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Translated from the original French

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The whole book in one clic


Foreword 5
Introduction 7
I. From Stalingrad to Nuremberg 30
II.The Principles of Nuremberg 40
III. Conspiracy and Crimes against Peace 50
IV. War Crimes 75
V. Crimes against Humanity 88
VI. Conclusion on Nuremberg 121
VII. The Eichmann Trial or The New Master Singers of Nuremberg 130
VIII. The Auschwitz Trial 155


A confirmed total pacifist, Paul Rassinier was drawn into the Communist Party in 1922 at the age of 16, by the anarchist Victor Serge. Having very quickly turned against it, he was expelled from the Party. After various attempts at unifying the workers' movement along the political lines of Souvarine, and the trade union projects of Pierre Monatte, he joined the Socialist Party on the evening of February 6th, 1934. As Secretary of the Union of Belfort, he leaned first towards Marceau Pivert, then towards Paul Faure, and attempted to popularise in Franche-Comté the pacifist viewpoints of Félicien Challaya, René Gérin, Madeleine Vernet and Louis Lecoin. In 1939 he was saved from Daladierist fury by Paul Faure.

As one of the founders of the "Libé-Nord" movement (he was in the Resistance from the very start) he tried to inculcate into his comrades the idea of non-violence and the principles of total pacifism. This attitude caused him to be condemned to death by the Communist resistance; after receiving the warning coffin effigy, he only escaped pistol shots thanks to being arrested by the Gestapo (October 30th, 1943). He was deported to Buchenwald, then to Dora. On his return to France, invalided out and decorated with the Médaille de la Résistance, and Reconnaissance Française, he resumed his place at the head of the S.F.I.O. union in Belfort. He loudly proclaimed that whilst in the Resistance he had never met most of the men now speaking in its name and, firm in his own personal experience, he attacked their pretentions of having suppressed "collaboration". Rassinier was defeated in the first Constituent Assembly elections by the Communists, who kept him out by giving their votes to the far Left candidate, but he was elected at the second. He was again defeated on November 10th, 1946 through the Communists' using the same method. The state of his health did not permit his resumption of his post as professor of history and geography so he retired from public and professional life and published successively:

Le Passage de la Ligne, 1948

Le Mensonge d'Ulysse, 1950

Le Discours de la Dernière Chance (introductory essay to a doctrine of Peace on the theme: "Neither Moscow nor Washington"), 1953

Candasse ou la huitième péché capital, 1955

Le Parlement aux mains des banques, also 1955

Ulysse trahi par les siens, which is complementary to Mensonge d'Ulysse, 1960

L'Équivoque révolutionnaire, 1961

Le Véritable Procès Eichmann ou Les Vainqueurs incorrigibles, 1962

By the same author:

Passage de la ligne, (Editions Bressanes, 1948) out of print.

Le Mensonge d'Ulysse (Editions Bressanes, 1950) out of print.

Le Discours de la dernière chance (Editions de la Voix de la Paix, 1953) Introduction to a doctrine of peace.

La Fin du règne de la peur (Editions de la Voix de la Paix, 1963).

Une 3ème guerre mondiale pour du pétrole? (Editions de la Voix de la Paix, 1963)

Le Parlement aux mains des banques (Contre-Courant, 1955)

Candasse ou le huitième péché capital (L'Amitié par le Livre, 1955)

Ulysse trahi par les siens (Librairie Française, 1961)

Le Mensonge d'Ulysse (Librairie Française, 5th ed., 1961)

L'Equivoque révolutionnaire (Défense de 1'Homme, 1962)

Le véritable procès Eichmann, ou Les Vainqueurs incorrigibles (Sept Couleurs, 1962)

Translated abroad, in German and Spanish

Le Mensonge d'Ulysse, 1960

Ulysse trahi par les siens, 1961

Le véritable procès Eichmann, ou Les Vainqueurs incorrigibles, 1963

The present volume in English is a revision and completion of these three works.

In preparation:

Partis et politiciens devant la guerre

Le Troisième testament. History of the State of Israel.


1867. European statesmen are trying to see Europe in terms of nationalities well defined by natural frontiers. On the other hand, the socialist movement (the Internationale) is ideologically committed to breaking down national barriers. Similarly the merchants value commercial contacts over and above the frontiers, natural or not.

The merchants are the more practical. In striving towards their industrial and social objectives peoples cannot fail to learn to understand and respect each other. Statesmen encourage them in order to extend their influence, whilst the intellectuals do it on principle. Since 1850 the method of contact has been the universal exposition (1) : in 1851 in London, in 1855 in Paris, in 1862 again in London.

In 1867 the venue reverted to Paris. In order that the foreign visitors could see something other than the exhibits assembled in the enclosure set up on the Champs de Mars, with an annexe on the island of Billancourt, in other words that it might be possible for them to make a far broader contact with France through the intermediary of Paris, the organisers of the exposition published a catalogue of all that there was to see, or at least all that they wished to be seen: Paris-Guide. The task of writing the preface for that kind of inventory of the riches of Paris was awarded to Victor Hugo. Here is the passage of that preface which summarised the them on which he wrote it:

"In the twentieth century there will be an extraordinary nation. This nation will be large, but that will not keep it from being a free nation. It will be illustrious, rich, thinking, peaceful, cordial to the rest of humanity. It will have the gentle seriousness of an elder sister [...]. A battle between Italians and Germans, between Englishmen and Russians, between Prussians and Frenchmen will seem to it as a battle between Picards and Burgundians might appear to us. It will consider the waste of human blood as useless. Only with reservations will it approve an admiration for the war dead. The shrug of the shoulders that we give to the Inquisition it will give to war. It will look at the battlefield of Sadowa with the air with which we regard the Quemadero of Seville. It will regard as stupid the oscillation between victories, invariably ending in a dismal readjustment of the balance - Austerlitz always paid for by Waterloo. It will have about the same respect for authority that we have for orthodoxy; a court case will seem to it as a heresy trial seems to us and it will no more understand Béranger in a cell than Galileo in prison...

"A common language, common currency, unity of measure, unity of meridian, unity of law; the highest degree of free enterprise and incalculable profit, resulting in the abolition of parasitism; no more arms races, the gigantic expense of defence eliminated, the four billions which the permanent armies cost at the present left in the pockets of the citizens, the four million young conscripts re-assigned to commerce, agriculture and industry; everywhere the iron of the sword and chain reforged in the form of the plough; peace, the goddess with eight breasts, majestically seated in the midst of men...

"Instead of war, emulation. The rise of intelligence towards the dawn. Impatience for well-being reproving mistakes and fears. Every other anger disappeared. A people prodding the bowels of the night and extracting an immense clarity for the profit of humankind. That is what that nation will be.

