The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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                     "The Darquier interview

In November 1978 Robert Faurisson wrote a letter on the 'problem'
of the gas chambers. Its timing was important. Its publication in Le
Monde followed close on the heels of a scandalous interview with
Darquier de Pellepoix in the weekly magazine, L'Express. [19] Dar-
quier was the Vichy Commissioner General for Jewish Affairs.[20]
Darquier has been described as the 'French Eichmann'--though
even Eichmann, the architect of the 'Final Solution', did not seek to
deny its reality.[21] Darquier, edited the Anti-Juif (Anti-Jew), which
blamed the Jews for the world's troubles. He also wrote an intro-
duction to a French edition of the Protocols published in 1939. He
argued, as did Hitler, that whether they were true or false was not
important: it was their vision that counted.[22]

Darquier was the second director of the Commission, created
by the 1941 Vichy Law. He occupied the post for nearly two years.
He was obsessed with the notion of race, and his propaganda
machine spawned a pyramid of racist institutions. Whereas his
predecessor, Vallat, played down the Nazi racist abuses of biology
and physical anthropology, leading to the matching of physical
types with intelligence and genetic desirability, Darquier had no
such scruples.[23] He made a radio statement in December 1942
suggesting that the deportation of Jews was a question of 'public
hygiene'. The vocabulary of pollution is significant. Darquier made
a number of proposals which went even further than those proposed
by the Germans.[24]

The interview with the war criminal Darquier was a shocking
event. It provoked a wave of indignation. It had been assumed that
he was long dead, having been condemned to death in his absence
on 10 December 1947. In fact, like the Nazi Belgian Rexist, Leon
Degrelle,[25] he was enjoying military protection in Spain. Clearly,
no effort had been made by the Giscardian government to extradite
him, and the Gaullist Minister of Justice, Alain Peyrefitte, lost no
time in making a statement to the effect that extradition orders were
not made on political grounds. Yet there are obvious counter-
examples on the left, like the Stuttgart lawyer, Klaus Croissant,
whose only crime was to defend his clients, the Baader-Meinhof
Urban guerrillas, who later committed suicide in the Stannheim top
security prison under suspicious circumstances.

In his Express interview, Darquier sought to deny both the
Holocaust and the gas chambers ('There was no genocide--you
must get that out of your head'). He claimed that only lice were
gassed in Auschwitz. He also denied his own responsibility in the
formulation of anti-Jewish legislation and in organising mass de-
portations. And he expressed no regrets.

If this were not enough, the interview also gave offence
because of its racist vulgarity and innuendo. The images of Jewry
are reminiscent of the classical antisemitic work of Eduard
Drumont of the Dreyfus period.

For Darquier, Jews are typically liars: the six million dead? --
'devilish Jewish propaganda'; 'a pure invention'; 'Jews will do any-
thing for publicity'; 'Jews only have on idea in their head: to make a
fuss wherever they are. And their aim? To make Jerusalem the
capital of the world'. This war criminal went on to suggest that the
photographs of gas chamber victims are 'Jewish fakes', and that the
responsibility for the war lay with the Jews.

The Faurisson affair

The Holocaust denial in France has become synonymous with the
Faurisson affair. What is more, it has become embroiled with Noam
Chomsky, the distinguished American linguist and staunch oppo-
nent of the Vietnam war.

Faurisson's book is entitled Memoire en Defense -- contre ceux
qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire. La question des chambres a gaz
(Testimony in Defence: Against those who Accuse me of Falsifying
History. The Question of the Gas Chambers). It is Faurisson's
answer to the accusation of falsifying history. Testimony in Defence
was published in Paris by Pierre Guillaume for the left anarchist
publishing house, La Vieille Taupe (The Old Mole), in 1980. It
boasts a preface by Noam Chomsky, an impassioned if ill-placed
defence of free speech. It was this and no more. Chomsky most
emphatically has no sympathy with the Holocaust denial propa-

Securing a preface by Chomsky was quite a feat. It was not
what he said that was significant but the face that the book was now
closely associated with such a well-known and respected intellec-
tual. It guaranteed Faurisson a measure of authority and a following
largely, of course, on the fascist right, but also among some sections
of the anti-imperialist, anarchist left. At the same time it gave him
access to the media.

