Revisionism on trial in France: 1979-1983
For a period of four years my publisher, Pierre Guillaume, his friends, and I faced considerable difficulties because of our common opinion about the myth of the gas chambers and the genocide of the Jews. Among these difficulties was first and foremost judicial repression. That repression has not yet ended. During those four years of struggle we were, so to speak, like swimmers struggling against the current. At times we were so weak compared to our adversaries that we ought to have abandoned the struggle. We were drowning. We could not go on any more. We felt that our situation was as desperate as that of a swimmer, as Céline said, trying to swim up Niagara Falls. We were attacked in the courts by some impressive opponents. Perhaps we should have adopted a purely defensive attitude. Instead, thinking that the best defense was a good offense, we counterattacked. We counter-sued those who were suing us. Sometimes we worsened our situation by saying or doing things that caused us new problems.
I am going to talk today only about the three principal suits that were lodged against us; one civil suit and two penal suits. The civil suit was brought against me for “personal damages” that I supposedly caused by an alleged “falsification of history.” The first of the two penal suits, for libel, was lodged against my publisher and me by Léon Poliakov. The other penal suit was brought against me on grounds of racial defamation and incitement of racial hatred as the result of a sixty-word sentence that I used during a broadcast on Radio Europe-1 on 17 December 1980. The most important of those suits was the civil suit: it raised the basic question, the taboo question, about the reality of the gas chambers and the genocide against the Jews. The corollary question was: This Faurisson who maintains that the gas chambers and the genocide are both part of one and the same historical lie, is he himself a liar, a forger and a falsifier?
The answer is quite clear and no misunderstanding is possible. Never — I repeat, never — has any court convicted me of falsifying history or of any similar crime, and eventually, in its verdict of 26 April 1983, the Court of Appeals in Paris emphasized the seriousness of my research about the problem of the gas chambers. The Court, because of the seriousness of my research, decided:
The value of the conclusions defended by Faurisson rests therefore [emphasis mine] solely with the appraisal of experts, historians, and the public.
Gitta Sereny Honeyman, who attended my trials, dared to write and has continued to insist that I was condemned for falsification of history. That is a deliberate lie.
I will talk at length about the civil suit that lasted for four years, finally ending on 26 April 1983, before the first chamber of the Court of Appeals in Paris. I was in effect convicted of having caused “personal damages,” but not at all in the sense hoped for by my opponents. Far from considering me a falsifier or a liar, the Paris Court of Appeals wrote this about me: “This being the case, no one can convict him of lying …” I will soon put those words back into their context. Meanwhile, I think that Gitta Sereny, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Georges Wellers, Léon Poliakov, and several other French and foreign exterminationists would be happy if a French court could say as much about them. I am not the one who had the idea of asking a court to render a judgment about history; those people and their powerful friends had that idea. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” as it is said. For four years they did their utmost to convict me of lying and, at the end of four years, the judges in a sense said: “You complain about this professor. You say that he did you harm. Agreed! He has done you harm, and that is why we are convicting him. He has done you harm in every way that you could imagine, but certainly not by lying. He is everything else that you could imagine, but on the question of the gas chambers he is certainly neither a liar nor a falsifier. He is a serious researcher. Our conclusion is: 'the value of the conclusions defended by Faurisson therefore rests solely with the appraisal of the experts, the historians, and the public.'”
Those three trials all had a paradoxical outcome: I was convicted and my opponents obtained the right to have published, at my expense, as is usual in such cases, the texts of my convictions; however, they have never had those texts printed, except for one judgment and one decree that they have published at their own expense, seriously falsifying their content on points that did not meet their expectations. Each time their victories have been Pyrrhic.
The civil suit: 'falsification of history'
My accusers consisted of nine organizations. The first was the LICRA (the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism), presided over by Jean Pierre-Bloch. The second was the MRAP (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Nations), presided over by Pierre Paraf. Notable among the seven other organizations were the Association of Deportees of Auschwitz and the Camps of Upper Silesia, presided over by Mrs. Marie-Elisa Cohen, and the Association of the Sons and Daughters of Jews Deported from France, presided over by Serge Klarsfeld. That suit was filed and coordinated by the LICRA. Jean Pierre-Bloch was personally in charge of it and, according to a statement by Pierre-Bloch, the LICRA is supposed to have invested considerable sums of money in that marathon trial. To take just one example: the LICRA, no doubt finding that its friends in France and in other countries were unable to provide it with proof of the existence of gas chambers for use at the trial, sent its three best lawyers, Bernard Jouanneau, Robert Badinter, and Marc Lévy, to visit Poland and Jerusalem. However, these three pilgrims came back from their pilgrimage without the hoped-for proof. R. Badinter pleaded the case against me in the original trial, in the lower court, but then he became the Minister of Justice in François Mitterrand’s new Socialist government. From that time on we were able to hear his voice only through various representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s office at our various trials. R. Badinter showed an intense hostility toward us.
According to my accusers I was a forger, a falsifier, and a liar; I had used a clever method of falsification; I had falsified translations; I had distorted historical facts; I had avoided documents that would contradict my thesis; I had used fallacious technical arguments. However, all those accusations remained as vague as they were unanswerable. On only two points were my accusers relatively precise. According to them, I had:
- purposely distorted some testimonies, including that of Johann Paul Kremer (the professor who had been temporarily mobilized as a doctor at the Auschwitz camp);
- brushed aside without serious justification a number of proofs previously accepted at national and international trials.
The lower court verdict
On 8 July 1981, the lower court in Paris rendered its verdict. It convicted me for “personal damage.” The issue was whether I had caused such damage as the result of a falsification of history. The term “falsification of history” does not exist in French law, but the court could have adopted that verbal invention from the LICRA. However, it did not do that. On the essential point of their accusation my opponents therefore did not obtain satisfaction. Nevertheless, the rest of the judgment must have satisfied them. The judges said that, as part of a sort of intellectual game, I had amused myself by denying everything. That game of systematic negation had shown me to be an academic whose superficiality ought to be punished. In other respects, the court thought that I had been lacking in prudence, in circumspection, and in intellectual neutrality because I had, in an irresponsible manner, treated too soon a historical problem that was too recent, too sorrowful, too sensitive. I should have waited for time to do its work of calming peoples' minds. Finally, the court reproached me in an even more curious way. It did not go so far as to say that I had been guilty of defending war crimes or of inciting racial hatred, but it did say that I had let other persons — unnamed — use my revisionist thesis to defend war crimes or to incite racial hatred. The court even specified that I had done that “with a remarkable lack of concern but with a clear conscience.” I must admit that I don’t quite understand how one can reconcile “a remarkable lack of concern” with “a clear conscience,” especially when it is a case not of committing a sin yourself but of helping some unnamed persons to commit a sin of which you yourself are innocent. It seems to me that if the judges had been able to find in me not just a slightly diabolical soul but some tangible proof of some lie or of some falsification, they would have hastened to present that proof, to emphasize it and to condemn it in terms understandable to everyone.
I decided to appeal the 8 July 1981 judgment. Eighteen months later, the case was pleaded before the First Chamber of the Court of Appeals in Paris. Because the subject that I am dealing with here is rather dry, I would like for a moment to report some anecdotes relating to those three sessions on 13 and 14 December 1982 and 15 February 1983. To begin with, the courtroom in which our trial was to take place was the same place where Marshal Pétain had been tried for the first and last time, without any possibility of appeal. Just after the war, at the time when I was a student at the Sorbonne, I had come to attend several of the trials of the so-called “collaborators.” Although I felt no sympathy for the collaborators and had been raised to hate Germany, I was astonished at the kind of justice that they pretended to apply to them. That recollection made me wonder what kind of justice I would receive in that chamber.
I do not have time to detail what took place in that impressive hall on 13 and 14 December 1982. There was a striking contrast between our lawyers and those of our opponents. I had two lawyers: Eric Delcroix, a rightist, and Yvon Chotard, a leftist and personal friend of Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit. A third lawyer, François Berthout, represented the seven persons who had courageously stood at my side as “voluntary interveners;” those persons, all leftists, included two Jews; two of the seven belonged to the CNRS (the National Center for Scientific Research). That point always disturbed Gitta Sereny, who wrote:
What is unusual about Faurisson is that he has managed to obtain serious assistance from the Left. (op. cit., page 16)
Another point, which was really secondary, also disturbed her:
At the Paris courthouse, Faurisson and Co. were surrounded by young, eager, and even attractive acolytes. (ibid., page 17)
The lawyers for the opposing side (a coalition of nine organizations) looked like a crowd of black robes surmounted by obviously anxious faces. They had put into the record some briefs that were quite poor, and they must have sensed that. Our side had put into the record a well-drafted brief that was four times longer than the usual. We likewise provided the court with my Mémoire en défense contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire (Memorandum in Defense Against Those Accusing Me of Falsifying History) and a videocassette on “The Problem of the Gas Chambers.” While civil procedure in France is essentially written and the principals do not as a rule have the right to speak, I had asked to be heard and questioned. Unfortunately, the court decided not to look at the videocassette, nor to question me. For four years, we had had the time to take the measure of the extreme historical and scientific weakness of the opposing side. In order to show that weakness, our tactic was to say over and over again that what we wanted from the other side was really very little:
- that it present to the judges one, just one proof of the existence of one single homicidal gas chamber;
- that it furnish one, only one example of falsification on my part.
We especially did not want a massive number of proofs or examples. We were waiting for just one proof and one example. That demand came back again and again as a leitmotiv: “One single proof, one single example.” The lawyers for the opposing side were paralyzed by it. They knew that the judges were also waiting for that single proof, that single example. All of the rest was going to appear to be empty words and wasted breath. With their necks craned, the three judges of the court awaited the single proof, the single example. Our lawyers waited. We waited. The chamber waited. That kind of wait for two afternoons had a devastating effect. Simone Veil’s son was overwhelmed and spent most of his time in his plea quoting extracts from my writings; you would have thought that he was pleading on my behalf. A succession of other lawyers came to deliver proposals without much conviction. A single one brought a well-constructed plea: Mr. Immerglik. His argumentation was the following: “In Germany, there is no pity for people like Faurisson; eliminate him.” Then came the turn of Bernard Jouanneau, who was the LICRA’s star in the absence of Robert Badinter. In the Poliakov trial, Jouanneau had turned toward me and cried out: “M. Faurisson, you are haunting my nights!” Before the Court of Appeals he began his plea in these terms:
Faurisson! Ah! Faurisson again! At home my children ask me: “But when will you be finished talking about Faurisson?”
Mr. Jouanneau went on to talk for two hours. People were waiting for the single proof and the single example. He did not even try to produce an example of falsification. As regards the proof of the existence of one single gas chamber, he presented several, but each time he said, in a plaintive tone of voice: “Yes, I know. You will tell me that this is not really a proof.” He ended his plea that day on a melodramatic note. Overwhelmed, Jouanneau lowered his voice more and more; he gave the impression that he was going to break into tears; that is in fact what took place; his last sentence was:
In any event, this is the end of the Faurisson case for me.
Leaving the courtroom, he broke into tears on a colleague’s shoulder. They had to have his wife come. At that moment, I recalled what we had said in our 44-page brief: we had described in advance the drama of the LICRA lawyers. In the beginning they had believed that they were going off on a crusade against the infidels. They were sure of the goodness of their cause. They were convinced that the proofs and the eyewitness accounts would come to them en masse. Little by little, they found themselves all alone, exposed for all to see, with a pile of useless paper: translations that their own friends had falsified, photographs that proved nothing, inconsistent written testimonies, and not one single witness ready to testify about the gas chambers, not even Filip Müller, the “author” of a ghost-written book entitled, in the French edition, Three Years in a Gas Chamber at Auschwitz (in the English edition: Eyewitness Auschwitz. New York: Stein and Day; 1979; xiv + 180 pages).
The Attorney General, Mrs. Flipo, asked for two months to present her case. She was representing the head of her Ministry, Robert Badinter. She pleaded her case on 15 February 1983. Foregoing any attempt at argumentation, Mrs. Flipo allowed herself to wax lyrical. She evoked the canonization of Father Kolbe, Willy Brandt’s falling to his knees in Warsaw and, in closing, she quoted Elie Wiesel. Here is her peroration:
Elie Wiesel, who, with Samuel Pisar, was the youngest escapee from the camps, has written: “After night and dawn, the day breaks: the dead look for open hearts, which will welcome them and be their messengers.”
