See the first part of this chapter.
The perfection of the Copernic Street operation is due to the fact that its effects were perfectly calculable. First of all, there are massive and politically contrived demonstrations, and generalized bombardment by the press and by all political and religious persuasions. Secondly, a reaction appears deep down in the population, which is rather hostile to all this dramatization, this cleavage which tends to regard the Jews as sacred. Contrary to what is put out by so many silly billies, it is not antisemitism that leads to Copernic Street (otherwise, this would happen every week) but it is Copernic Street that triggers and resuscitates antisemitism. The inability to see that in the equation of State terrorism, local variables make French Jews equivalent to German beer drinkers or Italian train travelers, leads to the old tune of the irreducible Jewish specificity. It prevents the self-understanding of the Jews themselves in this situation. It reinforces the camouflage of the terrorists and disconnects the victims of all the suckers who did not know how to get chosen by God.
The demonstration following the Copernic street revealed the increasing fascism of a significant part of the French Jewish "community," especially among the sephardic Jews repatriated from Algeria. Zionism provides the structural framework and the heroic romanticism. The slipper scraping sound of the old "Zion lovers" is succeeded by boot noise of the young Betar henchmen. We have seen the typically Nazi behavior of the Jewish Defense Organization (OJD), with facies (of the right) hunting, physical assaults, death threats, attacks, etc. It recruits mainly in the Marais underworld, which has been terrorizing Jewish shopkeepers, who do not denounce them because they are their children. Our brave leftist humanists will not denounce this Jewish Fascism until they get their skulls broken and find themselves in the same hospital as Fredriksen.
These open acts of violence have, for some years, caused timid concern among consistories outside France. More so than the internal situation, this reflects the difficulties of Israeli politics led into a deadlock by the Begin government. In its refusal to seek a negotiated real peace, the government, under the former terrorist Begin, seeks to manipulate the Diaspora in order to put pressure on his allies (57). The amalgamation is clearly established. "There is no distinction among anti-Israelism, anti-Zionism and antisemitism, which led all humanity to disaster and shame," declared Begin (Le Monde, October 7, 1980), quoted by Kaplan at the OJD.
On the question of terrorism, it is interesting to quote the implicit admissions of the Israeli prime minister:
The prime minister himself gave some clarification of his former declaration by telling other cabinet members that if the French government policies could have encouraged antisemitism, it can't be blamed for having wanted this series of attacks. In support of this warning, Mr. Begin stated that likewise, the Israeli government can't be implicated in certain terrorist acts when there were "no Jewish victims." Mr. Begin alluded, for example, to the bomb attack carried out last June on the West Bank against the mayors of Ramallah and Nablous (Le Monde, October 7, 1980).
I know of no greater tribute to the solidarity of all state terrorisms.
What we certainly have to retain from the official Jewish argument, as it is taken up and amplified by the press, is the revival, but by inverting it, of the deepest theme of traditional antisemitism, that of the plot to dominate the world. We are presented today with a mysterious "Black International" having at its disposal fabulous financial means, occult relations at all levels of power, armed with a tenacity that defies all circumstances, which is the exact replica of the conspiracy described in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And with as many proofs.
It's easily agreed that all these proto-Fascism, crypto-Fascism or para-Fascism, no matter what compost they plunge their radicalism in, do not add up to much, especially not to a real danger. I am one of those who thought that the AOS at the height of its power had absolutely no chance of achieving lasting success, and today, I don't see that we have to be alarmed by a hundred times lesser peril. All these movements are nothing but caricatures of the past, and one has to be numbed by the religions of the left in order to believe that the future will be so gentle as to want to present itself under the mash of the past. Sanguinetti insists on this point:
Pertini, the current president of the republic, a naive man is always and only afraid of fascism, for he is afraid of only what he knows. On the contrary, he should, from now on, be afraid of what he doesn't know, and learn fast what he has to be afraid of: no longer an open dictatorship, but a dreadful despotism hidden by the secret services, a despotism so strong that it uses its power to vigorously affirm that it doesn't exist (p. 132).
The emerging tyranny has benefited from the lessons of the past and has learned to preserve "a human face" and democratic forms. The great usefulness of bourgeois democracy is precisely its capacity to change the social content of political institutions. In the face of the crisis which is still commercial and financial, the power wants to protect itself against the eventuality of a swing towards a real economic and social crisis. In the halls of power, the scare of May 1968 has not been forgotten. The confidence that the power places in the Stalinist political-syndicalist apparatus may prove to be excessive. International competition and the formidable pressures of the global market may well push our old bourgeoisies up against the wall, without a margin of maneuvers against a proletariat which would have lost its desire to joke.
If we look for those responsible for terrorism, we have to track them among partisans of the future state. They are already close to power, if they are not there yet, with their "big ass" and their "long ears." Look for super-sleuths among those who absolutely have our happiness at heart. Those are really the worst. The search will be so much more difficult that state terrorism is still at its beginnings, that its creative spontaneity is not yet concentrated and centralized, that its program is still vague and that all its ramifications are not yet in place. They are presented as a rescue service for groups who occupy several positions in the State (and the opposition) apparatus, and potentially for all organized political forces, because they all participate in an identical world view where the only aim of politics is to reinforce the State and stabilize its powers. Terrorism will be the ultimate recourse for those who get tangled up in the illusion that political games could have any influence whatsoever on the social tectonics. They dance on volcanoes and believe that they can ward off the eruption by muffling the racket.
Contrary to classical terrorism, these bombs are not aimed at concrete people, but are used to provoke reactions. The only good reaction is therefore no reaction, to get down to the job of the "deconstruction of madness," following the example of the authors of "our kingdom is a prison" which was printed before the Copernic Street incident and sixty thousand copies of which were distributed after that incident. It was not outdated but rather justified by the event.
A two-sided one sheet pamphlet has obviously fewer details and explanations than a three hundred page volume. But it gave a headache to some good minds who were so tempted to find it somewhat accurate, that they had to turn to invectives. Then, the ideological pressure became so great that they were frightened to be seen for a moment outside of the anti-fascist herd. Henceforth, a new Copernican revolution serves to align the satellites of a strange constellation enlightened by the sun of "Jewish renewal."
In this sprawling fatal confusion, a call had to come from a representative of a breed thought to have been extinct the pro-situationists. He reminded us that we are in the "society of spectacle" and that "the critique of ideology has become the central question of the entirely spectacular society (i.e., entirely ideological)." Having reached this theoretical summit exhausted, he stops. We will never know whether the modern world he contemplates with his modern eye is the one we live in. He only gives us one example of the extraordinary acuteness of his analysis by affirming that Sanguinetti's work which is "effectively major" would not be pertinent with regard to the Copernic Street bomb because the head of state and the prime minister reacted with "obvious amazement bordering on pure stupidity" (58). This is in fact an obvious proof. But who borders more?
Just as sweet Manchette, lovely Baynac who signed, together with other "emergency" associates, a charming letter gently entitled" the gangrene" are forced to lie in saying that this pamphlet was written three days after Copernic Street, because they would not have found it scandalous before. It's not really the text that makes them indignant (irrespective of the extent of their agreement or disagreement with it), it's rather the fact that it exists afterwards, and that its authors did not immediately rally to the official discourse. The radical change was not the content of the pamphlet, or even the situation, but the understanding of all these people who knew the content of this pamphlet and were discussing it for months. "In this era of decomposition of the revolutionary movement writes Baynac, himself decomposed by terror and as long as the movement is not reborn on other bases, we have to fear (!) that this pseudo theory of anti-fascism will ravage those demoralized by failure, and more seriously, those who know nothing" (59). It is not clear whether Baynac belongs to the first or the second category.
Like the devil of medieval times, Nazism has come out of the box today, in 1980. And like medieval times, we always find some embittered people who will accuse their neighbor of making a pact with the devil. The proof is that Baynac has "many a time commanded" the pamphlet authors "to distance themselves from the Nazis." It's as though there couldn't be any confusion anywhere except in the mind of a prosecutor. . . . If these people speak in the name of a "revolutionary movement" (which I certainly do not do), it seems to me that the said movement should immediately complete its decomposition. They will always have a little place at the LICRA or the MRAP.
Let's leave the antifascists to their meager processions. The only antidote to these subtle poisons is to carve out greater freedom, reject these bigotries, mental cowardice and unctuous oppressions that requires us to give up some of our freedoms for the sake of a common interest which is clearly not ours. The virtuous ignominy of Philippe Boucher's statement, "No freedom for the enemies of freedom" (60) must be denounced. Isn't it atrocious that this bureaucrat who fancies himself as another Saint-Just is already setting up the gallows? Freedom, for all of us, is to stand up to these criminal provocations, to refuse to take part in these kinds of violence, to criticize, to topple the idols, to transgress the mental and the fashionable taboos. Finally, the ultimate guarantee is complete and total freedom for all our enemies.
(October 18, 1980)
Another bomb of another kind would soon
blow up. It was Chomsky's forward to Mémoire en défense,
that Faurisson published for his trial. Infuriated by a flood
of absurd remonstrances from Paris following his signing of an
earlier petition circulating in the U.S. in support of Faurisson's
civil rights, Chomsky sent a letter to set the record straight
on the principles of defense of freedom. It was address to Vidal-Naquet
who, behind the scene, set off a little pressure campaign by asking
all of Chomsky's acquaintances in Paris to insist that he extricate
and distance himself from this affair. I received a copy of it.
The text seemed to me so clear and brief, that I asked Chomsky
by telephone for an authorization to translate and publish it.
I had done the same thing when he was despicably attacked by Claude
Roy in Le Nouvel Observateur.
He told me that he was going to reread the text, to expurgate from it whatever was of personal character and send it to me to use in any way I saw fit. That was at the time when Faurisson's memoire de defense was being written. I mentioned the idea to adjoin the text to it and Chomsky, who could not see from afar the cabal shaping up and who could care less about it, told me that, being on the scene, I was better situated to decide upon the use of the text. So it appears as the forward to Faurisson's book.
" The following remarks are so banal that it seems appropriate for me to apologize to reasonable people who would read them." This is how the text starts, quite rightly. The author explains why he signed the petition in support of Faurisson's rights (61), as he would have signed any other petition, in support of any other person, irrespective of his political ideas. And he says that it's precisely when these political ideas are themselves reprehensible that we must defend the right to express them. To do the opposite is to give in to the underground currents of totalitarianism. "It's very easy to defend the freedom of expression of those who don't need to be defended." He concludes by saying that the arguments put out by those who accuse Faurisson of being an antisemite don't seem convincing to him.