Faurisson's denial of the Holocaust first appeared in the satiri-
cal Canard Enchame on 17 July 1974. It subsequently gained public
attention in December 1978 when the influential Paris daily, Le
Monde, published a letter from Faurisson headed 'The problem of
the 'gas chambers' or 'The rumour of Auschwitz' '. He wrote with
calculated cynicism: 'The non-existence of the 'gas chambers' is
good news for poor humanity. Good news like this should not be
suppressed any longer.'[26]

Robert Faurisson is not a historian. He belongs to a long line of
antisemitic academics and literary critics. Until recently, he was a
lecturer in twentieth-century French literature at the University of
Lyons II. He specialises in revealing 'the real meaning' of texts. In
Faurisson's view, texts have one particular meaning, or none at all,
an approach to stylistics he calls 'the Ajax method'--because 'it
scours as it cleans as it shines'.

Faurisson has 'demystified' or otherwise cleaned up a whole
series of French authors in this way. He exposed the 'fabrications'
and 'falsifications' of previous interpretations of which readers were
'dupes' and 'victims', a deception which in some cases had gone
undetected for a hundred years. He then turned his attention to
other types of text, including Anne Frank's Diary [27] and the Ger-
stein report. With characteristic repetitiveness and thoroughness,
the Ajax method having done its work, he informed the world that,
in his view, the Diary was a 'fabrication' and the gas chambers an
'enourmous hoax'. This is the 'good news for humanity' announced
in his letter to Le Monde.

Being such a benefactor of humanity, Faurisson had been
itching to impart this news for some time. Over a period of four
years he had written to Le Monde 22 times about the gas chambers.
Le Monde finally conceded after Faurisson had commented ap-
provingly on Darquier's allegation in a letter dated 10 November
1978, and published in L'Express, which he circulated to a number
of newspapers. Following this letter, he was contacted by the
socialist daily, Le Matin. In an Interview in Le Matin of 16
November 1978, he expressed the hope that the Express interview:

will help the public to realise that the alleged massacres in the
'gas chambers' and the alleged 'genocide' are part of same lie
which, unfortunately, has hitherto been sustained by official
history (that of the victors) and by the considerable power of the
media. In common with the Frenchman, Paul Rassinier (a
former member of the resistance and a deportee), with the
German, Wilhelm Staglich, [author of the Auschwitz Myth], the
Englishman, Richard E. Harwood, the American, Arthur R.
Butz (author of the Hoax of the Twentieth Century, such a
remarkable work that clearly no one has been able to reply to
him) and twenty other authors who are either ignored or calum-
nied as I hereby proclaim... that the massacres in so-called 'gas
chambers' are a historical lie... The drama documentary 'Holo-
caust' will not shed any light on this question, nor will LICA
[League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, now known as
LICRA]... We can only make sense of it by examination of the
different arguments.

Amidst the outrage provoked by the Darquier interview and in
discussions about the screening of the 'Holocaust' film, which was
eventually shown in France in February 1979, Faurisson's letter
came under fire. He used this pretext to demand his legal right to
reply and to impart his good news to an even larger section of the
French reading public. It was at this point, between Darquier and
the 'Holocaust' film, that Le Monde gave in.29 A full version of
Faurisson's text had previously been published by Bardeche in the
June 1978 issue of Defense de l'Occident. As the fascist Defense has
a limited circulation, Faurisson sent copies of the text to a number
of public figures. The letter was accompanied by the following typed

Conclusions (after thirty years' research) of revisionist

1. The Hitler 'gas chambers' never existed.

2. 'Genocide' (or 'attempted genocide') of Jews never took
place; more precisely, Hitler never gave the order (or
would never have approved it) that anyone should be
killed on the grounds of their race or religion.

3. The alleged 'gas chambers' and the alleged 'genocide' are
part of the same lie.

4. This lie, which is essentially Zionist in origin, has allowed a
huge political and financial swindle of which the state of
Israel is the principal beneficiary.

5. The principal victims of this lie and of this swindle are the
German and Palestinian people.

6. The tremendous power of the official media has hitherto
ensured the success of this lie and censured the freedom of
expression of those who denounced the lie.

7. The supporters of the lie now know that their lie has only a
few more years to run: they are distorting the objective and
the nature of revisionist research; what is simply a concern
with a retum to historical truth they are calling 'resurgence
of Nazism' or a 'falsification of history'. [30]

This produced explosive reactions and a blaze of publicity
which Faurisson had sought for so long. It was at this juncture that
the Dean of Lyons University decided to suspend Faurisson's lec-
tures following hostile demonstrations.

