Following part --- Preceding Part
We have seen the courtyard. Let us now have a look at the inner sanctuary of our good university, the Mother of the Arts. It would be interesting to stop for a moment in order to see how somebody with deviant opinions is treated in the heart of this bastion of university franchises in our advanced (?) ultra-liberal society.
The article appeared in Le Matin of November 16. The next day, Mr. Bernadet, president of the University Lyons 2, where Faurisson teaches, issues an order to "temporarily" suspend the latter's teaching and ban him from the campus as of the 20th. In Faurisson's letter to Le Monde (12/16/78), we have seen the incidents that took place that day at the university where Faurisson had gone to give his lecture, totally unaware of the ban. President Bernadet justified his decision in the following manner:
Considering on the one hand the emotion provoked in and outside of the university by the henceforth public character of the theses you express, emotion which may cause serious troubles if you came to the university to give your lectures, and considering on the other hand, that Mme. Chancellor of the University stipulated the opening of an investigation, and that it would seem desirable to take conservative measures in awaiting the results of this investigation, I decided...
To the Lyons faculty, this was not a matter of sanctions. Yet, it did not preclude the outcome of getting rid of a troublemaker and creating a sort of sanitary isolation. His colleagues were unaware of his research that he kept to himself and that led him to his convictions. Some of them talked, much later, of a "climate of fear" that prevented them from expressing their sympathy for the man who, all of a sudden, became the black sheep.
After the suspension period, Faurisson had to resume his literature course (about Proust) on January 8, 1979. The university administration had the graffiti: "Faurisson assassinates the dead" covered over. When he went to his classroom, he found it packed with about fifty protesters, which the press generally referred to as "Jews." In fact, it seems that, under the leadership of Dr. Aron (MD), coordinator of the Jewish organizations in Lyons, many of these protesters were members of l'Union des étudiant juifs de France (UEJF) (Union of Jewish Students of France). They distributed a leaflet: "Stop the lie and the hate," which is a curious title in view of the fact that their text was devoid of neither hate nor lies:
For how long do we still have to protest against violence, racism, and antisemitism, and every time come up against the same indifference, the indifference of someone who has not been touched in his flesh, in his being, or rather, who has not yet been touched in his individuality.
Silence is an accomplice wherever it comes from. But more serious is the silence of those who know and whose job is to teach. Worst of all is the silence of the intellectuals.
Thus in Lyons, a quiet professor of literature denies the gas chambers. Unbelievable but true, like those swastikas that proliferate everywhere, making racist violence a trivial daily reality.
But what? Let's not be oversensitive: Doesn't the Lyons professor Mr. Faurisson tell us, supported by pseudo-scientific arguments, that "never did Hitler order the death of one single man because of his race"? Can Mr. Faurisson explain so easily the fate of millions of victims, among them millions of deported or disappeared Jews? Unless "these millions of victims were also a Zionist invention" (Liberation, September 18, 1978).
Mr. Faurisson denies being an antisemite or a partisan of Nazism, but his defamatory statements and his collaboration with publishers who, in a long tradition of antisemitism, edit, among others, Le Mensonge d'Auschwitz and Le Protocole des Sages de Sion.
It's not a matter of arguing with Mr. Faurisson or with anybody of his ilk, but we must draw the lesson of the recent antisemitic attacks, since Faurisson is not only a person whose madness can be shrugged off, he is a dangerous man.
It is appropriate that men and women of good faith not be victims of an apologist of Nazism who, abusing the platform offered to him by his profession, proliferates his fallacious affirmations.
That is why we demand his definitive exclusion from Lyons 2 University and his removal from the faculty.
Presidents Bernadet of the University and Claude Martin of the UERM, having declared their inability to insure his physical safety, Mr. Faurisson took several precautions to leave the premises without a hitch. Disappointed, the protesters said that they only wanted to have "a discussion" with Faurisson, which could not have been expected from their flyer.
The following week, on January 15, Faurisson came directly to the office of the university president. The classroom was again filled with protesters from the UEJF and also from the Student's Union, the Communist League and the association of former deportees, who were joined by a MP, Hamel (UDF). They loudly declared that they wanted to "ask questions" and distributed the following flyer:
Last Monday, we were one hundred. Today, we come back. Why?
Because it is intolerable that R. Faurisson, this dangerous individual, be allowed to propagate, without impunity, a racist and pernicious ideology by declaring that "never did Hitler order the death of one single man because of his race," "the alleged massacres in gas chambers and the alleged genocide are one and the same lie";
Because, by accumulating pseudo-scientific affirmations, he tries to erase the historical truth;
Because he is an insult to the memory of those who disappeared and an injury to the living witnesses of these atrocities;
Because the presence of R. Faurisson at Lyons 2 University is an offense to the faculty;
Because he is an expression of the fresh upsurge of racism and antisemitism in France.
That is why, today, we demand that sanctions on the scale of his defamatory statement be taken.
We ask you to abandon the indifference which makes you an accomplice and to join us.
Union of Jewish Students of France, with the support of: AGEL-UNEF, ANACR, Cercles Barricades, Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations of Lyons, Comité d'union de la Résistance, FNDIRP, Impression, LCR, MAS.
Mr. Claude Martin and others advise Faurisson to go "answer questions, give explanations" but recognize very soon that they cannot assure "normal teaching conditions" or his safety. Not anxious to meet alone his muscular questioners, Faurisson leaves. He recalls with bitterness the beginning of his lynching on November 20, when one of those "brutes electrified with hate," according to his own words, shouted at him: "Now that we know your face, you've had it." According to a witness, some of the protesters wanted a discussion but were incapable of controlling themselves.
The following week, he received confidential information that some Jewish militants were coming from Paris and that there are risks for his life. He nonetheless went to give his lecture, but as he started, he received a warning that the protesters were coming. He left. They didn't recognize him until they passed him by. Then there was a chase through the hallways, then the streets until he got away by hiding in a construction site. In the evening, over the telephone, Claude Martin blamed him for trying to appear as a victim and to lie, in saying that the incidents started on campus.