As soon as it came out, this text provoked a new avalanche of alarmist letters. People who saw in Chomsky the great modernizer in linguistics, or even simply revered him as a great man because they have a need for reverence but who couldn't care less about his political activities, pointed out to him that his association with dubious and crazy individuals is doing "objectively" the Nazis' work. This will ruin his political credit and undermine the basis of his struggle against American imperialism.
Somewhat disturbed by this hysteria and especially anxious to pursue his political struggle, which centers around current events, Chomsky wrote to ask me whether there was still time to withdraw the text. At the same time, he sent a warning to one of his Parisian correspondents, the culturally eccentric Jean- Pierre Faye. Upon receipt of this missive, I telephoned the U.S. to say that the text had already been published. Should it be withdrawn? "No, it's alright. Forget about my letter." The next day, a melodramatic Jean-Pierre Faye slipped into the television program on Women of Anne Sinclair as "L'invite du juedi" (the invited guest). He brandished Chomsky's telegram, stating that the latter withdrew his text, a lie soon taken up by all the press. He took the opportunity to demand the seizure of Faurisson's book. I sent a denial to le Monde, which published it truncated (62).
Then came a swell of vociferations and protests. Ah, this Chomsky! the traitor! the grand-son of a rabbi who had no business to get mixed up in giving us lessons of morality with his "anti-French aggression." He dares to not admire the French intelligentsia, we will make him eat his linguistics. In the press, the Chomsky affair became the sudden revival of the Faurisson affair. Once more, Vidal-Naquet came to the rescue of la Vieille Taupe publishers. Sales sky-rocketed despite the refusals and hassles of bookstores. The foreign press got involved. There were articles in the New York Times, in Germany, the Scandinavian countries and Italy. Chomsky was not terribly distressed by slanders and deformations, of all kinds. He answered the false accusations, he gave interviews to le Monde and Liberation, which relaunched the anger of high ranking intellectuals. He published a long explanation in The Nation. The prize, as almost always, came back to le Nouvel Observateur, in an article of Jean-Paul Enthoven: "And this instrumentalist language theory, this "generative grammar" which always refuses to think the unimaginable, in other words the "Holocaust," does it really need Faurisson's dodge as an acknowledgement of its rather poor legitimacy?" (no. 841, December 22, 1980).
Faced with this torrent, I decided to intervene. On January 3, 1981, I sent to le Monde the following article, after receiving by telephone an agreement in principle for its publication.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Being attacked for the past six months in many publications and on several matters the Faurisson affair, Chomsky's positions, Cambodia I didn't deem it my duty to answer each and every one of my detractors. I was waiting for the debate to widen, to finally reach the shores of the rational, the basics. We are still far from there and I will limit myself o examine in depth and leisurely the diverse arguments, leaving aside the insults. But confusion has reached these days such proportion that setting the record straight is called for, with precise references, to really tackle it.
The sudden revival of what is called the Chomsky affair is symptomatic. The outcry triggered by some obvious basic facts stated by the American linguist shows how justified his criticism of the French intelligentsia is: tendencies to intolerance, authoritarianism, and to voluntary subservience to the ideological needs of the State.
The campaign against Chomsky started really two years ago. It is essentially the product of the old need of the left to invent idols in order to subsequently topple them and go noisily around in sackcloth and ashes. The Vietcong are dethroned and in order to convince themselves that the fetish is broken, they take it out on Chomsky by pretending to believe that he ranks among the idolaters. In order to depict him sometimes as a Stalinist, and sometimes as the Jew in the service of fascists, they have to greatly distort his views and to even invent positions and attribute them to him for the only reason to better castigate them. I dismantled this mechanism on several occasions and no one could saddle me with the title of "Chomsky's spokesman in France." Chomsky is an independent intellectual, and me, too. He belongs to the libertarian trend with anarchist tendencies, and me, too. This leads to political positions that do not have the good fortune to please everybody. There's no good going on and on about it. But to make believe that Chomsky considers himself to be "the conscience" (of the West, obviously) is purely ridiculous. When Paul Thibaud, who belongs to another current of thought, has some disagreement with Chomsky, the only explanation he can find is that Chomsky is paranoid. Or anti-French. I say bravo!
To talk about something else and repeat a famous phrase, if I say to Thibaud that the only hope for the Poles to be free is to hang Lech Walesa with the innards of Kania (the first communist prime minister of the period), I'm sure that he will not understand me. To which psychiatrist would he sent me?
Recently, a handful of Parisian intellectuals tried to make Chomsky go back on the expression of his principles, by organizing a little campaign of personal letters. Jean-Pierre Faye ingeniously gives us their names on television (63). They tried later to maintain the confusion with fragments of personal correspondence. Yet, the situation is perfectly simple and clear. Chomsky's "opinion" appeared as a prologue to Faurisson's book and Chomsky stands by it as it is published. The operators got nothing for their pains.
Paul Thibaud (Le Monde of December 31) is unable to get rid of a falsehood I had already pointed out to him: the struggle against American intervention in Indochina does not necessarily imply support for the local communist resistance movements, at least for some, in a really internationalist spirit. Does he have to be reminded that it is the American government, and not Chomsky, who systematically destroyed any possibility of the emergence of a third political force? Does he have to be reminded that in the matter of totalitarianism, blind massacres, and economic destruction, the West's record in Indochina remains today by far the worst despite its emulation by all the Pol Pots? But wasn't it the same Paul Thibaud who told me, a few months ago, that unfortunately, under the current circumstances, we have to support Pol Pot against Vietnamese imperialism? (64)
Finally, to get to the Chomsky-Faurisson affair, the real scandal seems to me to be exactly the fact that some people want to make it an "affair." Since it turned out to be impossible to silence Faurisson, or to make him out to be crazy or a fascist, he had to be dismissed by talking about something else, by deflecting from the controversy. Chomsky could very well be used as a scapegoat for the anxieties and I understand them triggered by Professor Faurisson's findings.
In order to obscure the debate, they postpone and make it confusing. I notice that since the appearance of my book, which states the elements of the problem, there was only one attempt at an answer to Faurisson's arguments, that of Vidal-Naquet, behind which all the others hid. Yet, this response, too, hedges and fails to address the basic points. It's clear that Pierre Vidal-Naquet does not master the subject and that he does his best to fill the numerous gaps of the official version. Unlike Mme. Delbo (Le Monde Dec. 31, 1980) and for good reason, he couldn't use the fictionalized testimony of Filip Muller, such a "crude" document whose French publishers can't decide to warn the reader that it was written by a ghost writer.
If there was a serious debate in France, we may end up knowing whether Faurisson is right or wrong and where the truth is in what is absurdly called the Holocaust. I am very interested in this debate, since I have no set convictions except that the historian's work has not really started yet. I would like to know, and many other people would like to know too. But seeing the stirred up passions and militant faith, I admit that I have very little hope that the flickering light of reason may prevail.
After two weeks of equivocation, the editor of le Monde decided, once more, that the affair was closed and that it was too late to publish my paper.
Having had the distinction of full page attacks, Le Quotidien de Paris agreed to publish my comments under pressure from the remarkable Faurisson attorney, Maitre Delcroix. I sharpened my scalpel in order to dissect two articles, typical samples of prevailing stupidity.
Intellectuals must "take a stand." It's a particularly French syndrome. And to "take a stand" means to take sides, to decide what is true and what is false. And to maintain his status, the intellectual must do this all the time. Biafra, green Europe, new forms of energy, the Faurisson affair . . . the intellectual is called upon to pass a judgment, an immediate, definitive judgment. In his very understandable incapacity to assess everything, the French intellectual, rather than give up being peremptory, prefers to borrow the judgments passed by other intellectuals like himself, whom he usually trusts.
We thus have the spectacle put on by some Parisian intellectuals who furiously take it out on Chomsky. Their common thread is that, over the years, they underwent strong ideological drifts, while Chomsky's steadfast libertarian and anti-imperialist positions have become an obstacle to the game of their successive amnesias. I have already described (Esprit, September 1980) how Lacouture, Claude Roy. B.-H. Levy, Attali, Glucksmann and others created piece by piece the phantasm of a Chomsky support for Pol Pot. In the same way, and with utter contempt for the facts, Chomsky is accused today of support for the neo- Nazis or of being the Trojan horse of Soviet hegemony. This is the aim of the venomous article by Francois Fejto in Le Quotidien de Paris of December 29.
I say venomous because of the tone: "You are obviously of such superior mind that examination of the conditions that led to the extermination of six million human beings does not interest you." It's not honorable to attack so lowly. Neither is it to constantly use this false deference and this term "maitre." It irresistibly brings to mind Sartre's response to de Gaulle, who, too, addressed him as "maitre" (in the letter where he refused to have the Russell court headquartered in Paris). He said that he wasn't used to being address as "maitre" except by cafe waiters.
The problem posed by Fejto and many others is simple: to them, attacking exclusively or mainly Western imperialism is equivalent to going to bed with the Soviets. These short- sighted people can't see that for people like Chomsky with an anarchist tradition, Bolshevism was already condemned even before the 1917 revolution. All that had taken place since then reinforced this condemnation. I would add that there are really in Chomsky's position more solid reasons to reject whatever is related to Leninism than those of the people who attack him today. But the worst shortsightedness is to not see that it is precisely Western imperialism that is going to bed with communism. Look at Cuba, Indochina and Portuguese-speaking Africa. This is the near past. Look at the present in Africa, Latin America, Seoul and elsewhere.
If we don't put our own house in order before criticizing others, if we allow our governments to conduct politics of plundering, dictatorship and terror through the potentates that they install, how can we be surprised to see somebody reap the benefits? Some people complain about Khomeini while the Shah handed Iran to Tudeh (66) on a silver plate. . . . And in Chad, where for fifteen years the French army has been meticulously smashing niggers? And the Spanish Sahara that was passed under the table to Hassan II as a simple bakhshish? And Kolwezi, where was the French left? It applauded the Legion. All this leaves memories that have to be paid some day. And Mr. Fejto could denounce the red totalitarianism in power in Kinshasa, or in Honduras or in Patagonia more dispassionately than he will attribute the responsibility for such regimes to those who tried to oppose them twenty years earlier. I therefore reverse the question and pose it to Mr. Fejto: knowing that the main South- African liberation movement is the ANC and knowing that the ANC is largely manipulated by the very pro-Moscow South African CP, should apartheid be abolished before it is too late, or on the contrary, should it be reinforced, as France is trying to do? If I can judge by his incredible comment about the excesses of Weimar liberalism, I am afraid to learn his answer. Those who "psychologically prepare the return of humiliating servitude and monstrous massacres" are those who want to confine us to the alternative between the massacres "of the left" and the massacres "of the right.". They have no room for freedom.