How is it that Chomsky and the left-wing French sociologist
Serge Thion, became involved in the Faurisson affair? The asso-
ciation is highly disconcerting for anyone on the left. Chomsky and
Thion are friends. They were both prominent in the anti-imperialist
struggle in South East Asia. [31] They are much admired on the left for
their outspoken and courageous stand. What happened?

Chomsky was one of the first to sign a petition in defence not of
Faurisson, he insists, but of civil rights. An 'opinion' (un avis)
originally solicited by Thion which Chomsky emphasises was in-
tended simply as an 'opinion', nothing more, was published as
preface to Faurisson's Testlmony in Defence. Yet Professor Arno J.
Mayer of Princeton University talked with Chomsky about his
preface one month before it was published so that he knew exactly
in what context it was being used.[32] Faye's version, however, is
slightly different. According to a letter sent to his friend, the French
writer, Jean-Pierre Faye, which Faye made public in a televised
interview, Chomsky sought to retract this 'opinion', but too late.
Convinced by Faye, Chomsky wrote to Thion requesting him either
not to publish his statement on civil liberties, or to publish it as
separate document. Thion also issued a communique, quoting from
the letter in question.[33] But the deed was done. However, this does
not square with other information. Other Chomsky interviews, like
the one given to the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, published on 18
December 1980, give a different impression. According to the
report of the interview, he stated that, even with hindsight, his
'opinion' was not misused.

Chomsky's 'opinion' published in Testimony in Defence is en-
titled 'Some elementary comments on the right to freedom of
speech'. In the second paragraph, Chomsky advises the reader that
he has no particular knowledge of the subject, that is, of the gas
chambers. This impression is confirmed when, towards the end of
the preface, he tells us he is not very familiar with Faurisson's work.
In fact, there is no evidence that Chomsky had read anything at all
by Faurisson when he wrote this piece. What he had read. at least in
part, was Pierre Vidal-Naquet's scholarly and detailed demolition
of Faurisson's argument in 'A Paper Eichmann'.[34] That surely was
sufficient. Yet Chomsky does not address himself to Vidal-Naquet's
arguments. He restricts his comments to Vidal-Naquet's reaction to
the petition referred to in 'A Paper Eichmann'.

The petition itself speaks for a man at the butt of persecution.
But his defence of free speech knows no bounds. He writes:

I should like to add a final remark about Faurisson's alleged
'anti-semitism'. Let it be said that even if Faurisson were a rabid
anti-semite or a fanatic Nazi supporter--and these are accu-
sations levelled at him in letters I have received...--that has
absolutely no bearing on his legitimacy of the civil rights'
defence. . . On the contrary, that would make the defence of these
rights all the more imperative since, once again,... and history
shows this, it is precisely the right to express the most dreadful
ideas freely which must be most rigorously defended.. .

Leaving aside this central question, one may wonder
whether Faurisson is really an anti-semite or a Nazi. As I said
before, I am not very familiar with his work... but I am in
possession of no evidence which would support any such con-
clusions... As far as I can judge Faurisson is a kind of relatively
apolitical liberal.[35]

That anyone can describe Faurisson as a 'kind of relatively
apolitical liberal' after reading his Testimony and other essays con-
veniently reproduced by Thion is quite extraordinary. It is my
considered view that Chomsky committed an act of gross irres-

Taking an extreme anarchist position on free speech may
appear attractive in theory. In practice, however, it usually involves
making judgements. In this case, Chomsky has made a judgement
about Faurisson by characterising him as a 'kind of relatively
apolitical liberal'. As this is clearly far from being the case, it could
be said that this political laissez-faire position leads to fudging.

Thion's part in the Faurisson affair is quite different from
Chomsky's in that he has willingly assumed the role of Faurisson's
spokesperson. His book, Verite historique ou verite politique? (His-
torical Truth or Political Truth?. 1980) published by la Vieille
Taupe, reproduces a number of Faurisson's hitherto unpublished
essays and letters.