The positions taken by Claude Martin, Faurisson's immediate superior, can be leisurely judged by a "document of the week" published by Le Nouvel Observateur (27), text that "was not meant for publication" but that was nonetheless "addressed for information to LICA as well as to several Parisian dailies." In it, C. Martin explains at length the conditions surrounding R. Faurisson's appointment at Lyons in 1973 to the detriment of another candidate "whose work was recognized to have been largely superior." We learn from Faurisson's reply that the other unlucky candidate was M. Claude Martin himself (28). But every cloud has a silver lining, because during this affair, Mr. Martin would get himself elected first vice-president of Lyons-2. It is understandable that people in a hurry don't like to be sidetracked. Also, C. Martin tries to put as much distance as possible between him and his close collaborator. He tries, without compromising himself, to give credit to the idea that Faurisson was a long-time antisemite. He relates all the affair in great detail so as to show that it was impossible for responsible faculty members, like himself, to act differently, which means roughly to whisk off the troublemaker in order to avoid being criticized by the anti-Faurisson forces. We can skip over a little meanness, which is common currency among "dear colleagues" in order to pick up the main feature of a mentality which reveals itself so bluntly: a total intellectual deafness. It permits holding forth indefinitely and inventing arguments in order to refute them. Mr. Martin is steeped in rhetoric aimed at protecting his own rear.
His reply to Faurisson (29) is a complete distortion of reality, for he said, in cauda venenum (30):
Suspended the 20th of November for a month, he later refrained from coming to the university, communicating through his attorney that he did not want to "run the risk of putting his physical integrity, even his life, in danger." Despite the guarantees that were given to him formally and officially from the university to insure (as it had done on January 22) his eventually threatened security. Mr. Faurisson did not show up for two and a half months. The regulations prohibit payment to another faculty for teaching the course that Mr. Faurisson continues to be paid for, the students are worried...
A new attempt to resume classes on May 7 ended in the same manner as the others. From Faurisson's point of view, the prestige of the university was tarnished by this affair. Nobody, or almost nobody, came to his defense in the name of freedom of thought. For the defenders of this freedom are trapped: if they put heavy emphasis on the principle, they risk being labeled as "partisans" of Faurisson, but if they allow him to be given a rough ride, they would look like cowards. They are left with a narrow course to maneuver: affirm that Faurisson has the right to think whatever he wants, but at the same time say that what he thinks is absurd, and suggest mezzo voce that he had better think quietly so as to avoid the strong reactions. There is obviously no attempt at any time to find out whether there is any grain of truth in what he says. There is a lot of talk, but no dialogue. How difficult conformism can be at times...
The rest of these events and their assessment pertain to a letter that Faurisson addressed to the Minister of Higher Education (a lady, at the time) on May 21, 1979:
The suspension of my rights followed my completely illegal suspension. This was warranted by an inability to insure the normal resumption of my classes. On January 29, 1979, the boss sent me a registered letter accusing me of cowardice (he said that I did not dare confront my "opponents") and letting me know that a university would guarantee my course "until the end of this year."
All these events were taking place at the time when a new president was to succeed our socialist boss as the head of Lyons 2 University. One of the candidates was my UER director with whom it was publicly known that I had excellent relations. But ambition may lead people astray. The new candidate to the presidency let it be publicly known that, in my affair, he holds the views of the outgoing president. He even went further. He published a long article in a weekly of socialist tendencies, then a text in reply to my reply, where I was presented as a mediocre man, as a teacher who had previously received not really a "warning" but -- nuance! -- "verbal reprimands" for alleged antisemitic statements. This pure fabrication was accompanied by a more perfidious and serious insinuation that I was a professor who had deserted his post and who was paid to do nothing.
I protested vigorously against this outrage. They proposed to let me give my last two lectures of the year on the 7th and 14th of May. I accepted immediately without regard for the risks I might once more encounter.
Unfortunately, due to a fact that I would like to have an explanation for, the protesters were informed of my return. Once more, on May 7th, they invaded the premises and moved around as though they were at home. As usual, there wasn't even an attempt to control their entry into my classroom, which I could not reach that day. On May 14th, the protesters came back. This time, however, for the last meeting of the year, they decided to exercise some control by checking student identity cards. I was able to give my lecture, but to only one student, for only one student succeeded in crossing the protesters' barricade. This new failure marked the end of an academic year where I was able to give only three lectures: the 6th and 13th of November and the 14th of May. As for other graduate courses, it is only secretly that I was able to teach them in the back room of a cafe, where a small group of courageous students assembled.
It is not you, Madame, that has to worry about defending me.
My attorney tried to submit the matter to your court when it became clear that the authorities at Lyons 2 were incapable of finding a solution. I believe that, at that time, the police informed you that I was in danger of death. You remained totally insensitive to several appeals for help. You let us know that we have to go through the normal hierarchical channels, which means through the superintendent. But you knew that the superintendent had already told us that because of the principle of autonomy of universities, he could not intervene in this affair.
All this is in the order of things. I see here neither a plot nor a conspiracy, but a hard as steel conformism. As long as I seemed to toe the line, I was, it seemed, a "brilliant professor," a "very original researcher," an "exceptional personality." From the day I struck the "gas chambers" taboo, my professional situation became intolerable. Today, I see myself forced to respectfully request my transfer to teaching by correspondence.
Just before the start of the academic year, he was transferred to teaching by correspondence.
The only reassuring note is a petition signed by Professor Culioli, among others, which protests against the measures that befell Faurisson, asks for a public debate, while at the same time dissociating itself completely from his opinions (31). To ask for freedom for oneself is a normal thing. But to ask for freedom for others seems to be an extraordinary fact: that is, however, the minimum requirement of a democracy.
1.-- The right, the left.
To judge by its press, from its confidential bulletins to the well known weekly Minute, the far right is obviously delighted. It doesn't try to look at Faurisson's arguments, since in its view, Nazism is slandered, probably by some Judeo-something conspiracy. It is worth noting that if it can use Faurisson's conclusions in the framework of its ideology, it did not use the man. He did not lend himself to anything.