Finally, I must tell Mr. Fejto that his information about Cambodia is too weak and that his attack against the "leftist anarchists" is too strong. Chomsky is right in saying that the Khmer CP leaders were trained by the French and I would add Vietnamese Stalinists. But, for them, the great turning point was the Chinese cultural revolution. Some of them went on long secret trips to China at that time. There is no doubt that the horrors in Cambodia, at least those that are not attributable to the consequence of the American war, are a product of Maoist stupidity. Parisian modes have nothing to do with it, and Mr. Fejto should find other pretexts to settle his accounts. But maybe this article of Mr. Fejto is only a bad joke. It takes a knack to hoax in order to write that in 1940 "France pretended to be pro-Petain." Since then, as is known, it has been pretending to be de Gaulle, the pro- Giscard readers must "pretend" to be idiots in order to accept such outrageous statements.
The bitterness of Mr. Fejto is probably due to the harsh conditions of exile. Yet we have to admit that in some cases he did not lack courage. But it is surprising to see Mr. Pierre Daix enter the debate. This is a man who has discredited himself in the eyes of many. I was a kid when I read his account of his case against David Rousset concerning Soviet concentration camps. Mr. Daix was the cantor of Stalinists who denied the existence of such camps. A generation later, Mr. Daix left the party, which is irrelevant, let bygones be bygones. A minimum of decency should steer him to write rather about the life of butterflies or the frescoes of Pompeii. Mr. Daix has the audacity to talk about "the civic rights of victims' families," but I know some who would first demand Mr. Daix's head because in the domain of crime against intelligence and integrity, there is no statute of limitation.
And yet, Mr. Daix sets about to "decrypt" the political thinking of Chomsky (Le Quotidien de Paris, December 29, 1980), which means to substitute for crystal clarity a collection of absurdities which will cause a dunce in a philosophy class to blush. I never understood why Chomsky would "need to clear himself of responsibility," or what logical link could be found between this statement and the quotation from Chomsky that follows it. Neither can I grasp how "the rational" is "the danger that the American crusade against communism puts the world in." I don't see how America could be "the absolute evil" in any other than the religious vocabulary. If saying that there are rightist Soviet dissidents amounts to supporting the KGB, it would seem to imply that all dissidents are ontologically leftists. All behind Pliouchtch? As far as I am concerned, I have no difficulty in recognizing that Solzhenitsyn belongs to the extreme right and that we should read him and let others read him. But if Mr. Daix and other "French intellectuals" found Gulag Archipelago a disturbing revelation, it wasn't the same thing for Chomsky and others like me. Before, in the thirties, the Rousset trial and witnesses from the left, for those whoever wants to know. Mr. Daix was for a long time a part of this mass of French intellectuals who had everything right before their eyes and who didn't want to know. He is in no position to take it out on those who value their political duties to learn the facts.
Finally, Mr. Daix's last sentence sends me into a sudden burst: "It is in fact dangerous, he says, that Faurisson's project and that of his leftist friends of La Vieille Taupe ends up by reinforcing taboos on the scientific examination of the facts in the concentration camps." This is too much. To accuse those who are trying to open a discussion about the facts (the fate of deported Jews), those who are in the midst of the worst difficulties, under a flood of insults, to accuse them of reinforcing the intellectual taboos that they are precisely trying to break, is the work of an acrobat specializing in ideological inversion. If the debate is so fierce, it is because, cohort after cohort, the Daix type intellectuals intervene to defend the taboos that protect them.
If Pierre Daix, number 59807 in Mauthausen,
is interested in the "scientific examination of facts in
the concentration camps," let him start with a critical
rereading of La derniere forteresse, a testimony about
the camps that he published just after the war; let him examine
carefully how the communists took control inside the camps' administration;
let him weigh up this collaboration between Nazis and communists
at the expense of the other prisoners; let him record some confessions
still quite timid in this respect of Jorge Semprun in Quel
beau Dimanche! Let him read Rassinier. When Daix or others
begin to lift the veil of silence and of some testimonies which
are more or less dubious and which are rather pleas, in order
to see what really happened, they will be surprised by the depth
of their ignorance. But what good does it do to ask intellectuals
to do a job which brings back more nagging doubts than honors
and comfortable certainties?
The rightist press, which abhors Chomsky's political ideas, made some ironic remarks and came virtuously to his defense. It is remarkable that, in all this affair, the rightist press restricted itself to a prudent silence. The only journalist who said a few words in Le Figaro magazine, newspaper of the new right, was sharply scolded by Le Nouvel Observateur. He was almost fired when his boss Pauwels, literally terrorized by the clamors following the Copernic Street attack, thought it necessary to pledge allegiance and make concessions. As I got involved in this affair, which has become public, I thought that I had to act fast in order to avoid being preempted by the right and exploited beyond control. That was an over-estimate of the intelligence and courage of the right. Apart from some rare exceptions, its thinkers and writers have shown the same low cowardice as many leftist hacks. In private, they expressed an interest or were troubled, or perplexed, or willing to know more, but would never print a word about their state of mind for fear of running the risk of being pointed out by their "civilian" colleagues.
The Chomsky affair triggered off another new development. Copiously insulted by different commentators, Faurisson got to spend a few minutes with Ivan Levai on Europe No 1, a mass audience morning program, on December 17, 1980. Faced with a hostile aggressive and worst of all mal informed journalist, Faurisson kept his calm and said that he was going to summarize the conclusion of his work in one sentence of sixty words. Here it is:
"The alleged Hitlerian gas chambers and the alleged genocide of Jews are one and the same historic lie which has allowed a gigantic political-financial fraud whose main beneficiaries are the state of Israel and international Zionism, and whose main victims are the German people, but not its leaders, and all the Palestinian people."
This phrase sparked off a cascade of stamped papers and a new big trial.
In order to be perfectly clear and before continuing this "chronicle of events," as the Russians say, I will give my own feelings about this sentence that was launched by Faurisson as a cannon ball at the fortifications of his adversaries.
The apparent simplicity of this sentence is deceptive because it pretends to evoke Nazi policy with regard to the Jews, the politics of Zionism and of Germany after the war and including even the Palestinian question. Such simplification is obviously extreme. It can only be a provocation in the literal sense of a gesture aimed at provoking some thinking. But in its abrupt formulation devoid of nuances, it backfired, provoking instead in readers and auditors an attitude of rejection rather than constructive thinking.
It's especially the choice of words which serves to block the reflection. It may be possible to talk about "alleged" gas chambers, because, using rational arguments, hence debatable and debated, Faurisson has been able to convince that, at least, there are questions about their existence. But to talk about "alleged genocide of Jews," without carefully explaining what is meant by this term, is exposing oneself to not being understood. The public concluded that this meant that large numbers of Jews did not perish as a result of Nazi policies. This is obviously wrong. In its erudite ignorance, public opinion in the West generally believes that six million Jews died in gas chambers, which are usually confused with crematory furnaces, while orthodox historians believe that only a third or a quarter of those who disappeared perished in this manner. And they did not rush to correct this wide spread error. But Faurisson's sentence made the mistake of intimating that the dead have simply not been killed. In my opinion, that is absurd. The real question would be to know how many, why, how, etc. A lot of things are known, but often badly known. It would be useful to know better and we can't expect much from Wellers, Vidal-Naquet, Finkielkraut and their ilk, more interested in the ideological battle than the patient pursuit of the facts.
The use of the term "historic lie" seems to me equally misplaced. This presumes that people who knew the truth have knowingly distorted it. On the contrary, all that is known about the origins of this "Auschwitz rumor," shows that there circulated in Europe during the war noises, rumors, information and even myths, where the true and the false were inextricably mixed with variable proportions. If some circles used this information for political ends, this does not mean that it was deliberately distorted. The ideological machine has no need for sheer lying, it only has to select, adulterate, stress or omit some facts as they relate to each other. The only provable lies in this affair (katyn and the Jewish soap factories) are credited to the Soviets, whose ideological apparatus was much more crude, and hence less believed. Those who falsify a little, on the sides, are generally acclaimed.
Also, the term "political-financial fraud" gives rise to confusion. In fact, there is no clear distinction between reparations given by Germany on a personal basis to individuals who personally suffered from persecutions, and reparations given to Israel, intended in principle to repair individual or community damage, but which go directly to the treasury of the State, which takes the place of individuals who, by definition, were not its subject at the time of the events. It's certainly normal and understandable that Japan pay reparations to countries it occupied during the war (I don't think it pays reparations to individuals) but a series of juridical fictions had to be instituted in order to justify German reparations to the Hebrew State. If there was fraud, it was certainly in the creation of a state that calls itself Jewish in the Middle East, at the expense of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, a creation assured by the alliance of the great powers. All the rest follows from this decision, to which Germany was not a party.
This is contained in Faurisson's sentence. But it could be construed that the creation of the state of Israel is a political fraud precisely because of the nonexistence of the extermination. This could mean that if the genocide had not existed, then the creation of Israel could not be justified. But Zionism is much earlier than Hitler, it is the expression of increased nationalism in some areas of central Europe. Its conceit in creating a Jewish state in Arab territory was inadmissible from the beginning, since the first Zionist congress in Basle in 1897.
I therefore disagree with many points which are superficially stated in the sentence. It could have said the same thing in another manner which would have been more correct and less provocative. But it also led to reactions which, no matter how absurd, are nonetheless unavoidable and invariably violent. That's how the term "Zionist" is used. A permanent feature of Zionist propaganda is to assimilate "Jewish" and "Zionist," because from this angle, every Jew's calling is to go (they say "go up") to Israel or, if not, to help those who want to settle there or are there already. To Zionists, every Jew is or will become Zionist. So it's through a natural reversal that the term "Zionist" means "Jewish" to them. Hence the constant repetition of the perfectly spurious affirmation that anti- Zionism is essentially identical to anti-Semitism. So Faurisson was blamed for saying "Zionist movement" where his adversaries wanted to see "all the Jews." And consequently, in accusing the Zionist movement of benefiting from a political-financial fraud, Faurisson will be accused of saying: the Jews are crooks, they steal money antisemitic themes trotted out since the Middle Ages. In order to hide, he said "Zionist" instead of "Jew." The key to the proof was presented during the trial by Madelaine Reberioux, a historian of the labor movement, close to Vidal- Naquet and a longtime member of the FCP in charge of a small section of the Human Rights League, specializing in the surveillance of Faurisson and his acolytes (67). (Several anti- racist and deportee organizations have sporadically conducted police activities: tailing, mail tampering, threats, etc.) To prove that when Faurisson mentions the Zionist movement, he can't be talking about anything other than the Jews, this historian concludes her brief pejoration on the history of antisemitism with the assertion that "international Zionism" does not exist and that it is "an empty concept, devoid of intuition, as Kant said." (68)
I admit that despite the reverence due the splendors of Justice, I could not help burst out laughing. The clucking and outraged looks Reberioux flung were to no avail. The joke took us by surprise. How could one predict that bad faith can reach such heights?