In a forceful introduction which strikes an urgent, personal
note, Thion invites historical debate on the question of the gas
chambers as a fundamental academic principle. He is undecided
himself whether they existed or not. This open and questioning
disposition is typically part of a certain academic training. In
Thion's case, as in Chomsky's, it is no doubt shaped by his profound
distrust of 'official versions' of history, whatever their political
colouring. The stubborn refusal of sections of the official commu-
nist left to admit to the grim reality of Stalinist excesses, put out at
the time as CIA fabrications, is part of this resistance to 'official
history' which is widespread on the left.

It would be mistaken, in my view, to assume that Thion's
involvement is an act of political bad faith. As I see it, Thion, in
encouraging a thousand versions of history to bloom, while refusing
an acceptable label to any one, replaces a state view of history
(which he is surely right to reject) with a range of undifferentiated,
equally weighted accounts. The difficulty is that such a range ig-
nores power relations. It is a kind of free-market version of history.

Thion would seem to have fallen into the trap of reproducing
Faurisson's arguments as if they were disinterested contributions to
a historical debate. It is tragic that Thion's uncompromising radical
commitment to both free speech and academic debate ('we have no
desire to discuss his [Faurisson's] intentions')[36] does not allow him
to see, even less accept, that Faurisson and others are bent on
replacing the present anti-Nazi climate with a Nazi consensus, and
that, in order to do so, they are playing intellectual games using
academic, anti-authoritarian language. To talk of defending free
speech in what is clearly a profoundly racist context can only be
attributed to naivete or bad faith.

For Pierre Guillaume, the proprietor of La Vieille Taupe, in a
letter published in Liberation on 7 March 1979,[37] this constant
over-exposure of Nazism is politically undesirable. Guillaume
admits that he prefers the reaction 'that's dead and gone', or 'Hitler,
who's he?'

Furthermore, in his view, it is 'an attempt to assume ideological
power' and a substitute for the analysis of 'real problems'. It was on
these dubious grounds that Guillaume was opposed to the screening
of the 'Holocaust' film. He argued that deportation and torture are
features of war everywhere (an argument also present in Bardeche
and comparable sources), and drew attention to the undeniable
atrocities committed by the French army during the Algerian war.[38]
This lead to an exchange of letters in Liberation which refer
derisively to the Holocaust as the top of the 'horror hit parade' and
to 'the great holocaust laments'.[39]

A number of leaflets appeared from the extreme left in support
of Faurisson following the LICRA accusation of falsifying history.
One such leaflet originally produced in June 1980 by La Guerre
Sociale (Social War), associated with La Vieille Taupe, was entitled
Qui est le Juif (Who is the Jew?). It seeks to draw a clear distinction
between Darquier and Faurisson, and argues that the doubts about
the existence of the gas chambers originated on the left with Ras-
sinier, and the left must be concerned with the truth. The truth, it
claims, cannot be antisemitic, even if it contradicts the 'mythology
of the holocaust'.

It further argues that 'the legend' of the 'gas chambers' was
made official by the Nuremberg Tribunal where the Nazis were
judged by the victors. If the function of these trials was to dis-
tinguish 'democratic stalinist' camps from the Nazi camps, then it
follows that the functions of both anti-fascism and anti-Nazism are
comparable in that they serve to justify their own war crimes. The
leaflet goes on to proclaim that there is one enemy, namely, the
relations of capitalist production. This enemy is not to be confused
with a single social group, like the bourgeoisie or the bureaucrats.
The tract concludes by supporting Faurisson on the grounds of
freedom of expression: it claims that he is being attacked for having
looked for truth. Finally, it is stated that the struggle against racism
of any description is both shortlived and superficial if it is not a
struggle against capital. This is a striking example of dogmatic,
maxist reductionism where oppressions are conflated to those of
capital and class. It is not merely simplistic: it is also racist in that it
ignores other specifities, other patterns of exploitation and

These arguments are set out more fully in a 1979 issue of La
Guerre Sociale[40] produced in association with La Vieille Taupe. The
second part has assumed the proportions of a hundred-page book
entitled De L'Exploitation dans les 'camps' a l'exploitation des
camps (From the Exploitation in the Camps to the Exploitation of
Camps) which also reprints a number of earlier leaflets.