More interesting are the reactions of the "world of politics," in other words, the parties that scour the parliament platform. A retrospective overview brings some surprises. By comparison with predictable rallies of associations of former deportees, Jewish organizations and anti-racist movements, the left has remained almost silent. The moderation of the PCF (French Communist Party), in particular (32) is remarkable. It has been a long time since it abandoned the myth of "the party of the 75,000 who were shot" and it no longer tries to make believe that the Resistance was itself and almost only itself. But it doesn't usually miss a chance, in every kind of situation, to promote its Rol-Tanguy (a Paris Liberation fights leader) and its harsh sounding brass-bearing peasants turned workers. This was apparent when Giscard canceled the May 8 celebrations. The P.S. (Socialist Party), which is very influential at Lyons 2, did not protest, either. All these people have obviously other fish to fry.
On the right, the Gaullist side, there is no movement either, except that Joel Le Tac says that "he saw the functioning gas chamber of Struthof." (33) The Giscard followers are in the lead. In the name of the group of former resistance fighters and deportees MPs of the National Assembly, Pierre Sudreau (UDF) demands that an inquiry be conducted about "the scandalous statements which are a true apology for war crimes." (34) Madame Saunier-Seite, the Minister of Education, replies that the "government shares the indignation expressed by Mr. Sudreau." (35) In a good position too, we find UDF deputy of Paris Jean Pierre-Bloch, who writes an article in Le Matin de Paris (36). Mr. Hamel, UDF MP for the Lyons area, joins the strong arms who want to "question" Faurisson at the university and, declaring that "freedom itself is altered by indulgence towards serious falsifications of history," anxiously asks Madame Saunier-Seite what she is going to do. Alas! She says she is "upset" by her "helplessness." (37) The first prize goes certainly to Dr. Gilbert Barbier, UDF MP for the Jura region, for his written question to the Prime Minister, asking, "concerning the internal troubles at Lyons 2 University" what are "the measures that he deems desirable in order to introduce into the positive French law a system of professional discharge." Strong and belated protest by L'Humanité, the Communist daily,(38), prudent silence by Mr. Barre, another UDF MP luminary for Lyons.
At first sight, it may seem strange, and even paradoxical, that a political party, which is by tradition and heritage the least related to the Resistance and struggle against fascism, accedes to the highest power. In reality, these are practically the first people since the war who do not base their right to govern us on the services they allegedly rendered to the homeland during the dark hours of German occupation. We may remember that during his presidential campaign, Mr. Giscard d'Estaing recruited his bodygards from among groups usually considered as fascists. During a televised debate, we heard Mr. Alain Krivine, a Trotzkyte leader, criticize Mr. Poniatowski, political godfather of President Giscard, for having been an OAS informer, without provoking any reply other than a benevolent smile. (OAS was a clandestine terrorist group which opposed giving back Algeria to Algerians in 1960-62). I am not suggesting that the politics of the UDF was fascist -- that would be stupid -- but rather that these people never appeared to be obsessed with antisemitism. They are, however, the most violent in their attacks against the opinions held by Faurisson.
The only reason I see for this breach of political logic is their situation of men in power. Our political regime is based, as a religion, on the victory in 1945 of the forces of Good over those of Evil. No matter what we do (colonial wars, exploitation of poor countries, treatment of foreigners), we belong to the genealogy of the Good and our duty, our loyalty is to strike at the Evil as soon as it insidiously lifts its ugly head. This was told by J.R.R. Tolkien about a more gothic world. The holders of power have the implicit but indisputable responsibility to maintain this original purity. The tool for perpetuating this situation is indefinitely taken up in the tale of the origins, the founding myths, whose repetition alone renews its effectiveness. Like the priests of the Pharaohs and of the Inca, like the storytellers of Sudanese emirs, a caste of clerks must watch over the orthodoxy of the recitation. How else would we believe that a small, quiet professor could, with a few sentences, arouse the ire of our modern vestal virgins in a vest?
2.-- Farther left.
Normally, every manifestation of antisemitism gives rise to unanimous protests by the left. But there have been false alarms: some individuals and some groups realized that antisemitism was not at issue, that the problem was somewhere else and that some irrepressable questions can be easily shrugged off.
The newspaper Liberation would serve for some time as the platform for this new kind of theater. It was already mentioned that the affair started in Liberation by a simple take-off from Le Matin, then by some articles in the same vein, on the fringes of the affair. Its editor's commentary strikes a different chord. Serge July sees Faurisson as a rather poor professor, pursuing a hobby, but he poses the question of the import of banning the expression of racism. There is here a rather new willingness to see things as they are (39):
From now on there would be a Faurisson affair named after the Lyons professor who shared his research about the "lie" of Nazi concentration camps with the academic hierarchy and with those of his students who showed an interest in the matter. This affair restates in the same terms the questions already raised by the interview with Darquier de Pellepoix published in l'Express: Did it or did it not have to be published, or does this professor have the right to express himself about what is obviously for him an obsession?
We have to be wary of unanimous opinions. Enough is enough, and if we believe the clamor, there are practically no antisemites in France, except for Darquier and this professor. France is a pure virgin and evil has many faces against which a national consensus has finally been attained. The national facade made out of communist, presidential, socialist, Gaullist and intellectual stones is immaculate. An excellent operation where each and everyone receives an absolution at a rather low cost: "Against racism? I already showed that at the time of the Darquier affair." And what if the unanimous condemnation of antisemitism is used to trivialize other manifestations of racism? Like a gigantic outlet, it is an operation through which our society hides from itself its cancers, its horrors and its perversions.
Of course, this can't be without intellectual terrorism. Robert Faurisson was portrayed by the press, and in particular by Liberation, as a dangerous antisemite. If we are to judge him by his letter (Liberation of Tuesday 21), this professor invokes the image of hundreds or thousands in our higher education system who promote similar obsessions. Who, in the course of his studies, has not come across one of them, engaging in a daily pathetic show for students who are not fooled and who laugh at it all? Journalists know well this multitude of paranoiacs who besiege their offices, voluminous files under their arms, and who are capable of spending hours recounting the plots of which they are the victims. And if Faurisson has no more importance than this? The asylum detractors who rightfully call for an open psychotherapy environment know well this type of situation. Yet, they are not the harbingers of racism or fascism. Did the University of Lyons do anything different by keeping Faurisson in his job?
In return, the manner in which "a whole affair" was made out of his statements proves, if still need be, a general will to find a practically caricatural antisemitism -- which is obviously not very dangerous -- that serves to rid a society of its fears.