"And that nation will be called Europe. "

The fact that the twentieth century in question, now in its second half, does feel itself threatened with the prospect of ending up in the middle of a Slavic Europe, or a Sovietised Europe, says enough of Victor Hugo's posthumous predictions, not to labour the point. The only thing necessary to comment upon concerning the great hope thus formulated is its intention and the manner of its expression. Especially the manner of its expression: the nationalities, the natural frontiers, German unity, Italian unity, etc. If one had pointed out to him that he did not make mention of these, I imagine that Hugo would have answered with the same shrug of the shoulders as if he had been asked to pronounce a definitive solution to the problem of the Guelphs and the Ghibelines, the Armagnacs and the Burgundians (Picards and Burgundians, as he says), of Richelieu and the House of Austria, of the Hundred Years War, or for all I know, the crowning of Clovis.

Well! Nationalities, natural frontiers, etc. that was again for Europe to try to find herself on an intellectual level which, compared with today, might seem relatively elevated. I do not wish to speak here of either statesmen, who only conceive of Europe as cut in two, or of merchants whose only concern seems to be a multiplicity of frontiers because by means of import and export licences a black market in gold is permitted as well as other devices as profitable as they are numerous. In modern nations the statesmen and the merchants are not, or are no longer, the elite. What of the intellectuals?

If, now that the war of 1939-1945 is ended, the intellectuals have begun to exalt Europe again, they do so only by systematically citing the reasons for not doing so, specifically: the German crimes, the German concentration camps, an infinity of Oradours, Prussian militarism etc. Recently they have tried to mobilise world opinion concerning the behaviour during the war of a simple German lieutenant-colonel - Adolf Eichmann: eternal Germany, that black sheep from which all evil comes, and with which no association is possible except by keeping it on its knees or stretched out with a knife to its throat.

It is certain that public discussion, if kept on the low level of such archaic ideas and in such flagrant contradiction of reality, can only prolong the old quarrels, not settle them, and that Europe has no chance to take stock of itself. To be otherwise it would be necessary to conceive of a Europe not only without, but also against Germany.

More important than anything, and this is a serious point, is the fact that the intellectuals of 1962 do not see:

On the one hand, that the Germans could easily reply with Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg (tragic counterparts of Oradours); French militarism (or Russian); Algerian concentration camps (which the International Red Cross established to be no better than their own); or Russian camps, which have been found to be far worse than the German camps by Margareth Buber-Neuman, who was in both. Navareno Scavioli, an Italian Communist refugee in Moscow in 1925, who knew the camps from 1937-1954, has given us (in the Rome magazine Vita, November 23rd, 1961) a picture which surpasses in horror everything that has been written by the escapees from German camps - even by those who have embroidered their tale the most.

On the other hand they do not see that there is not, nor ever can be, a war without concentration camps, without Oradours and without obedient and zealous lieutenant-colonels of the Eichmann type -on both sides.

Finally, in determining responsibility for the war of 1939-1945, the intellectuals overlook the consequences of the aberrant Treaty of Versailles which places the first and heaviest responsibility on those who made that Treaty.

Immediately after the first World War these were still indisputable truths for the majority of intellectuals. Among those who classified themselves on the Left and who made up the literary or personal associations of my ardent and enthusiastic youth, were: Harry Elmer Barnes, Sydney B. Fay, Fréderik Bausman, Hermann Hesse, spiritual heir to Bertha von Suttner, Romain Rolland, Alain Mathias Morhardt, Victor-Marguerite, Anatole France, Félicien Challaye, Jean Giono, Georges Démartial, René Gérin, Barthelemy de Ligt, Lucien Roth, the Alexandres, Georges Michon etc. Nobody has succeeded in selling them the idea of any unilateral character of horrors and responsibilities for the war. They put everything under the microscope and were very hard on the men of Versailles, who were supported by a few aged intellectuals, worn out or fossilised, and belonging to a Right which no longer followed them. They created a Société d'études documentaires et critiques sur la guerre2

* of which Mathias Morhardt was the president, and in France their works were published in the Librairie du Travail by the militants of anarcho-syndicalism of which the Révolution prolétarienne was and still [10] is the medium of expression.

In 1945 when hostilites terminated, of the very few people at that moment thinking it necessary to sift out the horrors and responsibilities for the second World War, it is remarkable that they were all Right-wing and that their attitude was founded on the very principles in whose name the intellectuals of the Left had repudiated Versailles twenty-five years earlier. As for the intellectuals of the Left, the overwhelming majority approved and exhalted Nuremberg in the name of principles with whose reactionary character, at the time of Versailles, they had reproached those on the Right who made them their own, and the phenomenon is no less remarkable. There is a curious kind of shifting of position here in the matter of principles, and it is just in this shifting that my personal drama took place.

Although politically involved, I remained committed to the basic tenets of history. The Left was my spiritual family. I had found intellectual comfort in a socialism which was above all a humanism, nourished on a hope based on an interpretation of historical facts which attempted to achieve objectivity through honesty. At the moment when (I don't know what devil possessed them) the intellectuals of the Left, confronted by the war and then by the Résistance, fell back upon the political positions of that Déroulède kind of nationalism which even the most extreme of those on the Right had long since repudiated, I suffered as much as if my own family had become guilty of some collective felony. Was it a panic reaction on the part of the Leftist intellectuals in the face of danger, or was it deliberate repudiation? Hope springing eternal, I opted for the former explanation. The danger was removed - at the price their attitude had forced us to pay, that is, the war - and now, after the war, the hour had come for the settlement of accounts. I discovered that, far from returning to their traditions and principles, they were thinking only of how they could justify the untenable political position they had assumed during the conflict with insupportable theses, and to this end did not hesitate to pervert historical facts even to the extent of the solicitation, falsification, misinterpretation and invention of documents. I knew then that I had hoped against hope and that theirs had been a deliberate repudiation. At the same time I knew that neither my political and philosophical convictions, nor my concern for historical truth and my honesty would allow me to ever associate myself with that disavowal, nor to allow myself to be suspected of it.

Once again this decision presented delicate problems. The intellectuals' lack of scruples was as complete in other realms of thought as in that of history. Through the medium of propaganda, a general intellectual breakdown had infected all classes of society [11] and now was threatening everything - a moral prostration, forerunner of the collapse of society (at least of European society) after an apocalyptic war: the dark prospect of a chaos no less apocalyptic. It was obvious, therefore, that the pressing job to be undertaken required an immeasurable effort. Everything had to be started again from scratch and since the University could not be counted on, itself a victim of subversion, it was necessary to address the masses directly, sorely tried as they were by events that they had not understood (and which were still so fresh in the mind as to be festering) and saturated with slogans aimed solely at stirring up their lowest instincts, particularly resentment, hatred and the need for vengeance.

Fortunately the zero mark was well defined. Buried under mountains of sophistry was that need for truth (where the concerns of the historian meet those of the moralist) which, even under the worst circumstances, all normally constituted men always feel sooner or later. There lay the only hope, and that hope directed the first step: attack this mountain at its foot, take the facts one by one, study their substance in order to replace them correctly in their historical context.

