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Posted Friday, June 18, 1999

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Associated Press
June 17, 1999

The Hunt Goes on ... after the Grave

Cousteau Accused of Anti-Semitism

PARIS (AP) -- The publisher of Jacques-Yves Cousteau's biography claims he has a 1941 letter that reveals an anti-Semitic side to the undersea explorer.

Portions of the letter were reproduced in the daily France-Soir on Thursday, when Cousteau was to be saluted posthumously by his successor at the prestigious Academie Francaise. Cousteau died two years ago at 87.

The letter was provided to the newspaper by Bernard Violet, who says it is addressed to Cousteau's best friend at the time.

It was written shortly after Cousteau was transferred to Marseille to work with French naval intelligence against the Nazi occupation.

In it, Cousteau complained of having trouble finding proper housing for his family. He said "there will not be a decent apartment until all those ignoble kikes burdening us are kicked out."

Asked if Cousteau might not simply be making a joke, Violet told the newspaper no.

"The only attenuating circumstance, if I dare say that, is the ordinary anti-Semitism that France was bathed in during the 1930s and that his family -- from Bordeaux's petite bourgeoisie -- shared," he said.

Cousteau's widow, Francine, vigorously denied that her husband was anti-Semitic.

"I spent 20 years of my life with him," Mrs. Cousteau said in a telephone interview. "I can swear that the captain was not an anti-Semite. He had a lot of friends who were Jewish, including members of our board." []

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