The hierarchy of horror.
In the final analysis, is it worse to maintain that "Hitler did not kill one single man because of his race," as the professor from Lyons does -- which is simply not true -- or to maintain as Henri Krasucki, the number 2 man at the C.G.T. did during Mr. Kadar's visit to France, saying that the Hungarian uprising of 1956 was a counter-revolution, which seems to indicate that the Soviet repression was justified? Falsehood and falsehood: Six million dead against 25,000: Does the arithmetic impose a hierarchy of horror? Is the first affirmation unbearable but not the second? In the name of what?
Is it worse to sing the praises of the Cambodian regime, as some leftists do -- which is just as unbearable as to extol a massacre -- or to write about the Hai Hong refugees like this journalist of l'Humanite (November 16, 1978): "The wounded Vietnam, still bleeding from its wounds of war, cannot afford the luxury of a bourgeoisie created by foreign funds?" This recent editorial of l'Aurore, which likened Rene Bousquet and Jean Leguay's responsibilities in the deportation of Jews living in France under Nazi occupation, to "silliness," is he worse than such or such an editorial by Francois Brigneau on Arab immigration, or another weekly article on women by Jean Cau in Paris-Match?
The attacks and falsehoods against such and such a social, national, cultural or sexual category are our daily lot. Thousands of racisms, thousands of hatreds, some are more unjust than others, but all equally painful to their targets.
Modern hypocrites come from all parties and irrespective of their ideology, they almost all agree to ban these exhalations of hate and the right to self expression. According to their logic, a good part of French society should be tirelessly taken to court, many newspapers should be banned, starting with Minute, l'Humanite, Le Quotidien du peuple, l'Aurore, etc. Obviously unthinkable, and, of course, it would be intolerable. And endless. The basis of their argument is the refusal to look reality in the face, to hear these billions of daily words that echo a society deeply corrupt with all kinds of racism.
Do we definitely have to have recourse to the law, entrusting it with the management of all day to day social relations, of opinions and of thoughts? The "Rule of Law" state is not far away. It's frightening when banning someone from his profession and when Germany are concerned, but not so when it comes to racism of any kind.
To prohibit the expression of racism is to argue in favor of repression, secrecy, retreat and conspiracy. And eventually, for more assassination attempts and more murders. The spiral of the Rule of Law state is endless, and it is well known that by becoming more widespread, prohibitions feed on violence and lead to more prohibitions. I don't see why violence would not become a substitute for speech, while this is accepted in the case of delinquents in large conglomerations, for example. In the current state of society, if we have a choice, we might as well opt for antisemitism and all racisms to be expressed rather than practiced.
When all is said and done, it looks like the supporters of prohibitions are afraid as a result of tolerance to discover to what extent our society is riddled with all categories of racism. In addition to their haughtiness, they would lose the illusion of a sanitized society, devoid of conflicts, risks, and truth, and with helpless citizens emasculated of all possibilities of rebellion.
Stop preventing us from seeing France as it is. This is the most reliable way to let racism proliferate underground, in the shadow of official uniformities of the moment. The price will be that generally paid by the sorcerer's apprentices of amnesia: general surprise and disappointment.
In many respects, this article is rather insulting and could have been felt as such by Professor Faurisson. Yet, it is interesting to the extent that, contrary to the usual commentaries, it examines the consequences of the freedom of expression, including the right to madness, and that it doesn't try to betray its principles at the moment when their application becomes difficult. The only hypothesis that the author remains incapable of confronting is precisely that there is something beyond madness in Faurisson's writings. As will be seen later, Liberation left it there.
Coming back to Faurisson, we find a letter from two of his former students (40) that treats the press attacks with derision and ends as follows:
As for us, former students having been subjected to the teaching of the very vile Mr. Faurisson, we are rather against all imperialisms, all fascisms, all racisms, and for free debate, and the right to research and to doubt.
Moreover, the university authorities had to admit, on several occasions, that no student has ever complained about the professor (41) and that these poor naive students did not even seem to have ever suspected that their professor was so "harmful" (term used by Alice Saunier-Seite at R.T.L. on November 18, 1978). Even many (surely unaware) expressed their support and great respect for him.
A new dimension of the affair appeared in a collective letter, published under the headline, "Connaissez-vous Rassinier?" (Do you know Rassinier?), in reply to J.-P. Pierre-Bloch (see note 36), a letter triggered apparently by the renewed interest given to this question by the Darquier de Pellepoix and Faurisson affairs (42):
The declarations of a particularly obnoxious idiot have relaunched the campaign about war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Second World War -- that is, Nazi crimes -- since the Nazis and their accomplices are the only side that committed such crimes (?!) But this Darquier de Pellepoix is so obnoxious and his "thinking" is so destitute that the necessary debate has been set from the outset at such a new pathetic level that there is no question to participate in it at this time.
Yet the article of J.-P. Pierre Bloch, UDF deputy of Paris (Le Matin, November 22, 1978) from which we quote the sentence, "a lie always leaves traces behind," who makes no distinction between Darquier de Pellepoix et Rassinier, author of several books and articles on the German concentration camps, forces us to respond.
In his personal conception of the world, Mr. J.-P. Pierre-Bloch has a perfect right to make no such distinction -- which is revealing of his own conception of the world. On the contrary, he has no right to cover his assimilation with a lie, possibly in good faith, but we demand a correction.
In fact, Mr. J.-P. Pierre-Bloch wrote in Le Matin:
"This 'thesis' taken up again by Darquier de Pellepoix is that of the falsifier Rassinier whose terrible lies were clearly condemned by the justice of our country at the request of LICA. It is that of Faurisson, professor at Lyons 2 University..."
As far as R. Faurisson is concerned, we know nothing of his theses other than through hearsay and we are waiting for the row to subside, to get acquainted with them and discuss them, if they are worth it. As to Darquier de Pellepoix, if there was any possibility of becoming virulent again, it would seem to us highly desirable that all means be used to prevent him from being harmful.
As to Rassinier, the very equivocal formulation of J.-P. Pierre-Bloch gives the impression that he had been sentenced by the French courts for his books.
