Macron praises WWI general who later collaborated with Nazis

French President Emmanuel Macron greets French veterans at the cemetery by the Ossuary of Douaumont near Verdun, northeastern France, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 during ceremonies marking the centenary of World War I globe. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has waded onto controversial ground by praising a World War I general who subsequently collaborated with the Nazis in World War II.

Marshal Philippe Petain led the French army to victory in Verdun in 1916, but gained infamy and a conviction for treason for his actions as leader of the Vichy France in 1940 to 1944.

Macron said Wednesday in Charleville-Mezieres that Petain deserved praise for being "a great soldier" in WWI, although he took "fatal choices during the Second World War."

France's leading Jewish group, the CRIF, called Macron's words "shocking" and "an insult."

Petain was complicit in the 1942 deportation of 13,000 Jews from France in the Vel' d'Hiv roundup that was part of the Holocaust.

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