-reviled figure after collaborating with the Nazis as a leader of the Vichy France puppet regime during WWI.
Popperfoto via Getty Images

Pierre Laval sitting at a cluttered desk with a mustache in an old black and white photo.
Pierre Laval was honored in 1931 while serving as the French prime minister before betraying his country ahead of his 1945 execution.
Getty Images

But the crimes of Pétain and Laval are on a whole other level, according to Levine, who will champion their removal at a Friday press conference in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

He said he will formally detail his objections to their continued presence in a letter to the City Design Commission, which has the ultimate say on whether the disgraced Frenchmen will become the first people to ever have their names removed from the sidewalk.

While former Mayor Bill de Blasio tried and failed to remove their names, Levine expressed confidence that he can succeed given the role Pétain and Laval played in helping the Nazi regime in killing roughly 6 million Jews during WWII alongside millions of other groups victimized in the Holocaust like disabled people, the Roma, Slavs, prisoners of war and others.

The legs of a man and a woman strolling on Broadway while passing the name of Pierre Laval in sidewalk.
Laval and Pétain’s names can be clearly seen on Broadway.

A crowd of people on a sidewalk walking by the name of Petain
New York City added the names of the disgraced Frenchmen in the early 2000s alongside others honored by past ticker tape parades.

Discussions can be held in the future on potentially removing other controversial figures from the Canyon of Heroes, but why not start with two Nazi collaborators tried and convicted by their own country long ago, Levine argues, though French pols have struggled at times with the Pétain legacy considering his WWI heroics.

“They were active participants in a Nazi regime, in Europe in a country that persecuted and caused the deaths of countless students,” he said.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here