In fact, LICA has never "gotten that these abominable lies be clearly condemned by courts of our country" for the simple reason that it was Paul Rassinier who lodged a complaint for defamation against the director of Droit de Vivre, a publication of LICA, who referred to him as an "International Nazi agent." A very objective report on this trial can be found in Le Monde of October 7, 1964, where the plaintiff's witnesses "sang the praises of Mr. Rassinier, the pacifist, anarcho-socialist and also 'obsessed with the truth,' according to Mr. Raymond Geouffre de la Pradelle." No proof was ever given of any collusion with old or neo-Nazis.
Yet Paul Rassinier's complaint was dismissed and the defendant, Bernard Lacache, released.
J.-P. Pierre-Bloch's statement is therefore completely false.
What credibility does he have in qualifying Paul Rassinier as a falsifier without any proof, without any quotation of falsification that Rassinier is guilty of?
Our careful and deeply moving reading of Paul Rassinier's work led us to detect no falsification whatsoever and nothing to justify the refusal to discuss his views.
According to the plaintiff's attorney plea in this trial: "We may question Mr. Rassinier's views, oppose them and even fight them, but we reject the language [of Mr. Lacache]" that J.-P. Pierre-Bloch used in the columns of Le Matin and also in a recent television program.
These assertions are all the more serious that they seem to come close to a real self-mystification campaign, since P. Viansson-Ponte states the same falsehood in Le Monde of 3-4 October, 1978, p. 9: "LICA had obtained in 1964 a judgment against one of its slanderers, P. Rassinier." This was totally denied by articles in Le Monde at that time.
Prior to undertaking an in depth debate, we simply recall that Rassinier was a militant revolutionary communist, an organizer of Travailleur de Belfort (Belfort Worker) before the war, broke away from Stalinism very early and that he was in contact with La Revolution Proletarienne of Monatte, Rosmer and Louzon as well as with the Democratic Communist Circles at that time, where he organized the Independent Communist Federation of the East. He founded, with Commandant Lierre and Georges Bidault, the first efficient network of the Resistance: The Liberation-Nord movement, and worked particularly in helping persecuted Jews. He founded the clandestine newspaper, La IV Republique, echoed by Radio London and Radio Algeria. A Resistance deportee (19 months) at Buchenwald and Dora, 95% invalid as a result of his deportation, he was the holder of a Resistance fighter card, the purple medal of the French Resistance, and the rosette of the Resistance, all decorations he did not wear, as he said in a note in one of his books.
He was also a socialist, General Secretary of the Socialist Federation of Belfort region for fifteen years. He was a socialist deputy of the Second Constituent Assembly. From the fifties on, he leaned towards the pacifist and anarchist currents. After 1968, René Lefeuvre, editor of Cahiers Spartacus, says that he had met him several years earlier at the annual banquet of La Revolution Proletarienne. He describes him as revolted by the attacks against him and aware of the fact that his views had been used by extreme right movements. And yet, he did not lose the slightest determination. We were unable to meet him at the time his book came to our attention. We learned of his death but we can't specify the exact date.
We do not subscribe to Rassinier's theses.
We maintain that they deserve to be known and discussed. The comparison between Paul Rassinier and a Vichy Commissar of Jewish Questions is intolerable.
Jacob Assous, Joseph Benhamou, Herve Denès, Pierre Guillaume, Christine Martineau, Jean-Luc Redlinski, joined by Jean Barrot, Alain Caillié and Jean-Pierre Carasso.
All this did not prevent the in-house hack from reporting the very next day and in very defamatory terms, Faurisson's attempt to resume his classes (43). On February 17, Liberation gave an ironic account of the manifest of 'Thirty-four laborers of historical research": false debate, hackneyed, shameful ranting. The scribbler does not understand why all this high society has become restless.
Others do understand and they don't come from the leftist swamp. Member of the Resistance from the very beginning, long-standing Gaullist, tireless polyglot and distinguished specialist of Islamic cultures, Vincent Monteil, who has always been perfectly frank, be it in the army from which he was expelled, or the Gaullist regime that he lambasted at the time of the Ben Barka affair, Vincent Monteil pricks up his ears. He writes a letter to Temoignage Chretien (January 29, 1979) where he points to a "trap" in the accusations against Faurisson:
I did not know Faurisson. But it seemed to me that his work on the deportation deserves the greatest attention. It is not by calling him antisemite and by comparing him to Mr. Ambre [a former Petain supporter who sits on the municipal council of Lyons] that "justice and truth" will be served "at any cost." All that Faurisson asks -- and that I ask for him -- is that he be allowed to express himself, to explain.
The truth must be said. If there had been fewer Jews killed by the Nazis (certainly not six million!), if they had been exterminated by all possible means (like other deportees), and if Faurisson is in fact right about the "myth of the gas chambers," to me this will change absolutely nothing in the crimes of the Nazis and their accomplices. But it is not by lying, by rigging the facts, the photos, the numbers that "the return" of very real abominations can be avoided.
But this clarion call is quite isolated. So it was a painful surprise to some people when the Gaby Cohn-Bendit bomb exploded. His letter, titled "Question de principe" (a matter of principle) was refused by Le Monde, but it was read during the trial of the suit brought by Faurisson against Le Matin de Paris. According to witnesses, it silenced a gang that came to the court to hoot Faurisson (44):
Question de principe by Jean-Gabriel COHN-BENDIT
There was a time, and still is, when every antisemite challenged a testimony or historical research by a Jew and qualified as sold to the Jews any research leaning in that direction (remember the Dreyfus affair). But today, we are beginning to witness the inverse phenomenon: every Jew, every left or extreme left individual challenges any testimony, any historical research done by an antisemite (which is already serious) and, worse, qualifies as antisemitic any research about the concentration camps that calls into question what has become the quasi official truth. This is unacceptable.
