CST Blog

An obituary for Holocaust denial

23 October 2018

Convicted Holocaust denier, Robert Faurisson died this week in Vichy, France. Faurisson not only denied the deaths of 6 million Jews in Europe, but also unapologetically mocked the Holocaust. Renowned French historian Valerie Igounet, labelled him a “forger.” Faurisson died the day after addressing an event organised by assistant editor of the UK far-right publication, Heritage and Destiny. Before the end of the event, when the Shepperton hotel management who were unwittingly hosting the event, realised the true nature of what was going on in their hotel, the management “demanded” the conference ended, and when met with opposition from the Holocaust deniers, the meeting was forcibly finished.

Following Faurisson’s death this week, convicted Holocaust denier Jean Marie Le Pen, who founded the far-right National Front in France, praised him as “a symbol of the way free speech has been criminalised in this county.” However, the ideology of Faurisson has been described as a far cry from freedom of expression; “Faurissonism is, in short, a post-war extension of Nazis - as ought to be obvious at a glance.” 

Unlike other Holocaust deniers, Faurisson has been noted as one of the few to make a “rare breakthrough” into the mainstream media. In 1978, France’s prominent paper Le Monde published an article by Faurisson debating the use of gas chambers during the Holocaust, an article Le Monde has long since tried to distance itself from.

Following in the footsteps of the “Father of Holocaust Denial” Paul Rassiner, Faurisson began his open campaign of Holocaust denial in the 1970s. In 1974, Faurisson contacted Israel’s official monument to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, with a letter arguing that there was no genocide of the Jews during World War II. Later in 1978, he wrote an article, “The Diary of Anne Frank – is it authentic?” including alleged claims from Otto Frank, Anne’s father, which Frank denied. After 1978, Faurisson wrote several articles for, and attended several conferences run by, the Institute for Historical Review, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an “extremist group” whose “mission was to erase the Holocaust by any means at its disposal — including distortion, misquotation and outright falsification.”

Faurisson's book, which is still for sale on Amazon

Faurisson’s own deceptive words highlight his obsession with denying the Holocaust, as well as his reprehensible antisemitic passion:

“the Hitlerian ‘gas chambers’ never existed. The “genocide” (or the “attempted genocide”) of the Jews never took place; in plain language, Hitler never gave the order (or permission) that anyone should be killed because of his race or religion… The so-called “gas chambers” and the so-called “genocide” are one and the same lie…This lie, which is essentially of Zionist origin, has permitted a gigantic politico-financial fraud of which the State of Israel is the principal beneficiary…The principal victims of this lie and this fraud are 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.” 

The French legal system attempted to stymie Faurisson’s Holocaust abuse. In 1983, Faurisson was fined by a French court for claiming that “Hitler never ordered nor permitted that anyone be killed by reason of his race or religion.” Again in 1990, Faurisson was convicted of Holocaust denial, after the passing of the French Gayssot Act, which essentially made Holocaust denial illegal in France. This led to Faurisson being removed from his academic post at the University of Lyon. In November 2016, he was fined 10,000 Euros for sharing Historical “negationism” in online interviews. Again, in April 2018, a French court ruled that it is legal to label Faurisson a “professional liar” and a “falsifier of history”, as French newspaper Le Monde had done since their mistaken publication in 1978. However, these convictions did not stop Faurisson’s Holocaust denial and he continued to spread his lies throughout the 1980s, 1990s continuing up until his death.

In 1985 and 1988, Faurisson testified at the trials of fellow Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, publisher of ‘Did Six Million Really Die?’ For the 1985 trial, Faurisson helped Fred Leuchter compile a fraudulent pseudo-scientific report on the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz. This was dismissed as “ridiculous” and “preposterous” methodology by the judge but would soon become infamous as the Leuchter Report.

Ernst Zundel's book which landed him in court

Faurisson frequently appeared on Iranian TV to repeat his Holocaust denial assertions. In February 2005, he appeared on Iranian TV stating that “there was never a single execution gas chamber under the Germans. So, all those millions of tourists who visit Auschwitz are seeing a lie, a falsification.” Faurisson was later convicted for these remarks. Again, in October 2006 Faurisson appeared on an Iranian TV station, where he said, reflecting on a tour of Auschwitz: “They say to us: 'These shoes belonged to the people who were suffocated by gas,' or they claim that the hair shown there belonged to the people suffocated by gas. They also show eyeglasses and other possessions. But all this is an utter lie.” 

In December 2006, Faurisson appeared at the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, sponsored by the government of Iran, where he labelled the Holocaust a “myth” created to justify the occupation of Palestine. Alongside Faurisson in Iran was Michele Renouf, the UK-based Holocaust denier who was also present at the Shepperton hotel last weekend. In 2012, Holocaust-denying former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recognised Faurisson’s commitment to Holocaust denial by awarding him an award for “courage.”

Robert Faurisson with Michele Renouf

After 2008, Faurisson became close to fellow convicted Holocaust denier and ‘comedian’ Dieudonné M'bala M'bala. At one event at the Zenith de Paris theatre in December 2008, summarised by CST’s Dr Dave Rich, Dieudonné “is on stage, describing to his audience the genesis of the sketch they are about to watch. It is a response, he explains, to a hostile review by the ‘billionaire philosopher’ Bernard-Henri Lévy – cue pantomime boos from the crowd – who had described Dieudonné’s previous show as ‘the biggest antisemitic meeting since the last world war.’” In an attempt to “stick it to them” Faurisson appeared on stage as Jacky, Dieudonné’s assistant, wearing a concentration camp uniform emblazoned with a yellow Star of David, labelled a “suit of light”. Faurisson jibes “I’m treated like a Palestinian and I can’t help making common cause with them.’

Dieudonne's Jacky sketch show

Despite wanting to spread his views and influence people around the world, it is telling that Faurisson’s last public appearance was in a backroom of a hotel with 60 of his supporters with the lights turned out and the fire alarm on.

It is clear that Robert Faurisson was an unrepentant Holocaust denier until his dying day. Despite his own hideous history of Holocaust denial, abuse and mockery, Faurisson did “unwittingly help the fight against Holocaust denial.” Historian and Nazi hunter, Serge Klarsfeld argues that Faurisson “made the Jewish world and scientists understand that we had to carry out a deep academic work throughout the Western world to write the history of the Shoah in a very precisely documented way….as a result, there are dozens of centres studying the Shoah throughout the world, where hundreds of millions of documents have been gathered.”

As the last survivors of the Shoah leave us, let us not forget the importance of consistently exposing and undermining the arguments of hideous Holocaust deniers like Faurisson, by always highlighting survivors’ testimonies, educating others about the atrocities of the Holocaust and sharing academic work. In this way, the repugnant lies of Faurisson and his ilk will never become accepted. 

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