Dominique Perben, the justice minister, said he was outraged and immediately asked prosecutors to open a preliminary inquiry into Mr Le Pen’s remarks. "He will have to explain himself before the justice system," Mr Perben said.
The leader of the National Front party was quoted as telling the small, far-right newspaper Rivarol: "In France at least the German occupation was not especially inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses.
"If the Germans had carried out mass executions across the country, as the received wisdom would have it, then there wouldn’t have been any need for concentration camps for political deportees," he is reported to have added.
During the Second World War, some 76,000 Jews, including 12,000 children, were deported from France, many to Auschwitz. Only 2,500 survived.