In May and June 1981, Faurisson stood trial at the Palais de
Justice in Paris. There were three separate charges. The first was
brought by the eminent historian, Leon Poliakov. Faurisson had
accused Poliakov of manipulating and fabricating his sources with
particular reference to the Gerstein report.[41] This first charge was a
straightforward slander case, but given the charged political con-
text, it carried particular overtones. The second case to be heard
and the only civil charge, was concerned with the social responsi-
bility of the historian. Under Article 382 of the Civil Code, Faur-
isson was accused of wilfully distorting history. The third charge,
relating to an antisemitic radio statement which Faurisson had
made on 17 December 1980, was for incitement to racial hatred
according to the 1972 French Race Relations Law. Faurisson had

The alleged gassing and the alleged genocide of Jews are part of
the same historical lie which has been the basis of a huge political
and financial swindle of which the principle beneficiaries are the
State of Israel and the principal victims the German people, not
its leaders, and the Palestinian people.

It is a shocking reversion of roles in which the Jewish people are
accused of perpetrating crimes of which they were the victims. The
reference to Palestinians is no less misleading and cynical. The
reality of the gas chambers bears no relation to Palestine or the
Palestinians. It is a confusing, diversionary tactic, and one which
has had some support on the left. Indeed, there is a certain con-
gruence with left-wing 'revisionism' of the Lenni Brenner variety
discussed in chapter four. This argument, together with most of
those reproduced and expanded by Faurisson, had been formulated
by Rassinier in Debunking the Genocide Myth,[42] who uses much the
same phrasing. Faurisson only appeared for the first trial, and was
found guilty on all three charges. The three cases were reported in
Le Monde.[43] The trials were reported in the British press by Gitta
Sereny in the New Statesman,[44] and in the French anti-fascist
press.[45] A full legal report was published in Le Monde on 18 July
1981, which has been translated in Patterns of Prejudice. [46]

We shall begin with the last case. This case, in which the
prosecution called on a number of expert witnesses, including his-
torians, was particularly revealing in terms of fascist language and
argument. Le Goff, medieval historian, illustrated how over cen-
turies, going back to the year 1,000, a systematic association has been
constructed linking Jews with 'fraud' and 'deception'. An under-
standing of the historical dimension of antisemitism is vital. In his
own experience, Jewish teachers are persecuted in present-day
Poland in the name of 'anti-Zionism'. For Faurisson, antisemitism
and anti-Zionism are synonymous. Madeleine Reberioux, social
historian, referring to Kant, the nineteenth century idealist philo-
sopher, characterised the phrase 'international Zionism' as 'a con-
cept devoid of content'. Whereas the Nazis of the Third Reich
referred to 'Jews' and alleged 'Jewish plots', contemporary Nazis
refer to 'Zionists' and 'international Zionism'. The same is true in
Britain.[47] It is essential to realise that this strategic vocabulary shift
is a feature of postwar fascist movements. The equation of 'Jews'
with 'Zionist' is not just a facile and misleading formula but part of a
well-planned strategy which attracts the allegiance of non-fascists,
including uncritical section of the far left.[48]

The second trial for falsification of history was the most re-
markable. The charge itself is quite extraordinary. It was a civil case
brought by two anti-racist organisation, LICRA (League against
Racism and Antisemitism) and MRAP (Movement against Racism
and for Friendship among Peoples), together with groups repre-
senting former members of the resistance and deportees.

Neither side was inviting the court to rule on historical fact, or
for or against a particular interpretation of history. This would have
been crass and in any event unacceptable in a liberal democracy. It
was Faurisson's methods that were under attack, not the right to
express or publish his fundamentally antisemitic views. It was not
the Inquisition trying to silence Galileo, as Faurisson's lawyer
would have it. The case was based on a new interpretation of Article
382 of the Civil Code which is concerned with civil responsibilities.
This new reading focuses on the social responsibility of the historian
not to ignore or distort key documents.

In a sense this is somewhat paradoxical since Faurisson claims
to be reinterpreting existing documents, a normal part of academic
reappraisal. But it is Faurisson's claim to academic status which is at
the heart of the trial. Faurisson, Butz and others, as we have seen,
go to great lengths to be accepted as genuine academics concerned
with the advancement of knowledge. This strategy is evident in the
creation of the Institute for Historical Review and its journal.