And Mrs. Flipo, turning toward the court, added in closing:
Let us be those messengers.
The court also asked for two months to render its verdict.
The Court of Appeals verdict of 26 April 1983
On 26 April 1983 the First Chamber of the Court of Appeals in Paris rendered its verdict. It confirmed the judgment of the lower court, but in so doing it amended the reason for my conviction to such an extent that I would be happy to be convicted ten times that way at the request of the LICRA. I will not go into detail about that verdict. My publisher, Pierre Guillaume, has just published a brochure entitled Epilogue judiciaire de l'affaire Faurisson (Judicial Epilogue to the Faurisson Case). There you can find the complete text of the verdict as well as an annotated analysis of the essential paragraphs of that verdict: five paragraphs are for, and five paragraphs are against, the revisionist thesis, as the judges understood and interpreted it.
Five paragraphs in favor of the revisionist thesis
The lower court had granted the existence of the gas chambers as a kind of implicit reality and it did not question for a single moment the value of the testimonies of those who claim that the gas chambers did exist. The Court of Appeals proceeded quite differently. As a matter of fact, not only did it pose the question about whether the gas chambers existed, but it asked itself what value to give to the many testimonies about their existence. It began with a sacrilegious sentence. Using a formulation suggesting doubt and using the conditional voice, the court wrote:
Mr. Faurisson’s research dealt with the existence of the gas chambers which, if one were to believe the many testimonies, were supposedly used during the Second World War to systematically put to death some of the persons deported by the German authorities. (emphasis mine)
The LICRA had accused me of dealing with the question of the gas chambers with, at the least, some frivolity and a culpable lack of seriousness that it had tried to demonstrate. The court answered:
Limiting ourselves for the time being to the historical problem that Mr. Faurisson wanted to raise on this point [can we believe in the gas chambers and in the many testimonies about their existence?], it is proper to state that the accusations of frivolity made against him are lacking in pertinence and are not significantly proven.
Let me remind you here that the LICRA and the eight other organizations had four years to try to prove their accusations, including that of culpable lack of seriousness. They had also reproached me for having neither a logical approach nor any argumentation. The court answered that I had a logical approach and that I had an argumentation. Its first impulse had led it to go so far as to write that I had a “scholarly” argumentation; then, thinking the better of it and perhaps thinking that it did not have the competence to describe my argumentation in that way, it made a handwritten correction on the typed page, which prudently said that Mr. Faurisson had “an argumentation that he thinks is of a scholarly nature;” but further on, as we will see, the word “scholarly” will in a sense be restored to me by implication. For the time being, the court said:
In fact, Faurisson’s logical approach consists of trying to demonstrate, by argumentation [that he thinks is] of a scholarly nature, that the existence of the gas chambers, as they have usually been described since 1945, runs into an absolute impossibility…
The court specifies — and that specification is important — that this is an absolute impossibility
which would be sufficient by itself to invalidate all of the existing testimonies or, at least, to make them suspect.
I suppose that the court was thinking there about the impossibility of a physical-chemical kind that I have often pointed out in my writings, but it should be noted that my thesis about the non-existence of the gas chambers is also based on all kinds of arguments, and not just on an argument based on physics and/or chemistry.
The LICRA has asked the court to condemn my methods and my arguments. There again, the court refused to bring in a conviction, declaring:
It is not the job of the court to make a pronouncement on the legitimacy of such a method or about the full significance of the arguments set forth by Mr. Faurisson.
As to the very important question of the testimonies, the LICRA had stated that I had frivolously or negligently brushed those testimonies aside or that I had deliberately chosen to ignore them. To that the court responded:
Nor is it any more permissible for the court, considering the research to which he has devoted himself, to state that Mr. Faurisson has dismissed the testimonies frivolously or negligently, or that he has deliberately chosen to ignore them.
In clear English, that means that I had studied the testimonies and that, if I dismissed them, it was for good reasons that appeared to be the result of the research to which I had devoted myself.
Now we come to the main point: that of lying. The LICRA treated me as a liar at every turn, particularly when I said that I had studied the documents for more than fourteen years and that I had consulted research organizations like the CDJC (Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation) in Paris and many other organizations or persons during the time. The LICRA was right to have made its accusation of lying on that point. As a matter of fact, although French law does not allow judges to make themselves into judges of historical truth, it nevertheless does authorize them to decide whether the researcher has or has not really shown, in his research, a concern for making genuine scholarly inquiries. If, according to the judges, Faurisson had not shown concern to make such inquiries as he claimed to have made, by that very fact he could have been declared to be a false researcher and a liar, that is to say, finally, an imposter. The other side had four years to prove that I was a liar on this essential point. At the end of those four years, the Court of Appeals added up the balance sheet. Talking about the present state of the situation and about the attempts to prove that Faurisson is a liar, the court stated:
Furthermore, this being the case, no one can convict him of lying when he enumerates the many documents that he claims to have studied and the organizations at which he supposedly did research for more than fourteen years.
Then the court came to the logical conclusion of all that it had just said and its sentence fell like a guillotine blade for the LICRA, for the eight other organizations, and for all those who dared to say that the problem of the gas chambers was settled and who thought that my writings were the business only of the courts. Here is that sentence in the form of a conclusion:
The value of the conclusions defended by Mr. Faurisson therefore rests solely with the appraisal of experts, historians, and the public.
That is exactly what Exterminationists everywhere want to avoid at all costs. Under no circumstances do they want to see the problem of the gas chambers and especially that of the eyewitness accounts become a subject to be debated by experts and historians. Above all, it is absolutely necessary that the general public not be brought up to date about that problem and that it not freely debate it.
I don’t think that it is necessary to insist any further on the historic importance of that last sentence of the Court of Appeals in Paris. All the rest of the Court’s verdict can only be anti-climactic after that. I will, however, pause here for a few moments.
Five paragraphs against Robert Faurisson
The three French judges could hardly have gone farther. They would have caused a scandal if, following the logical path, they had dismissed the all-powerful LICRA organization (which includes among its members François Mitterrand, President of the Republic, and Robert Badinter as well as so many different personalities from all the influential circles in French society). The question for them therefore became: how to confirm the judgment of the lower court convicting Faurisson? It is obvious to anyone who habitually makes grammatical and logical analyses of French texts that the three judges sweated blood in drafting the rest of their verdict.
The judges reproached me for not having confined myself to what they called my “critical work” on the gas chambers and the eyewitness accounts; that work had, according to them, a “scholarly character;” at least, that is what one can deduce from a sentence in which they criticize me for “assertions that no longer exhibit any scholarly character and that are dependent upon pure polemic.” However, they do not give any examples of such assertions. They reprimand me for having written: “The alleged massacres in gas chambers and the alleged genocide are one and the same lie.” They do not say that that statement is false. They never say to me: “You are perhaps right about the gas chambers and the eyewitness accounts, but you are wrong about the genocide.” They know that the genocide and the gas chambers are as closely related as a specific crime can be with the specific weapon that allowed that crime to take place; they no doubt see very well that it is hard to continue to claim that a specific crime (genocide) took place if it is shown that the specific weapon needed to commit it (the gas chambers) did not exist. What those worthy judges reproach me for is for having summarized my thoughts in the form of what they call a “slogan;” a slogan is out of place here. The most annoying thing about this is that this slogan had been concocted both by a journalist from the Matin de Paris and also by our three judges. As a matter of fact, the brevity of that nineteen word “slogan” is explained as follows: in 1978 I wrote the Matin de Paris a letter, for publication, the first sentence of which was argumentative and long: 65 words. The newspaperman printed that sentence only after cutting off the entire end of lt. Then came the judges who, finding the sentence with its end removed, in their turn cut off its entire beginning. So it was that 65 words became 19 words and a long, argumentative sentence took on the brief and slightly vulgar character of a slogan. In reality, I tend to sum up my thoughts in a longer form and to give them an historical importance thanks to certain words that make reference to history; so it was that I wrote:
The alleged Hitlerite gas chambers and the alleged genocide of the Jews form one and the same historical lie.
A historical lie is not to be confused with a vulgar lie. It is a lie in which there are necessarily a ridiculously small number of liars or imposters in relation to the masses of dupes or victims who are necessary for it to have a long life.
The court said that I sought on every occasion to diminish the criminal character of the deportation and that, in that spirit, I split hairs. But, as you can read in the Judicial Epilogue (see Appendix III), the examples that it gives prove most of all that the court has never studied very carefully, and has rather vague knowledge about, certain historical subjects.
Finally, the court went on to a whole series of sentimental reproaches. It said that I had not been able to find one word to show my respect for the victims of the persecution and deportations. The court is wrong; on several occasions I have shown my respect for such victims of the Germans and, on occasions, I happen to have used precisely the word “respect.” I must say that, in contrast to the judges, I think that I ought to show my respect for all types of victims, including even the victims of the persecutions and deportations carried out by the Allies, including even the victims of the historical big lie and great imposture. The court said that my “revisionism” can … appear … as an attempt at a more or less wholesale rehabilitation of Nazism. All that I see there are speculations. If I understand correctly, the Court thinks that I am not a Nazi, but it could be that behind me there is silhouetted the shadow-of-the-shadow of a Nazi.
Having described me in that way, in a way likely to frighten small children, the court drew a whole series of conclusions that are as arbitrary as their point of departure; it painted an ever darker portrait of me; I became an almost diabolical creature; that is what the lower court had already insinuated. The Court of Appeals states that “thus,” that is to say as it presented me, I was as offensive to the survivors as I was insulting to the dead; because of me (a shadow Nazi and a kind of devil), the general public finds itself incited to misunderstand or even to doubt those sufferings (the court continues to think only about the sufferings of one single portion of those who suffered, by the tens of millions, during the war).
In its last sentence, the court appealed so much to the emotions that, without desiring it, produced a moment of humor. It wrote:
[the positions thus adopted by Faurisson] are obviously, as the lower court has correctly pointed out, of such kind as to provoke passionately aggressive actions against all those who find themselves thus implicitly accused of lying and deception.
I will explain that sentence of the court. In the first part of its verdict, the court had indeed seen that it was as a result of serious work that I had concluded that the gas chambers were a lie and a deception. But, in the second part of its verdict, what saddened the court was that it realized that a lie implies the existence of liars and that a deception implies the existence of deceivers. And that, the court thinks, is serious. There are going to be people who are going to feel that this is directed against them. Faurisson is definitely a trouble maker. Let’s punish him!
My voluntary interveners and I accepted the punishment, that is to say the conviction for “damages,” and we decided not to appeal it. However, I do deplore the fact that the lower court and the Court of Appeals never had the courage to examine what we, for our part, called the frauds of the LICRA (frauds relating to texts, photographs, and translations). It would also have been instructive for the court to answer the following question: “If it is true that Mr. Faurisson is not a falsifier and if, in order to demonstrate that the gas chambers never existed, he has for four years (from 1979 to 1983) used arguments and documents without rendering himself guilty of frivolity, negligence, deliberate ignorance, bad faith, or lying, can the judges of the court tell us their opinion about those who have maintained for nearly forty years (1945-1983) that the gas chambers did exist? How do those people, who are lecturing others, rate as regards frivolity, negligence, deliberate ignorance, bad faith, lying and, as they say, the falsification of history?” The court did not answer that question.
The lack of evidence
The judges must have been aware of the way in which our opponents made up their file. The latter had inordinately extended the time allowed for depositing documents into the file. They first deposited completely worthless documents, and then ill-assorted documents with most of the falsified translations.
Falsified translations, suspicious stories
We had pointed out those falsifications to Judge Pierre Drai, who was in charge of supervising the preparations for the trial. Pierre Drai, in spite of his hostility toward us, had been obliged to ask the LICRA for some translations by recognized experts. I would like to make clear that the recognized experts chosen by the LICRA hardly did better. One of their experts in particular, Victor Borten, would be held up to ridicule before the judges by one of my lawyers for the rare stupidity of his expert appraisals. It was he, in particular, who at great length explained that the word Leichenkeller could not have existed in the German language and that it was a word from the famous secret language of the SS, a word used, he added, only from 1942 until the beginning of 1945, to designate a homicidal gas chamber. It was necessary for us to explain to that expert that the word already existed in the great Grimm and Grimm dictionary in 1886 and that even in our own time, in West Berlin, the crematory in Ruheleben has some Leichenkeller, that is to say morgues located below ground and designed to preserve 500 bodies. The other expert, Mrs. Magaly Heesch, translated, for example, Absetzgrube, which means “disposal pit,” by using the phrase “pit for bodies.” The following sentence appears in a letter from Himmler to the statistician Richard Korherr in regard to the Jews: “Es wurden durchgeschleust durch die Lager im Generalgouvernement.” ("They were passing through the camps of the General Government.") Instead of translating durchgeschleust by using the words “passing through” or “transiting through,” she translated that word, thought to belong to a coded language, with the words “secretly proceeding” (in a homicidal sense, of course). The LICRA had circulated in bulk a confession by Gerstein, Filip Müller’s book, and even Martin Gray’s For Those I Loved. I would like to point out here, in passing, that the ghostwriter for that swindler, Martin Gray, is named Max Gallo. It was Max Gallo who completely made up the episode in Gray’s book about the gas chamber at Treblinka. He is now François Mitterrand’s official spokesman.
