The death of the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson in France on Oct. 21 at the age of 89 reminds us that this form of anti-Semitism has been a problem for quite a while.
I presented a paper on the subject, “Control of the Past as Control of the Future: Denials of the Holocaust,” at a conference at Ohio State University in Columbus back in 1984.
A former professor of French literature at the University of Lyon, Faurisson maintained that the gas chambers in the Auschwitz death camp were the “biggest lie of the 20th century,” instead claiming that the deported Jews died of disease and malnutrition.
He also contested the authenticity of the diary of Anne Frank, the girl in Holland who managed to hide with her family from the Nazis for years before being caught and sent to concentration camps.
In a nutshell, this was the essence of Faurisson’s thesis:
Hitler’s gas chambers never existed and no genocide of the Jews ever took place. This lie, which was essentially of Zionist origin, permitted a gigantic political and financial fraud of which the State of Israel was the principal beneficiary, while the principal victims of this lie and this fraud were the German people and the Palestinian people.
The colossal power of the official means of information has, until now, guaranteed the success of the lie and censured the freedom of expression of those who denounced the lie.
Most Holocaust deniers have presented variations on that theme.
Faurisson was fined by a French court in 1983 for having declared that “Hitler never ordered nor permitted that anyone be killed by reason of his race or religion.”
Faurisson’s ideas were derived principally from a French pacifist named Paul Rassinier, who, in his 1964 book Le drame des Juifs européens, contended that Germany’s conduct during the war was no worse than any other country’s – and that, in any case, the Jews were responsible for the war.
Rassinier corresponded with the American Holocaust denier Harry Elmer Barnes, who arranged for the translation of four of his books. In 1977, these were collectively published by Noontide Press under the title Debunking the Genocide Myth.
As for Faurisson, he revealed his skepticism of the Holocaust gas chambers in articles published in 1978 and 1979 in the French daily Le Monde. These became an embarrassment for the newspaper.
One of Faurisson’s works in 1980 was published with an introduction by Noam Chomsky, who insisted that he wrote it as a defence of freedom of speech, including that of Faurisson.
Chomsky was accused of supporting Faurisson, something Chomsky denied.
A four-volume collection of many of Faurisson’s revisionist writings, Écrits Révisionnistes (1974-1998), came out in 1999.
The most recent judgment against him came in November 2016, when a French court fined him 10,000 euros for propounding “negationism” in interviews published on the internet.
In Canada, we’ve had James Keegstra and Ernst Zundel.
Holocaust denial is no longer only the preserve of European and North American fascists. It has migrated to the Middle East as well.
A press release by the Gaza Palestinian movement Hamas in April 2000 decried “the so-called Holocaust, which is an alleged and invented story with no basis.”
In August 2009, Hamas indicated that it would refuse to allow Palestinian children to study the Holocaust, which it called “a lie invented by the Zionists,” and referred to Holocaust education as a “war crime.”
In 2012, Faurisson himself received a prize from Iran’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his “courage, resistance and fighting spirit” in contesting the Holocaust.
In 2016, the Iranian regime exhibited over 150 cartoons that denied or mocked the Holocaust at the state-run Islamic Propaganda Organization in Tehran.
Among Iran’s ruling elite, Holocaust denial and the accompanying conspiracies about Jewish power are omnipresent and diverse.
Faurisson may be dead, but the malevolence continues and spreads.