The lawyers were conscious of the paradox, and addressed
themselves to the distortions and gaps in Faurisson's arguments.
Another dimension of the paradox was that in order to highlight
these distortions it was necessary to contextualise and therefore
provide the court with data concerning the gas chambers and the
methods of extermination. The prosecution lawyers, in particular
Bernard Jouanneau representing LICRA, had taken two years to
prepare the case, working with and as historians. The documenta-
tion was as voluminous as it was horrifying, its main focus being the
Kremer diary. Johann Paul Kremer was an SS doctor who had been
transferred to Auschwitz on 30 October 1942, ostensibly to solve
the typhus epidemic. On arrival, he was given secret instructions by
the doctor in charge. The Kremer diary gives detailed account of
gassing arrangements, of the selection and preparation of victims,
the removal of hair and gold teeth.

In his books Faurisson argues at some length that the Kremer
diary entry in which he records his first participation in the 'special
action', describing Auschwitz as an 'extermination camp'[49] has been
misinterpreted and manipulated by postwar 'Polack-Stalinist'
commentators. He alleges that the term 'extermination' (Vernich-
tung) has nothing to do with gassing, but relates to the typhus
epidemic which was raging throughout the camp. He goes so far as
to provide a definition of typhus from the Larousse dictionary
suggesting that the Greek etymology explains the term typhos as a
kind of inertia.[50] It is clear that the 'special actions', at which
Kremer was present on 15 occasions, coincided exactly with new
arrivals at Auschwitz. This further coincided with new, increased
deliveries of Zyklon B gas. He maintains that the new arrivals
represented an increased health hazard, and hence the gas--for
delousing purposes only. Faurisson's other arguments, concerning
mistranslation and omission addressed by the prosecution council,
are of the same order.

Ostensibly and superficially, the trial was about writing history,
about historical method. There are, of course, conventional his-
torical methods, and a historiographer entertains a particular re-
lationship with history. The selection or elicitation of evidential
material is intimately tied up with a particular construction of
reality: any history, is typically a social construction in narrative
form. This construction is eminently political and ideological, and
involves categorisation.

To erect categories is to establish the central characteristics of
an object. For example, to talk of Jews as a 'problem' is to give a
further lease of life to the dehumanised stereotype sustained by
Nazi propaganda. This is also how blacks tend to be categorised in
the media. And, indeed, all dominated groups. Reference has
already been made in chapter two to the manipulation of the
category of the natural. Also, the content of what one believes
shapes one's stand, and this stand shapes what one sees. Belief in a
Jewish world conspiracy[51] will 'explain' or twist events, including
the Holocaust, in which Jews are again the arch-conspirators, and
the gas chambers a myth of their own making.

Paradoxically, the charge, much of the prosecution and part of
the defence, were seemingly apolitical. A number of the prosecution
lawyers rejected the political in favour of the 'technical'. The
'technical' arguments amounted largely to detail accounts of the
techniques of gassing based on SS diaries and testimonies, par-
ticularly the Kremer diary. These were counter-arguments to those
advanced by Faurisson in his Testimony--but they were not
answered by the defence. It made more strategic sense to shift their
terrain and construct a defence on the grounds of civil liberties and
the limits of knowledge.

This was political--at different levels. It was ostensibly poli-
ticised in that Faurisson was portrayed as a victim of a repressive
system. It was also a very acceptable liberal and left argument in
terms of freedom of speech. The argument about the limits of
knowledge was unanswerable. Eric Delcroix, Faurisson's lawyer,
began: 'I am not brilliant. I don't claims to know everything. Who
can claim to know everything about the truth?' Unimpeachable.
Here was the 'revisionist' defence making skilful use of liberal
arguments with the knowledge on both sides that fascism is as
inimical to liberalism as it is to Marxism.

It was political, too, at another level: in moving from and re-
defining the original charge (distortion of history), the defence
effectively and radically changed the rules, though this was, of
course, still within the juridicial rules and conventions for conduc-
ting a defence.

I have referred to the weight of the technical arguments which
Bernard Jouanneau and Charles Korman of LICRA presented to
the court, through a mass of documents which they had assembled
over a two-year period with the help of historians. Jouanneau spoke
at some length in an appropriate monotone about the production
and use of Zyklon B gas in the camps, and Auschwitz in particular.

