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HISTORICAL TRUTH OR POLITICAL TRUTH ?

by Serge Thion

(1980)

Preceding Part

Part Two -- Chapter 5

Revisionism Abroad

The Faurisson affair had repercussions abroad. But to appreciate its scope, we have to keep in mind that authors here and there have expressed fairly diverse points of view often labeled under the unique rubric of revisionism. Until an assessment of this very uneven literature becomes available (57), we can gather some facts about the conditions under which these "debates" or these "affairs" take place.

It is in Germany that these problems are most seriously considered. Some revisionist texts have been published, but many authors have been subjected to harassment and multiple abuses (58). Thies Christophersen had his house put on fire. Wilhelm Staeglich, a minor retired judge, had his pension reduced by a fifth for five years (??). Especially many books (those of Staeglich, the German translation of Butz, and others) are classified as "dangerous for the youth" (the quod juventutem corrumperet of our old Latin grammar). It's the ban, Indizierung. There are also people banned from exercising their profession (Udo Walendy, a history professor, and others), law suits, etc. This repression is exerted on current opinions, and not on what those people might have been in the past. All this seems to me rather surprising, if I contrast this with all that I read about Federal Germany, so eager to whitewash former Nazis, to forget the past, to want to forget, and so reluctant to try Nazi criminals (59). Doubtless both aspects coexist: it is not clear why the German state (we should say, the German states, since the G.D.R. is in the same boat) would deprive itself of the services of all those who made up the administrative and economic backbone of Hitlerian Germany. Membership in the N.S.D.A.P., the Nazi party, was pretty much compulsory to pursue any public activity. Current governments may perfectly well use the services and experience of those people as in France, where a number of leading positions are filled with people who held allegiance to Petain, such as M. Marcellin, an interior minister. And we are not talking about the followers of Mussolini, Franco, and Salazar, who are still close to positions of power. There is one condition for this continuity in the process of change: the appearance of a conversion to the beneficial effects of parliamentary democracy. Do we have to go into the details of the "denazification" farce imposed by the allies after the war?

What is hunted today in Germany, on the right as well as on the left, is free thinking. Germany cannot accept that former Nazis, S.S., or others get together to show their former combatant nostalgia, but it dreads opening a pandora's box for fear of exposing the great myths of the present time. I can recall some articles that appeared in Le Monde a few years ago, where it was shown that some kind of a German malaise is caused by the fact that this country has the body of an economic giant and the head of a political midget. This is particularly convenient for other European powers. The Gordian knot of this contradiction is obviously the question of the collective guilt of the German people. A vast question I prefer not to get into at the moment. I would only say that it has not been clearly resolved in Germany and that it will not be out of moral considerations. Political opportunity, European military balance and economic evolution will relegate this question to the museum. The need to humiliate Germany as a central power in Europe will determine the political philosophy of a history that will justify the orientation of the future.

In the meantime, the debates are curbed. Here are two examples. The British historian, David Irving, wrote in German for a Berlin publisher of the Springer group a book entitled, Hitler und seine Feldherren ("Hitler and His Generals"). He found out, after the publication, that his text was seriously amputated and manipulated. It must be said that Irving, while not calling the Holocaust into question, found nothing in his research about the persons and the actions that would furnish a proof that Hitler was responsible for the massive extermination. That, he said. And he added that, since this extermination is a fact, the guilty must be found somewhere else. He concludes that it must be Himmler, who hid the fact from his Fuehrer. We wonder what will happen when he studies Himmler's career. The publisher obviously thought that Irving was an apologist for Hitler, and he took it upon himself to edit the text. The author protested, then published his book in English. In the introduction, he made the following remarks about the Berlin publisher Ullstein Verlag (60):

"The editor found many of my arguments appalling and even dangerous, and without informing me, he eliminated them, or changed them completely. In the printed text, Hitler did not tell Himmler that there should "not be liquidation" of the Jews (November 30, 1941); he told him not to use the word "liquidate" publicly in connection with the liquidation program. This is how history is falsified! (My faxed request to publish Himmler's note got no reply.) I forbade any new edition of the book two days after it came out in Germany. The Berlin publishers justified their action by maintaining that my manuscript expressed views that were an "affront to established historical opinion" in their country."

