Following an announcement that New York City plans to put new historical markers around a statue of Christopher Columbus explaining his history, NYS Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) expressed shock and disappointment that monuments to Nazi collaborators Marshal Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval will remain in the Canyon of Heroes. Responsible for the murder of 100,000 men, women and children, Pétain and Laval are reviled in their native France, where no one would think to erect a monument to any Nazi collaborator.
“It is immoral to publicly display the names of Nazis,” said Hikind. “Every day, we are confronted with bigotry and divisiveness. New Yorkers have an obligation to say, ‘Not in our city.’ We have a moral obligation to educate the public, and especially young people, by removing markers that commemorate individuals who willingly participated in the systematic murder of innocent men, women and children. Does anyone disagree with this? I don’t think so. The excuse that it’s too difficult is absurd and sends the wrong message.”
Last May, Assemblyman Hikind brought awareness of the two monuments directly to the mayor asking that they be removed. In August, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the removal of busts of two Confederate generals from CUNY’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx. “New York says monuments to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson aren’t fit but allows Nazi collaborators to remain? I hope the mayor takes another serious look at this issue,” said Hikind. “These monuments should be torn out.”
The granite markers commemorating Pétain and Laval are located on Morris and Broadway in the Wall Street area’s “Canyon of Heroes.” Both men helped the Nazis deport and murder nearly 100,000 Jews, as well as Gypsies and homosexuals. After the war, Laval was executed for his war crimes. Pétain was convicted of treason in 1945 and sentenced to death by firing squad but France’s President Charles de Gaulle commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)