Korman's presentation was more personal in tone. He ad-
dressed himself to the conditions of the victims in Auschwitz prior
to gassing, and to the case of three Dutch women who were
recorded as shot--precisely because they rebelled against the
'special action'. In Faurisson's construction, prisoners were typi-
cally shot, never gassed.[52] Korman had calculated how many Jewish
victims had to be squeezed into the limited area of each chamber so
that they remained wedged upright although dead. Young fascists
in the courtroom sniggered and poked fun at the apparent impossi-
bility of such maximisation of dying-space.

Other lawyers for the prosecution made complementary
points. These included Robert Badinter, former Minister of Justice
in the Mitterrand administration, whose vibrant testimony led for
the prosecution. It was as if the prosecution felt it incumbent upon
them to advance the proof of the Holocaust--as if the neo-Nazi
fabrication had to be taken seriously, as if it called for serious
rebuttal on behalf of historians. Arguably, this was secondary.
However, a prosecution cannot plead distortion in the abstract--
data must be provided. This was another paradox of the trial.

As Apfelbaum has commented,[53] the insidious effect of
reading the Holocaust denial literature is to lose one's own identity
as a survivor, and, more generally, as a Jew. The experience is
comparable to psychological disorientation or sensory deprivation.
After the physical genocide, this desire to destroy a people's history
and identity represents a symbolic genocide. These were certainly
the feelings I experienced during the trial,[54] and I felt nausea then
and now.

My precise political assessment of the trial has not wavered: I
agree wholeheartedly with Vidal-Naquet[55] and others that it was an
aberration. How can a court of law be invited to pass judgement on
a version of history? It is unthinkable. At the same time, and I can
stand the contradiction, I have an enormous sympathy, and, in-
deed, an enourmous admiration for lawyers, like Jouanneau and
others, who spent two years preparing the trial and who, like me,
had been exposed daily to the Holocaust literature and its effects.
Some must have entertained doubts about the advisability of this

The case was heard under the Giscard government. I can easily
understand how anti-fascists, including Jewish anti-fascist activists,
given the complicity of members of the police and high-ranking
government officials, were determined to use every means at their
disposal, and in this case, the legal system, to control and expose
antisemitic activity and attacks. The trial also raises a fundamental
problem for liberalism and the limits of free speech.

Arguments in Britain about the pros and cons of banning the
National Front produced similar divisions and uncertainties on the
left. It would be widely accepted that fascism or fascist presence
stifles free speech. Conversely, it is argued that moves to proscribe
rightist organisations would certainly be used to ban the revolu-
tionary left. Such moves are common in France against fringe
groups, (who immediately regroup under another name), and are
operated in Britain to ban both fascist and unemployment marches.
Also, since courts would tend to be seen on the left and certainly by
most black people as part of a repressive state system used to
strengthen and, indeed, administer institutional racism, they cannot
be considered as vehicles in the anti-racist struggle. On the other
hand, race relations legislation, however toothless, uses the court of
law. Clearly, this is a very vexed question.


M. R. Marrus and R. O. Paxton, Vichy et Les Juifs, (Paris:
Calmann-Levy 1981),337.  English language edition:  Vichy
France and the Jews (New York: Basic Books, 1981).

19. 'L'Express, 28 October-4 November 1978. The Express
interview quoted from the Petit Parisien, 1 February 1943.

20. Marrus and Paxton, op. cit., 261 seq. See also P. Kingston,
Anti-Semitism in France during the 1930s (Hull: University of
Hull, Occasional Papers in Modern Languages, no 14,1983).

21. H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality
of Evil, (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1979,
3rd edn . ) .

22. G.L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political
Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the
Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich, (New York, Fertig,
1978), 230.

23. In terms of their antisemitic vulgarity, there was not much to
choose between them. In 1942 Vallat, addressing the students
of the Ecole des Cadres, referred to Jews as 'worms which love
gangrene sores'. Darquier referred to Bernard Lecache,
president of the International Ligue against Antisemitism
(LICA), as 'this circumcised swine' (quoted by Marrus and
Paxton, op.cit.), 261.

24. Regarding Darquier, see J. Billig, Le Commissariat general
aux questions juives, t. I, 1955, t. II, 1957 and t. III, 1960,
Paris, Institut d'etudes des questions juives; J. Laloum, La
France Antisemite de Darquier de Pellepoix (Paris: Syros,

25. D. Wallef, 'The Composition of Christus Rex', in Larsen
Hagtvet and Myklebust, eds., Who Were the Fascists?, Oslo:
Universitetsforlaget, 1980), 517-23.