It was an interminable labour. Disregarding the urgency it finally ended up as a general study of the Second World War. But we were only in 1948 and such a study was not possible, no doubt because of lack of perspective, but especially because of the result of that - the paucity of documents made public, after having been carefully rewritten. Even those made public one could not consult directly without special privilege, that is, knowing the password. It should be recognised that the archives of the Third Reich, seized in 1945, amounting to hundreds of tons of documents, were carefully kept out of sight during the whole term of the thirteen Nuremberg trials. And during the trials only those who were willing to become auxiliaries of the prosecution before public opinion were allowed access to the documents. In an effort to avoid leaks even that access was restricted to those documents which the prosecution lawyer decided presented no threat to his addresses to the Court. When the trials were over, this enormous mass of papers was transported to America and put under lock and key in a huge military warehouse in Alexandria, Virginia, where it lay in dust until 1955. At that time, before handing the documents back to Germany, the American government authorised a very small, carefully selected group of scholars and researchers to make an inventory and select certain documents to be photographed. Today the mass of documents lies in the dust in Bonn where, under the law of fifty years' obligatory secrecy, specialists will not have free access to them for another thirty-two years, that is, about 1995. Moreover, they will have to be classified before they can be made available, which task will no doubt take a number of years thus pushing the date even farther along. Until then, historians will have to content themselves with [12] the 30,000 documents (it might as well be nothing) which were used by the prosecution at Nuremberg, a few of which the attorneys for the defence succeeded in procuring through the wiles of an Indian and which are deposited in an official dossier of 67 large-size volumes of about a thousand pages each.

These 30,000 documents in 67 volumes have been made public - but great heavens! what a form and what a state they are in! - in successive instalments, on the following dates:

1. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (red series): 10 vols. in English, publ. in 1947 by the Gov. Printing Office at Washington, under the direction of Ch. Horsky, W. Jackson and others.

2. Report of the discussions and decisions of the trials of the Major War Criminals, which took place at Nuremberg in 1945-46 (blue series): 42 vols. in 4 langs. (French, English, German and Russian) publ. at Nuremberg itself in 1948.

3. Trials of the War Criminals Before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals (green series): 15 vols. in English, which give a report of the discussions and the verdict of the twelve succeeding trials at Nuremberg, publ. 1950 by the Gov. Printing Office in Washington, under the direction of the Control Council Law No. 10, with the assistance of Drexel A. Sprecher and others.

Because the ex-Allied governments only publish their own archives in driblets, and then only to the extent to which they show the Allies in a favourable light; and because, on the other hand, one cannot pass judgement on the value of the memoirs of the principal actors in the drama without being able to confront them with all the documents relative to the events of which they treat - probably not until about the year 2000 - all the general studies published on the Second World War are bound to be very vulnerable. That is also true of those which were pretentiously issued in 1948.

To provoke a discussion on the actual principle of the Nuremberg trials was unthinkable. I did attempt to do so in 1946, within the bosom of the Socialist Party of which I was a representative in Parliament, succeeding only in bringing down upon myself unanimous indignation.

In 1948, therefore, the only thing a historian could do was to turn to partial studies, limited to the documents and testimonies then made public. In order to be effective he had first to turn his attention to those documents and testimonies which had reference to events concerning which public opinion had been conditioned by official propaganda. Without any doubt the event above all others which best answered that condition was the phenomenon of the concentration camp, which had taken precedence over all others during the preceding three years, thanks to the abundance of eyewitness literature and the invariable return of all public debate on policy with regard to Germany, as defined at Nuremberg, to the subject as though to a leitmotif and in search of justification. It so happened that I had the notable advantage of [13] being able to speak as a witness since I, too, had lived through it. It was, therefore, impossible to resist the temptation to set things right and so it was that Le Mensonge d'Ulysse was my first act of fidelity to the principles of the world of the Left of 1919. After an interval of ten years, in an effort to end the bitter controversy which it had stirred in Europe and which had lasted all that time, Ulysse trahi par les siens was my second act. It had barely appeared when Eichmann was kidnapped in Argentina by the Israeli Secret Service in the most complete and brazen contempt of International Law. The controversy was resumed more vigorously than ever and it gave me the long-awaited opportunity to make a collective study of all the horrors of the 1939-45 war. I had the opportunity, at the same time, to set them in their historical context, this context being best defined by a parallel drawn between the thirteen trials of Nuremberg (without, of course, overlooking the fourteenth which took place in Jerusalem), the Treaty of Versailles and the uncovering of the basic causes for the first time. Le Véritable Procès Eichmann ou les Vainqueurs incorrigibles (2) was then my third act.

To submit to American opinion all at once and in a definitive form (i.e. documented, since nothing in history is definitive unless documented) a sum of nonconformist truths of such importance that European opinion had not been able to grasp them except in steps and homoeopathic doses - and then only at favourable moments - is an idea for which I am indebted to one of those rare persons (survivors) faithful to himself and to those who, immediately after the First World War, did not accept the declaration of Germany's unilateral responsibility. In this respect Harry Elmer Bames was a not inconsiderable leader to the student youth of which I was then a part. To him I must here give public homage, not only for that fidelity which so many others have betrayed so brazenly and with so little shame, but also above all for the counsel of inestimable value which he has given me.

For my own part I confess that this passage from homoeopathic dose to horse medicine, without transition, is not made without some misgiving. Rightly or wrongly, from afar I think of the American reader as being much better protected, by the most modern, powerful and efficacious media, against assaults on the truth than the European reader, subject as he is to the old propaganda systems used here. So I consider the American reader less well prepared to face an aspect of things which, in my opinion, is almost totally unknown to him and which in any case is not the sort of thing to be encountered so brutally. Even if my concern is misplaced, I may be excused if, in trying to put him into the picture, I find it necessary to supply supplementary explanations about the basis of the problem - the reasons which forced the victors to find the solution they did and to justify a method which [14] can only be described as such because of the care I have taken to obey the imperative of reality without ever exceeding its explanations of the atrocious psychological climate in which all my efforts in the direction of historical truth have until now been pursued.

In the 4th century B.C., legend tells us, the Gallic chieftain Brennus overran Etruria and, going from victory to victory, he arrived at the gates of Rome, whose population had fled at his approach. He entered the city and destroyed it except for the Capitol, in which the youth of the city had enclosed and barricaded themselves. After a siege of seven months the young Romans, reduced by famine, sent to ask him on what conditions he would raise the siege and depart. "A thousand pounds' weight of gold," he replied. While the gold was being weighed, after adjusting the balance in one of the trays which held the weights several times - doubtless hoping to move Brennus to granting a remission by making him touch the gold with his own finger - the chief of the Roman delegation, whose charge it was to hand over the gold, bade him observe that it was indeed a very great amount. "Vae victis!" replied the other insolently, throwing his sword onto the weight tray of the scales and indicating by a gesture that brooked no reply that, for having said too much too thoughtlessly, the Romans would have to pay this additional weight of gold too. In those times the only law was the unwritten law, creating only very simple judicial situations. "Between thine and mine" distinctions, not very fundamental on the individual level, did not exist at all on the level of groups of people for whom property rights were guaranteed only insofar as they could be preserved by force. In consequence the principle of war, which was a common occurrence, was never the subject of any discussion. As for the effects of war, the loser had to pay tribute to the conqueror not because he had become guilty of some prejudicial misdeed which it would have been just for him to make good, but solely because he was the loser. The tribute itself was at the discretion of the victor and could range from a sum in cash to pure and simple .annexation of the invaded territory, varied only by the enslavement or extermination of the population. The law of the jungle this came to be called later and, because it was moderate in the sense that its terms never irremediably reduced men to the habits of animals, this evaluation was, on the whole, coarse enough.