Helmut Diwald is a well known historian in Germany. He is the author of a biography of Wallenstein (61) that has had a great success. He was in charge of an encyclopaedia of European history (62), also very well received. He teaches at the university of Erlangen. In 1978, he published History of the Germans (63) (and not an impossible history of Germany) which is presented as going back in time. The first reactions are very good, among them that of Chancellor Schmidt. Then Der Spiegel attacks the work savagely: for a good reason. The author refuses the "criminalization" of German history. While recognizing the immensity of Hitler's crimes, he ascertains that the burden of collective guilt made Germany sick, and that the Allies bear the heavy responsibility to have dismembered Germany and to have uprooted it from its past in order to better exert their influence. These views are obviously quite debatable, doubtless with a right tinge. The polemic is quite violent and up to here, very normal (64). But the pressure is so strong that the publisher (who also belongs to the Springer group) withdraws the work from circulation and reprints it in February 1979, with three pages which deal with "the final solution" completely modified. Among the deleted phrases are the following:

"Since the launching of the accusation that Hitler would have given, through Himmler and the Security Services, the order to the S.S. to physically destroy European Jews, the Auschwitz problem remains protected by total obscurity, the more so that since the 1945 capitulation, Auschwitz still performs a basic function in the complete moral degradation of the Germans (p. 164). Based on no proof whatsoever, numerous writings have been published since 1945 where several assertions were made to cynically magnify the extent of the shame about these facts [the gigantic deportation of Jews towards the East] whose background was the horrible deprivation of Jews of their rights under the Third Reich. One of the most horrible events of modern time was exploited through deceptions, mystifications, and deliberate exaggerations with the intention of totally discrediting a people" (p. 164).

He later goes into some details of the Auschwitz-Birkenau history, details that were also eliminated to convey a different view. Accusations of censorship were vigorously voiced by the press of the right (65) and for good reasons (66).

Professor Diwald explained many of these subjects in an interview given to Die Welt between the two editions ("A people is made sick by the criminalization of its history," the question of collective responsibility, Adenauer and the division of Germany, German identity). It may be interesting to quote a question and the answer to it (67):

Die Welt: You are of the opinion that basic problems of contemporary history are by no means as definitively clarified as it is generally believed. And even about the Jewish question, you write, "despite all the literature, some points remain unclear."

Diwald: We can't be satisfied with much of what has so far been published. We should reexamine entire subjects. In this regard, the question of documentation is decisive. The most important part of contemporary documents has not yet been made accessible to us, so there are still many surprises in store for us. The Russians have not yet published any document; the French also keep their archives closed. The Americans are extremely prudent in what they release to us. This is how we still remain under a really strange domination.

 

Exit Diwald, enter Bennett. The scene takes place in Australia. Since its foundation in 1966, John Bennett has been the secretary of the Victorian Council of Civil Liberties, a sort of human rights league, more active on a daily basis than ours. It is known that the Anglo-Saxons are more scrupulous than us in their conception and defense of individual rights, and Bennett, who is an attorney, has been very active in this domain. In Australia, he is considered to be on the left, and is known as such. This was confirmed by some of my Australian acquaintances. Towards the end of 1978, he circulated Butz's book among some academics and journalists, together with a memo, which soon became public (68):

1. Nobody was ever accused of murdering anyone of the two, four, six million (?) gassed; in other words, nobody was accused of opening the Zyklon B boxes;

2. There does not exist a photo of bodies in a gas chamber, even though it is said that there had been 10,000 gassings in different camps;

3. The Auschwitz "gas chambers" can't be examined because, according to Rassinier, the only one to explain what became of them, they were dismantled, and in another camp they "sunk into oblivion";

4. The major proofs of "gassing" given at Nuremberg were the depositions of Hoess and Gerstein, which are just as conclusive as the declarations of the Moscow Trials of 1936;

5. The Vatican, the Red Cross, the British and German intelligence services (like Canaris and Oster, who were also British agents) and the German resistance against Hitler (a sort of who's who of German society) were ignorant of or did not believe the rumors about gassings;

6. Nobody tried to answer Butz's arguments;

7. There is no reference to gassings in any captured German document: The Allies held warehouses full of Nazi documents and films, but they had to go on the "confessions" of Hoess;

