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B’nai Brith Canada Lauds B.C. for Rescinding Geographical Names Honouring Nazi Collaborator

Henri Philippe Pétain (Wikipedia)

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July 5, 2002

VANCOUVER – B’nai Brith Canada applauds the B.C. Government for responding to calls from our organization and other groups to rescind the names of three locations that honour Nazi collaborator Henri Philippe Pétain.

B’nai Brith wrote to the province’s Geographical Names Office on Nov.13, requesting that it rename a mountain, glacier, and creek in Eastern B.C. that are named after Pétain. On June 30, we received a letter in response indicating that the Mount Pétain, Pétain Creek and Pétain Glacier names would be rescinded.

The letter went on to say “Mount Pétain was established as an official name during the 1916 inter-provincial boundary survey to commemorate French general Henri Phillipe Pétain, who was recognized as a hero of the First World War for his role in the defence of Verdun (France). The creek and the glacier were subsequently named because of their association to the mountain. During the Second World War, Pétain headed the Vichy Government, an ally of Nazi Germany that created many antisemitic and other racially‐based policies. The place name records online will forever include the history of these names having once commemorated Pétain, but the names will no longer be labelled on provincial maps or distributed as an official place name in B.C. . . .”

Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, and Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, reacted positively.

“We are pleased that B.C. has taken the right steps on this issue,” Mostyn said. “This is an example of why B’nai Brith makes such strong efforts to fight for human rights. There is no room for celebrating Nazi collaborators in Canada.”

Other groups to voice their support for removing Pétain’s name from B.C. landmarks included the Regional District of East Kootenay, Columbia Valley Search and Rescue, Avalanche Canada, Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and B.C. Mountaineering Club.

“Pétain as leader of the collaborationist Vichy regime deported 76,000 Jews to Nazi concentration camps and under his command France became a racist, xenophobic puppet ally of the Nazis,” Rotrand said. “There is no heritage benefit to B.C. in maintaining the odious memory of Pétain on provincial landmarks, so we are delighted to see that all B.C. landmarks named after him have been rescinded.”

After the war, Pétain was tried and convicted of treason and found partly responsible for the murder of 76,000 Jews. He was originally sentenced to death, but, because of his age and World War I service, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Pétain died on July 23, 1951 at the age of 95.