However, history seems to show that even given their victory especially the price they generally made the losers pay for it, the victors have, so to speak, always had a bad conscience. And not only the conquerors but the disinterested spectators also. The chronicler who put the Brennus story into legend and with a single phrase, which has deservedly become part of history, laid down the martial customs of his times and thus the whole law for all wars for centuries to come, clearly did not approve of the behaviour of his hero. Otherwise, legend for legend, instead of [15] bringing in last minute Roman reinforcements which caused Brennus to flee and leave his booty behind, he would certainly not have failed to conform to the literary pattern of his times, and make a conqueror of his hero right to the end of the tale, which would then have been a song of praise. Although only an implied condemnation, which brings to mind either the imminent or providential justice in which man successively or simultaneously believed for so long, it most certainly bears only on the effects of war and not on its cause. Nonetheless it betrays a bad conscience and the need for a justice that is not armed. And history seems to show that it is after the event, in the effects of his acts, and not before in his spirit or conscience, that man found the idea for that justice.

Since Brennus, man has made little progress in the direction of a good conscience: for the use of victors after wars he has invented the principle of the just war, the basis of which is historic law. For before wars he has invented nothing that can prevent them with any certainty.

Historic Law is the title of ownership to a given piece of land for a people. It is not inscribed in a notary's archives but only in tradition, essentially religious in nature. In the earliest ages of humanity, after the Flood in which everybody except his own family was drowned, the good father Noah, who had three sons, divided the whole earth between just two of them at God's command. Sem, the first, took the East. Japhet, the second, took the West. Chain, the third, was given nothing because, having seen his father drunk and naked, he was not in a state of grace in the eyes of God and, therefore, belonged to the race of the cursed. The unhappy man turned towards the South because there was nothing but and mountains in the North. But that South land, which rapidly became the rich Land of Canaan because of the industry of his sons, he occupied without right. When the descendants of Shem, to whom the East had been allotted in the division, were pushed back by armed force, they did not know where to settle. The God of their fathers suggested to them that, since it had been occupied without right, the Land of Canaan was at their disposal, especially since the inhabitants were cursed - doubly so for having taken another god. With His help they exterminated their cousins in order to take their place.

Thus the notion of a just war, the legacy of the Old Testament, was born in Christian morals, based on the Law of divine jurisprudence, whose justification was the state of grace. "God's will!" or "For God and the King!" became the saying throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. This law is called historic because the history of Noah is related in the Old Testament and because, the Old Testament being an historic document, it follows that the events reported therein are likewise historic. Deduction has never been more advantageous: Noah himself a witness for history ...

Everything happens today as if all the people in the earth, [16] considering themselves descendants of Noah, were continuing to dispose of his legacy by invoking the first division he made of it, and by taking a stand on a kinship which has transformed from being family-based to become nation-based. Unfortunately, even if it were one day possible to agree about the legitimacy of this categorisation of "nationality" it would never be possible to agree on the allotment of territory to be made to each nation. Unfortunately, too, there are peoples who do not recognise themselves as descended from Noah, and who base historic law on other reasons.

So it is that Historical Law, from the point of view of the first occupant, recognised or not by a God, is the fundamental reason for modern nationalism and, all things being interdependent, it has given rise to another idea - patriotism, which throughout the ages has evolved in the direction of a much more temporal and, at least in appearance, more consistent judgement than the state of grace of divine jurisprudence. Nationalism has attached to itself other laws less rudimentary than Historic Law. So much so that the idea of a just war can call to its support a whole arsenal of sophisticated arguments which only broaden the field: country, national interests, integrity, and independence, democracy, state policy, the right of self-determination, international justice, civilisation, liberty, revolution, socialism etc., even to philanthropy in the case of colonial wars. And all this, integrated in a philosophic system, pursues its murderous career in the minds and lives of men in the name of humanism.

In the end, in the name of no matter which of these myths, after every war justice always belongs to the victor, and the guilty one is always the loser: the intellectual and moral development of humanity has not yet reached the point where it is self-evident that by definition the victor is not necessarily the one with reason, only the stronger, and that the relations which should in justice necessarily exist between the judge and the party concerned cannot make an exception of war. By virtue of which it is hardly possible to demonstrate, without recourse to Machiavelli, that manners and customs are essentially any different from those of Brennus, or that the law of the jungle is definitely ended.

The two world wars having proved that the system was powerless to put right on the side of the victors, even with all the arsenal of arguments and sophistry, Machiavelli was not just an additional assistance, but the only recourse. In 1919 at Versailles, no attempt was made to prove the unilateral responsibility of Germany in the unleashing of hostilities: it was decreed and to make the decree acceptable to the people and even the victors, who demanded an accounting, they undertook to show, after the event, that during the war Germany had committed the most abominable crimes. Thus indirectly and all at once came justification for the war waged against Germany, the victory and the odious clauses of the Treaty of Versailles which practically condemned her to death.


Such is the origin and explanation of the gigantic campaign to manipulate public opinion which flooded the world, fed by the celebrated Bryce Report, in which were gathered and, so to speak, classified like samples, an enormous mass of the most unbelievable horrors and atrocities (all fictitious, of course) which were brought to Germany's account. But, less than five years later, the Bryce Report was pulled to pieces thus destroying forever the reputation of its author who, until then, had been a statesman, a journalist and a humanist, universally esteemed for his intellectual integrity. Homage must be paid here to the Englishman, Arthur Ponsonby, whose book Falsehood in Wartime created a sensation at the time, and served as a basis for the counter-campaign immediately undertaken by the Society for Documentary and Critical Studies on the War to detoxify the evidence and re-establish historical truth, and to all those scholars and artists courageously associated with this work.

Not for an instant did the victors even pause to acknowledge that this criticism was validated by the inherent feebleness of their argument. Without hesitating, they attributed it to the fact that they had omitted to invest it with the authority of legality. In 1945 they were still in this frame of mind and, certain that there had only been this little error in their method, they decided this time not to decree that Germany was unilaterally responsible for unleashing the war, but, in order to lend the argument what it lacked in 1919, to make use of horrors and atrocities for the legal proof of this guilt - Nuremberg. As an additional precaution they did not mince words over the horrors and atrocities, but gave the full dose: concentration camps, gas chambers, six-million Jews etc., etc. They took up where the Belgian baby with no hands left off (which was, I think, the most that was dared in the Bryce Report). You cannot stop progress!