As a Jew of the extreme left and a libertarian, I want to affirm some principles that I value the more so today that all others I believed in, for twenty years, have collapsed one after the other (it is a long road that led me from the young communist in 1956 to libertarian ideas, passing through Trotskyism and the extreme left, my dose of skepticism increasing at each stage). Of all these principles, there is one that can be summarized in one sentence: the freedom of speech, writing, assembly and association must be total and without the least restriction. This means that the publication and distribution of the texts that are most revolting to me must not be impeded. No book should be banned, were it Mein Kampf (or tomorrow any text of Stalin or Mao), no meeting should be banned, were it of the Euroright, not even the distribution of a single leaflet should be banned, were it openly fascist or racist. This does not mean at all that we should remain silent and inactive. If the fascists had the right to distribute their leaflets on campuses, we could fight, even physically, if necessary, so that the Assas [Law] faculty does not remain their monopoly. The only effective way to fight the enemies of freedom is to give them the freedom that we demand for ourselves and to fight if they want to take it away. The famous "no freedom for the enemies of freedom" is in fact the harbinger of all totalitarian systems and not, as it was believed, the most effective defense against them.
No myth at all.
No lie at all.
Let those who deny the existence of concentration camps and of gas chambers say it! It's up to us to prevent this lie from becoming credible. Weren't many years needed for the left to find the courage to fight the lies of the Communist Party about the existence of camps in the U.S.S.R.! In 1948, who dared to do it other than some isolated people of the extreme left, some liberals, and the right? If we want to be credible to the future generations, and all the more so that time goes by, we have to demolish the least myth, the least lie, the least error. Let's fight to demolish these gas chambers that are shown to tourists in camps where we now know they did not exist, at the risk that we are no longer believed about those we are sure of. The Nazis had model camps to show to the good souls of the Red Cross. Let's not do the opposite.
I don't want to get into a discussion of the gas chambers here: Was there any or not?
If there had been, in exactly which camp? Have they been the systematic or accessory instrument of the massacre? For to me, if this fact is important, I admit that I don't understand the attitude that consists in thinking that if this piece is partially or totally removed from the concentration system, all would collapse.
Would Nazism cease to be a horror? Would it become justifiable? Are the gas chambers the horror, and not the millions of dead? Without gas, there is no more horror, simply a serious distortion of legality, as our in-house Stalinists would say.
The same problem arises when we discuss the number of Jewish victims of Nazism. The difficulty of fixing a number, whether or not this shocks our sensibility, is clear to every historian and makes every number questionable. Here, too, I don't understand that we have to absolutely reach a certain threshold below which everything could become acceptable, and hence could play into the hands of fascism.
An absurd logic.
Having lived during this period and having seen part of one's family disappear, one may find it repugnant to discuss the mode of extermination and the number of victims. But a historian cannot dismiss this problem. I find this conclusion of a certain number of historians monstrous (Le Monde, February 21, 1979): "We should not ask how technically such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible because it took place. This is the required point of departure of any historical inquiry into this subject. It is up to us to remind people of this truth: there isn't, there can't be any debate on the existence of gas chambers."
Despite the respect I have for the historians who signed this article, some of whom have even played a non-negligible role in my current positions, I wonder: "But what is this absurd logic?" It's exactly because this mass murder took place, which neither Rassinier nor Faurisson question, that we exactly may ask how, including technically, this could have happened. Logically, only those who deny the genocide do not have to ask how.
It would be too long, yet fundamental, to study all that had been justified, for the past thirty years, in the name of the struggle against Nazism, starting with late Stalinism: for example, the millions of dead Jews are constantly used as counter-argument to any criticism of Israeli politics.
As for me, I prefer, in their memory, to relentlessly defend the right to liberty, to prevent all attempts at witch-hunts, persecution of groups, minorities or individuals who think or act differently from me. What I refuse to do, including to neo-Nazis, I am not ready to agree to have done to men like Rassinier and Faurisson, who, I know, have nothing to do with the former, and the suit filed against the latter reminds me more of the Inquisition than of a struggle against a return to the worst.
A letter arrives two days later from Pierre Guillaume, a former member of the group Socialisme ou Barbarie (Socialism or Barbarism), who became later, for a long time, the manager of a famous bookstore, La Vieille Taupe (45):
What do the French people know about the Setif massacre? by Pierre Guillaume
The televised film Holocaust is a crime against historical truth. Despite the good intentions of its zealots, it is a crime against the memory of the victims, all victims of the atrocities of all wars.
Millions of Jews were victims of abominable persecutions due to the simple fact that they were Jews. Hundreds of thousands of American nationals were persecuted and put in special camps due to the simple fact that they were of Japanese origin. Millions of Germans died because they were Germans, and millions of Russians, Poles, Ukrainians died because they were Russians, Poles, Ukrainians.
War always consists in killing people because they are on the other side, and invents the best reasons in the world to justify itself. This is the role of war propaganda, which is always to a large extent self-intoxication.
The Jews were in a particularly terrible situation due to the simple fact that their transnational community came into conflict with the internationalism towards which Germany was driven, and because their culture led them to resist totalitarian logic, even though most of them were totally integrated in German society.
The massive deportation of an annoying minority is not an exceptional fact in history. That was the case of Vietnamese of Chinese origin, even before the current conflict. Some manage by persuading themselves that they are members of the reigning bourgeois ideology!
Do the French know that during his visit in 1943, Eichmann was shocked by the living conditions of Jews in the Gurs camp (Pyrenees-Atlantiques)? Do they know that this camp, created under the Daladier government, to accomodate Spanish republicans, had known conditions similar to those of German camps? Internees died of cold and hunger, according to the same inexorable and "involuntary" mechanism.
It is not historically established that Hitler ordered "the execution of a single Jew because of the simple fact that he was a Jew."
Similarly, when he ordered the bombing of Dresden, useless from a military perspective, Winston Churchill did not order "the execution of a single German because of the simple fact that he was German."
What do the French people know about the Setif (Algeria) massacres of May 8, 1945 and the repression in Madagascar? Neither more nor less than the Germans knew about Auschwitz. Are they collectively guilty? Neither less, nor more.
The morbid manipulation of bad conscience leads to nothing other than new crusades.
The Nazi war propaganda could manipulate so many atrocities committed by the enemies of Germany, in order to shore up the morale of the troops, the policemen and the camp guards. Similarly, allied propaganda could manipulate the atrocities committed by the Germans. Neither side deprived itself of propaganda. Exaggeration in the horrific description of the enemy is the thrust of wars which have become "democratic."
The Nazi-less anti-Nazism that pervades the world has become the outlet of a confused society that cannot bring itself to confront its real problems.