8. It was said in March of 1943 that two million Jews had been killed and that four more million were going to be killed. It's a curiously exact prediction of the six million figure decided on at Nuremberg;

9. The photos used by the Allies to prove gassings were photos of people who died of typhus or malnutrition in Dachau and Belsen;

10. Zyklon B was used by the German armed forces in all the concentration camps as a disinfectant, in particular against typhus. The normal procedure for new arrivals in all the camps was the shower and the disinfection of clothes. Many people died in the camps and were incinerated to prevent epidemics;

11. The Auschwitz camp was not bombed by the Allied because they did not believe that it was an extermination camp. The Allies conducted tight surveillance of this vast industrial complex because it was the center where the most advanced synthetic rubber technologies were located. Since Pearl Harbor, the United States had needed synthetic rubber;

12. It is impossible to estimate the number of Jews who died because of Nazi policies, for the World Jewish Congress refused to conduct a census after the war. It's probable that 700,000 to 1,500,000 Jews perished because of bad treatment, malnutrition, typhus, destruction of the ghettos, reprisals, arbitrary assassinations and "medical experiments";

13. People like Simon Wiesenthal (The Assassins are among us) have tried to trace those responsible for the final solution by the evacuation to the East (for example, Eichmann) and Nazi doctors (for example, Mengele) but they have not tried to trace S.S. members who were the real assassins by gas of two to six million people, in particular, by Zyklon B in Auschwitz.

 

The Australians, who after all are not going to teach us what civilization is, have had the strange idea of debating this question in the press. Polemical articles and indignant letters were published in major newspapers(69). It seems that nobody had recourse to the courts in order to impose his views, which shows how backward is this kangaroo country.

In Italy, the Faurisson affair was extensively covered in the press. On April 19, 1979, the Swiss Italian television of Lugano invited Robert Faurisson and Pierre Guillaume to a big debate with Enzo Collotti (author of Germania Nazista, Turin, Einaudi), Wolfgang Scheffler (fellow at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, an expert consultant to German courts) and Mrs. Rolfi and Tedeschi (deportees in Ravensbrueck and Auschwitz). The debate was scheduled for an hour, it lasted two hours and fifty minutes and disrupted other programs. It aroused enough public interest to be rebroadcast on May 6. The numerous articles in the trans-Alpine press were similar to those in the French press. It was after this appearance that Antonio Pitamitz, a contributor to Storia illustrata, published by Mondadori, proposed to Faurisson a written interview. It appeared in August and gave rise again to many commentaries. The debate continued over many issues. Could it be that Italians have a less burdened conscience than the French, and that it is that which makes it easier for them to allow a debate on this kind of question?

We finally mention that there is a petition circulating on some university campuses in the United States opposing any restrictions on Faurisson's right to pursue his research. Among the first signatures were those of Noam Chomsky and Alfred Lilienthal.

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 Lyons-2 in France. Since 1974, he has been conducting extensive independent historical 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 hi safety and the free exercise of his legal rights.

 

In view of the attitude of French universities toward this affair, we will only publish the original text without translation. No other signatures are solicited.

The original signatures were submitted to the court. They have the names and addresses of these signatories: 500 foreign signatures as of October 31, 1979.


Chapter 6

Of the Necessity of the Faurisson Affair

The Faurisson affair, or rather, to give it its real dimension, the question of knowing what really happened in some Nazi concentration camps during the war, is not the first act of this tragicomedy, which is the evolution of the collective representation of concentration camp life in the public opinion. In France, the prologue was written by Paul Rassinier in Le Mensonge d'Ulysse ("The Lies of Ulysses") and in Le Véritable Procès Eichmann ou les Vainquers incorrigibles ("The Real Eichmann Trial or the Incorrigible Victors") and especially in Le Drame des Juifs Europeens ("The Drama of European Jews") (70), where he dissects some of the main testimonies on the gas chambers and where he demolishes the most solid statistical study by the American, Hilberg (71). Concerning the number of missing people in the European Jewish communities, Georges Wellers' belated polemic, La "solution finale," et la mythomanie néo-nazie (The "Final Solution" and the Neo-nazi Mythomania) (72) supplies only very partial answers and remains tightly limited by conventional reading and interpretation of documents, which Rassinier precisely shows are not self evident.