Twenty years later, in versions constantly repeated, elaborated upon and, above all, augmented, all the insanities recorded at Nuremberg as so many incontestable truths are still disseminated amongst the public, profusely and to order, through a whole literature as ethical as the judges at Nuremberg, and financed from all over to accomplish this pathetic campaign. Against this, even if it has already scored points or obtained appreciable results, the counter-campaign of detoxification has not yet really managed to take shape.

If it was willingly admitted that responsibilities for wars could be determined by their cause, it was only one of the pernicious effects of the logic of our fathers. In the modern logic of the victors those responsibilities are defined by the consequences invented for them and laid to the conscience of the losers.

The authority of legality? Not even that -- only control over the mass media. The Second World War did not provoke in Europe the considerable upheavals in the structure of society brought about by the First, which had had a comparable influence on [18] American policy. It did not make a break with the past as the First had done. While the First broke radically with an evolution of the world in the direction of increasingly more liberal policies, the latter tended towards regimes of which Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco and so many others have together quite well defined the type. The new element is that in the clan of the victors, the political team which won the war has remained in power, with very few changes in personnel, is still in power, and maintains the team of its choice within the clan of the victors, controlling everywhere the means of subversion.

The dimensions of the crimes of this War being more frightening than those of the war of 1914 -- and with good grounds! -- every effort is made to hold off the hour when the people, discovering the monstrous subterfuge of which they were and still are the victims, will surely demand an accounting from them.

As far as the Second World War is concerned such is the drama of historical truth. Happily, it is only that. Historical truth no longer being determined by logic, only by the imperatives of policies, it would take only a trivial incident -- even something unconnected with it -- to suddenly modify the mutual interests of the victors, to shatter their solidarity, in order to set the problem in its true context again and assure its triumph. It is not impossible. Suppose for example -- an extreme and probably entirely gratuitous hypothesis -- that the United States reverted to the policy of isolation which is in their tradition, perhaps the sense of objectivity might be restored to them too, in which case, since they would not lose their position of leadership in the world for all that, things would surely move very fast.

Now to apply the theory to the facts. The evidence was glaring; it was a question of a war which was, in the beginning, merely a clash of purely national interests (those of Germany and Russia associated with those of Poland and the litany of little artificial states created haphazardly by the Treaty of Versailles) degenerating into a European war (with the intervention of Britain and France and the spectacular shift of Russia) and then into a world war when the United States entered the lists (Lend-Lease law), and when Japan (Pearl Harbor) refused to submit to a policy, inherited from the experience of colonialism, which the United States intended to impose on her. This evidence was glaringly obvious even to the victors themselves and not just honest men.

Two intellectual attitudes were possible: 1) either the problem presented itself as a chain of events associated with a chain of responsibilities; in that case, the good old logic of Aristotle (which the present infatuation with Hegelian-Marxian dialectic has not yet torn to pieces) pointed out that only the initial responsibility counted - in this case the Treaty of Versailles; or, 2) the facts could not be rationally linked together. Thus it was only a question of a succession of events related fortuitously by chance and, in this case, each one carried its particular responsibilities. So [19] it was legitimate to maintain that Britain's and France's declaration of War on Germany (rather incoherent since it spared Russia against whom the same complaint could be made as against Germany) bore, without any reasons other than those relative to the gratuitous hypothesis, the responsibility for transforming a war of national interests into a war of European concern and that, in conjunction with the imperialist policy of the United States towards Japan, the 'Lend-Lease' law carried the responsibility for its transformation into a world war. Aggravation - it was also just as legitimate to maintain that not only had Britain, France and the United States made the Second World War inevitable (rejection of the compromise peace by Britain and France after the fall of Poland, and by Britain after the fall of France) but, even more, that all three together had prolonged it by torpedoing, through the Casablanca Declaration (January, 1943 - demand for Germany's unconditional surrender) the movement in favour of peace which originated in Germany at the beginning of 1942, on the basis of the status quo ante (Schellenberg Memoirs, Paris, 1957), and which thereafter had developed there.

Neither one nor the other of these two attitudes could be adopted by the victors. It goes without saying that the latter condemned them outright, from the moment of Britain's and France's declaration of war on Germany, and for everything that followed. The former implied a condemnation of the Treaty of Versailles, the violation of which they brandished as the greatest of all their grievances against Germany. Quite a poem, the Treaty of Versailles. America had refused to ratify it; Russia, who took no part in its formulation, had until 1934 condemned it as an act of banditry, and again, from August, 1939 on; Britain had suggested a revision after 1923 and, together with Germany, had even partially achieved it in 1935. France alone remained stubborn and it was no small pleasure for her to see manifested, once again, a unanimity. around her point of view, whose least advantage was that it carried with it implicit and total absolution for the most serious of all the violations of this treaty: namely, her systematic refusal to apply the disarmament clause. At the other end of Europe pleasure became jubilation because, with the Treaty of Versailles condemned, the right of self-determination of peoples was recognised and it meant the final blow to Pan-Slavism which Bolshevism, as in the times of the Tsars but now under the mark of the revolution, had made the keystone of all the foreign policy of Russia.

At Yalta and other places it was decided that Russia had given proof that she had returned to the fold of the concert of the Nations, and the attitude adopted, without letting its bastard character appear, was the following: the world war was envisaged in the first instance as being a rational chain of events, each evolving from the preceding, the initial responsibility being fixed [20] not on the origin, that is the Treaty of Versailles, but arbitrarily as the events progressed by using an argument according to which the one responsible for any war was the one who, breaking off negotiations aimed at a compromise, set his armies on the march. For twenty long years, from 1919 to 1939, endless discussions attempting to define the aggressor were carried on without success, and there, in a trice, produced on paper without too much effort was just the right formula. It was as simple as that. I must admit that, with both conditions united in one person - the rupture of negotiations and the marching order to the armies - it made a serious argument. Unhappily in 1939, the one who had broken of negotiations was not the first to set his armies on the march. In a remarkable book, Der erzwungene Krieg (The forced war) (Tübingen, 1962), the American historian David L. Hoggan, supported with documents and testimonies, has indisputably established that it was Poland, as the docile instrument of Britain, France and Rooseveltian America, who had broken off negotiations, in order to present Germany with the Hobson's Choice of putting her armies in the field. In a similar way, Poland had put her own armies into position, which reveals sufficient about her intentions and those of her inspirers to be presented as supplementary, though superfluous, justification to David L. Hoggan's argument.