THE REPERCUSSIONS ABROAD
Before getting to the trials themselves,
we should maybe conclude this overview with the extension of this
affair in the U.S. and German press.
I happened to arrive in New York a few days after the June 10-16, 1981 issue of the Village Voice appeared on the news stands. It carried the headline, "Gas Chamber Games" and a subtitle "Crackpot History and the Right to Lie," with a very long article by Paul Berman, a member of the staff (69). It's obviously Chomsky's role in this affair which aroused the strongest excitement. The provincialism of the American press is such that no subject is worthy of its interest unless America or Americans are involved in it. And in this press, the Voice expressed doubtless at least at that time what was the most open, the most cosmopolitan presentation, directed mostly to what elsewhere would be called leftist intellectuals.
The article begins with a ferocious attack and ends with a long lamentation over all that Chomsky has contributed to leftist political thought in America, and his leading role in the movement against the war in Indochina. Chomsky had not only defended Faurisson's civil rights, but had added that it didn't seem to him that Faurisson was an anti-semite. Berman is very angry but he ends up by admitting that there might have been a problem of civil rights that he doesn't want to deal with. On the other hand, he wants to prove that Faurisson is an anti- semite. In order to do that, he combines Faurisson with members of different American groups who maintain also that the genocide is an invention, but using different arguments or no arguments at all. There are among these people inveterate anti-Semites and it's obvious that many belong to the American racist extreme right, with fascist tendencies.
The mixture is facilitated by the fact that Faurisson has participated in a "revisionist convention" organized in California by these people. Like anybody else, Faurisson talks to whoever wants to listen to him and making no distinction between him and his auditors is as current a procedure as it is grotesque. Talk to God, and you're divine. Talk to the devil, and you'll surely suffer.
Berman's level of information on the basics of the problem is very low. Since I had been kept abreast by a friend in the United States about the developments of this affair, Berman had to only inquire instead of being content to paraphrase Vidal- Naquet, and on some points only.
The article becomes really amusing when it comes to La Vieille Taupe, or rather, to a few free individuals, each with a past of extreme-left politics, who get together, from time to time, under this name. "How is it possible?" wonders a visibly dumbfounded Berman, because he doesn't know that he understood nothing about all this. "What could have propelled these Parisian thinkers with great love of freedom, to the avenues of the paranoid extreme-right driven by the hatred of Jews?" A stupid question has no answer. But Berman is searching. Maybe the colonial wars made us a little crazy. Or could it be the ideological collapse of Marxism in France made us deny reality in order to better solve theoretical problems. And, it's well known, at a time of crisis, what comes out! Anti-semitism, of course. So, to dismiss Chomsky, there's nothing left for Berman other than to emphasize that he belongs to a "French" political tradition. I admire people like Berman, for whom everything is always simple. If I had such a mind to finally live quietly on a chaise lounge, in the shadow of rosy certainties. . . .
I immediately wrote a brief response, which was printed in the July 22-29th issue. Berman had previously refused to meet with me at the radio station WBAI, saying that he didn't debate people who thought that the earth was flat (70).
Following is the text that was written in English (71).
It is not an easy task for Paul L. Berman ["Gas Chamber Games," Voice, June 10-16] and some others to understand why a bunch of libertarian socialists and anarchists, loosely linked into an informal Paris based group called la Vieille Taupe (Old Mole) have taken an interest into the Faurisson affair. They did more. They published his views, fought for the protection of his elementary rights of free expression, and finally pleaded his case before the courts.
It does not occur to Mr. Berman that a first reason could be there might be at least some grain of truth in what Faurisson says. This, however, has been recognized even by his most fierce opponents in France. If your adversary makes a point and utters a demonstrably true proposition, would you refuse to acknowledge it? Only a mind so biased as to be unsensitive to facts and truth can do that.
But, of course, libertarian socialists have had a more political stake in all this, and Mr. Berman somewhat errs in speculating about it. They have been thinking all along that the Western political system, which dominates most of the world today, holds together mainly because of an ideological consensus prevailing inside of its societies. This applies in a slightly different manner to the Soviet bloc. For all practical purposes, this consensus is based on the concept of an alliance of the Freedom forces (including, originally, the Soviet Union) against the forces of Evil, crushed in 1945 with the collapse of Nazi Germany. The idea that Evil is on one side and Good on the other is an excellent device both for fairy tales and political myths.
It is then, for us, obvious that there shall be no understanding of our present period without a serious critique of its mythical or ideological roots which go deep into the World War II events. The basic requirement of such a critique is a careful sorting of the facts from their successive distorted representations. The French libertarian socialist Paul Rassinier has been a pioneer, though maybe no flawless, in this necessary work, and Faurisson, with his very materialistic approach, is continuing Rassinier. Old Mole people have been aware of this for the last 10 years. It is a fruitless effort to ascribe our political involvement to any circumstantial event, such as the grotesque adventures of Maoist tigers turned liberal sheep, or any "unresolved bitterness" about past colonial wars. What is unresolved is the problem of present-day colonial wars being waged today in El Salvador, Namibia, western Sahara, Lebanon, the Philippines, etc. Western planes and guns are terrorizing hundreds of millions of people across the continents right now. The very real atrocities of the Hitlerian regime pale into relative "normality" compared with the accumulated atrocities perpetrated since World War II by Western powers in their realm, even though this horrible record is largely matched by the Communist powers in their own sphere. Those who shout "nevermore" fall into a total self-delusion. The Nazis were just the precursors of our modernity. Anti- Nazism today is the flogging of a dead horse; the horse was crushed into pieces in 1945. It works as a screen, as a ritual religious celebration designed to mask and whitewash the deeply totalitarian trends of our so-called democracies.
All this is the framework of a number of activities of people more or less related to the Old Mole. The works of Faurisson intervened in this context as an attempt to confront myth and history. Whatever the final judgment passed on the value of Faurisson's work, he shall be credited with one particular merit: to have shown the necessity to concentrate on sheer facts. The whole official historiography, mainly based on pretrial evidences produced at Nuremberg, is being shaken. We have witnessed it before the French courts. The need of a really historical approach to those grim and unbearable realities will not be suppressed, on the contrary.
Mr. Berman and some others in America are kindly anxious to see the Old Mole escorted by strange allies from the American fascist groups. He does not seem to grasp the elementary fact that, because of totally different purposes, the similarities between these groups' ideas are purely superficial, fortuitous, and of no durable consequence. We have already expressed our total indifference to this kind of hazard. What we say has not the same meaning and is not set in the same frame of action, and that is all. Rightist forces should be fought, and we take part in this fight. The really ambiguous position is the uncritical acceptance of the official version of what happened in Germany: side by side one finds Mr. Brezhnev, Mr. Reagan, Mr. Begin, Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Giscard, Mr. Mitterand, a host of others, and also Mr. Berman. That does not seem to bother him. Does that mean he has an active solidarity with the above-mentioned politicians?
His great justification is the struggle against anti- Semitism, with his labeling of Faurisson as an anti-Semite. This is really a desperate argument. It might be proper for an Israeli official to amalgamate any anti-Zionist or simply critical view of Jewish or Israel politics as an act of anti-Semitism. But this kind of pervasive extension of the concept of anti-Semitism is harming any kind of political reflection and should not creep into a serious debate.
We have seen the same attempt to reduce the issue in France, both in the media and in the courts. But strangely enough, after some time, the argument is backfiring. The continual use of irrational and emotional arguments is gradually reinforcing Faurisson's image as a rationalist. I say this out of charity for Mr. Berman. The trials against Faurisson were widely accepted in 1979 but are now considered by many people in France as an embarrassment. Chomsky's clearsighted defense of Faurisson's civil rights has now won a much wider audience there.
The mildest reproach which can be addressed
to Mr. Berman is his total ignorance of the most basic facts
I repeat, facts related to the actual Nazi policy of persecution
of the European Jews (a policy which brought about the death
of millions of them). It is a mild reproach because this ignorance
is shared by most contemporaries, and most writers on the subject.
His attack about the Kremer Journal is plain evidence
of this. Mr. Berman's readers should be cautioned: they never
had the chance to glimpse into Faurisson's actual arguments,
nor into the general reasons for looking into this matter I exposed
in a book published in Paris by la Vieille Taupe.
Mr. Berman had hammered the point home. The following week, the Voice raised the ante with a feature article entitled: "Anti- Semitism and the Crime of Silence." The title in itself is already incredible, but the content of the article is even more so. The writer, Jack Newfield ("I am Jewish and I have a healthy amount of ethnic pride") castigates himself and his colleagues because, really, there is not enough concern for the Jew and about anti-Semitism, which is on the rise in all countries. "The Voice has been a vigilant watchdog on abortion, civil liberties, and militarism, but the rights of the Jews have been a secondary concern. Jewish nationalism has been treated differently from every other nationalism." (72) He attacks one of his colleagues, Alexander Cockburn, whom he accuses of support for the PLO and contempt for Israel, then he empties his drawers of press clippings that he had accumulated, mixing more or less insignificant anecdotes and serious political problems ("Iran, Khomeini"), without forgetting the Timerman affair in Argentina and the book by Faurisson, whom he describes as "insane and antisemitic." Newfield is frightened to realize that a small part of the American left slowly became "indifferent on the subject of Israel's existence."
The two articles sparked off a lively polemic (July 1-7) joined by Alexander Cockburn, Noam Chomsky, Berman, Newfield, Richard Falk, W. Kunstler and a few others. But one had the strange impression of going in circles because, after all, the wall of American political taboos was not undermined. It is still impossible to write in the American press an article dealing with the real problem of the role of guilt in the attitude of the American left vis-a-vis Jewish nationalism and Israel; irrespective of whether this guilt is true, false, manufactured, or fostered. Newfield and his ilk can say anything, attack all those who don't follow Begin's heel, and these people will protest, defend and justify themselves instead of trying to burst this balloon that terrorizes them.
I found a symptomatic example of a New York radio station which, having taped a conversation with me, was not able to broadcast it without adding to it a whole bevy of comment as contradictory as possible with mine and after several attempts, it could not find anybody who would simply dare to come and contradict me. Even this was too much. A few weeks later, I saw one of the editorial staff members who came to Paris to find opponents to face me. I suggested Vidal-Naquet: "His English is not so good, but that's not the worst." What a time! What a pity!