The secret language of the SS
The LICRA never stopped referring to the secret character of the language of the SS: a language with a key; a key that the LICRA was in possession of. The LICRA did not trouble itself about contradictions: according to it, and depending on the needs of the moment, at one time the secret language of the SS was said to have fooled no one and was an open secret; at another time that language was said to be so secret as to challenge the most cunning persons, except for the LICRA; and at yet another time (nobody knows why) the language of the SS no longer bothered with any code or “double code,” and, it seems, it became clear, transparent, and cynical. The LICRA navigated as the situation demanded: according to it, at one time everyone knew, at another time no one could have known, and at yet another time everyone gave themselves the cue to pretend to know nothing but to indicate at the same time by a wink of the eye that they knew very well.
The LICRA depended very much on the word Sonderaktion. ("Special action” or “special operation.") For the LICRA, that word was an SS word of the “Top Secret” category. It is certainly true that the meaning of that word, as is the case with most words, is variable; nevertheless, the meaning varies not in the absolute but in a context. For example, Sonderaktion could designate any military or police operation outside of the military or police routine. It was applied then to a special operation of a determined time which could have resulted in, for example, arrests whether or not followed by internment, execution, or simple questioning. It is false to say that the word or the action that Sonderaktion designated was necessarily secret. On 25 June 1942, 64 Jews were arrested by the Germans in the Orleans area (France). It was called Sonderaktion says Serge Klarsfeld (French edition of his Memorial to the Jews deported from France, 1978, page 62). Then those Jews were deported, but the Germans most of the time avoided the word “deportation,” as well as the expression “shipment toward East.” We have documents saying that deportation must be avoided because it called to mind “deportation to Siberia at the time of the tsars” (Doc. RF-1215) and “shipment toward East” had to be avoided because French workers were shipped to Germany (Doc. RF-1219). But sometimes in spite of those recommendations those words or expressions were still used in some documents. In his personal diary Dr. Johann Paul Kremer did use the official expression “Sonderaktion aus Holland,” meaning deportation from Holland (and not “special assignment” as I said elsewhere. Therefore it is true that Sonderaktion could be used as a euphemism but not as far as for “extermination,” or “gassings"! The same thing for Sonderbehandlung; for example in the famous “Korherr reports” this word meant Aussiedlung which is in this case forced transplantation (Letter from Dr. Richard Korherr to Der Spiegel No. 31/1977, page 12).
The LICRA also used against us the worn-out argument about the “final solution,” a euphemism, it said, for extermination. I will not linger on that nonsense. The final solution of the Jewish problem does not imply the extermination of the Jews any more than the final solution of the problem of the Palestinians or of the problem of the unemployed implies the extermination of the Palestinians or of the unemployed. A final solution can be favorable, in spite of all the trials to be undergone in order eventually to reach it. In this regard I owe a precious piece of information to a Belgian friend, Pierre Moreau, whom some of us know for his revisionist scholarship. Emile Vandervelde, the President of the Belgian Workers Party, was very much in favor of the Zionist Socialists. In 1929, he published a book entitled Le Pays d'Israel (Un marxiste en Palestine, Paris, Editions Rieder, 262 pp). On page 184 of that book, he wrote that he believed with all the fervor of his Socialist convictions “in some favorable final solutions” for the Jews of Palestine. In the following year, in 1930, a translation of that book was published under the title of Schaffendes Palästina (Der Jüdische Aufbau heute und morgen, von einem Sozialisten, Dresden, Carl Reisner Verlag, 240 pp). On page 174 of that translation, the plural of “favorable final solutions” in German became a singular and thus we read: eine günstige Endlösung ("a favorable final solution"). Let us make it clear here that the final solution (Endlösung) that the Belgian author was dreaming of was an understanding between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ishmael. He added that the final solution ought not to be the act of “subjecting the Arab population to new forces of domination and exploitation.”
The testimony of Johann Paul Kremer
The LICRA reproached me for having “voluntarily distorted certain testimonies such as that of Johann Paul Kremer.” I will not go back on that subject. I have already dealt with it in my above-mentioned article. I demonstrated that it was, to the contrary, Poliakov, Wellers, and Klarsfeld who had seriously distorted the original text of Johann Paul Kremer’s private notebooks in order to make him say that Auschwitz was an extermination camp with gas chambers. I likewise showed the absurdity of the alleged confessions obtained from him by the Polish Stalinist military court.
I said that Professor Kremer, appearing before the tribunal in Münster (Westphalia) in 1960, had confirmed the confession that Communist examining magistrate Jan Sehn (of Jewish origin?) had obtained from him in 1947 and that at the Frankfurt Trial (1963-1965) he had been called as a prosecution witness against his compatriots. What I did not yet know in 1980 and what I learned later is the reason why the poor man, after ten years of prison in Poland (1947-1957) and after returning to his city of Münster, had gone before a German tribunal. I discovered the reason while reading, in its French Version, the Anthologie d'Auschwitz (blue), Volume 1, Part 1, Warsaw, 1969, pages 239 to 261. The reason is that after his return to Münster in 1957, Kremer began to protest against the treatment that he had undergone at the hands of the Polish courts and (using here the words used by the Polish Communists themselves in the Anthologie)
[by his protests and by his request to regain his chair as a professor, Kremer] attracted the attention of certain circles and of certain persons who made him appear once more before the courts (page 239).
Kremer, as a matter of fact, had complained that in Poland “only hatred was entitled to give its opinion” (page 240). Better than that, we learn, thanks to that Communist publication, that after his return to Münster Kremer retracted his confessions. In the pious Communist jargon:
[Kremer] disputed the explanations that he had furnished during the investigation in Cracow and which had been read to him [at the Münster tribunal] (page 242).
The most degrading fact for the judges of the Münster tribunal was the complacency with which they had heard the explanations furnished by Jan Sehn, who had come from Cracow. You must read the Communist account of that session. It ought to be quoted in its entirety. In Cracow in 1947, Kremer had not had any choice. It had been necessary for him to confess. The most astonishing thing is what Jan Sehn himself ended up saying before the German judges. As far as he was concerned, from the start Kremer did not have the right to plead not guilty. Jan Sehn said, with a marvelous lack of awareness of what he was saying:
A statement to the effect that he was innocent would be contradictory to the written statements of the defendant Kremer, contained in his diary, and admission of his guilt would be nothing but a confirmation of these statements (page 246).
In other words, the Communist Jan Sehn had decided that Kremer’s private diary was written in a sort of coded language to which he, Jan Sehn, possessed the key. Prisoner Kremer could only bow before the authority and the ukase of examining magistrate Jan Sehn. In my lecture in 1980 I said, in conclusion, regarding the drama of Johann Paul Kremer: “I think often of that old man. I think sometimes also of his tormentors.” I think of him even more often now that I have the confirmation of the drama lived through by Professor Johann Paul Kremer. His Polish and German tormentors profited from him to the very end. Kremer was used like a puppet. He came to the Frankfurt Trial to make a forced appearance there. According to his own words, he had experienced “a dilemma that is not at all simple according to human statements.” Listen to his final declaration at the Münster trial in 1960 and tell me whether that declaration is that of an abominable criminal who supposedly participated in horrible homicidal gassings or rather that of an unfortunate academic, a sort of inoffensive old fellow who found himself caught — like so many Germans in the past and even today — in a tragic situation where it is necessary to confess (or to make a pretense of confessing) vile crimes which, in reality, were never committed. Listen to Kremer and, through his voice, listen to the voice of so many Germans who have been humiliated, injured and executed:
If I ever did something wrong, according to human criteria, please take into consideration my advanced age and tragic fate. I don’t feel guilt in the legal sense. I expect the highest judge of all the worlds to solve the dilemma, which is not at all simple according to human judgments (page 258).
Professor Kremer, in the final account, was less skillful and prudent than his colleague, Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, in the Gerstein case. Pfannenstiel, the father of five children, was able to save a good career for himself thanks to his extremely vague confessions.
The gas chamber at Struthof-Natzweiler (Alsace)
The LICRA accused me of having “without serious justification brushed aside a certain number of proofs previously accepted at national and international trials.” In order to prove that, it asked that there be put into evidence the file put together by the French military court for the trial of the guards of the Struthof-Natzweiler concentration camp in Alsace.
However, that file provided proof that there had been no homicidal gas chamber at Struthof, but only one small room that originally had been a refrigeration chamber that had later been transformed into a gas chamber for training young recruits in how to wear their gas masks. Professor Bickenbach had taken advantage of the existence of that gas chamber to make some tests there of the antidote to phosgene gas. As a matter of fact, the Germans had learned that the Allies, by the end of 1942, were stockpiling large quantities of phosgene gas in North Africa and they feared a bombing of German cities with it. The professor had tested an antidote (urotropine) first on himself and then on some detainees from the camp who, we are told, came forward voluntarily in exchange for rewards in the form of food or cigarettes. As a result there were two or three accidental deaths of persons after they had been hospitalized (and not four deaths as we erroneously wrote in our brief in court). In that room Josef Kramer is supposed to have gassed prisoners with mysterious salts which, when mixed with water, would kill in one minute. The nonsense of the two contradictory confessions of Josef Kramer about gassings at Struthof can itself be explained by the cruelties to which he had been subjected by his British guards in Germany. They had, for example, shut him up for an entire night in a refrigeration chamber (perhaps because he had specifically said that the alleged homicidal gas chamber at Struthof had first been a refrigeration chamber). Those cruelties were reported with a certain amount of delight by a member of the French Résistance who was present at the scene, Dr. J.L. Fréjafon, in his book entitled Bergen-Belsen (preface by Louis-Martin Chauffier, Librairie Valois, 1945, xv + 103 pages), page 22.
In the same file from the French military court there was an expert report by Dr. René Fabre, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacology in Paris. That file has disappeared but, thanks to another document, we know that Dr. Fabre had been charged with determining whether the bodies found at the Anatomy Institute of the Civil Hospital in Strasbourg and thought to have been the bodies of people “gassed” at Struthof bore any traces of poison. The conclusion of that expert report had been negative. There was no trace of hydrocyanic acid either in the bodies or in the scrapings from the alleged homicidal gas chamber, nor in the debris from it (jars W and X) (Files of the “Struthof Trial,” Archives of the “Gendarmerie and Justice Militaire,” in Paris, rue Saint-Dominique).
I recall that, in a more general way, they had to make hundreds of investigations of the German concentration camps. We can say with certainty that none of those investigations contained either:
- a complete expert report proving that such and such a room called a gas chamber was in fact a homicidal gas chamber; or
- an autopsy report showing that such and such a body was the body of a person killed by a toxic product, gas or otherwise.
Today the alleged homicidal gas chamber at Struthof is no longer open to visitors. A small sign leads the tourist to believe that a visit can be made on request. That is false. The French are now ashamed of their national gas chamber, still classified as a “historical monument.”
The miraculous manuscripts discovered at Auschwitz
Another argument from the LICRA was, of course, made up of eyewitness accounts. The LICRA in particular invoked the famous accounts discovered at Auschwitz-Birkenau thanks to some miraculous excavations. Yes: miraculous excavations. Some people perhaps are familiar with the photo of the hole where the Poles say that they found the container that held the manuscript of one Salmen Lewenthal. Around the hole there is no trace of excavations! The excavators had stumbled exactly on the place where there was something to discover! Let us here salute a miracle of Exterminationist psychic powers (see Hefte von Auschwitz, Special Issue (I), Handschriften von Mitgliedern des Sonderkommandos, Verlag Staatliches Auschwitz-Museum, 1972, 220pp, page 135, first photo). The best known of those testimonies is called the “manuscript of the unknown author.” The original text is in Yiddish with Hebrew characters. It was published in German by the Poles (pages 118-128 of the above mentioned publication). The LICRA certainly took care not to use that edition. It furnished excerpts in Polish with a translation into French. The translator especially chose one passage where the action unfolds in “the” (!) gas chamber at Birkenau. We do not know where the witness was found to describe the following scene. The victims were packed into the gas chamber. Suddenly, a young Polish girl, naked like all those who were there, addressed the assembled victims as well as the Jews of the special commando charged with putting those victims to death. That inflamed and patriotic speech ended with these words:
Down with the barbarism of Hitler’s Germany! Long live Poland!