To be sure, the victors were not unaware of this aspect of things since they had planned it themselves. And they had only the less confidence in the solidity of the argument. Then again, among all the arguments in their philosophical arsenal, there was not one which, even resorting to sophism and begging the question, could not be turned against one of them, often several of them, sometimes all of them, and all together against Russia. So, having fallen upon the horrors and atrocities, they had barely had time to set the mechanism of the operation in motion before they perceived that, of all those things which could be charged against Germany, there was not one on which Germany could not hold up a comparable charge against them. Gas chambers? Perhaps, but the proof is far, very far, from being established. With the exception of one, in all cases the opposite is proved. In the one remaining case, contrary proof has not been made because it is a question of a camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau, the very one charged with the greatest number of the worst crimes) located on the other side of the Iron Curtain where nothing can be verified, and where the fabrication of false documents is raised to the level of an institution. Whereas atrocities of a comparable kind -- aerial bombardments with the phosphorus bomb of the civilian populations of Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg etc., which in a quarter of an hour in the middle of the night turned 200,000, 300,000 or 500,000 people into human torches -- were, alas, clearly proved, and that even in 1945 (without counting Hiroshima!).

Worse than an impasse -- a trap. The evidence had to be admitted. No sophist, by no matter what dialectic trick, could [21] find justice in the victors' conception of it. Machiavelli himself would have failed! There was only one way: the subversion of public opinion. But the situation was so delicate that, from the very beginning, it was necessary to mobilise every instrument controlling information to insure against any possibility of failure. And so coercive measures to silence honest people became part of the law. So infamous were they that, even to distant posterity, nothing will be able to cleanse the conscience of those who introduced them.

Two new offences, relative to criminal law, were invented: 1) sympathy for Nazism or Fascism, and 2) anti-Semitism. After that there was no longer any possibility of saying or writing anything at all on the War which did not conform to the official line, without falling under one or the other of these indictments -- or more often both -- that is to say, not without being automatically sentenced with very heavy fines or prison, coupled with the loss of civil rights, which deprived one of the means of subsistence. Temerity being the ransom of honesty, some eminent intellectuals took the risk nevertheless, and there were many such cases.

But to prohibit the search for and publication of the truth merely by taking such Draconian measures would be ineffectual without additional sanctions to prevent, without any chance of a loop-hole, the action coming to light in the natural play of the traditional mechanisms of the administration of justice. Therefore a special law was made. At any rate one was needed because international law was without any provisions for even initiating a trial. Furthermore, even with the law elaborated, it still could not be applied to the war just ended, the principle of the nonretroactivity of law forbidding it formally and explicitly. There was no wavering in the face of this difficulty. Coldly it was decided that the 2,000 year old principle of the nonretroactivity of laws was not applicable to this war. As for the truth, the law prescribed that the prosecution could dispense with judicial proof of the materiality of the facts of the accusation, every time they became a matter of public knowledge. The number of facts admitted as incontestably of common knowledge, because they could not be proved, is incalculable. And to seal any crack through which the truth might escape, a whole list of arguments was drawn up which the Defence, the accused and their witnesses did not have the right to make use of. This precaution was unnecessary at least in the instance of the witnesses. They were all either themselves accused and in prison, or likely to be, and it is easy to understand that their testimonies were inspired, in the first case, by the anxiety not to aggravate their situation and if possible to alleviate it, and in the second case, by the concern not to put themselves in a worse position. A psychological service was attached to the Tribunal under the direction of Professor Gustave Gilbert of Long Island, whose task it was to remind those among the witnesses [22] who did not seem to be sufficiently inspired of that concern. He obtained remarkable results by every possible means.

With these steps taken and nothing overlooked, everything was set; and with public opinion needing a scapegoat, as after all collective disasters, the operation could not fail to succeed. For the moment at least. The psychological atmosphere created was dreadful. It had not been necessary to protect the Tribunal against the suspicion which its sentence might arouse; it was already protected by the traditional laws and jurisprudence through contempt of court, a charge which could be brought against those who might be tempted to summon them before public opinion.

I have the soul neither of an apostle, nor of a hero, nor of a potential martyr. I am not daring by nature. If I have performed any acts of courage which have attracted attention, it was only in taking calculated risks of such a kind that I could very easily bear the possible consequences. And if once I did expose myself in such a way that for sixteen months every morning on waking, I was faced with the thought that there was every reason why I should not be alive in the evening, it was due to a simple miscalculation of the actual possibilities offered in the combination of circumstances in which I had acted. Fear of death? More serious and more terrible than that. I was convinced that I had acted like a man totally deprived of intelligence and good sense. Taught by experience, at no price did I want to expose myself to an error, to be sure of lighter consequence, but just as serious in that it would be of the same kind. Refusal to do one's duty? Certainly not, just a rejection of sacrifice. In this state of mind, if duty demanded that I object to the operation and speak up, it also commanded me to act more intelligently this time than I had against Nazism during the German occupation. My first concern, therefore, was to evolve a strategy which would save me from finding myself again in the role of Don Quixote battling against the windmills.

I proceeded by elimination. To argue over the responsibilities for the war was not only dangerous, it was hopeless. On the one hand, the perspective necessary to the historian did not exist; on the other, public opinion, conditioned by subversion, would not have tolerated it. Today we are up against the second of these. Until we have indisputably established in the eyes of public opinion that the flood of calumnies which the victors have laid on the conscience of the defeated is only the fruit of a deranged imagination, at the service of the most absolute dishonesty, it will not be possible for us to fix its attention on the true facts of the responsibilities. I speak only of public opinion because, in the eyes of all objective people, proof has now indisputably been made, and it remains only to broaden the field of objectivity.

Having discarded as hopeless the question of the official line on the responsibilities, only the Ponsonby method remained. And it was necessary to be very prudent. I knew that I could not escape [23] being brought up before some court, but I also knew that to achieve anything efficacious, I must at all costs avoid being found guilty. And there were three offences with which I must never allow the judges to charge me: defence of Nazism or Fascism; anti-Semitism; and contempt of court, mentioned above, without counting a fourth which has always existed in ordinary law -- injury and defamation of character of those I brought up.

Defence of Nazism or Fascism, that was easy. A long past proved that I was neither one nor the other. I had just come out of a concentration camp into which I had been thrown for that very reason, and I had just been decorated twice as an official recognition, without myself having taken the slightest step to obtain these two distinctions.

Anti-Semitism, that was a little more difficult. Everything that did not tally strictly with the postulations of the Jewish documentation centres, which had sprung up and were to be found almost everywhere, was considered relevant to this offence. And if I was not actually anti-Semitic, I was nevertheless in trouble with the international Zionist movement for having always maintained that to claim the right to settle sixteen to seventeen million people on the twenty to thirty odd square kilometres of Palestine territory was economic idiocy, apart from the fact that the law of history which was the basis of reference for the project, as demonstrated by Renan, was quite another Issue in the legal sense. They were waiting around the corner for me. I evaded their move by deciding not to bring up explicitly any of the arguments originating in the Jewish documentation centres. At the time, moreover, the Nuremberg trial was playing the Zionist game much better than any Israeli writings, or they themselves, could have done. Those centres and their attachés were very discreet -- so discreet that they presented little to take hold of. It was only later, about 1951-52, that they entered the fray and took the lead in counteracting the emergence of historical truth, and I think I was no stranger to that kind of reaction.