Rassinier was violently attacked and driven to get published by the extreme right. As the publishers at la Vieille Taupe, which has just reissued Le Mensonge d'Ulysse, say: "Those who blame Rassinier for using an extreme right publisher are those who would have wished that he not be published at all." I admit that his writing contains extreme language and, sometimes, debatable affirmations. But to debate is neither to reject nor to revile. Rassinier should be rehabilitated, some day.

He wrote too early, it seems. Fifteen years later, does Faurisson still write too early? Times have not changed much. "Psychological taboos erected around Jews and Judaism" are disappearing, to the chagrin of some Jewish publications. The author of this article attributes "the fading away of Nazi genocide from collective memory and the progressive dilution of guilt feeling nourished since then by non-Jews. In a word, the genocide no longer pays and our poor dead no longer generate our moral right over the West which was six million times answerable to the punishment." (73) It's a truism: Why should the post-war generations feel guilty about attitudes and actions which are not theirs? Especially those who in most cases opposed them? Nazi crimes properly belong to the Hitlerians, and surely to their accomplices, but certainly not to those who were anti-fascists and anti-racists.

Another contributing factor to the progressive dissolution of these taboos has certainly been Israel's attitude towards the Palestinian question. Until and including the Six Day War, French public opinion had been imbued with a sort of transfer Zionism: The existence of a mythically fascist Israel with socialist leanings was a de facto reparation for the Auschwitz crime. The appearance of the Palestinian question, and especially the absolute and categorical refusal of Israelis and Zionists to consider even looking for a solution to the massive uprooting of the Palestinians, was revealing: militarism, intransigence, bombing of civilians, collective punishment, and political assassinations (74), all these aggressive attitudes gave Israel a completely opposite image from that owed reparation from Hitlerian Europe due to the wrongs it did to Jews. The oppressed has become the oppressor, sic transit gloria.

All this deserves, of course, more details. I simply note that subsequent to the crumbling away of certain taboos, a space for public discussion on Israeli policies and on Zionism has opened since 1967. In other words, the harmful accusations of anti-semitism hurled at all critics of Zionism are no longer taken seriously and do not prevent debate.

In view of the reactions stirred up by the Faurisson affair, we wonder if there is a chance for a similar discussion on the reality, the details of the extent and the methods of Hitlerian persecutions. For the time being, everything is frozen, as a result of the efforts of those who want to embalm souvenirs and impose the respect of a historical image which is not particularly intelligible. Some are not far from believing that we are witnessing the birth of a new religion, that of the Holocaust, with its dogmas and its priests. As for me, I am convinced that there is a turning point here, that the possibility to find and to maintain the meaning of the victims' suffering under the tyranny is shifting to the side of those who are asking questions. The arsenal of celebrations, monuments and other memorials is nothing but a travesty of true memory.

There is an urgency for leftist intellectuals to assume their responsibility. The choice is very simple. Either reinforce established history by supporting all its gaps and dross, or allow a margin for critical evaluation of events in the recent past which serve as a foundation of the current state of the world. So far, the reactions are mostly negative. My experience can be summarized as follows: When the subject is broached with a new acquaintance, the first reaction is shock -- that is what happened to me. Then, after some explanation which may vary, they concede that there may be a problem of historical knowledge, and that, after all, it might be legitimate to raise some questions. But the question gets immediately turned around: "Suppose we ask the question, have you thought about the consequences? If it is true, that will encourage the Neo-Nazis, it will revive the Jewish question, it will do this or that." In other words, the importance of the truth is entirely subordinate to the use -- polemical or incantatory -- it will be put to or the fear that others will put it to.

This is what the freedom to think is reduced to according to our clerics: a commodity whose value comes strictly from its use. While Faurisson's statements seem obviously provocative, the intelligentsia is quick to bargain its own principles. Newspapers, magazines, publishers and even printers disown their own ability to investigate because they are free -- who denies that ? -- to do it. I am not talking about fear because they all reject the idea that they might be able to get the debate started. Consequently, thanks to the prodigious liberty that we enjoy under the vigilant protection of the left, we have the choice to have recourse to the good old method of Samizdat.

