The Holocaust Historiography Project


In France, the fire of the controversy was ignited in 1974; then it quickly went out, at least in appearance, but it was smoldering beneath the ashes. Why did it flare up again in 1978 with such virulence and never to die out again since that time?

One can imagine a number of motives as much dependent on the actions of revisionists in France and elsewhere as on the reaction of the antirevisionists.

For my part, I would propose an hypothesis: it was from the moment when I used arguments of a material nature (based on physical, chemical, topographical and architectural considerations) that the opposing side really felt itself in danger. In the letter that I addressed, in 1974, to Dr. Kubovy and to a lot of other historians and specialists, my arguments were still implicitly of an historical nature. On the other hand, in the letters which I later sent to Le Monde and, in particular, in my article on “The Problem of the Gas Chambers or the Rumor of Auschwitz,” I entered onto more solid ground. Calling upon (1) the plans of the crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau, (2) documents on disinfestation gassing with Zyklon B, and (3) the American system of execution in gas chambers, I abandoned the too shifting ground of history for the firmer ground of science. It is because of that, it seems to me, that the opponent lost his footing and, in his panic, has since responded with manifestations of collective schizophrenia as well as with incessant intimidation and the creation of diversions, showing thereby that he wished at any cost to avoid the risk of a debate which — with good reason — he felt was lost in advance.