As for contempt of court, there was no problem. One simply brought up the Nuremberg judges without implicating them, that is, without naming them. It was quite easy. One attacked only those witnesses on whom the judges had based their opinion. And here I was in my own field, the study of the witness and his testimony being, in a way, part of my profession. I knew that if the witness for the defence is almost always a decent sort, he who makes an accusation is almost always a bad character -- only concerned with painting things black in order to get a condemnation, a shameless liar, and who could be exposed in flagrante dilecto at every point of his testimony. In sum, a sadist. As an extra precaution, I brought up the former only indirectly, and then only by making use of that whole body of literature which so embroidered the testimony that its use will be the shame of our century.


It was only the offence of injury and defamation against which I was not protected, no matter what I did. But since injury and defamation are not in my nature, I could only think of protecting myself in one way: to write nothing I was not in a position to prove, so that if I were brought up before any court I could put a stop to those who incriminated me, and the judges. Naturally, it would never occur to me to tell a falsehood. But there are two kinds of truth: those which can be proved, and those which cannot. The number of the latter was considerable, truths for which proof did exist, but not in my hands and which could only be found in places impossible to reach; and, at the same time, it was impossible to reveal where the proof could be found for fear of exposing it to destruction. I had to remain silent for both reasons. May future historians have no fears; I have left plenty of meat for them!

A final precaution which the moral climate in which we lived seemed to impose on me - the homoeopathic dose, to which I have referred. After three years of reflection and research, Le Mensonge d'Ulysse (Ulysses' Fable) was conceived on the lines of a parallel between the unanimous testimony of all the other witnesses on their experience in German concentration camps, and my own experience for sixteen months. I had thought that there was no better method than to reconstruct these camps in their true aspect, in that it permitted me not only to bring to light everything about which they had maintained a strange silence, but in addition, with regard to the administration of justice, to catch them in the act of lying. Before making it public, I submitted the manuscript to a jurist among my friends, of world repute in matters of freedom of speech, asking him to point out to me everything that could warrant a judgement of injury and defamation in case of a lawsuit. He only had to make a few corrections, on form only, here and there a word of expression easily replaced by an inoffensive synonym. Then he had me show him legal proof of all that I claimed. I was able to do this impeccably.

Thus the idea of homoeopathic medicine came to me, of publishing the two parts separately. The first, which narrated only my personal experience and implicated no one, and which consequently gave no pretext for any legal involvement whatsoever, could not fail to provide a favourable climate for the second. If need arose, I would always be able to bring the two parts together into a single volume under the title I had chosen. Thus, I published this first part with the innocuous title, Passage de la Ligne (1949) (Over the Line of Demarcation).

The idea turned out to be a good one. On the whole, the reception was favourable and encouraging. There was, of course, some gnashing of teeth. On the part of the Communists, for example, whom I had handled pretty roughly, but, incredible as it may seem, the crime of anti-Communism had not (yet) been provided for.

I waited for this first part to produce its effect -- two years, during which time I published the second, with the true title. In court I easily proved my case; I was of course acquitted. But the adversary did not consider himself beaten. On appeal he managed, thanks to complicity on the spot, to have me sentenced with a heavy fine and with damages, with a suspended jail sentence, and an order to destroy the book. In the third and last suit I won the case, as was foreseen. On the 24th day of May, after four years of proceedings, all the papers published the final judgement, summed up for Agence France-Presse:

"The criminal division of the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside the judgement of the Court of Lyon which had sentenced, for injury and defamation, the 2nd of November, 1951, M. Rassinier, author of the book Le Mensonge d'Ulysse, M. Paraz, author of the preface, and editor of the work, to imprisonment and fines, and to pay damages to the National Federation of Deportees and Resistants.

"The Supreme Court objected to the sentence:

"1. On the penal level for having upheld crimes of injury and defamation, when the criticisms of patriots in the book are, to be sure, unfair and malevolent, but are of a general character and addressed to no one in particular.

"2. On the civil level, for having declared admissible the action of the F.N.D.R., when this organisation has not been directly referred to in the book, and not one of its members has been attacked personally."

So I had injured and defamed no one. In declaring that, the Supreme Court at the same time declared that all that I had said was recognised to be true, since the crime of injury and defamation could not be established except by proof to the contrary. The least to be deduced from this sentence was that with all the material available to it, the prosecution could not provide this proof. It was correctly said that my criticism was "unfair and malevolent" towards the patriots, but what criticism is not, to the one under attack? The nature of this appreciation is indeed so subjective that the law has never made it a crime.

The point was won. Now at last a bit of historical truth, not negligible although unrelated to war responsibility, was itself found to be covered, paradoxically, although in irreducible contradiction to the truths of Nuremberg, by the authority of the Courts, and it could be made use of without risk in all the public proceedings. A breach was made in the wall, and through this breach one could pass to arrive at other truths. I did not fail to, and since then many others have followed after me. Today there is hardly any risk in contesting, even in their smallest detail, all the arguments of the victors on the unilateral guilt of Germany. But in France, in the year in which Le Mensonge d'Ulysse appeared, four or five rash people, who had not felt it necessary to take as many precautions as I did in entering the fray, were pitilessly and [26] harshly sentenced. Among them, Maurice Bardèche (Nuremberg ou la Terre Promise, Nuremberg or the promised land) and Henri Fabre (Le 15 août et la Libération de Tulle, The 15th of August, and the Liberation of Tulle). Such cases are countless within Germany itself.

I will spare the reader the abominable calumnious campaign in the European press of which I have since been the victim, and which the judgement of the Supreme Court did not cut short. It was the Socialist Party which supplied the theme: in 1951, without waiting for the outcome of the case investigated, and without even considering the facts of the case. I was thrust out of the bosom of the party on the pretext, true enough, that what I was saying made light of what Nazi or Fascist strength remained in Europe. As if the evolution of modern societies in the direction of authoritarian forms, for 50 years observable all over the world, did not stem from the fact that every time they needed to save face the democratic forces have not drawn back in the face of the shameless lie. As if Hitler had not been the end result of the great lie of Versailles, and as if the astonishing progress of Bolshevism since 1945 was not the result of the great lie of Nuremberg.

The argument of the Socialist Party against me spread like a drop of oil. Progressively I became a camouflaged collaborator, then a neo-Nazi, then a member of the governing board of the neo-Nazi Internationale. It was even " taken up by one of the leading contemporary Philosophers, M. Merlau-Ponty, Professor at the Collège de France, who wrote to me, the 24th of May 1951:

"Historians will have to ask themselves these questions. But in reality, this manner of examining testimonies results in throwing suspicion on them, as if they lacked an accuracy that could justifiably be expected of them. And since at the present time the tendency is rather to forget the German camps, this unreasonable demand for historical truth positively encourages the falsification, and massive it is, which consists in admitting broadly that Nazism is a fable. "

This text gives the measure of the intellectual depths to which we had sunk.

I had good reasons for not being too disturbed. Even before he had the proof, after September 1914, the already non-conformist peasant of the French eastern frontier who was my worthy father had never believed that German soldiers cut off the hands of Belgian children. And he had made it his business to make the truth known. For years he was called an agent of the Kaiser, "Boche", and "Spike Helmet". In short, I was a chip off the old block. And I told myself that time, which had worked for him, would not fail to work for me.