Then, the young Polish women turned toward the Jews of the special commando. She did not abuse them; on the contrary, she urged them to survive in order to bear witness later to the courage of the victims and to avenge those crimes. Then an interesting scene took place. The Poles knelt down on the ground. The text says that they recited “a prayer with an attitude that made a great impression.” The LICRA’s text does not say upon whom that impression was made. The original Yiddish text said: “on everyone.” Then, the Poles all stood up together in the gas chamber, where apparently there was no lack of space because they had been able to kneel down and stand up again. All together they sang in chorus the Polish national anthem and the Jews, at the same time, sang the Hatikvah. (Here I would like to make a suggestion to the authorities at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles or to those at the future Memorial to the Holocaust in Washington: could they reconstruct that scene, complete with sound accompaniment, to let everyone see the beauty and truth of it?) Here the LICRA cut into its text with an ellipsis placed between brackets. And, according to the LICRA, the text goes on as follows:
While they were singing, the Red Cross car arrived; the gas was thrown into the chamber and they all gave up their souls amidst songs and ecstasy, dreaming of the brotherhood of a better world.
The narrator does not reveal to us how he was able to read the minds of the victims. As to the LICRA, if it cut the text, it was because it contained an embarrassing detail. Here is that detail as the Auschwitz Museum edition gives it to us (page 121): the two anthems were sung at the same time; the “lyrical tones” of the two anthems had blended into one whole; then, the Poles and the Jews, all together, began to sing the “Internationale"! I think that this is what Soviet esthetics call “Socialist Realism.” We owe the discovery and the deciphering of the “manuscript of an unknown author” to Professor Bernard Mark, Director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. In 1962, his co-religionist Michel Borwicz, who became a French citizen after the war, wrote in the Revue d'histoire de la deuxième guerre mondiale that Professor Bernard Mark was more or less a forger of texts (January 1962, page 93). Bernard Mark’s forgeries continue to be published and sold. In 1982, his widow published in France a book entitled Des Voix dans la nuit (Voices in the Night) (Editions Plon, 1982, 362pp). The famous “unknown author” then lost his anonymity and is now identified as Leib Langfus. That book is full of lies. The French press nevertheless greeted the production as a collection of eyewitness accounts that are compellingly truthful (Gilles Lambert’s article in Le Figaro, 13-14 November 1982, page 25; Pierre Pachet’s article in La Quinzaine littéraire, 16 December 1982, page 25; Eric Roussel’s article in Le Monde, 26 November 1982, page 23). The preface is signed by Elie Wiesel.
The testimony of an actual survivor of the Sonderkommandos
The LICRA searched for a survivor of the famous Sonderkommando. There was already Filip Müller, who was living in Mannheim (West Germany), at 31 Hochuferstrasse. The LICRA had, by a unanimous vote, awarded to him the Bernard Lecache prize for his book Three Years in a Gas Chamber at Auschwitz (French title). Inexplicably, Filip Müller did not make a deposition, either written or oral, for the LICRA. Just at the last moment, as the fateful date was drawing near for the deadline for submitting documents for the trial, the LICRA delivered a meager text of about two pages: the deposition, made before a notary public on 29 September 1980 by one Alter Szmul Fajnzylberg, a retiree living at 37 Avenue Jean Jaurès, in Paris.
For me, this was a case of once more an old acquaintance. In 1972, in the special issue of the Hefte von Auschwitz that I mentioned above, the Poles had published (pages 32-71) in German the deposition made by Fajnzylberg, a militant Communist, in a Polish court on 13 April 1945. At that time his name was Stanislas Jankowski. That former waiter, a Jew, an atheist, and a Communist, had been a member of the International Brigades in Spain. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, he was interned by the French in the camps at Gurs and Saint-Cyprien. He then worked for the Germans in the occupied zone of France. He was arrested by the French police and interned at Drancy and Compiègne. He was deported to Auschwitz, where he arrived on 27 March 1942. He left Auschwitz with the majority of the inmates, under the supervision of the Germans, on 18 January 1945. He then took flight. That, at least, is his story. Jankowski, alias Fajnzylberg, therefore remained at Auschwitz for nearly three years. Up until October of 1942 he was employed as a carpenter, which had been his original profession. He also spent five weeks in the camp hospital. From November of 1942 until June of 1943, he was employed in the crematory building of Auschwitz, called Krema I. From July of 1943 until January 17 of 1945, he was employed in the building at Birkenau called Krema V. Therefore we have here a rare bird: one of those famous members of the Sonderkommando. His experience was extensive, because he had lasted more than two years in that terrible job. We know that, according to one legend, it was the Jews themselves who were obliged by the SS to welcome the victims, to make them disrobe, to make them enter the gas chamber, and to shut them up inside. Then the SS introduced the gas by a process about which the narrators of the gas chamber saga have never been able to agree. Finally, members of the Sonderkommando came to re-open the door or doors, and the rest is known. Another legend has it that the SS regularly — every three months, it seems — liquidated the members of the Sonderkommando. As a matter of fact, as Fajnzylberg tells us, each time that the Germans wanted to gas some people, they took care to shut up the members of the Sonderkommando in the coke bin, before the arrival of the future victims. In Krema I of Auschwitz, the members of the Sonderkommando were shut up in the small coke bin and in Krema V at Birkenau in the large coke bin of the large Krema. In other words, for more than two years our rare bird (the best witness that the LICRA was able to find anywhere) spent a large part of his time in a coke bin near a pile of coke. Then, he tells us, the SS, who had done this in order to conceal the crime, re-opened the door of the coke bin so that Fajnzylberg and his companions could take care of the bodies in the gas chamber.
The Germans were never idle. If we are to believe our man, the Germans in this way gassed two million persons in two years in the crematories and the “bunkers” at Birkenau. In July of 1944 they supposedly killed an average of 18,000 Hungarian Jews each day. I suppose that in order to burn about 18,000 bodies they would have needed, at the rate of 40 kilograms of coke per body, about 720,000 kilograms of coke per day, which ought not to have allowed much room in the coke bins for shutting up Fajnzylberg and his companions. In fact, how many could there have been to deal with 18,000 bodies a day?
In 1980, Jankowski-Fajnzylberg repeated that story about being shut up in the coke bins. But between 1945 and 1980, his memory must have improved. In fact, in 1980 he added a detail that we are surprised he did not give in 1945. One day, one time, in Krema V, he was able to see, he stated,
the release of a gas by an SS-man who poured the contents of a round, black metal can, about 12 to 15 centimeters in diameter and about 25 centimeters high, into a kind of small chimney or tube which extended a few dozen centimeters out of the roof of the gas chamber. The SS-man was wearing a gas mask. He immediately closed up again the opening through which he had poured the contents of the can.
There is only one unfortunate thing about this witness: according to the legend, there was no gas chamber at Krema V, but two small rooms and one corridor, which might make for three small gas chambers. As regards the gas, the version believed today is that for Kremas IV and V it was poured through some transom windows located just below a roof that an SS-man reached each time from the outside by ladder.
The penal suit brought by Poliakov (the Gerstein and Baron von Otter Case)
On page 119 of my Mémoire en defense contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire I mentioned Léon Poliakov among those who had manipulated the original text of the notebooks of Professor Johann Paul Kremer. Recalling also the extraordinary manipulations and fabrications of texts to which the same Poliakov had devoted himself beginning with the confessions of Kurt Gerstein (of which Paul Rassinier had given us only a few examples), I wrote this sentence:
Conscious of the seriousness of my accusation, I state that I am in a position to prove that Léon Poliakov is a manipulator of texts and even a forger of texts.
As I wrote those words, I thought that I risked being prosecuted for libel. In fact, libel must be carefully distinguished from lying or calumny. To libel is to cast a slur upon someone’s reputation. In France, one may libel someone by accusing him of a verifiable fact. I thought that Poliakov would not lodge a complaint. He was, of course, the first to know how he had fabricated and manipulated the Gerstein texts. However, Léon Poliakov did lodge a complaint. The result of the subsequent events leads me to think that he did it under heavy pressure from friends who guaranteed him that they would find a way of keeping him out of the case. French law provides the possibility for the person accused of libel to present an “offer of proof” in the ten days following the complaint.
In less than ten days, I presented an offer of proof: it was a simple table showing, on the one hand, the texts that Gerstein was thought to have written and, on the other hand, the incredible manipulations and fabrications that Léon Poliakov derived from those texts in the course of the years from 1951 to 1979. That was tangible proof; no reply was possible. French law provides that the accuser has five days to respond to the offer of proof. I must state that, not surprisingly, Poliakov did not offer any response to my offer of proof within the time allowed. It was then that Poliakov and his friends perfected a stratagem that even today still evokes my admiration. They knew that before the 1 7th Correctional Chamber in Paris, especially before Judge Émile Cabié, it is always good to plead that one is the victim of anti-Semitism. It seems that, up until these last few years, that chamber issued convictions for anti-Semitism the way one issues convictions for drunken driving. Poliakov was going to play that card with the help of his pal Pierre Vidal-Naquet, who came to the court to denounce me as an anti-Semite from the very beginning. Poliakov had fabricated, for his part, an almost unreadable photocopy of a Gerstein text to prove that it had been very difficult for him to decipher the text, thus his conjectures and his possible errors, he said. But I have not yet come to the strategy itself. The lawyers asserted that the one whom I had wanted to attack was not Léon Poliakov but, through Poliakov, Gerstein himself! But Gerstein was a saint! Witnesses from the Netherlands, Switzerland, or Sweden would testify to that fact. Poliakov’s lawyers had decided to organize their entire defense around this point: Kurt Gerstein had really existed; he had been a spy for God; his testimony embarrasses Mr. Faurisson; Mr. Faurisson libels Gerstein through the person of a great and honorable man: Léon Poliakov, former Director of Studies at the CNRS, the National Center for Scientific Research.
So it was that during that strange trial our own disputes on the texts would take on the appearance of trifles in comparison to the parade of witnesses such as Baron von Otter who came to say that they had known Gerstein during the war and that he had told them frightening stories about the German concentration camps. My lawyer made one serious mistake. He believed that he would be able to deal with that tactic with a shrug of the shoulders. To him, the judges could not be dupes of such a maneuver. Baron von Otter and the other witnesses were not specialists in Poliakov’s texts and consequently my lawyer did not want to ask the simplest question of the witnesses, not even this one: “Do you have any idea of what is at issue here? Do you know for what precise reasons Mr. Faurisson is criticizing Mr. Poliakov? Do you realize that the person of Gerstein is not at issue and does not interest us here? Do you think that you have any competence regarding the various versions that Mr. Poliakov has given of the various confessions of Gerstein?” I insisted in vain; my lawyer did not wish to break his silence. It must be said in his defense that he knew very well the specific subject of the trial — the texts of Gerstein and Poliakov — but that he was almost completely ignorant about Gerstein, Pfannenstiel, the camp at Belzec, and Baron von Otter. If I had had the right to speak, here is how I would have proceeded to beat the opposing side at its own game. I would first have said to each of the witnesses that I believed in his sincerity. Yes, each of them could have met Gerstein during the war. Yes, Gerstein had told some terrible stories. But had those people taken those stories seriously? I don’t think they did. If those people had taken seriously these absolutely sensational revelations, they would have reported them either, in the case of Baron von Otter, to his hierarchical superiors in Stockholm or, in the case of the other witnesses, to their resistance movements. But it seems clear today that no one is capable of showing a report of that kind, either, as I tend to think, because those reports were never written — or else because they were written but were not presentable at the trial because Gerstein was described in them as the author of unbelievable stories. Besides, we do not have any document or any writing by Kurt Gerstein about Belzec that was supposedly delivered to anyone in the neutral countries or in the resistance movements. However, Gerstein traveled a great deal during the war in Germany and in other countries, and nothing prevented him from dictating a report or mailing a letter, even anonymously. I have a hypothesis to suggest regarding von Otter and the others: during the war, no one could have believed the awful things recounted by Gerstein for one simple reason — those awful things were unbelievable. They were and they still are totally grotesque for anyone who reads them with a minimum of attention. But after the war, von Otter and the others probably began to believe what Gerstein had told them. I imagine that in the hysterical atmosphere that accompanied what is called the discovery of the alleged extermination camps, Baron von Otter was seized by a moment of retrospective fear. He recalled SS-man Gerstein and his raving stories. Von Otter must have said to himself that he had behaved unpardonably with regard to Gerstein. It was for that reason that he set out in quest of Kurt Gerstein after the war and, caught up in this game since 1945, set himself up, whether he liked it or not, as the defender of Saint Gerstein. Baron von Otter must suffer from what I call the Sean McBride complex. During the war, Sean McBride, the founder of Amnesty International, did not want to believe the tales of horror, but after the war he began to believe in them more strongly because he had at first been skeptical. In Le Monde on 13 February 1982, on page 2, under the title “Avertissement” ("Warning"), Sean McBride wrote the following:
In the midst of the Second World War, I maintained very friendly relations with the American Ambassador to Ireland, David Gray, a close friend of Roosevelt. One day I saw him looking perplexed. “I have received from the State Department,” he told me, “some troubling documents which report a policy of extermination carried out by the Nazis in camps specially fitted out for that purpose.” I looked at the papers that he was in possession of and, what is obviously the most atrocious thing, I must admit, is that they did not appear very convincing to me. My attempts to obtain more detail, then to alert public opinion, ran up against indifference and skepticism. That has remained fundamental for me: the most monstrous genocide in the history of the human race could develop for five years in the most total ignorance.