We cannot fight against the inexorable mechanisms of real oppression with cliched images. Porno-horrific scenes do not promote the understanding of real mechanisms... except by the fact that the Holocaust presents in itself and is revealed as a crude attempt of an ideological power grab by the sacred union of licensed spiritual advisers.
This is what you have to think!
Look where this will lead you if you resist our lessons!
The manipulations of atrocities drive the sensitive spectator to stupor or generate a front of indifference, which is the best ally of any totalitarianism.
The reaction, "All this is from the past" or "Hitler? I don't know" is a healthy reaction.
The only durable result of the Holocaust screening is that of any war propaganda: To convince all those who participate in very concrete mechanisms of oppression that what they participate in is negligible by comparison with what the mythical enemy -- the Nazis -- has already done. The words and the intentions of the Holocaust zealots make no difference.
What do the French people know about the frightening repression of a demonstration by "French of North African origin" against the curfew, on October 17, 1961, in Paris and its suburbs?
What do the French people know about the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of Algerians of all ages, gathered in camps, and what would have become of them had France been involved in an intensive war putting the existence of the nation at risk?
This was not the case, and the French bourgeoisie and its state managed to make peace without even compromising the standard of living of the French people. However, in this relatively benign context, M. Alex Moscovitch declared to the Paris Municipal Council: "Five million French people may be affected overnight in their life and property by circumstances they neither wanted nor initiated." To compensate for this threat, M. Moscovitch proposed a radical solution: "All enemy agents must be sent away from metropolitan France. We have been requesting the means to do that for two years. What we need is very simple and very clear: the authorization and enough boats. The problem of sinking these boats would not come, alas, under the Municipal Council of Paris." (a)
After seeing Holocaust, any French soldier who went to war in Algeria, even if he participated in "corvees de bois," [wood gathering, code for summary execution] will be persuaded that he remains radically different from the Nazis. He is different only from the image given of the Nazis, as the Nazis themselves are different from this image. In any case, he will tell himself: "After all, there was no gas chamber."
Yet, in the Oran region, in Algeria, several hundred Algerians were locked up in cellars and asphyxiated with carbon dioxide. Those who locked them up and crammed them into a tight space, didn't they know it? Didn't anything alert them during the agony of these poor people?
Nobody tried to find out. The perfunctory investigation was inconclusive. But had they been Germans, and particularly Nazis, nobody would have had the slightest doubt that they were guilty.
The inevitable reply came from a chap who undoubtedly believed that there was an error and that the article in left-wingLiberation (March 8, 1979) was really addressed to right-wing Minute (46):
When Antisemitism Rises to the Surface by Julien BRUNN
Alas! Liberation has just won the first prize. The article it published yesterday about the Holocaust stinks, it perspires antisemitism. Its author, P. Guillaume, has the right to be antisemitic, consciously or not. But it is our right, and it should have been our duty, not to publish it. The more so that the author is himself the director of a publishing house, La Vieille Taupe, that publishes Les Cahiers Spartacus, so that he can publish his "opinions" himself. So by not publishing him, the freedom of expression would not be affected. This famous freedom of expression cannot in fact serve as a screen to hide the fact that this is not the first time that such an incident happens at Liberation. From time to time, whiffs of antisemites emerge to the surface by clumsily hiding behind the veil of nonconformism.
It is not only a question of ideas: it's a question of tone. There has already been the Flatto Sharon affair: the objective was not to display antisemitic theories, but the tone was antisemitic. [A Jewish swindler who ran away to Israel for safety.] Then the VXZ 375 incident, which reviewed the new philosophers from only the point of view of whether they were homosexuals or Jews. Today, too, in the issue in front of you, Guy Hocquengheim comments on the debate in such a naughty and impish way that it really hurts. Whatever we think of the debate, there are times when antisemitism is suggested more than it is said, and this is the case with yesterday's article: "What do the French people know about the Setif massacres?" This is really too much. Just as I have nothing to do with antisemites and nothing to discuss with them, I don't see what Liberation, my newspaper, may have to do or discuss with them. Minute might as well welcome them and we won't interfere.
There are two things in the above mentioned article in yesterday's Liberation titled, "What do the French people know about the Setif massacres?" First, there is the well known argument which consists in saying that Jews were not alone, and consequently, they get on our nerves by always claiming the first place in the "hit parade of horrors," as Guy Hocquengheim vilely says. We can discuss the argument and it has already been discussed during the debate of "dossiers de l'écran" [on TV]. The generalization of horror becomes suspect when its manifest object is to sink the fish, meaning the Jew. By putting everybody on the same level, by lamenting the multiple horrors of the world, by writing like Pierre Guillaume that "the deportation of an annoying minority is not an exceptional fact in history," by recalling that the Algerians of Setif, the Germans of Dresden, and the Spanish republicans, the aim is not to talk about all this, the aim is that the Jews should shut up. For to such writers, whatever the Jews say is immediately branded as "propaganda," according to the already classical association: Jew/propaganda: "The morbid manipulation of conscience leads only to new crusades." And the trick is done: it is "manipulation." All this is still an opinion. But a closer reading of the text reveals that, in addition, there is a historical theory: "It has not been historically established that Hitler gave an order to execute one single Jew because of the fact that he was a Jew." Not only there were others that were exterminated, but also Jews were not exterminated "because they were Jews." This is the miracle of the leaking bucket argument: they will soon add that the Jews were not exterminated at all. I'll stop here. There is no point in arguing with P. Guillaume: this is not really a "free opinion." It is an assertion, an affirmation, which is, moreover, false. We can think whatever we want about the extermination of Jews or Gypsies. But we cannot try to make believe, like Faurisson, that there had been no extermination, or, like P. Guillaume, that it may not have taken place (he talks only about deportation), and if it had, it was not according to the "Jewish" or "Gypsy" criteria. There was no reason for Liberation to publish this false free opinion. On the contrary, there was every reason, as I explained above, not to publish it. Freedom of expression is not the freedom to say anything, especially in our newspaper.