To go into detail on the complete nonsense grafted onto the principal argument, which for the four years of the proceedings the entire French press echoed every week or two to keep public opinion on the alert, would be to abuse the English-speaking [27] reader. It will suffice to give just an idea of it by citing three particularly significent examples. Six months after it had appeared, the title of Le Mensonge d'Ulysse became La Légende des camps de concentration. And, in summarising the contents, some hard-up journalist wrote, in the Progrès de Lyon, the following, which was reproduced by almost all of his confrères of the Paris press:

"The brutality, a legend! the crematoria, a legend! Electrified wire enclosures, a legend! Death in lots of ten, a legend!"

Finally, in a paper of the deportees, M. Jean Kréher, attorney for the prosecution, came to the rescue with what seemed to him to come right from the heart of my study, and which was also abundantly reproduced:

"So, if we were gorged with the sausages and first class margarine, if everything was foreseen to take care of us, and provide us with the necessary distractions, if the crematorium is an institution required by hygiene, if the gas chamber is a myth, if, in a word, the SS were full of consideration for us, what is there to complain of?"

Decidedly, not all the falsifiers in the world met at Nuremberg. I had, without any particular merit, the wisdom never to reply to attacks against me. On the one hand, I had been taught that silence expresses the deepest contempt, on the other, a sense of dignity kept me from stooping to such low polemics. I admit that in this attitude I also took tactics into account. I wanted to strike only heavy blows, and, to be effective, I had to stick to my method, which, until then, consisted in striking only under favourable circumstances. To wait for opportunities? Yes, but the one quality essential to a historian is never to be in a hurry. In 1960, a series of lectures which I gave in Germany, in intellectual circles, so stirred up public opinion that one of the opportunities was provided -- Ulysse trahi par les siens (Ulysses betrayed by his fellow men, published in Germany with the title, Was nun Odysseus?). And in 1960 the scandalous arrest of Eichmann in Argentina, the trial given him in Jerusalem, the intensive propaganda to support the whole affair, etc., furnished me, finally, with the opportunity I had been so long waiting for, to present the problem as a whole, Le Véritable Procès Eichmann ou les Vainqueurs incorrigibles (The real Eichmann trial, or the incorrigible victors) (1962).

Whether the atmosphere in Britain and America is as favourable to the work as it was in Europe is the question, and to this question, and the reactions it arouses -- or does not arouse! -- this book is the answer.

"The capitalist régime," Jean Jaurès once said, "carries war within itself, as a passing cloud carries the storm," and this metaphor, of which history offers few so concise, striking and substantial, has echoed around the world. Historians of the school to which I belong, who have made it theirs, will not fail to point out to me that it is the starting point for all studies of the [28] problems of war and peace. One of them once said to me, "You are surely right. Your general theme is surely indisputable in its whole, if not in all its details. But with regard to the basic problem, that of placing the deep-seated causes of the war of 1939-1945 within the framework of the fundamental principles of the capitalist regime, and the function of the institutions which led us into it, your theme is only on a minor matter, and you make two errors. The first is, that in our way of studying the phenomena of war and peace, it is not the Treaty of Versailles which is the primary cause of that war, but the capitalist system which made the Treaty of Versailles what it was. The second is that everyone knows that war, which is itself a horror and atrocity -- the greatest and most unspeakable of all -- involves in its turn a succession of horrors and atrocities. So it is not necessary to make an exact count of them, with which to charge each side of the fighting line. That is not the problem."

No indeed! that is not the problem, and that is just what I maintain. Moreover, that is why the lesson of examples seems to me sounder than that of precepts, that is why all my efforts tend to draw a parallel between that which should be discussed (the Treaty of Versailles), which would surely lead to a basic study of the problem, and that which is discussed (horrors and atrocities), and the methods used in discussing them. On the other hand, there is no doubt that as long as this atmosphere, poisoned by the horrors and atrocities, is not cleansed, there will be no possibility of turning the attention of public opinion toward the basic problem. For example, to a book so remarkable as Der erzwungene Krieg by David L. Hoggan, which incontestably sheds the most light of all that has until now been published on the war of 1939-1945, for any student of this problem. Furthermore, if the air is not cleared, if some day it is ever admitted that the basic problem cannot ever be dealt with, it is not only their horses the Cossacks will water at the Rhine, as an old European proverb puts it (which also adds that on that day the stone eyes of St. Odile of Hohenbourg (Alsace) will weep), but their tanks which they will fill on the spot in the Sahara. For on that day we will have to admit that there is no possibility of integrating Germany into Europe, since the only obstacle to her integration is precisely the campaign directed against her on the theme of the horrors and atrocities for which she is supposedly, and congenitally, forever destined to make herself guilty. However, a Europe without Germany will be, within a short time, not only a Slavic Europe, but a Bolshevised Europe, with a promise of the Bolshevisation of the whole of North Africa, to begin with.

It is the problem of western civilisation which is thus posed. I ask to be excused by the Americans if I think that the terms of the problem depend only on them, because, the leadership of the free world having fallen to them, the intellectual orientation of that world today depends upon their reactions.

I had thought to present this collective study in the order in which circumstances compelled me to offer it in successive stages to European opinion. Then, as I advanced with the work thus conceived, I realised that, although not having to change a word in earlier writings of 10 or 15 years ago, at every step I had to take into account the new discoveries made by historians during this period, and to integrate them. To avoid the loose and confused tone which would have been unavoidable if I had pursued this track, I preferred to make a general revision, and revert to the classic method of the historians: first the theme, then the references.

The theme includes the two first parts: the Treaty of Versailles and the Nuremberg Trial. The two other parts are devoted to the references: my personal experience and the experience of others, or a study of concentration camp literature, together with a complementary study of the conclusions drawn from them by those fascinated by the subject but totally without experience.

Is it long? Yes, it represents fifteen years of work.

For the average Briton, will it be tedious or disagreeable? Without any doubt, but I neither write nor speak for the average Briton: I am not a candidate for the Prime Ministership!


Paris, July 1963

1 / In reality the idea came from earlier times; the first manifestation of this kind, although more modest because of its purely European character, took place in Prague in 1781. But, although it was followed by several others of the same nature organised in Paris under the First Empire, the Restoration and the reign of Louis-Philippe, the Napoleonic wars and their consequences resulted in a lack of universal appeal until 1851, in London.

2 / Society for documentary and critical studies on the war.

3 / The Real Eichmann Trial, or The Incorrigible Victors


The original edition of this book was published under the title of Le Véritable Procès Eichmann ou les Vainqueurs incorrigibles by Les Sept Couleurs, Paris, 1962.
First Published in Great-Britain by Historical Review Press, 1976 and in the United States by Institute for Historical Review, ISBN 0-911038-48-5, Library of Congress Catalog Number 76-19192, Third Printing October 1983.

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The whole book in one clic

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