We had the right too, to publish a long article in an excellent German magazine, Transatlantik (July 1981). A young, very pleasant German writer, had come to Paris to find documentation and meet with several protagonists. He wrote a very hostile article entitled: "The Auschwitz Launderers," to which I had to give the following response:
The text of Lothar Baier, "Die Weisswascher von Auschwitz" calls for some comments, mainly because of its tone. He almost always uses cheap irony and mockery, which denotes, I think, an unease and an incapacity to go to the fundamental problems. I say this the more freely that I was generally well treated in his article, and that I am not personally the object of more or less malicious insinuations.
It is impossible to enter in a few pages into a complete discussion of all the points that were brought up in this article. For example, in order to really grasp the meaning of Rassinier's account on the life and organization of the concentration camps during the Nazi era, we would have to conduct a complete analysis of their internal functioning and compare it with what he says and what other writers say about it. What transpires in Baier's reactions in this domain is mainly the very superficial aspect of his knowledge on this subject. I have to say that after my first reading of Rassinier over ten years ago, I too was surprised and often incredulous. Nonetheless, instead of engaging in denial and cheap irony, I went to consult a good many former deportees among my friends.
They belonged to my parents' generation and had mostly been connected with the political organization in the camps, either as communists, who were the dominant power, or Christians or progressives, to whom the communists "extended a hand," according to the political expression at the time. These conversations convinced me of the validity of Rassinier's affirmations. I would not say that he was right in all the details, but he had the courage and the merit to put his finger on a question which seems to me essential to understanding the phenomenon of concentration camps: the collusion of an organized political party the communists of the prisoners with the local representatives of the repressive apparatus of the State. This truth is beginning to come to light in the concentration camps literature (73). It is illustrated in an exemplary detailed book, Die Manner mit dem rosa Winkel, Merlin Verlag, 1972, by Heinz Heger, one of those who was subjected to the maximum oppression. Heger survived because he was kapo; he explains this very well. Rassinier survived because he found a privileged situation. It is known because he tells it himself. Why does Baier pretend that Rassinier "visibly concealed" this fact?
The article contains many little inaccuracies, which are not very important unless they are used as underlying reasoning. Baier says that the president of the University of Lyon, where Faurisson teaches "would have guaranteed his security." The exact opposite happened. The president basically said that the university lacked the material means to guarantee his security. And every week, for months, a Zionist commando waited for Faurisson at the time of his lecture, which he gave, in fact, hiding in a cafe. The university did nothing to put an end to this situation; it even preferred to close its eyes to the fact that Faurisson was physically absent for six months.
I even wondered if Baier really knew how to read. He quotes p. 20, Faurisson which refers to p. 188 of my book, "propos de table de Hitler." Then Baier adds: "I don't know which clandestine version of Propos de table Faurisson had, but in meine (Seewald, Stuttgart, 1976), I read this (p. 456)." And he quotes Hitler's comments. If Baier knew how to read, he would have referred to footnote 44 of the French book which gives this sentence in German and indicates as source the not so clandestine edition of 1963, p. 471. This sentence is word for word the same, except that in the Baier version we read Juden, and in the Faurisson version Drecksjuden (shit Jews). Error in Baier's transcription? Censorship of his edition of 1976? I don't know, but imagine the blame that would have been inflicted upon Faurisson if he had toned down Hitler's comments... In any case, when Baier says "it's a weak performance for a professor of literature," he shows that he has a lot to do before he hopes to be able to qualify for such a title.
I wonder, too, how far can Baier's ability to reason go, carried as he is by the desire to denigrate. He wants to prove that Hitler gave the order to exterminate the Jews, which Faurisson contests. Historians agree that there does not exist a document to this effect, but Lothar Baier wants to solve the question with the help of private comments of Hitler. This may be a good method. He quotes two sentences which express the idea that Judaism must be exterminated. Ausrotten may also be translated into French by "extirper": eradicate. I will not play on words, with the memory that at the time of the wars of religion in France, those who wanted to eradicate heresy did not hesitate to have recourse to violence and massacres. In the third sentence, Hitler says that he gave the order to exterminate "all those who belong to the Polish speaking race" (p. 21). If comments of this kind are a proof of the order to exterminate the Jews, they are a clearer and more overwhelming proof of the genocide of Poles, for he says that he has already given the order of extermination.
I am one of those who believe that Slavs, Poles, Russians, Balts and Yugoslavs paid a much heavier toll in hard figures than the Jews, to Nazi atrocities. But apart from Warsaw politicians, and maybe Mr. Baier, nobody believes that there was a project to liquidate the twenty or thirty million Poles. And yet, despite the countless atrocities and heavy losses in human life, they never talked about liquidation.
Baier's reasoning is therefore absolutely absurd and he sets it off against Faurisson only because his desire to contradict the latter is stronger than his means to do it. This is the case of many adversaries of Faurisson, and this is what renders reflection on this affair so difficult and so cluttered with minor quarrels resulting from bad faith.
I also wondered whether it is right for Mr. Baier to talk about what he does not know. Concerning the controversy about the meaning of the word Vergasung in a technical description, he thinks it smart "to recommend to Faurisson, the carburation specialist, to quickly patent the discovery of this cremation furnace which is fired up by a carburator and yet does not explode" (p. 21). This would earn him a certificate of ignorance. If he had inquired, he would have found out that a cremation furnace burns gas, that this gas came in these old devices of coal and gas chambers, that it has to be mixed with air so that it can do its job and burn the bodies and that this mixture is called carburation. I got this information from the head of one of those rare French firms that build crematoria. This expert saw no need for a room called Vergasungskeller on the map of the Auschwitz crematorium, for the gas was supplied through pipes. If I had already said that Faurisson's arguments are serious and that they have to be addressed, I have to admit that I see Lothar Baier's skillful evasions as no better than Nadine Fresco's jokes in les Temps Modernes (74). And as he admits himself: "I did not bother to examine the details," concerning the analysis of the Journal of Anne Frank, Baier thinks that Faurisson copies others. . . . This is absolutely ridiculous because this analysis is precisely the part of Faurisson's work which is accepted by his most determined adversaries. And why doesn't Mr. Baier want to run the risk to say that Faurisson is right at least on some points? It even happens to the most cautious minds to admit as much,
I don't believe that Faurisson is right on everything. I believe that he is totally wrong in saying that there was no policy aimed at more or less exterminating the Jews. I believe that there is no doubt about the fact that several million Jews perished as a result of discrimination, deportation, concentration camps and cold-blooded massacres. I don't know if gassing was part of the means used to kill people and I don't know if this question could some day be worked out and definitively clarified. But never mind, what counts is the effort that has to be made in order to understand all the facts, no matter how complex and sometimes contradictory, about this savage period. We are its heirs, it leaves its mark on us and we understand it quite badly because of all the tall stories circulated by people interested in justifying the more or less shady role they played in this period. When Lothar Baier came to see me,we realized in our discussion to what point all these questions on life during the period of 1930-40 have been obscured, especially in Germany. I traveled a lot in Germany during my adolescent years, and this absence of historical memory, this black and empty past of a German friend of my age, has often shocked me. It is absolutely unavoidable that a new generation of Germans would want to lift the taboos to recover this past. I don't know when and how this will come about, and maybe it's still too early. But I am not sure that the best thing intellectuals can do would be to stick to the taboos and oppose all critical curiosity and reassessment. As a group, I know very well that their social function is to sing the praises to the State, but as individuals, they can suppress the questioning only by methods as questionable as those of this article (75).
For example, what does Baier mean when he blames me for citing in a bibliography a booklet by Thies Christophersen? Would I lose credibility in cataloging the different works about the subject I am dealing with? I have never used Christophersen's booklet in my text or my reasoning because it has no information about what I am interested in. He says that in a small rural annex of Auschwitz, life was rather good. This may well be possible, but it has nothing to do with what happened in Birkenau. It is Baier who gives Christophersen a fictitious importance because he makes him "one of the basic pillars of the Faurisson construction." This is simply absurd. I am surprised by the use of such procedures.
I conclude with some more general consideration, and also a response to Baier's caricature of La Vieille Taupe and of people close to it. We are a few individuals who think that anti-fascism is a screen which serves to hide the very real atrocities that the Western democracies continue to inflict throughout the world on those who wish to escape their costly concern. A Nazi fascist danger in Europe? It died in 45. Frankly, this is not serious. This fierce struggle against ectoplasms we have to understand its aims: it serves to facilitate the setting up of systems of domination that are more subtle, more modern and efficient, and hence less bloody than the archaic Nazi methods. A painless, colorless, invisible and internalized domination. The dictatorship of the market, and no longer that of the bloody puppet.
Celine, who is undoubtedly well known to Mr. Baier, said in his Hommage a Zola in 1933:
"We have reached our goal of twenty centuries of high civilization, yet no regime would be able to withstand two months of truth. I mean Marxist society as well as our bourgeois and fascist societies. In fact, man can't persist in any of these totally brutal and masochistic social forms without the assault of a permanent lie, more and more massive, repeated, frenetic, 'totalitarian,' as it is called.
"Deprived of this constraint, our societies would collapse in the worst anarchy. Hitler is not the last word, we will see more epileptic still, maybe here. Whether or not he wants it, naturalism becomes political. Destruction. Happy are those governed by the horse of Caligula" (76).
* * *
This text having reached Transatlantik several months after the publication of Baier's, the editors decided not to publish it. The press has always excellent reasons for not publishing responses to the attacks it launches, and these reasons are always different. So it has not lost its originality.
The trials began the end of May 1981. They were preceded by an affair as ridiculous as it is demonstrative of the climate of intolerance surrounding this affair. When Faurisson was on Europe No.1 to answer the slanders heaped on him by Ivan Levai, he said that one of his lawyers, Me. Yvon Chotard, was a member of MRAP, an anti-racist organization generally considered close to the PCF. But MRAP was part of the cartel that was suing Faurisson. It could not leave to its main rival, LICRA, an affair so rich in potential advertising. The revelation of this grotesque secret deeply shocked the MRAPists who in a highly intelligent gesture expelled Chotard, despite the opposition of his local group. This decision gave rise to many protests, soon anesthetized by multiple soporific justifications issued by the generally boring Albert Levy.
The first trial was only a prologue, as in a good play. Leon Poliakov felt slandered by a note of Memoire en defense (p. 119) which calls him "manipulator" and "text manufacturer" in connection with different versions of the famous or rather fuzzy Gerstein document (77). Poliakov's lawyers were precisely those who would appear in the succeeding trials. It was apparent that everything was coordinated and that their strategy consisted in quickly obtaining a condemnation of Faurisson for defamation so as to approach the big trial from a favorable position. This maneuver barely failed. Finally, there was little talk about the main plaintiff. Poliakov did not show much enthusiasm. He didn't remember very well this story of the document. He was satisfied with his conscience and his reputation. He was right because the court ruling said that Poliakov could have committed errors, even "faulty" errors, according to the wonderful understatement of his little friend, Vidal-Naquet, and even, at times, "infringed on scientific rigor." But all this did not prevent the court from sentencing Faurisson.