Let me say in passing that Sean McBride’s last sentence testifies to blindness: how can McBride believe that, if the most monstrous genocide in the history of the human race had developed for five years on a continental scale, it could have gone completely unnoticed? McBride ought to read the story about the elephant that Dr. Butz told us in his lecture last year (The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1982, pages 371-405, “Context and Perspective in the Holocaust Controversy,” page 398). McBride imagines that he was lacking in clear-sightedness during the war and that his eyes were opened after the war, when it was just the opposite that took place: during the war he had been free and therefore clear-sighted in his judgment, while after the war his judgment could no longer resist the pressure of the most fantastic propaganda that humanity has ever known. This is somewhat the same way it was after the war when some Nazi generals or dignitaries struck their foreheads — and beat their breasts — and thought: “Now I see clearly, my eyes are open, my ears are unstopped. Now that it has been explained to me, I understand what Himmler said in Posen and what Hitler said in Berlin.”
For my part, I do not doubt the sincerity of Hans Frank, Baldur von Schirach, SS General Karl Wolff, nor that of Baron von Otter or of Sean McBride. As regards Albert Speer, let me be a little more skeptical. One detail about him: a South African Jewish organization got his collaboration in having the brochure Did Six Million Really Die? banned in South Africa. In the book written in reply, entitled Six Million Did Die; The Truth Shall Prevail (by Arthur Suzman and Denis Diamond, second edition, Johannesburg, 1978, xii + 138 pages), we find the facsimile of the original affidavit in German by Albert Speer (pages 109-112) wherein he declares at the end:
Meine Hauptschuld sehe ich immer doch in der Billigung des Judenverfolgungen und der Morde an Millionen von ihnen. ("I still see my main guilt in my approval of the persecution of the Jews and of the murder of millions of them.")
That is what Albert Speer wrote on 15 June 1977. But in a book that appeared two years later (Technik und Macht, Munich, Bechtle Verlag, 1979, reprinted in a paperback edition by Ullstein Verlag in 1981, 184 pages), he reproduced that affidavit (pages 73-75) with a footnote after the word Billigung (approval) which says:
Billigung durch Wegsehen, nicht durch Kenntnis eines Befehls oder der Durchführung. Das erstere ist so schwerwiegend wie das zweite. ("Approval by looking away, not by knowledge of an order or its carrying out. The first is as serious as the second.")
Speer spoke in his Spandau Diary about his tendency to self-accusation ("meine Selbstbezichtigungen,” Spandauer Tagebücher, Ullstein Verlag, 1975, page 432). One could say that that tendency is very widespread in what Heinrich Härtle has called the Germany of “national-masochism” (Klüter Blätter, December 1982, page 28, “'Holocaust' und kein Ende").
In the Poliakov trial, the judges themselves were led to believe, in their own words, that “the testimony of Gerstein about the functioning of the Nazi camps is essential.” That is a sentence that would be hard to understand for anyone who knows anything about the Gerstein case. Starting there, and faced with the parade of other witnesses, what weight could be given to our technical demonstration about Poliakov’s manipulations and fabrications? However, we had on our side an excellent witness (Henri Roques) who is presently preparing a thesis on the various confessions of Gerstein and who was able to prove, texts in hand, that Poliakov was a forger and a manipulator. A waste of effort. I was convicted of libel; the judgment must be published, at my expense; it has not been, and I think that Poliakov will never ask for its publication. That judgment in fact contains some passages that would be embarrassing for a former Director of Research at the CNRS. We know that Poliakov, finding that according to Gerstein the gas chamber at Belzec had an area of 25 square meters for 700 to 800 people (which means 28 to 32 persons standing on each square meter), had calmly removed the reference to 25 square meters and replaced it with that of 93 square meters; in the verdict the judges said that it “is not explained how Mr. Poliakov can fix the area of the gas chamber at 93 square meters.” The court went so far as to say: “There is an error there that could indeed be at fault,” and it added: “Other errors could have been made” and, finally, it said that Mr. Poliakov “could, on some points of detail, have infringed upon scholarly exactitude.” But for the court all that was annoying without being serious and I did not have the right to treat Mr. Poliakov as I had done. In fact, what counted in the eyes of the court was that Mr. Poliakov
had been motivated by a passionate and legitimate desire to inform the public about a period and some particularly tragic facts of contemporary history.
The Poliakov case went on to be appealed to the highest level without any different result. For reasons of health I was not able to attend those hearings. The texts of the verdicts of the Court of Appeals and of the Supreme Court of Appeals are extremely short and prove that those judicial bodies did not at all take up again the examination of the case in the sense in which it ought to have been presented, that is in a purely technical sense and in the following form: “Here, on the one hand, is what we read in the texts of Gerstein, and there, on the other hand, is what Poliakov claims to have read; how are these differences explained? And how, on the other hand, can one explain that Poliakov himself for nearly thirty years had dared to present under such different forms texts that are supposed to be identical?”
I am awaiting with curiosity the reaction of Mr. Poliakov and his friends when the thesis about which I spoke earlier is defended and then published. The researcher in question has made some very interesting discoveries about the writings of Gerstein. I would advise amateurs not to write anything about Gerstein before the publication of that thesis, which will be very technical. The Gerstein case appears more and more like the tale of a fool. The story of the Gerstein confessions is hard enough to untangle without having to deal with dishonest reproductions of those confessions.
The penal suit against my sixty French words
As the civil case that I have just discussed was unfolding, some serious events occurred for Pierre Guillaume, for his friends, and for me. For four years our opponents conducted a whole series of operations (physical and otherwise) against us which were so trying for our health and for our nerves that we were barely able to respond to them. The press especially overflowed with an unbelievable flood of hatred. It was hysteria by repetition. Noam Chomsky had stepped into the case, albeit in a very mild way. Jean Pierre-Bloch, president of the LICRA, on 16 December 1980, talked about the case over the air on Radio-Europe-1. He was welcomed by his friend Ivan Levaï, the host of a broadcast called “Explain Yourself …” From the very beginning, Jean Pierre-Bloch devoted himself to violent attacks against us. He declared that the case was costing the LICRA considerable sums of money. On the other hand, he claimed that I was being paid by Colonel Qaddafi and that my works were being translated into every language in the world: he claimed he had on his desk some Chinese translations of my works! He treated me, of course, as a forger. Ivan Levaï for his part, said that the help that Noam Chomsky had brought me was “a kiss for a leper"; “Noam Chomsky,” he explained, “the grandson of a rabbi and himself Jewish, wanted to 'embrace his own death.'” Thanks to the skillful maneuvering of my publisher, Pierre Guillaume, I was able to appear the next day on the same program on the same radio station. Ivan Levaï, extremely excited, constantly cut off my remarks. It was then that I made an important decision: because for once I had the right to speak for several minutes, I decided to use that time to utter a long sentence of sixty words that I had for a long time had in my mind and that summed up the substance of my thought on the whole question of the gas chambers and the genocide.
If I had formerly studied the question of the gas chambers so much, it was obviously not because of a morbid curiosity about the subject. The gas chamber — the magical gas chamber — is the keystone of an immense structure: the lie of the “Holocaust.” I became interested in that keystone because it was the best point at which to attack that immense structure. I think that I can say that now, in French scholarly circles, people hardly believe in the gas chambers anymore. To borrow a turn of phrase by Céline in 1950, at the end of his reading of Paul Rassinier’s Lie of Ulysses, “It was all the gas chamber! It allowed everything!” (Le Bulletin Célinien, a quarterly publication available through Post Box 70, 1000 Brussels 22, Issue No. 4, fourth quarter 1982, “Céline devant le mensonge du siècle,” (continuation), by Robert Faurisson, pages 5-6.) Today they are the keystone of the “Holocaust” and, as a result, the immense structure is in danger. The gas chamber is the weapon used in the crime. The genocide is the crime. Both form one and the same historical lie. If there is a lie, it is necessary to say who are the beneficiaries and who are the victims. In our century, everything is rapidly becoming a question of money and of politics; it is therefore necessary to say whether that lie has opened the way to a political-financial swindle and what kind of a swindle it is.
It does not take very long to realize that the case of the “Holocaust” is principally used by the State of Israel. It is the founding myth of that country and the number one weapon in its propaganda arsenal. I do not blame Israel for that; I am making a statement. I am not naive enough to forget that all countries are founded in part on crimes, blood, expropriation, injustice, force, myth, and lies. Here I am pointing out the founding myth of the State of Israel; that does not mean to say I am hostile to that country or to its citizens. On the contrary, I am establishing the evil that the big lie does to the German people and that it has allowed to be done to the Palestinian people, and I am very much obliged to state that Germany, shorn of a third of its territory, cut into two parts, occupied by four armies, has leaders who are apparently obliged to practice Realpolitik: so it is that the voices of the leaders of West Germany echo the voice of their “liberators” from the West and the voice of the leaders of East Germany echo the voice of their “liberators” from the East. That is what I wanted to sum up in my sixty word sentence that, on the radio, I prefaced with the following warning:
Be careful! None of these words is inspired in me by any political sympathy or antipathy!
Here is the sentence that I have since so often read before courts, in extreme silence and attention:
The alleged Hitlerite gas chambers and the alleged genocide of the Jews form one and the same historical lie, which opened the way to a gigantic political-financial swindle, the principal beneficiaries of which are the State of Israel and international Zionism, and the principle victims of which are the German people — but not its leaders — and the entire Palestinian people.
I knew in advance that that sentence would be the object of all sorts of misunderstandings, sincere or feigned. In any case, I know which part of it is the most sacrilegious and the most terrible to hear; it is the part in which I distinguish between the mass of the German people and its leaders. It seems that I have opened a Pandora’s box. Many newspapers censored the four words “but not its leaders.” Gitta Sereny did it by breaking into my sentence at that point and replacing the four words with an ellipsis. Having reached that place in my sentence, I suppose that, if she had been a Christian, she would have made the sign of the cross (see the above-mentioned article from the New Statesman, page 17). In the above-mentioned article in Searchlight, the four words were completely suppressed (page 12).
Economic motives were never at the origin of the big lie. That lie might not have resulted in any such financial swindle, but it happens that it did. Here I particularly single out the Zionist Nahum Goldmann and the Israeli David Ben Gurion; I challenge any decent man to retain his composure while reading in The Jewish Paradox (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) about how N. Goldmann succeeded in extorting from a paralyzed Adenauer the massive reparations in the so-called Luxembourg Agreement. This is a racket in the grand style; it is the height of poker bluffing, all on the basis of prefabricated sentimentality.
The secondary beneficiaries of that entire affair are all of the winners of the Second World War; as a matter of fact, if the homicidal gas chambers of the Germans never existed, the “war crime” par excellence would have been the gigantic crematoria for the living in Dresden, or Hiroshima, or the Katyn massacre.
