On April 12, just now, Robert Faurisson suffered one more minor legal defeat in a French court, which is good news, in a small way, for the world, and, in a bigger way, for the newspaper Le Monde. The court ruling means that, in France, you can denounce Faurisson as a “professional liar” and a “falsifier of history.” And you do not have to worry about a defamation suit—which is good news for Le Monde because, back in 1978, the editors made the insane error of judging Faurisson to be a man-with-an-idea-worth-debating, and they welcomed him into their pages. Faurisson is of course the theoretician of Holocaust denial. He contributed to Le Monde an “ideas” piece titled “The Debate Over the ‘Gas Chambers,’ ” with the extra quotation marks signifying his belief that Nazi gas chambers are a Zionist lie. And Le Monde has needed, ever since, to make the point over and again that publishing his article was a big mistake, and Faurisson is, in fact, a professional liar and a falsifier of history. The judicial ruling reinforces the point yet again. It is good. We should applaud. But it is sobering to reflect that, 40 years later, the point does need reinforcement, and Faurisson, who is a minor screwball, has had major successes in different corners of the world. And falsification of history turns out to be a factor in history.
The provenance of Faurisson’s ideas is altogether curious. He derived them principally from a sad-sack leftwing pacifist in France named Paul Rassinier, whose misfortune during World War II was to be arrested and tortured by the Germans, which permanently ruined his health. He was jailed in two camps, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora, where conditions were bad. He was beaten by the SS. When he emerged, though, he explained and re-explained at book length that, even if conditions in the camps were less than good, neither were they especially terrible, and Germany’s conduct during the war was no worse than any other country’s. Germany ought not to be demonized. And the truly evil people in the camps were the Communist prisoners. And the Jews were responsible for the war.
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