It would be too long and fastidious to relate all the speeches, those of witnesses (78), or those of dozens of lawyers who did their best to knock down the dragon. The incredible machine set in motion by this powerful group of lawyers tens of kilos of documents, missions to Warsaw and to Tel Aviv did not bring much grain to the millstone of justice. The most reliable effects were of rather sentimental order. The audience was rather stunned, having been crammed with members of the litigant associations, who came without really knowing what it was all about. The press was heavily present with a good number of foreign correspondents. Vidal-Naquet would catch them on their way to tell them "Faurisson is a rat, just a rat." It was grotesque, some were trying to refurbish the old theme of racial hatreds, others were amused, unable to take seriously all this farce. The outcome was known in advance. There was no real debate. The judges had the heads of judges, the lawyers were good, they all played the little roles they assigned to themselves in the range of human passions. Unquestionably, the best was Me. Badinter with his beautiful voice of bronze, a fine product of an old tradition of eloquence, very similar in its noble style to that of the Comedie Francaise.
Obviously, some might think that this must be his last plea, since having waged attacks against Faurisson for two years, he was appointed minister of justice during the period separating the court debates and the verdict. Of course, this had no effect on the court decision, but had something to do with the amnesty law traditionally voted on at the start of each seven year mandate, which specifically excluded the charges for which Faurisson was dragged to court.. I later heard Badinter say on the radio that he never makes an important decision without prior discussion with rabbis. He did not want this meanness to spoil his own work.
I tried to summarize some lessons of these trials in an article, a shortened version of which was published by Le Monde (79). Here is it in its entirety :
After the sentencing of Faurisson in a criminal court and before the decision of the civil court on what can only be characterized as delit d'opinion (expression of opinion contrary to that of the ruling party), it may be useful to pose some questions. The stakes were high for LICRA, the plaintiff and its associates. Me. Badinter said that it was a taboo, the last taboo that protects Jews against the return of practices that led to their extermination. That is undoubtedly the crux of the matter. It is important to understand the anxiety of those who believe that they can only be protected by a taboo whose magic effect is on the decline. The naked emperor is always afraid of the naive look, which simply ignores the taboo and sparks off the descent to reality.
I am one of those who have contributed to the introduction of Faurisson's arguments and proposed that they be submitted to debate and criticism. I am still surprised that LICRA has not dared to hound me. It's probable that for the debate to remain in the realm of justice, it has to be manichean: on the one side, the enemies of antisemitism, on the other the miserable Faurisson and his provocative sentences. The game was playable, and even easy to play with the usual tools of the courtroom. But it is absolutely impossible to pretend that the people at La Vieille Taupe can be suspected of antisemitism. And if it becomes necessary to respond to what they have to say on this affair, manicheism can no longer be relied upon.
The verdict is very disturbing for those who have followed this affair from the beginning. I leave the question of freedom of opinion in this country to its habitual defenders, noting simply that a good part of them took the side of calls for repression. This is how liberalism usually works, when it is based on abstraction. The real question is to know what effectively protects the Jews, that is, if they can feel at all threatened in our society today. To the secular or religious proponents of regarding a taboo as sacred, to all those who have a tendency to successively lump Jewish individuals volens nolens with a mysterious "Jewish community," then Jewish fate with Zionism, Zionism with Israel, and Israel with the politics of Mr. Begin, to all those I say that they are in bed with an antisemitism whose face we don't yet know because they practice exactly what the butchers of Jews have always needed: cut out the Jews, first mentally, from the rest of humankind, make them stand apart, as bearers of this or that, enjoying a kind of extra-historical privilege due to their real or past suffering. It could be considered whether or not the Holocaust (a religious term of very recent use) merits a reflection. But the use of the Holocaust by ideologues, political groups, states, partisan leagues and organizations that pretend to be anti-racist when they count among their ranks eulogists of apartheid, this may be questionable. Also questionable is the military assistance of Israel to South Africa. It's the good old politics with all its accessories of lies and corruption. It's well known that in politics, the dead are used to fatten the living. Otherwise, there wouldn't be monuments "to the dead." And in the use of the Holocaust for political ends, the main instrument is the lever of guilt.
So, if we are to believe Faurisson, the guilt will disappear, or at least diminish. But with or without Faurisson, it will evaporate anyway, for a thousand reasons which have to do with social functioning and the passage of time. Hence the attempt to firmly reimplant this guilt, just as well in the Jews, who lack the dubious merit of having been victims, as in the non-Jews, who are joyfully ranked in the assassins' camp. Alas! To defend a taboo is to admit that it has already disappeared. Ask anthropologists if a society which functions with a set of taboos can even conceive of defending them!
For us, the only answer to antisemitism is to treat Jews exactly like everybody else, to refuse to create a gap between them and others, to topple the barriers that racists of all kinds and Zionists want to confine them to. The history of the Jews and the tragedy that befell them have no meaning except when merged with the history and tragedy of all the people at that time. To protect the Jews as such, is to point them out. But to want to protect them against a professor and his ideas, is also to put them in an absurdly embarrassing situation. We know that some have protested.
From the start, this affair has to
do with reasons of the state. We had a thousand witnesses for
almost three years. But the most spectacular show was performed
by the chief of the group of passionate lawyers against Faurisson,
accumulating trial after trial, shedding his gown during a period
of deliberation to pass from the bar to the Justice ministry.
All in all, he moved from one seat to the other except the dock. . . .
Time was running out, nevertheless he was able to change the prosecutor
and see to it that the amnesty proposed by the government not
apply to the very rare case of Faurisson. This is total humanism.
I don't believe that the Giscard regime would have acted differently.
This marvelous contiguity shows that the imaginary fate of the
Jews has to do with state religion. This is what this trial has
revealed, and this is what is most disturbing when we think of
what modern states are capable of.
The real surprise came with the fines
and publication costs of legal judgments in the press that the
professor was sentenced to pay. Because the judgments were very
long, and the time to read them on radio or television was charged
at the advertising rate, the total sum came to three million francs,
the salary of some thirty years, maybe. . . . Freedom
of expression is very beautiful, but one has to be rich. An appeal
At a moment during the trial, suffocated by all these tricks, I scribbled these lines in the audience chamber:
Trial ritualization of the prevention
of speech and of dialogue. The lawyers can say absolutely anything
and they do.
The history of the gas chambers revolves entirely around the idea of a unique thing in history, of the Nazi specificity as a reflection of Jewish specificity. Badinter frankly admits that this is a taboo, and that the importance of this taboo comes from the fact that it is the lock, the barrier that would prevent the return, the repetition of the big massacre. This is obviously a hallucination. But we can go further. If we accept the gas chambers, accept all, accept even the most fabricated testimonies, even the questionable figures; in the end, there is no more mystery, no real specificity, there is no barrier between humanity and inhumanity. If, as Wellers says in his book, 80% of the convoys were gassed and in the camps, 80% of the prisoners perished, we see that the result is the same, that the fundamental point is that inhumanity is a part of humanity, and that the myth of Nazi specificity hides the fact that we are absolutely capable of doing the same thing. Look at Israel and the Arabs. I will no longer discuss the gas chambers because, after all, the discussion is no more interesting than that of knowing whether the Germans knew and used at that time and in those places, the machine gun or the grenade. This sub-paragraph of the history of deadly techniques has been inflated for ideological reasons, that we simply have to point out.
Sometimes one is suddenly possessed by
the sensation of walking in a polar night, on a floe of frozen
ideas, and all that remains are a few match sticks to see clearly
and melt this sacred floe. On second thought, it may be better
to sit back, try not to freeze to death and await the collapse.
1. See the testimony of Bartolome de Las Casas, Tres breve relation de la destruction des Indes. In 1552, he estimates the number of those massacred in America at between 12 and 15 million.
2. Le Monde, November 3, 1979. For regular news, see Timor Informations, BP 59-7S921 Paris cedex 19 et Tapol, published in London.
3. See, for example, "De l'holocauste a Holocauste ou comment s'en debarrasser," Les Temps Modernes, June, 1979. He gives vent to his bitterness against the American television film, because he has been preparing for many years a film on the same subject. It's rather amusing to find this phrase on the subject of gas chambers: "None of those who entered them have come back to testify before us." This was obviously before he dug up the rare bird, the incredible Filip Muller, about whom we will talk later.
4. "Entretiens avec Benny Levy," published in 1980 in Le Nouvel Obsevateur.
5. Cf. "L'Avenir du Sud-Quest Africain" April 1966, dedicated to what is called today Namibia; "Sur le Pourtour de l'Indonesie," October 1976.
6. "Despote a Vendre," Special issue, "Indochine: Guerre des socialismes, mort des peuples," No. 402, January 1980, pp. 1254-1268. See in the same issue "L'Ingratitude des crocodiles," pp. 1283-1323.
7. There exists an excellent study on this subject by the Australian researcher, Grant Evans: The Yellow Rainmakers, published in London in 1984.
8. I have to honestly say that I borrowed this proverb from Hubert Coppenrath and Paul Prevost. Grammaire approfondie de la langue tahitienne (ancienne et moderne), p. 170.
9. For example, this little thing written in collaboration with the funny Baynac "Comment s'en debarrasser" (Le Monde, June 18, 1987), where he asks the serious question: "How come their ideas (the revisionists) are spreading rather well in French society?" Hackneyed reply: obviously anti-semitism. But, as I have always thought, this question works like a psychoanalytic operator. Fresco's subconscious writes: "When the dead Jews are in the millions, they sometimes become more troublesome than when they were alive." This troublesomeness makes the mourning job very difficult and provokes a symbolic hyper-investment, a real myth-building out of tragic events. See also "Parcours du ressentiment," which is literally and intellectually of the "Police Report" genre, in Lignes, no. 2, 1988, pp. 29-72.
