French Marshal and Vichy leader Henri-Philippe Petain, left, and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, right, share the famous 'handshake at Montoire' while interpreter Colonel Schmidt watches in October 1940. ((Hulton Archive/Getty Images))

France's highest court has recognized the state's responsibility for deporting Jews during the Second World War.

The Council of State said Monday the government in Nazi-occupied France had allowed or facilitated deportations that led to deaths and anti-Semitic persecution.

It said the Vichy regime in power at the time was under no external pressure from the Nazis to do so.

An estimated 76,000 Jews were deported from France between 1942 and 1944.

The judicial body said French authorities were complicit in making arrests and detentions, which was "the first stage of the deportation of these people to camps in which most of them were exterminated."

The court said, however, that the deportations had been "compensated for" since 1945, apparently ruling out reparations for deportees or their families.

Governments denied link

Analysts have said Monday's decision is one of the clearest acknowledgments of France's role in the Holocaust.

French governments after the war had for decades denied a link to the deportations. But in 1995, then-president Jacques Chirac formally recognized France's role in the Holocaust.

The Council of State's comments Monday come after a Paris court sought the council's opinion on a request by the daughter of a deportee who died at Auschwitz for reparations from the French state.

She was also asking for material and moral damages for her own suffering during and after the occupation.

The council left it up to the Paris court to rule on her request.

With files from the Associated Press