26. Le Monde, 29 December 1978. For an accessible study of
Faurisson's mode of argument, see N. Fresco, 'Les
redresseurs des morts, ou comment on
revise l'histoire', Les Temps Modernes, June 1980, 2150-2211.
In English translation, 'The Denial of the Dead', Dissent, Fall
1981. For a linguistic study, see J. Authier-Revuz and L.
Romeu, 'La place de l'autre dans un discours de falsification
de l'histoire. A propos d'un texte niant le genocide juif sous le
IIIe Reich', MOTS, no 8, mars 1984 (special number, G.
Seidel, ed.), 53-70.

27. Barnes and Barnes, op. cit.

28. Quoted by S. Thion, Verite historique ou verite politique?
(Paris: La Vieille Taupe, 1980), 93. (Trans: G.S.)

29. Le Monde, 16 December 1979, 29 December 1978, 16 January

30. Quoted by Thion, op. cit., 89. (Trans: G.S.)

31. N . Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins, (New
York, Pantheon, 1969); S. Thion and J.C. Pomonti, Des
Courtisans aux Partisans: essai sur la crise cambodgienne
(Paris: Gallimard, 1971.)

32. P. Vidal-Naquet, personal communication, 3 December 1982.

33. Le Monde, 20 December 1980.

34. P. Vidal-Naquet's 'A Paper Eichmann' has been published in
Democracy (USA), April 1981 in English. It was first
published as 'Un Eichmann de papier' in Esprit, (September
1980), 8-56. Faurisson has since written a reply Re'ponse a
Pierre Vidal-Naquet (Paris: La Vieille Taupe, 1982). See also
Vidal-Naquet's 'Theses sur le revisionnisme', contribution to
the International Colloquium on Nazi Germany and the Jews,
Paris, 1982.

35. N. Chomsky's preface to R. Faurisson, Memoire en Defense,
contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire: La question
des chambres a gaz (Paris: La Vieille Taupe, 1980), XIV-XV.
(Trans: G.S.)

36. Thion, op. cit., 16.

37. Ibid, 138.

38. H. Alleg, La Question, (Paris: Minuit, 1958), P. Vidal-
Naquet, La Torture dans la republique (Paris: Maspero,

39. Thion, op. cit., 136-7.

40. La Guerre Sociale, no. 3, (June 1979).

41. J. Shirley, 'A tale of horror on the Berlin Express', Sunday
Times, 29 March 1981.

42. P. Rassinier, Debunking the Genocide Myth (Torrance,
California: Institute for Historical Review, 1978), 214.

43. Le Monde, 31 May; 1, 3, 4 and 30 June 1981.

44. G. Sereny, 'The Nazi record on trial', New Statesman, 10 April

45. Le Droitde vivre, September 1981.

46. Patterns of Prejudice, vol 15, no 4, (October 1981), 51-S. The
'Roques Affair' is the latest postscript. A doctoral thesis
improperly awarded to Henri Roques in June 1985 at Nantes
University in the presence of Faurisson was withdrawn after
the intervention of the French Minister responsible for
research. The thesis implicitly denied the existence of the gas
(See 'M. Roques n'est pas docteur', Le Monde, 4 July 1986;
and P. Webster, 'Minister cancels doctorate claiming
innocence of Nazis', Guardian, 3 July 1986.) (Seidel, 98 - 111)

47. Billig, 1978, op. cit.

48. This is further discussed in chapter seven.

49. Faurisson, 1980, op. cit., 121.

50. Ibid., 14.

51. Billig, 1984, op. cit., chapter 9.

52. See G. Wellers' letter 'Un Roman inspire', Le Monde, 21
February 1979; see also E. Kogon et al., Les Chambres a Gaz,
Secret d 'Etat, (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1984).

53. E. Apfelbaum, 'Forgetting the Past', Partisan Review, 4,

54. G. Seidel, 'Neo-Nazism Myth: Faurisson and History on Trial',
paper presented to the Tenth World Congress of Sociology
(Sociolinguistics section, subsection: Language and Power),
Mexico, August 1982.

55. P. Vidal-Naquet, Les Juifs, la memoire et le present (Paris:
Maspero, 1981).

                           Work Cited

Seidel, Gill. The Holocaust Denial. London: Beyond the Pale 
Collective, 1986

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