10. L'Homme no. 17, 2-3; no. 18, 1-2; no. 20, 4.
11. Lucien Bodard, La Guerre d'Indochine, five volumes, Gallimard, 1963-1967, reprinted in Folio.
12. P.Joffroy, Kurt Gerstein, l'espion de Dieu, p. 153. [We have to mention that there exists today an exhaustive work on the texts of Gerstein, who, too, was a "troubled head" ("agite du bocal"). Recall the explosion of denunciations of Henri Roques on the occasion of his defense of his thesis on Gerstein's texts at Nantes University. It was revoked by Alain Devaquet, minister of Research at the time. He had me expelled manu military on July 2, 1986 just before the press conference where this inuiquitous decision was announced. Iniquitous and unique, because if the same legal rigor were applied to all the theses defended in France, a third to a half of them would be revoked for a technicality. The most revealing aspect was the concert of clamor at that time. No copy of Roques's thesis had yet circulated. Only La Vieille Taupe had some copies and it let it be known. Of all the French press, there was only one American journalists. The French press printed realms about it, without ever reading a line of this reputedly scandalous thesis. A so-called "jury" including even Harlem Desir, came out of nowhere to excommunicate. A few months later, the complete text was published by a rightist editor. See further the bibliography and "L'affaire de la these de Nantes," Annales d'histoire revisionniste, no. 1, 1987, pp. 165-180; Henri Roques, "De l'affaire Gerstein a l'affaire Roques," Annales d'histoire revisionniste, no. 3, 1987, pp. 103-125.]
13. At the time of this writing, a brochure by Dionys Mascolo
entitled Autour d'un effort de mimoire - Sur une lettre de
Robert Antelme, 1987, 95 pp. It is one of the finest, most
profound reflections that was ever done on the transition from
a concentration camp to life after the camp. Antelme's letter
of June, 1945, and the "efforts" of Mascolo are the
painful requirements of an incredible intellectual probity. Antelme's
book, L'Espece humaine, is by far the best book on life
in the camps. This is known and said, but the book is not read
much because, in today's world, his central intution that victims
and victimizers belong to the same species, has progressively
Careful and uncompromising, Mascolo tries to figure out what the return from hell to humanity produces in speech displacement. He is not at all suspected of a "revisionism" despicably sought by Antoine Spire on France-Culture (March 5, 1988). For a man who weighs his words, his use of some bad language is probably based on hearsay. Never mind. Everybody should read his little book, especially those who think that memory can be turned on like a machine.
Mascolo said this about testimony: "As far as I am concerned: significant events - namely, historical or capable of modifying a vision - that I lived in common with others, I know absolutely of no testimony that does not include more or less seriously false testimony: this is the shared experience [my underline] but does this ever cast enough suspicion on what we are told really happened? This is not even an error or a lie. Prompted by the logic of the narration about the miseries of post hoc propter hoc, the possible, the likely and the probable fill in the gaps of what was not seen, was not known or was forgotten" ) p. 28).
This is not a pebble, it is a rock in the garden of Vidal-Naquet and other merchants of memory.
14. Le documensonge de la semaine. Quelques commentaires sur une recente ignominie du "Nouvel Observateur," 1980, 19 pp.
15. "Le Cambodge, la presse et ses betes noires," Esprit, September 1980, pp. 95-111.
16. I was able to sneak some articles here and there, for example, in Le Monde of September 16, and November 28, 1975, April 14, 1976, etc.
17. Became Health Minister in the Rocard cabinet in 1988.
18. "Petite hysterie" was the title of a brief article that pointed to Evin's article in the once leftist Liberation of August 21, 1980: "It's safe to say that Serge Thion is making a serious mistake and that he is defending an unworthy cause. This does not give grounds for doubting his unselfishness or attributing to him opinions completely opposite to those he holds."
19. "Africa: War and Revolution," Dissent, New York, Spring 1979.
20. After all, we have to mention Raul Hilberg. Nobody in France considered publishing his huge tome, The Destruction of the European Jews, whose first edition goes back to 1961. It's obviously the Faurisson affair which provoked its publication in French in 1988. In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur during the first big anti-revisionist colloquium in Paris, Hilberg admitted that the questions posed by revisionists were an incentive for research. It became clear later that either he did not do any research or he did not find good answers. Either in the new version of his book, or during his performance in the film Shoah, or still in the Toronto trial, his statements are shallow, vague and frivolous. In Toronto, he was so torn to pieces by Zundel's defense that he refused to appear in the appeals trial. His weakness is due to the fact that his historical documentation is limited to selections assembled for the Nuremberg trial and of which, in the beginning, he was a simple archivist.
21. Pierre Vidal-Naquet, "Un Eichmann de papier," reproduced with some changes in his book, Les Juifs, la memoire et le present, Maspero, 1981. Also translated and shortened in a New York magazine, Democracy, 1981.
22. G. Wellers, Les Chambres a gaz ont existe, Gallimard, 1981, 279 pp.
23. G. Wellers finally discredited himself by publishing in
no. 107 of Le Monde Juif in 1982 an article by Jean-Claude
Pressac, a nostalgic for Hitler, who came to see Professor Faurisson
before developing by himself the thesis called "gassing,"
which concedes that the official version of massive gassings does
not withstand the test, but he catches himself up by saying that
the Germans have done a little gassing in Auschwitz and elsewhere,
all this at the price of skillful evasions to the discredit of
the author and the magazine which published him. According to
The New York Times of December 18, 1989, Pressac
is connected to the Klarsfeld clan where Wellers counts for less
than nothing. (See how Wellers shot Klarsfeld down in Zero, May
1987, pp. 72-73.) Pressac's book called Auschwitz: Technique
and Operation of the Gas Chambers, 563 pp. was published by
Klarsfeld (?) in New York. It seems to be an outgrowth of his
article of Le Monde juif (no. 107, July-September, 1982,
pp. 91-131). This book, that rumor built as a marvel of marvels,
because it finally gave 37 proofs of the existence of gas chambers,
does not seem to have been really distributed. Recall that R.
Faurisson called Pressac's thesis "idiotic."
I would conclude by adding that M. Wellers is rude. He never thanked me for giving him arial photos of Auschwitz, published by the CIA, that I had brought from Washington and that he published with inept commentary in Le Monde juif.
24. It even appears in the promotion campaign in 1989 of a new version of Journaux of Anne Frank. In his multiple appearances in the media, he fails to say that he had agreed with Faurisson that the Journal of Anne Frank was a text that was "tampered with." According to him, today's publication of the originals (???) would be the proof that Faurisson was wrong! Nauseating dishonesty! Vidal-Naquet won't stop at anything. To justify his presence in an affair in which he has no competence, he pleads his age. He was born the same year as Anne Frank. Irrefutable argument. . . . He is capable of anything, even signing petitions of support for the little Iranian Stalin, Massoud Radjavi (cf. Le Monde, July 10, 1985).
25. [Things have changed. The "pale power" has not changed hands yet but blood is shehd, so the press talks about it. Blood drips from the pens of these hacks.]
26. See Christian Duverger, La Fleur letale, Le Seuil, 1979.
27. This is sorely needed in view of the fact that there are
still some infected minds who dare to write things like this:
"Today, as far as we know, cannibalism is still practiced
in certain tribes of the Oubangui (Africa) with a connotation
of gluttony, as well as in the islands of Salomon (Malenesia),
Martinique (New Guinea), Fiji, in New Zealand, Sumatra, etc."
This information dates back a good century, to a time when it
was no longer happening, if it had ever happened. Not to talk
about the Marquise Islands, a French territory, 6 or 7000 km from
New Guinea. All this is so far. . . . But it is
written by Henri Fesquet in Le Monde (June 21-22, 1980),
and he adds: "In Cambodia and in Vietnam, if we are to believe
Jacques Attali (in L'ordre cannibale), women are aborted
in the seventh month of pregnancy so that the fetus is given to
senior officers to eat."
Apparently, nobody was shocked by such outrageous things. Yet, when I was in Vietnam, I tried to find the fire behind Attali's little smoke. Traditional medicine attributes great value to a certain preparation of human placenta, recovered post partum, and there is a traffic of placenta in some big maternities of Hannoi and Saigon. Hence the assumption that it was reserved for senior officers and, worse yet, that abortion was induced in order to eat the fetus. This is a big jump in mythological invention taken lightly by the presidential advisor. We have to worry about the advice he gives our prince. . . . I would add to this gloomy history of placenta that traditional medicine may not have been completely wrong because today, the big pharmaceutical industry buys the placenta by the kilo to extract from it the precious immunoglobulins. Rhone-Poulenc had made some offers to Vietnam in this direction. But the project was postponed due to problems of uninterrupted refrigeration.
We see what books like that of Arens are up against: mountains of ignorance and stupid prejudice dating back to the colonial era. We see too that those books are almost always subject to annoying attacks by Parisian ideologues a la Vidal-Naquet: the more they don't know, the more they talk.
28. Wellers, op. cit., pp. 211-219. Cf. Vidal-Naquet, in Esprit, p. 28.
29. [See Monteil's reply to Vidal-Naquet in Revue d'histoire revisionniste, no. 3, 1990-91.]
30. S. Thion and B. Kiernan, Khmers rouges! Materiaux pour
une histoire du mouvement communiste au Cambodge, Albin Michel,
1981, p. 35. To these considerations, I would like to add a note
published by La Vieille Taupe at the time of the big trials: The
word "Holocaust," referring to the fate of the Jews
during WW II, dates from the 70's. The word itself and the representation
it carries was imposed through the media by the film of the same
The word "genocide" seems to have been created in 1942 by the Zionist militant Rafael Lemkin, with the specific aim of semantically differentiating the fate of the Jews from the massacres of other peoples during the war. This word remained confined to limited but ideologically very productive circles. It emigrated slowly in the fifties and did not acceed to the status of universally accepted representation until the 60's.
On both the level of "Nazi" intentions and the specificity of the process, these words impose an ideological content which by becoming generalized and encrusted in the social language, becomes unconscious of its origins and especially of the ideological character of the meaning it imposes.
The history of these representations clearly shows that first and foremost, they are the result of the ideological needs of those who produced them and that they are very loosely related to the experience and the memory of the deportees and that whenever it is based on documents, they are selected and interpreted with an apologetic and moralizing aim in sight. The overwhelming majority of witnesses and of surviving victims retreated into silence. "Memory" has been monopolized by a very small minority of chatterboxes who owe their large audience less to the quality or even the reality of their memory than to the social demand of their literary production.
The word "genocide" has a precise ideological content. To deny the "genocide" does not mean to deny the indisputable reality of the persecution of the Jews, of their mass deportation and the death of a large number of them under conditions that historical research can unveil now." (June 25, 1981)
[Concerning Cambodia, I took up the question in a conference given in the context of a "Symposium Rafael Lemkin" at Yale University in February 1992. This communication entitled "Genocide as a Political Commodity" was published in the U.S. in Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia: The Khmer Rouge, the UN and the International Community, Yale University, Chapter 4.]
31. [Such a statement today would bring him a possible charge of "contesting crimes condemned at Nuremberg."]
