Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen Reuters

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen denied on Sunday that the French state was responsible for the wartime round-up of Jews at a Paris cycling track who were then sent to Nazi death camps, AFP reports.

Former President Jacques Chirac and current President Francois Hollande have both apologized for the role French police played in the round-up of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d'Hiv cycling track which was ordered by Nazi officers in 1942.

Le Pen, however, told the LCI television channel on Sunday, "I don't think France is responsible for the Vel d'Hiv."

"I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it's those who were in power at the time. It's not France," she continued.

Le Pen, who heads the National Front (FN) party, said France had "taught our children that they have all the reasons to criticize (the country), and to only see, perhaps, the darkest aspects of our history".

"So, I want them to be proud of being French again," she continued.

Le Pen recently made headlines when she said in an interview that, if elected president, she would move to prohibit dual citizenship for citizens of non-European countries.

Relating the case of Israel, where as many as 250,000 first and second generation French immigrants reside, Le Pen said no exception would be made.

“Israel is not a European country and doesn’t consider itself as such,” she told France 2 TV.

Le Pen later appeared to backtrack on those comments when she said she believes dual citizenship holders must decide which country is their real homeland, “but I’m not locked into abolishing dual citizenship.”

She added that she would permit dual citizenship if France and the other country in question had signed an agreement related to the matter.

Her latest comments come just two weeks ahead of the first round of France's highly unpredictable presidential election on April 23.

Le Pen's centrist rival Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said Le Pen's comments were "a serious mistake".

"Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen," Macron told BFMTV, referring to Le Pen's father who founded the FN in 1972 and has been convicted repeatedly for anti-Semitic and racist comments such as calling the Holocaust a "detail of history".

"We must not be complacent or minimize what the National Front is today," Macron said, according to AFP.

The CRIF umbrella grouping of French Jewish organizations and the Jewish students' union (UEJF) both blasted Le Pen for the comments, describing them as "revisionist".

"These remarks are an insult to France, which honored itself in 1995 by recognizing its responsibility in the deportation of France's Jews and facing its history without a selective memory," the CRIF was quoted as having said.

Le Pen defended her broadcast comments in a statement issued late Sunday.

"I consider that France and the Republic were based in London during the (Nazi) occupation," she said, according to AFP.

The British capital was where Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the free French forces, lived in exile during World War II while France's Vichy regime collaborated with Nazi Germany.

"The Vichy regime was not France," Le Pen continued in her statement, describing the wartime authority as "illegal".

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