The censor's apprentice got put in his place by Jean-Pierre Carasso, which seems to have provisionally closed the public debate, since subsequently, nobody ventured to talk about it (47):
When Antisemitism Transpires Clear Conscience Aspires by Jean Pierre CARASSO
It wasn't long ago that Liberation had published -- a matter of principle -- Gaby Cohn-Bendit letter. Well, here it is, splash! It was not a flop, and it had to be done in Liberation itself! Our comrade Pierre Guillaume -- whose service need not be flaunted before the newcomer Julien Brunn -- utters the least discordant sound in the great concert of Holocaustic laments. The professional martyr does not miss it. The big words are dropped: he is an antisemite. Devious, the accuser takes the usual precautions: it's maybe an unconscious antisemite. Then, shit, this terrorism, this blackmail -- and I weigh my words -- must stop.
My name is Carasso, and if my father had not succeeded in convincing a complacent civil service employee in 1941 of the fact that Levi was the Muslim first name of his father!!!, my name would have been Levi-Carasso. Is this sufficient for the doctors of the law? May I speak?
I am a convinced supporter of the eradication of Judaism (hey! linguists, translate this into German, please) as well as of the eradication of Catholicism, of Christianity, of Islam, etc., including animism. When I read a headline in Le Monde (March 8), "New executions of homosexuals in Iran," I say Adolf must be laughing under the rubble of his bunker and my antireligious conviction is reinforced. When I hear -- for I am not so vicious as to watch these farcical shows -- that Mme. Veil said that the camps in the U.S.S.R. are not similar because the deportees were there for expressing a non-officially sanctioned opinion and the next day I realize that the antisemite Hersant ([the main press tycoon in France] notorious, this one, but it must be said, granted amnesty!!!) gives the minister a glowing report in the newspaper that he owns illegally, I say to myself, if only for decency's sake, there must be limits to the unbridled confusion which takes the place of ideology and of crutches in support of a moribund capitalism (yes, yes, wishful thinking).
I also agree with a famous antisemite buried in England (a) that "the genuine Gemeinwesen of man is man." ["community", "be-togetherness"] I believe that whatever stands in the way of the realization of this Gemeinwesen is the work of my enemies and when these enemies are Jews, it is precisely because I am not and I cannot be antisemite, that I am not afraid to point them out as enemies.
When Baron Guy de Rothchild writes that he feels as a stranger in Israel, the famous Nazi hunter couple, Beate and Serge Klarsfeld (after all, it's more exciting than hunting baby seals), will they declare him antisemite? Almost, in any case, for the baron retracted fast! Facing the uproar that he naively provoked.
Well! As for me, having the ambition to feel as a stranger nowhere, I would say that I feel as a stranger everywhere, dispossessed of my being and my humanity by the abject system that reigns over the entire planet, and that I demand, do you hear me Mr. Brunn, I demand for my friends and myself, as for everybody else, the right to proclaim that feeling without being bombarded with idiotic insults by those same people who profess to fight for a better world, as they say.
27. Le Nouvel Observateur, no. 750, March 26, 1979.
28. Le Nouvel Observateur, no. 752, April 9, 1979, p. 31.
29. Le Nouvel Observateur, ibid. pp 31-32.
30. Le Nouvel Observateur, no. 756, May 7, 1979. "Le dernier mot de Robert Faurisson." C. Martin let it be known the following week that he no longer wished to respond.
31. Le Monde, December 2, 1978. "At a time when manifestations of racism are a daily occurrence, when the President of the Republic lays a wreath on ex-marshall Petain's grave, the affirmations of M. Faurisson and others should lead to a public debate. In any case, the question is too serious for us to accept a hasty suspension which contributes to avoiding the debate and making a scapegoat out of M. Faurisson. We still have the weakness to believe, despite all, that the university must have a critical function. It is because of this, and because in general, such methods serve only to undermine democracy and to comfort racism, that we are against such arbitrary administrative measures, when they are directed against Faurisson."
32. See L'Humanité, November 17 and 21, 1978. It seems that in East Europe, only the Warsaw daily Zycie Warszawy, devoted an article to the Faurisson affair, at the beginning of January, 1979.
33. France-Soir, November 25, 1978. He seems to say that a gas chamber held five people.
34. Le Monde, November 18, 1978. When M. Sudreau says: "true apology," he betrays the embarrassment he feels in sharing views that nothing can justify, even Faurisson's arguments in Le Matin.
35. She adds, according to France-Soir (November 19-20, 1978), "I invite university presidents to act within the framework of powers and responsibilities conferred on them by the law and in accordance with the tradition of humanism and academic freedom, to put an end to manifestations of totalitarianism and racism." And thus, Faurisson becomes an anticommunist alibi. How wonderful humanism is sometimes.
36. "La bonne conscience," November 22, 1978.
37. Le Journal-Quotidien Rhone-Alpes, May 24, 1979. Let's imagine for a second that she had the power to do something.
38. See the editorial of L'Humanité, May 18, 1979. Why didn't Andrieu discover this question of December 22 until three weeks prior to the European elections of June 10?
39. "La liberté d'expression des racistes," November 24, 1978.
40. "Antisemite, did you say antisemite?" Dec. 9-10. See another letter by a student, March 13, 1979.
41. For example, Libération, November 18-19, 1978. "Etonnant! Etonnant!" observes Bernard Schalscha, which should have set him thinking. But he couldn't.
42. Libération, January 22, 1979.
43. "Kulturkampf," January 10, 1979.
44.. March 5, 1979.
45. March 7, 1979. In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king (N.d.E.)
(a) Bulletin municipal officiel de Paris. Débats des assemblées, conseil municipal de Paris, séances du 27 Octobre, p. 637. It concerns a well thought out statement M. Moscovitch made on January 15, 1963 in a defamation suit filed against him: "I really regretted that the enemies of France had not been exterminated ... and I still regret it!" (Le Monde, January 17, 1963) Quoted by Pierre Vidal-Naquet in his remarkable and courageous book: La Torture dans la Republique, Petite Collection Maspero.
46. Libération, March 8, 1979.
47. Libération, March 12, 1979.
(a) Those who believe that the Cahiers Spartacus are published by La Vieille Taupe -- poor René Lefeuvre! -- would not have recognized Karl Marx. This letter was read and approved by ten people and yet was considered to be "not quite violent enough, not quite insulting enough."
This text is the fourth chapter 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
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