The secondary victims are the Vatican and the International Red Cross, both accused by the exterminationists of not having seen and denounced the gas chambers and the genocide. As regards the secondary victims, it is proper to underscore the fact that young Jews are also, in a way, the victims of that gloomy and aberrational religion of the Holocaust.
After hearing about the sixty word sentence, the LICRA, the MRAP, and the Association of Former Deportees of Auschwitz filed a complaint for racial defamation (which is not very serious} and a complaint for incitement to racial hatred (which is serious). I was not able to attend the lower court trial before the same 1 7th Correctional Chamber (Judge: É. Cabié). It took place in a detestable atmosphere. Here I must give special thanks to Claude Karnoouh and Jacob Assous, both treated as renegades by their fellow Jews. Both went considerably further than Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit in their support for the revisionist thesis. C. Karnoouh, a member of the CNRS, spoke before the tribunal about the “revolution” in historical research caused by the revisionist discoveries, and Jacob Assous declared, for his part, that he no longer believed either in the gas chambers or the genocide. Some painful scenes took place. The tribunal rendered a verdict that will remain in the annals of French jurisprudence. I was condemned for two reasons: racial defamation and incitement to racial hatred, and that was done two times on each count because the trial was a double one (on one side the LICRA and on the other the MRAP and the Auschwitz Association). They condemned me to three months suspended prison sentence (which was not serious), to pay a fine (which is common), to pay for inserting the verdict into the press (which is a ritual), but also — a fact unprecedented in France — to pay for time to read the verdict on radio and television during prime time. At that time (that is to say, when the dollar was worth around six francs) the cost would have come to the astronomical sum (for me) of 3,600,000 francs ($600,000). To its credit, one French newspaper reacted very strongly to that avalanche of trials, convictions, and fines: the leftist newspaper Libération (9 July 1981, page 12). Most newspapers, no doubt embarrassed at having to report such news, hid the fact that the Court had established a new penalty: those costly readings of a verdict on radio and television.
During the appeal of the case, I was able to attend the trial and to explain myself. My two lawyers were Mr. Eric Delcroix and Mr. Jean-Louis Tixier-Vignancour. An unexpected thing happened: the Court of Appeals reaffirmed the suspended sentence of three months in prison but it eliminated the charge of incitement to racial hatred. Above all, it eliminated any question of publication of the verdict, even in the press (I think that it had noted that the newspapers, the radio and the television had already made enough fuss about my convictions). For the first time in those years of struggle, I believed I had found a little breathing room. So, by that verdict in one case on 23 June 1982, I learned that I would not have to pay 3,600,000 francs. It was ten months later, on 26 April 1983, that I learned another piece of good news: the verdict in the civil case, which declared with regard to me, “This being the case, no one can convict him of lying …” There is no doubt that in the two cases, as in the Poliakov case, I was convicted, but by the time the entire complex of cases reached its end, through the process of appeal, the judgment of the courts as a whole, in the broad context of the issues, had softened and been watered down considerably.
Events surrounding the trials
In the course of the years 1981, 1982, and 1983, my convictions continued to he mitigated to a considerable extent, to the point of causing confusion in the LICRA and among the Exterminationists. The first chamber of the Court of Appeals had almost ended up saying: “The Revisionists are right to deny the existence of the gas chambers and to refuse to believe testimonies to the contrary.” Confining myself strictly to what the Court of Appeals decided on 26 April 1983, I think that I can say that that verdict, considered authoritative, allowed two things to be said:
- It no longer seems permissible in France to treat us, as has been done on all sides for more than four years, as liars, forgers, falsifiers, or even to accuse us of bad faith, lack of seriousness, negligence, and deliberate ignorance;
- It seems permissable henceforth, basing oneself on Revisionist works, to say that the Germans' homicidal gas chambers had no existence in reality and to be suspicious of all the testimonies to the contrary for forty years; however, those opinions contrary to the official truth can be expressed on condition that one shows, even better than I have done, respect for the victims of the persecutions and the deportations, and on condition of taking care, even more care than I have exercised, not to appear insulting or offensive to anyone.
I do not know to what to attribute that favorable evolution on the part of the French courts. I would gladly believe that we are partly indebted for it to the political actions of Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon, as they have been perceived in France and the rest of the world. There are also the crises of collective delirium that the press and the public authorities have unleashed or have allowed to be unleashed in France in connection with the showing of the docudrama Holocaust, the attack on the synagogue on Rue Copernic, the attack on a Jewish restaurant on the Rue des Rosiers, the Maurice Papon case, the Barbie case or the case of the Hitler diaries. According to the phrase of Dominique Jamet, an editorial writer with the newspaper Le Quotidien de Paris (a publication that nevertheless tends to see anti-Semites nearly everywhere): the French may have ended up after all this with the impression that the Zionists were trying to “cash blank checks on the Holocaust.”
But on the very subject of the gas chambers and the genocide there is in France an obvious doubt in peoples' minds about the official doctrine. That doubt has expressed itself in the following ways.
An exchange of publications
In 1980, Pierre Vidal-Naquet made the mistake of attacking me in an amateurish work entitled: “Un Eichmann de papier” (in the review Esprit, September 1980, pages 8-52, with an addendum by Pitch Bloch, pages 53-56; all of which was reprinted with some changes and additions in a book by Pierre Vidal-Naquet: Les Juifs, la mémoire et le présent, Petite Collection Maspero, 1981, 302pp, pages 193-289). I answered that publication in my Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet (second edition, expanded, La Vieille Taupe, 1982, 96 pages). Putting aside all questions of polemics, it is interesting to note the extent to which Vidal-Naquet had to make concessions to historical revisionism: on the diary of Anne Frank, the authenticity of which he no longer accepts; on the confessions wrung out of the Nazis; on Pery Broad; on the Nuremberg trial; on the false testimonies and deceptions concerning the gas chambers, etc.
Les Chambres à gaz ont existé
In 1981, Georges Wellers published a book entitled Les Chambres à gaz ont existé / Des documents, des témoignages, des chiffres, Gallimard, 1981, 229 pages That book was very helpful to our cause, first by its very title, and then by its content. It was devoted to Auschwitz. The author did not dare to include a single photo of the gas chamber that can be visited at Auschwitz I, nor a photo of the ruins of gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, nor a photo of the various reconstructions and models at the State Museum of Auschwitz. On the other hand, he did furnish photos of crematory plans. He did not dare to produce a single one of the numerous photos that we have of the crematory buildings themselves. He has mutilated some texts and has fabricated some translations. I always recommend his book to those who believe that the gas chambers existed. I did not answer this book.
Le Monde Juif retreats from exterminationism
Georges Wellers worsened his case in the following year. Faced with the progress made by the Revisionists he seems to have panicked. He began to beat a retreat in a sudden and disconcerting way. In the review he edits he wrote the preface to a long, dull study, the thesis of which, surprisingly, was the following: after looking at the plans for Krema IV and Krema V at Auschwitz-Birkenau and after looking at the physical reconstructions that we are able to make on the basis of the ruins, it is indeed necessary to bow to the facts: those buildings were conceived and constructed as common crematories not containing homicidal gas chambers. However, because there are testimonies that say those buildings were used for gassing and then cremating thousands of people, it must be that the Germans afterward went on to make alterations; however, said the author, it must be admitted that all of that indicates hasty improvisation and tinkering on the part of the Germans (Le Monde Juif no. 107, July-September 1982, “Les 'Krematorien' IV et V de Birkenau et leurs chambres à gaz, construction et fonctionnement,” by Jean-Claude Pressac, pages 91-131). In this study the only references to or the only physical traces of gas chambers found at Auschwitz relate to disinfection gas chambers.
The Exterminationists begin to search for proofs
You will remember the famous declaration by 34 historians in Le Monde on 21 February 1979. Vidal-Naquet and Poliakov had organized it. In that declaration it was said that the genocide was a self-evident truth and:
It is not necessary to ask how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible since it took place. Such is the necessary point of departure for any historical inquiry on this subject. It is our job simply to recall that truth: there is not, there cannot be, any debate on the existence of the gas chambers.
It is about that memorable declaration, coming from 34 historians (of whom only one, Léon Poliakov, was a specialist in the period being considered) that Lucy S. Davidowicz thought that it “could well serve as a guide to American historians” (Keith Stimely, “A Note From the Editor, The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1984, page 6).
Vidal-Naquet has personally contradicted that statement three times by his own actions. First, by inviting the signers to set to work on the question of the gas chambers. Unintentionally and ingenuously he had to recognize that in the above mentioned book, Les Juifs, la mémoire et le présent, which came off the press in January of 1981. There we read, on page 196:
A good number of historians signed the declaration published in Le Monde on February 21, 1979, but very few set to work, one of the rare exceptions being F. Delpech.
Then he contradicted himself by publishing “Un Eichmann de papier.” But, most of all, he reached the summit of contradiction on 21 April 1982. On that day a strange organization deposited its by-laws at the Prefecture of Police in Paris: the ASSAG (Association for the Study of Killings by Gas Under the National-Socialist Regime). That association assigned itself the task, in its own words, of:
searching for and verifying data offering proof of the use of poison gasses by the authorities of the National Socialist regime in Europe in order to kill persons of various nationalities; to contribute to the publication of those pieces of proof; to make all useful contacts for that purpose on national and international levels (in particular with the international work group inspired by Hermann Langbein).
Among the members of that association are Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Georges Wellers, Bernard Jouanneau, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion; the chief of cabinet of the Veterans Ministry, a member of the Ministry of Culture, a former member of the Ministry of the Interior, the director of Documentation Française, and several other celebrities. The director of the association is Mrs. Postel-Vinay, who lives at 7 Place Pinel in Paris 75013. The ASSAG will be dissolved when it has finished its work. According to the latest news, it has become a sort of secret organization; it is trying to hide; if someone asks about its work, Mrs. Postel-Vinay answers that the ASSAG is “in a period of reflection.”
An official anti-Revisionist exhibition cancelled
At the same time the Veterans Ministry undertook an operation and announced with great fanfare its intention to respond to the “banalization of Nazism.” That expression, which seems to have been coined by Simone Veil, seems first to have the following meaning: people today tend to make of Nazism a commonplace, banal phenomenon by minimizing its horrors, which supposedly were without precedent in the history of mankind. But that expression is also used to avoid the word “negation” (negation of the “Holocaust"). Alain Finkielkraut published an attack on revisionism entitled L'Avenir d'une négation (I am not able to talk about that book; I do not understand Mr. Finkielkraut’s philosophical language). The vast and costly operation undertaken by the Veterans Ministry and, in particular, by one Miss Jacobs29, was an exhibition on the deportation. Set up on the Place du Trocadéro in Paris, near the Eiffel Tower, it was scheduled later to tour all the large cities in France. It was with great interest that I visited that exhibition, which had very sophisticated techniques at its disposal. I discovered some beautiful hoaxes in it. With Pierre Guillaume I published a leaflet that described those hoaxes. Only a few leaflets could be distributed (secretly, because of the presence of the police). The result was not long in coming. When it closed, the exhibition was transferred to a city in the west of France (the Veterans Ministry did not have the time to cancel the plans that had been made), but after that the costly exhibition disappeared completely from the circuit. It had probably been put back into the furniture warehouses of the Veterans Ministry. Miss Jacobs30 officially answers that the exhibition is undergoing slight alterations; the date for the completion of those alterations is not foreseeable, she adds.