32. Dan Sperber, Le Symbolisme en general, Hermann, 1974.
33. Cf. his article in Esprit, p. 28.
34. See Wellers, op. cit., pp. 205-8.
35. [Since this writing in 1982, the rational and material proof that massive gassings in Auschwitz morgues could not have taken place has been given in the Toronto trial by an American specialist in the construction of gas chambers. This important text was published in French in Annales d'histoire revisionniste, no. 5, 1988: Fred Leuchter, "Rapport technique sur les presumees chambres a gaz homicides," pp. 51-102. To me, the crucial point of Leuchter's analysis is to have conducted his analysis on samples on the spot. His method is repeatable and opens the field to all counter expert analyses.]
36. "Evidence in Human History," Psyche Annual, 1933, appeared as Chapter 1 in Kings and Councillors.
37. Times Literary Supplement, January 25, 1980.
38. Op. cit., pp. 101-2.
39. [Note of 1993: For me, and if I understand well the noises coming from Arolsen and Yad Vashem in Israel, I would not be surprised to learn one day, that if serious studies are conducted, the real figures will be around half the symbolic figures.]
40. See Michael Balfour, Propaganda in War, 1939-1945, 1975. It comes out that compared to the British, the Germans were children. Toward the end of the war, all of Germany listened to the B.B.C.
41. On the subject of hopes raised in certain Zionist circles by the advent of dictatorships between the two wars, and the ensuing ambiguities, see the very rich file of Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators.
42. Arthur R. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, the Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry, First edition, 1976. Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret, 1980.
43. [The fact of transforming Auschwitz into a "museum"
seems to many people infinitely more shocking than the discrete
move of some Carmelite nuns into a disused building. Yet it is
unquestionable that the process of "museumification"
has led to many changes and transformations of the site. The construction
work lasted several years and was never clearly justified. It
now serves as an international reference point.
The Vietnamese "experts" who converted, in 1979, the old Cambodian school which became, under Pol Pot, a center of interrogation, torture and executions, known by the name Tuol Sleng, had been trained in Poland. Tuol Sleng underwent several modifications after 1979. A museum is a representation and hence must evolve with time according to the needs that the representation must satisfy. A museum is underway in Treblinka, others, too, maybe in Poland.
We learned, towards the beginning of 1993, that following German reunification, the authorities proceeded to "renovate" the camp of Buchenwald, which was in the East. The new presentation insists on the fact that the Soviets have reused the camp since 1945. We would wish that such concern for historical objectivity extend to the camps that were reopened by the Americans.]
44. Les Techniciens de la mort, Second Edition, 1979, pp. 184-89.
45. Reuben Ainsztein, in his bibliography of The Warsaw
Ghetto Revolt, New York, Holocaust Library, 1979, calls this
edition "edited and inadequate version." He refers the
reader to Ksavim fun Geto, Warsaw 1962-3. But things
become complicated. Vidal-Naquet says that Faurisson approves
of a certain historian at a certain moment and disapproves of
him at another (nothing surprising in this, but then . . . .)
This historian is Michel Borwicz who denounces, in a passage approved
by Faurisson and also by Vidal-Naquet, the manufacturing of fake
children's diaries by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
It is precisely this institute which published the Ringelblum
notes. Here Vidal-Naquet showers with praise Polish historians,
among whom, we presume, are those of the above mentioned institute.
The series of contradictions of our scourge of revisionism seems to be endless. The way to get out of it would be to study the texts and the documents one by one seriously and completely. But such a method would have a Faurissonian whiff about it. Vidal-Naquet has neither the time nor the means to do such work. He prefers to operate with confidence accepting a document here (Hoess, for example) and rejecting another there (Broad, for example) without any precise reason, just like that, for his convenience. And then, he gives lessons on method.
46. On Hoess' confessions, see Robert Faurisson "Comment les Britanniques ont obtenu les avereux de Rudolf Hoess. Commandant d'Auschwitz," Annales d'histoire revisionniste, no. 1, 1987.
47. Klett Verlag, Stuttgart, 1967, p. 969.
48. See the book of the general's labor lawyer, Sir Reginald Paget, Manstein, his campaigns and his trial.
49. Les Hommes au triangle rose, 1981.
50. I am not making this up. See his article in Esprit, p. 31.
51. Esprit, p. 33.
52. Reprinted in a small extreme left magazine, Antimythe, no. 25.
53. See the excellent statement of the group "La Guerre sociale," De l'Exploitation dans les camps a l'exploitation des camps (suite et fin), May 1981, p. 103. The brochure contains a good criticism of Vidal-Naquet - to which he has not responded - as well as criticism of Faurisson and of my book, which seemed to me fairly acceptable.
54. Italian speciality, which consists of breaking the legs with a pistol.
55. We know that those who are moderately hysterical consider the murder of Curiel and Goldmann as antisemitic acts. Goldmann's fault seems to have been his getting involved with Basque terrorism, for Spanish services operate in France as they do in Spain.
56. See our Du bon usage des momies en politique, samizdat, February 1980.
57. [He indulged in detailing his exploits in a book written about 1950 (see bibliography).]
58. Charlie Hebdo, "Alerte aux gaz!" October 1980, signed J.-P. Manchette.
59. Liberation, October 25-26, 1980.
60. Le Monde, October 5-6, 1980.
61. Some had thought and written that I was behind this petition or that I had asked Chomsky to sign it. This is not true. I learned later that it was initiated by Mark Weber, a young American revisionist. It circulated only in the United States, following reports in the American press that Faurisson had been suspended and barred from teaching.
62. The whole article can be found in Droit et histoire, by P. Guillaume, pp. 158-59.
63. Faye has mentioned Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Mitsou Ronat, Jacqueline Gueron and Dan Sperber.
64. [In October 1991, at a small socialist-academic conference on "Democracy in Cambodia," I said that nothing can be done in that country before the Khmer Rouge are militarily defeated. Pierre Thibaud, who was sitting behind me, approved vigorously. I reminded him that he had hoped for their victory. "Oh yes," he said. "You may be right. I forgot." This is how those intellectuals who give you lessons function.
65. I had given the title, "Le nouveaux acrobates" (The New Acrobats).
66. Iranian Communist Party.
67. [She has since then become its president.]
68. Liberation of June 26, 1981 and Le Monde of June 30, 1981, which misquoted it.
69. June 10-16, 1987.
70. This shows contempt that I find scandalous for a large
part of humanity which thought and still thinks that the earth
is flat. After all, believing that the earth is flat is a more
sensible experience and had more lived truth than believing that
six million Jews had been pushed alive into the fire of furnaces.
Attacks against Chomsky return as regularly as the swallows. Consult first his Responses inedites a mes detracteurs parisiens, 1984, 93 p. Details can be found in Pierre Guillaume, Droit et histoire, p. 152-72. For a favorable piece on Chomsky, see Christopher Hitchens' article, "The Chorus and Cassandra - What Everyone Knows about Noam Chomsky," in the New York magazine, Grand Street, which could not avoid some factual errors. The controversy bounced back in several other places, in the Village Voice with an attack by Paul Berman and replies by Ch. Hitchens, N. Chomsky and P. Guillaume. See issues of February 10, March 18 and May 6, 1986. There is a concentration of the usual slanders in a brochure by Werner Cohn, The Hidden Alliance of Noam Chomsky, published around 1988 by an organization, which may not be purely philanthropic, called "Americans for a Safe Israel."
71. The Village Voice, July 22-29, 1987.
72. [French translation of quote.]
73. This is the exact situation that Solzhenytsin often describes in Soviet camps. See also memories of German camps by the former Spanish communist Jorge Semprun, Quel beau Dimanche! Grasset, 1980.
74. I sent the said Baier to Nadine Fresco. They ended up getting so thick with each other that the perpetual muse wrote a preface to a book Baier wrote in French about France. She confesses in it the anti-German racism of her childhood. Her discovery that the Germans are, after all, humans, too, is a masterpiece worthy of appearing in an anthology of contemporary naivete. Lothar Baier, Un Allemand ne de la derniere guerre and L'entreprise France, Calmann-Levy.
75. [Since this writing, many things shave taken place in Germany. Many historians have opened the files and proposed reflections beyond the orthodox humdrum on the history of the twentieth century. They were quickly called "revisionists," even though none of them has so far questioned the current views on the extermination. A good part of the debate was made available in French in Devant l'histoire. Les documents de la controverse sur la singularite de l'extermination de juifs par le regime nazi, Cerf, 1988, 353 p., with a deft preface by Luc Ferry. So the critical comeback that Rassinier called for in 1950, started in 1986. In Germany, it is called Historikerstreit, the historians' quarrel. See as a complement Ernst Nolte, Das Vergehen der Vergangenheit. Antwort an meine Kritiker im sogenannten Historikerstreit, 223 p. The title refers to that of one of the first articles that started the controversy on "the past which doesn't pass." Following that, Nolte had his car burned down. These discussions are much more interesting than what is taking place in France on the same subject. Baier has obviously not participated.
76. In Louis Ferdinand Celine, Cahier de l'Herne, reprinted 1972, p. 23.
77. The plaintiff had the Swedish baron Von Otter brought to Paris twice to testify. Gerstein is said to have confided in this diplomat, on a train, in 1942. It was believed for a long time that the diplomat had written a report on this exceptional meeting with some SS member who said that he had witnessed executions in gas chambers. He had confirmed this to Pierre Joffroy (L'Espion de Dieu, p. 17), but the text could not be found. it wasn't until Laqueur, the first to have access to the Swedish minister's archives, that the mystery around this report was cleared up. "What emerges from all this is that there was only an oral report by Von Otter in 1942 which did not result in a written memorandum or note" (Laqueur, op. cit., p. 50). So, no written trace. This shows that, at the time, Von Otter did not take Gerstein seriously, and also how the reconstructive memory works, the baron believing that he had written a report. Von Otter and Joffroy were both present at the trial, but the justice machine was so busy with its formalities that it did not allow them to confront each other on this point, not even to let the baron say what he had really understood of this confusion at that time. Dare I insinulate that the historic "shmilblic" can never be advanced by legal debates. This is the problem of Nuremberg.
78. The most interesting thoughts, in my opinion, are those of Claude Kamoouh, because they are at the same time very encompassing and very personal. He expounded them in a text entitled, "De l'Intolerance et quelques considerations subjectives sur le nationalisme. Mimoire addresse a mes amis sur les raisons de mon temoignage lors du proces du professeur Faurisson," published in Intolerable intolerance, Paris, Ed. de la Difference, 1981, p. 43-135. This book contains considerations on the trial by Me. Delcroix, Vincent Monteil, Jean-Louis Tristani with the verdict of the high court of Paris, July 1, 1981.
79. "Un delit d'opinion," July 16, 1981.
See the first part of this chapter.
ARTICLE 19. <Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.>The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, in Paris.