We are also free to get published by our political enemies, who are endowed with inexhaustible funds, according to the imagination of the left... We decline this generous offer. Think about this situation and its outcome. Who could come out of its morally intact?


November 12, 1979

Footnotes

57. This is the subject of Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, Ph.D. thesis that he hopes to submit very shortly. (He never did, -- 1998.)

58. See references in our bibliography.

59. See the Lischka affair and his assistant, Heinrichsohn, a well liked village mayor, Le Monde, November 10, 1979.

60. Page xvii. David Irving, Hitler's War, Viking Press, New York, 1977, xxiii-926 pages. The German edition is of 1975.

61. Wallenstein, Herbig, 564 pp.

62. Propylaen Geschichte Europas, 1975.

63. This raging discussion in the German press could have been the topic of a few commentaries in the French press. Only Le Figaro Magazine of March 12, 1979 did, but did not mention the second edition. Nothing in Le Monde except a belated venomous and anonymous innuendo by Alfred Grosser: "A whole set of far from brilliant events show that we have to continue to evoke the worst of the past so that it will not be justified and transfigured not only by fanatic militarists and passionate antisemites, but by a well known historian and a reputed publisher putting out a scandalous history of Germany." (Le Monde, July 5, 1979.) In biology, this theory is called fixation.

65. "Why Professor H. Diwald must not write the truth," Deutsche National Zeitung, March 2, 1979.

66. The new edition contains an additional photo showing rows of corpses in Nordhausen camp, with the caption: "at the end of the Second World War." Without imitating the Faurisson game, I found this photo almost identical to that in a book called Deportation, published bythe National Federation of Deportees, Prisoners and Patriotic Resistants (295 pp., 1968) on page 227. The caption of this photo is: "At Nordhausen, bombed April 4 by the American air force, piles of corpses cover the courtyard of Boelke Kaserne (photo taken by the American services on April 15, 1945). Before their departure, the S.S. had finished off the wounded." It would therefore seem that the prisoners had first been victims of American bombs. The German book could have shown more photos of horror in the camps. But this one has the advantage of showing that a lot of prisoners had first been victims of the war. The German book omits this point.

67. Die Welt, November 20, 1978: "Deutschland- kein Wintermarchen."

68. National Times, February 10, 1979.

69. The Age, 3, March 15 and 29, 1979. The Australian, May 26, 1979. Nation Review, June 7, 1979. ABC TV, April 25, 1979. New Statesman, September 7, 1979. Quadrant, September 1979, etc.

70. See bibliography. [Let's add, in 1998, that part of "The Lies of Ulysses" and the whole of "The Drama..." have been translated in English in a single volume, called Debunking the Genocide Myth and made available on this site. "The Real Eichmann Trial" has also been translated and published in 1976 by Steppingtsones Publications, Box 612, Silver Spring, MD 20901, and Historical Review Press in England. The first of these two books has been reprinted under a new title: The Holocaust Story and the Lies of Ulysses. Both are available from the Noontide Press, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA for $11 and $7,50 respectively.]

71. The Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle Books, Chicago, 1961, reprinted 1967.

72. Le Monde juif; Paris C.D.J.C., no 86, April-June 1977, pp. 41-84.

73. P. Gérard, "Requiem pour une idée acquise," Information juive, no. 288, Paris, January 1979.

74. See Dossier secret sur Israël-le Terrorisme, Guy Authier, Paris, 1978, 404 pp., a remarkable report of Vincent Monteil on the activities of the Israeli special service, the Mossad, in Europe.


Preceding

These texts are the fifth and sixth chapters of the second part of the unpublished English translation of Verite historique ou verite politique / Le dossier de l'affaire Faurisson / La question des chambres à gaz, published in Paris in April 1980 by the publishing house La Vieille Taupe (= the Old Mole). ISBN 2-903279-02-0. Copyright © 1978 by La Vieille Taupe. The book is still on sale and may be ordered from the publisher, BP 98-05, 75224 Paris cedex 05, France. We believe it costs 150 F (around 30-35 US$)

The original French text is available at <http://www.abbc.com/aaargh/fran/histo/SF/SF5.html>



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