An international anti-Revisionist colloquium admits failure
The anti-Revisionist offensive was to reach its high point with the international colloquium on “Nazi Germany and the Extermination of the Jews.” The colloquium was held at the Sorbonne under the aegis of the Sorbonne, the School of Higher Research in the Social Sciences, and the Judaism Foundation, from 29 June to 2 July of 1982. Vidal-Naquet, Professor of the History of Antiquity in the school of Higher Research in the Social Sciences, was the animating force of the colloquium. It was presided over by Raymond Aron and François Furet, both of Jewish origin, as were Vidal-Naquet himself and a good share of the participants. I asked to participate in that colloquium or to attend on condition, if necessary, of my not saying anything. François Furet refused me even that silent presence because he had read some of our works, because he knew that I denied the existence of the crematoria (sic), and because I was considered an impostor by the scholarly community. I wasted my time reminding him that the best way of unmasking an impostor was to make him come to explain himself in public. Furet maintained his refusal. Raymond Aron, a very shrewd man, told me: “You understand, there are some truths which are established forever.” The colloquium was held amidst astonishing police measures, and individual searches were conducted by young people from the Judaism Foundation. In spite of all this, Pierre Guillaume and I succeeded in making a brief raid into the hall, staying long enough to distribute some copies of my Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet (a booklet that had just appeared), including one for the interested party himself, who believed that I had died. The security guards on this “vigil,” like their masters, had lived for several days, we discovered, obsessed by the possible appearance by those whom they called the “Faurissonians.” The colloquium, as we learned by various means, turned into a fiasco and split into factions. First there developed the picturesque split between the “intentionalists” and the “functionalists” on the final solution. That phenomenon of the transformation of historians into metaphysicians proved the decadence of the exterminationist thesis. Vidal-Naquet was insulted and treated as a “Faurissonian” — the supreme insult — because he had written “Un Eichmann de Papier.” Raymond Aron and François Furet, who basically knew nothing about the history of the alleged genocide, progressively discovered that the exterminationist thesis rested in large part on speculations and calculations rather than on historically established facts. It was arranged that in order to give more publicity to that colloquium, it would be followed by a press conference. Vidal-Naquet did not appear. Professors Furet and Aron were alone in holding that press conference, which we were able to have tape recorded with their agreement thanks to an Australian friend. It turned out that the two professors had just discovered that “in spite of the most learned research” no one has ever been able to find an order from Hitler to exterminate the Jews. Better yet, “no one has found any personal activity on the part of Hitler in carrying out the policy.” Asked about the suits directed against Faurisson, the two professors answered that in their own personal opinion they found those suits absurd, similar to witchcraft trials, and Raymond Aron began the following sentence:
I find it absurd that some Jewish organizations are making some, some … [inaudible]
The context leads one to believe that the missing word was “suits” or some similar term. The two professors went so far as to say that it seemed to them that Vidal-Naquet himself had perhaps been hostile to those suits. But Vidal-Naquet had, in fact, from 1979 to 1982, played the role of a prosecutor or a political commissar in all my trials. Some “generous ministerial subsidies” had been paid out for holding that conference and for the publication, by Gallimard, of a heavy scholarly book (Bulletin du Centre de Recherches et d'études historiques de la seconde guerre mondiale, Bruxelles, No. 12, December 1982, an article by José Gotovich, pages 8-9). The book was published in 1985, under the title L'Allemagne nazie et le génocide juif (Gallimard/Le Seuil).
Raul Hilberg shows his confusion
Before that colloquium, the French journalist Guy Sitbon, Jewish by background, the permanent correspondent of the Nouvel-Observateur in the United States, had an interview with Raul Hilberg. I would like to have that interview published in English. Guy Sitbon works for the weekly publication that most strongly attacked me in 1979, but that experience had been the occasion for me to make contact with certain journalists from Le Nouvel-Observateur and, in particular, with its editor, Jean Daniel. I had an exchange of letters with Jean Daniel that I think aroused his indignation, upset him, and taught him a few things. In his interview with Hilberg, Sitbon did not spare Hilberg and, on the question of the gas chambers, one could say that Sitbon drove him into a corner. It is since reading that interview that the French have realized that Hilberg does not have any argument in favor of the existence of the gas chambers. At least, he was obviously not in a position, in my opinion, to furnish a single one to Sitbon (in Nouvel-Observateur, Le Document de la semaine, “Les Archives de l'horreur,” an interview with Raul Hilberg, 3-9 July 1982, pages 70-73, 75-76). In passing, Hilberg declared with regard to the revisionists:
I would say that, in a way, Faurisson and others, without having wanted to, have rendered us a service. They have raised some questions which have had the effect of involving historians in new research. They have obliged historians to gather further information, to examine documents and to go farther in understanding what took place (page 71).
Another declaration by Hilberg is interesting, but to a lesser degree because the journalist was not as familiar with his subject as was Guy Sitbon. Look at it all the same: Newsday (Long Island, New York), 23 February 1983, page II/3, “The Holocaust in Perspective,” by George DeWan, where we read this regarding the genocide:
But what began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus there came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus mind-reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.
Of course, we would like it if Raul Hilberg would now rewrite his book on the destruction of the European Jews in light of the new vision that he thus gives us. The “step by step” would be interesting to examine, especially the “step” which saw some German bureaucrats decide on the construction of the gas chambers, which, being physical realities, had to be planned, built, and put into operation, with innovating technical studies, large scale and detailed plans, purely technical planning among engineers, architects, doctors who were specialists in toxicology, and military men — not to mention the deliveries of material in war time, the work or inspection missions, an enormous budget, an agreement with the German railroads, with the factories producing coke, with the company of Topf und Söhne, with DEGESCH, DEGUSSA and many other chemical entities, and all this, of course, with Draconian measures to assure the secrecy of the preparations (which is perhaps not at all impossible), the secrecy of its functioning (which is terribly difficult), and the disappearance, in case of military defeat followed by an opening of all the archives by the enemy, of the slightest trace of the most tremendous crime of all time (which is humanly impossible). Hilberg had his work cut out for him, even if it were only on the “step” of the gas chambers; he ought to suspend any other research in favor of that research.
Historical revisionism progresses in France
Edgar Morin, a sociologist with a wide reputation, Jewish by background, wrote the following sentence in his book Pour Sortir du XXe siècle (To Get Out of the 20 th Century, Fernand Nathan, 1981, page 192):
It is important, in my opinion, to re-verify the gas chamber in the Nazi camps.
The use of the singular for “the gas chamber” has some importance. Edgar Morin has done specialized studies on the phenomenon of rumors. If he is talking about “the gas chamber” it is because for him it is a case of the gas chamber as a (possible) figment of the imagination.
August von Kageneck is a correspondent in Paris for Die Welt. In his appearances on French television, he is not soft on the Nazis. But in January of 1983 he published in Le Quotidien de Paris of 22 January 1983, page 4, an article entitled “The Revisionist Danger” in which he wrote:
Some “revisionists” are making their appearance and are putting into doubt the criminal character of the Nazi regime … According to them, there was no plan for exterminating the Jews; their drama (if drama there is, since the death camps are an invention of the Jews) was the result of the war imposed upon Germany. Such arguments are dangerous since they contain a bit of truth…It would therefore be wise to seriously examine certain of those arguments and to separate the wheat from the chaff.
On 27 April 1983, for the first time, I suppose, a publication in the Arabic language, well edited, published a very carefully done interview with me, accompanied by photos of a real American gas chamber, of a fumigation chamber in Auschwitz, and of the spurious gas chamber at Auschwitz I, under the title: “Professor Faurisson: 'The Nazi Gas Chambers and the Genocide of the Jews: historical lie.'” (the magazine Kol Al Arab [All the Arabs], No. 35 [27 April 1983], pages 47-53; offices at 129 Avenue Charles de Gaulle, 92200 Neuilly Sur Seine, France).
On 15 June 1983, Le Monde, on page 10, reported that on the occasion of the Barbie affair, Monsignor Albert Decourtray, the Archbishop of Lyon, denounced
the powerful and disquieting contemporary trend toward “banalizing” Nazism, to which Christians cannot consent.
Revisionism was included in a recent history manual intended for students preparing for the baccalaureat. It is, of course, denounced as a danger. Here are the terms used:
Impossible to forget. — Nearly forty years after the liberation of the camps by the Allies, the “revisionists” continue to deny the genocide and seek to rehabilitate the Nazis, in spite of the numerous testimonies, documents and historical works which attest to the truth of it. It is therefore fitting to recall forcefully that the Nazi leaders did indeed order, organize and carry out the Holocaust beginning in 1941. From 1942 on, the entire world had available to it information on the extermination that was underway. The Germans knew: “You must not believe those who claim that they did not know,” declared Dr. Frank at the Nuremberg Trial. The neutral countries, the Red Cross, the Churches, the Vatican, the Allies knew, but the “terrible secret” was suppressed up until the Liberation. (Histoire, for Final Classes, ABC Editions, 1983, page 36).
Sometimes journalists seem to feel some embarrassment about using the expression “gas chambers” The journalist André Wurmser in the Communist newspaper L'Humanité ("Grandes manoeuvres,” 3 May 1983, page 1), mentions “the crematoria and the torture chambers.”
A significant phenomenon, on the part of what is called the extreme right, which makes up about 2% of the French electorate, is that it is emerging from the caution and fear in which it has remained. A quality weekly like Rivarol has ended up talking about the revisionists, even making some interesting revelations. In an article entitled “La vérité au compte-gouttes” ("The Truth Piece by Piece"), the eminent critic Robert Poulet wrote:
I know historians of the first rank, specialists in the period 1933-1945, who declare that for them “it is impossible at present to talk about the basis of their thought, since it would not be acceptable to the public, even the most cultivated.” They have taken as their task to “progressively prepare” the public in a few years for an evolution whose outcome they do not know — beyond the lies and the prejudices which fill the newspapers and the libraries. (Rivarol, 25 February 1983, page 11)
Jacques Benoist-Méchin, who recently died, wrote a monumental Histoire de l'armée allemande. In 1966 he published the sixth volume, which stopped on the date of 3 September 1939. Rivarol, just after the historian’s death, published a text by the lawyer Charles Filippi. The latter revealed why Benoist-Méchin said that he had interrupted his work at that date. Here is the answer that he had given in writing to his friend Filippi:
It is because, for the first time in history, we have arrived at a point where one cannot any longer write history without making oneself an accomplice of an enormous lie … Maurice Bardèche was imprisoned for having denounced the mascarade at Nuremberg. Thirty-five years later, it was Professor Faurisson who was not only the object of public loathing, but was even deprived of his teaching position for not accepting the only authorized version of the camps and the gas chambers. Such is the explanation for my silence. (Rivarol, “Les Raisons d'un silence,” 11 March 1983, page 9).
Was Benoist-Méchin too pessimistic? A French historian, a very cautious person, has just published in Le Figaro (8 July 1983, page 2) a skillful review of Serge Klarsfeld’s recent book on Vichy et les Juifs (Fayard, 1983, 544pp). He has subtly unmasked in Klarsfeld a seeker after justice who tries to pass himself off as a historian and whose publisher does not recoil at photographic manipulation, “library subterfuge.” That historian, who it happens has committed some serious errors of an Exterminationist kind, is Henri Amouroux, the author of a series, as yet incomplete, entitled La Grande histoire des Français sous l'Occupation (The Great History of the French People under German Occupation) (published by Robert Laffont). But Klarsfeld himself at time follows the Revisionist example and begins tentatively to try to verify what he publishes. In Vichy et les Juifs, he brings himself to admit that the photos that people claim show the Jews penned up in the Vélodrome d'hiver in 1942 (photos that have gone around the world and are in many books and museums) in reality show some collaborators of the Germans penned up in the Vélodrome d'hiver in 1944! It remains for Klarsfeld to stop cropping the photographs from Drancy to make them appear pitiful. It especially remains for him to eventually bring back to life all the Jews that he has presented as dead in his Mémorial de la déportation des juifs de France, without seriously verifying whether they did die.
Even the duo of Michael R. Marrus of the University of Toronto and Robert O. Paxton of Columbia University are moving in a Revisionist direction. Their recent study on “The Nazis and the Jews in Occupied Western Europe, 1940-1944” (Journal of Modern History, the University of Chicago, No. 54 [December 1982], pages 687-714) leaves the impression that the alleged desire to exterminate the Jews had been a relative failure. They recognized that in France, a country so long occupied by the Germans, only about a fifth of the Jews (French, foreign, stateless, undetermined) were deported, which implies that around four-fifths were not: a strange result for an alleged policy of systematic extermination. With that said, their study still is brimming over with fabrications of war propaganda. For example, when, on page 714 they write that on 24 October 1944
the death factory in Poland had only days left to function
that can only be an allusion to the order from Himmler to put an end to the extermination of the Jews by gas: a purely mythical order dated precisely on 22 November (or 25 November) 1944. A long time ago historians knew that that order could never have been given (see the notorious thesis by Olga Wormser-Migot, Le Système concentrationnaire nazi, 1932-1945 . Paris: Presses Universitaires de France; 1968; page 13).
A certain courage is beginning to show itself in France. The most spectacular fact in this regard is certainly not lacking in “picturesqueness.” The magazine Lui, the French equivalent of Playboy, which, amidst light articles and nude photos, has the habit of printing interviews with political personalities on serious subjects, has just published a remarkable interview with Léon Degrelle, who, as those familiar with his words will surmise, found some suggestive ways to express his skepticism, if not his total disbelief, regarding the gas chambers (Lui, No. 233, June 1983, passim between pages 73 and 178).
This courage is contagious. In a quite different field, Klaus Barbie’s lawyer, Jacques Vergès, instead of playing the usual game of lawyers since the Liberation, which consists of not rocking the boat and challenging the proceedings or their bases themselves, has just pointed out that his client is in prison by virtue of a law that does not exist in France. As a matter of fact, it seems that the French Parliament has never voted any law on the so-called crimes “against humanity"; therefore, there does not exist any scale of penalties and Barbie is in prison only by virtue of crimes that he is supposed to have committed “against humanity.” It seems that one of the circles that has been most touched by the still modest influence in France of Historical Revisionism is that of the lawyers and judges in Paris and Lyon.
For Simone Veil, the proof is the absence of proof
Simone Veil displays an increasing anxiety about what she calls the “banalization of Nazism.” Two weeks after the verdict of the Court of Appeals in Paris on 26 April 1983, France-Soir Magazine published (7 May 1983, page 47) an interview with Simone Veil; the title of it was: “Simone Veil’s Warning About the Hitler Diaries: 'We are Taking the Risk of Banalizing Genocide.'” Here is how she connected my civil trial to the affair of the Hitler diaries. The connection of the ideas is not very clear but you still see her anxiety:
What strikes me today is the paradox of the situation: they are publishing a diary attributed to Hitler with a great deal of publicity and money but without taking very great precautions to assure themselves of its authenticity. At the same time, in the course of a trial directed against Faurisson for having denied the existence of the gas chambers, those who have brought the suit are required to bring forward formal proof of the reality of the gas chambers. But everyone knows that the Nazis destroyed those gas chambers and systematically did away with the witnesses.
I would like to make a few remarks about that reaction to the civil trial:
- “Everyone knows” is not a serious argument;
- It is paradoxical that Simone Veil, with her legal training, is astonished that an accuser is asked by the French law to try to furnish the proof for his accusation;
- The lawyers for the other side, among whom was one of Veil’s sons, had maintained for four years that there was a mass of proof and an abundance of testimonies about the existence of the gas chambers; we demonstrated the fallacious character of those alleged proofs and testimonies. Would Simone Veil implicitly admit that we were right? Is she becoming a Revisionist?
- The reason that Simone Veil had found for that absence of proof and witnesses is illusory; it consists, as a matter of fact, in substituting one unproven accusation for another unproven accusation. So my question becomes: where are the proofs that the Germans destroyed those gas chambers and systematically did away with the witnesses?
- I would be curious to know what Simone Veil thinks now about those places today presented as gas chambers “in their original condition” or even in ruins, and what credence she gives to the innumerable testimonies, written or verbal, beginning with Filip Müller’s Three Years in a Gas chamber at Auschwitz (French title)?
- Finally, and most of all, if there are neither proofs, nor testimonies, where do we find ourselves?
In so far as one can foresee the future of a phenomenon that is in the midst of transformation, I would say that the future of the revisionist phenomenon will depend in great part on the international political situation and, in particular, on the situation in the Near East. The State of Israel is now obliged to find a way of dealing with the accelerated crumbling of the myth on which it was founded. We do not yet know whether the parties of the Arab-Islamic world are going to take up the discoveries of Historical Revisionism. It is certain that in the western countries the uproar made about the “Holocaust” will continue to grow louder. Still more billions of dollars are going to be devoted to attempts to drown out the Revisionist voices. Burned by the failure of judicial repression in France, the Holocaust lobby is going to hesitate to use that weapon again in a direct way. We must rather expect an uninterrupted series of Hollywood epics of all kinds. I personally am awaiting with curiosity the construction of the Holocaust Memorial in Washington. How are those people going to try to make us believe in the gas chambers? For them France has been a testing ground and they have suffered some serious reversals on all fronts. To take only one example: if the authorities of the Memorial decide to present visitors with some kind of document or photo pretending to establish the existence of a single homicidal gas chamber, it will be easy to show the hoaxes by means of a single leaflet. They will be obliged to beat a retreat at this point as did those in Paris who, with a great deal of money and a hundred official supporters, were forced to give up their exhibition.
We in France have undergone a trial by fire and the Revisionist theses have proved their solidity, but we must not hide the negative side of the ledger: the wear and tear on nerves, on health, the losses of money, and the considerable loss in time for continuing our research. For two years at least the gas chambers, as Professor Butz has said, have been “overkilled.” For two years, I have been been forced to waste my time and I no longer feel any intellectual curiosity on that subject.
I want to turn to the following question: “How many Jews died during the last war at the hands of the Germans?” I would undertake that investigation on bases other than those that have up until now generally been used, in particular by Paul Rassinier and Walter N. Sanning.
Finally, we will try to find the means of publishing three books in France: Dr. Butz’s Hoax of the Twentieth Century, which disturbs Vidal-Naquet very much; Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich’s The Auschwitz Myth; and finally, the thesis by our Gerstein specialist. The difficulties that we encounter are illustrated by the fact that Dr. Butz’s book was supposed to have already been published five years ago, and Dr. Stäglich’s book three years ago.
In France the year 1984 will not be boring: an important meeting will take place between Elie Wiesel and François Mitterrand, who together, and probably with Max Gallo, will probably organize a vast operation of Exterminationist propaganda. Wiesel comes to talk nearly every Sunday to French television viewers. You would think that his thoughts never leave the Revisionists. In 1982, he published in French the book Paroles d'étranger (Editions du Seuil, 1982, 192pp). On pages 23, 91-94, and 103, he uses the following terms to talk about the Revisionists:
indecent pamphleteers with morally deranged minds; [authors of] pamphlets; pseudo-historians; those hateful and vicious persons; it is to take leave of one’s senses; this entire affair arises from lunacy; vulgarity; disgusting ugliness; indecent accusers …
Wiesel has settled into a role that he will not give up very soon: that of the professional witness. Applied to him, the word witness is to be taken in a particular sense. The witnesses he claims to have met are also of a special kind. In the same book, he writes about Babi-Yar, the place where the Germans shot some Russians, Jews and non-Jews. For him, Babi-Yar is above all a high point of Jewish martyrdom. There the earth itself, he assures us, found a way to protest against the Jewish blood that had been shed. Thus he writes:
Later, I learned from a witness that [after a massive execution of Jews], for month after month, the ground never stopped trembling; and that, from time to time, geysers of blood spurted from it (page 86).
Those words did not slip out of Wiesel in a moment of hallucination. They were first written out in longhand, then verified in printed galley and page proofs and finally published. That’s the kind of person Jimmy Carter chose to be the President of the Presidential Commission on the Holocaust.
Elie Wiesel, if I may be allowed to use a familiar expression, is suffering from a terrible thorn in his foot: the thorn of Revisionism. He has tried by every means to rid himself of it. He has not succeeded. He seems less and less hopeful of ridding himself of it. In that respect, he is like the Revisionists who do not see any more than Wiesel does how he will get rid of the thorn of Revisionism.
In conclusion, the important and lasting point of the events of the last four years in France is not that of the legal vagaries of the cases, the points of law and procedures involved. Not the law, but history — what is to be written, how it is to be written, by whom, and based on what evidence — this was the point at stake, a fact realized quite as well by our opponents as by ourselves. They chose the ground on which this point was to be contested. From the very beginnings of the challenges to their position, they consistently refused to debate this point of history in the open forums usually associated with such a challenge. They refused one-on-one confrontations. They refused even merely to discuss privately and politely the issues with the challengers. They would not defend their position in front of the challengers who would force them to answer questions and take unashamed responsibility for their answers — or lack of answers.
So it was that the issue was brought before the courts.
The Exterminationists brought it there, not we.
They sought this situation where the deck was certainly stacked against us.
We had no choice but to fight on those grounds, in the first place because we were literally compelled to do so by legal fiat; in the second place because they simply would not meet us on any other ground. The situation was forced upon us, and we naturally would have wished it otherwise. But fight we had to, and fight we did. The result: on our opponent’s own grounds and with weapons of their choosing, we won. It is a victory to the benefit not so much of the legal precedent, but of the historical record — and the record of how historical conclusions are debated and reached.
If the Exterminationists could not win, could not dispose of the problem of the revisionists in a situation in which all the odds were in their favor, how then will they fare in the debate that now proceeds in the open light of day?
My lawyers' tactics
In the civil suit, which was brought against me for “damages to another” as the result of an alleged “falsification of history,” I was defended by two lawyers of differing opinions: Eric Delcroix, a rightist, and Yvon Chotard, a leftist and friend of Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit. I owe them a great deal. Both of them had to face serious problems in their personal and professional lives after they dared to take up my defense.
In the lower court case, I left it to them to decide how best to defend me. They could use my book Mémoire en défense contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire as well as a certain number of technical and scientific studies that I had written in response to the arguments of our adversaries. Eric Delcroix’s tactics consisted of using all of that documentation, with which he had become completely familiar, in order to defend the following idea: a court is not competent to rule on a historical question. Yvon Chotard did not want to get into the technical debate but just to develop the following argument: even if Professor Faurisson is wrong, the court must protect his right to free expression.
When the cases came up for appeal, I asked my two lawyers to adopt a more aggressive stance and to take as their approach the following sentence: “Professor Faurisson says that gas chambers and genocide did not exist for the good and simple reason that gas chambers and genocide did not exist.”
Eric Delcroix was in agreement, but Yvon Chotard refused. I think that Yvon Chotard was not sure of my honesty and that as a result of hearing my adversaries treat me as a falsifier he asked himself whether I actually was one. Yvon Chotard went so far as to send me a study, which he himself had written, of the diary of Professor Johann Paul Kremer, the man who for several weeks had served as a doctor at Auschwitz. In that study, Yvon Chotard concluded that Kremer had witnessed gassings! I sent his study back to him after I had corrected it like the homework of a student. After long discussions and, in part, thanks to the arguments found by Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit in favor of my interpretation, Yvon Chotard was converted. The result of this turn-about was very important. As a matter of fact, Yvon Chotard went on to develop the revisionist thesis with so much conviction before the Court of Appeals that a lawyer for the opposing party, Mr. Rappaport, could not avoid showing his surprise as he began his plea with the following words:
You have changed a great deal, Mr. Chotard, since the last time; you have really changed a lot!
The judges on the court thus understood that in the first case, Yvon Chotard had shown his skepticism with regard to the revisionist thesis but that with time he had become convinced of the correctness of that thesis.
I likewise owe a great deal of thanks to my third lawyer, François Berthout, who was himself totally convinced of the correctness of the revisionist thesis and knew how to plead the case, sometimes with humor.
A little help from my friends
In France I had to confront such a powerful coalition of diverse interests that without Pierre Guillaume and his friends I would have been overwhelmed. Among his friends I owe a special debt of gratitude to Serge Thion and his wife, to Jacob Assous, Denis Authier, Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, Maurice Di Scuillo, Jean-Luc Redlinski, Gabor Tamas Rittersporn, Claude Karnoouh, Jean-Louis Tristani, Jose Benhamou, Marc R.; to my former students Cécile D., Dominique M., Jean-Pierre C., and to many other French citizens whose names I cannot mention here. Overseas, I owe a particular debt of gratitude to my Dutch, Belgian, German, and Austrian friends. In Australia, I have benefitted from two valuable sources of support, John Bennett and William S. In the United States, I owe a great deal to Dr. Arthur Butz and Mark Weber, not to mention, of course, other members of the Institute for Historical Review. It was Mark Weber who took the initiative of drawing up the following petition that, during a short period of time in 1979, collected 600 signatures:
Dr. Robert Faurisson has served as a respected professor of twentieth century French literature and document criticism for over four years at the university of Lyon-2 in France. Since 1974 he has been conducting extensive independent research into the “Holocaust” question.
Since he began making his findings public, professor faurisson has been subject to a vicious campaign of harassment, intimidation, slander, and physical violence in a crude attempt to silence him. fearful officials have even tried to stop him from further research by denying him access to public libraries and archives. we strongly protest these efforts to deprive professor faurisson of his freedom of speech and expression, and we condemn the shameful campaign to silence him.
We strongly support Professor Faurisson’s just right of academic freedom and we demand that university and government officials do everything possible to ensure his safety and the free exercise of his legal rights.
Dr. Noam Chomsky signed that petition and has unfailingly defended me although he is not in agreement with the revisionist thesis.