Against the Law

From Ecrits Révisionnistes (Revisionist Writings)




This short selection is from Chapter 1: AGAINST THE LAW

In France, it is forbidden to question the Shoah.

In application of a law on the freedom of the press enacted on 13 July 1990, the Shoah, in its three hypostases the alleged genocide of the Jews, the alleged Nazi gas chambers, and the alleged figure of six million Jewish victims of the second world war has become unquestionable, on pain of imprisonment of from one month to one year, a fine of from 2,000 to 300,000 francs (305 to 45,800 euros), an order to pay considerable damages, and still other sanctions. More precisely, this law forbids the questioning of the reality of one or more crimes against humanity as defined in 1945 and punished in 1946 by the judges of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, a court established exclusively by the victors exclusively to judge the vanquished.

Of course, debates and controversies about the Shoah also called the Holocaust remain authorised but only within the confines traced by the official dogma. Controversies or debates which might lead to a challenging of the Shoah story as a whole, or of a part of it, or simply to raise doubt, are forbidden. Let us repeat: in the matter at hand, even doubt is proscribed, and punished.

In France, the idea of such a law, of Israeli inspiration(2), had been formulated for the first time in 1986 by a certain number of historians of Jewish origin, among whom Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Georges Wellers, and François Bédarida, gathered round Chief Rabbi René-Samuel Sirat(3). The law was passed in 1990 on the initiative of former prime minister Laurent Fabius, then a member of the Socialist government, president of the National Assembly, and himself a Jewish militant of the Jewish cause. At the same period (May 1990), a desecration of graves in the Jewish cemetery of Carpentras, in Provence, had given rise to a media exploitation which nullified all inclination on the part of opposition MPs and senators to mount any effective resistance to the bill. In Paris, about two hundred thousand marchers, with a host of Israeli flags borne high, demonstrated against the resurgence of the horrid beast. Notre Dame’s great bell tolled as for a particularly tragic or significant event in the history of France. Once the law had been put on the statute books (appearing in the Journal officiel on the 14th of July, the national holiday: in the same issue, incidentally, as P. Vidal-Naquet’s nomination to the Order of the Légion d’honneur), the Carpentras outrage was mentioned only, if at all, with a certain distance, as a mere reminder. Only the Fabius-Gayssot Act remained.

Under pressure from national and international Jewish organisations, other countries have since adopted, each in its turn, laws forbidding all questioning of the Shoah, after the Israeli and French examples. Such has been the case for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and Lithuania. Still other Western countries (particularly Canada and the United Kingdom) have promised the Jewish organisations, more or less expressly, that they will follow suit. But, in reality, such a law, of specific nature, is not indispensable for the hunting down of historical revisionism. In France, as elsewhere, the practice has often been to prosecute questioners of the Shoah under other laws; according to the needs of a given case, recourse is had to laws on racism or antisemitism, the defamation of living persons, insulting the memory of the dead, attempting to justify crimes, spreading false news, and a source of cash indemnities for the plaintiffs personal injury.

In France, the police and the judiciary rigorously ensure the protection thus accorded to an official version of second world war history. According to this rabbinical version, the major event of the conflict was the Shoah, in other words the physical extermination of the Jews which the Germans are said to have carried out from 1941-1942 to 1944-1945 (lacking any document with which to assign a precise time span to the event and for good reason, as it is a matter of fiction the official historians propose only dates which are as divergent as they are approximate).


Selection from ‘An Interview with the Author’


One day in the classroom a mate tapped me on the shoulder (he was sitting behind me), and said: “Will you come tomorrow to the trial of a collaborationist? Because Lacroix is going to be there. He is going to say something for the collaborationist, because this collaborationist was his pupil a few years ago.”
And I said: “Oh, yes! Certainly. We will go. It will be comical to see Lacroix do his the-the-the-the in front of the judges.”
So we went to the courtroom, I can assure you, to laugh. Because I love to laugh, eh? All my life I have loved to laugh. So we went there, three of us. One of us was the son of a magistrate who was very well known. His name was Dejean de la Batie. The other one, I don’t remember his name, and myself. We went into this room where the judges were. We didn’t pay any attention to the collaborationist, who was in the dock. We were waiting for Lacroix.
Suddenly the usher said: “Bring in the witness.” And we saw Lacroix then. He came in all crooked with his chin on his chest and we said to ourselves: “Oh yes, this is going to be comical.”
And this professor Lacroix was presented as a man of the Résistance. I don’t know if it was true or not, because there are many people in France who claim to have been in the Résistance, but who knows if they were? Lacroix spoke for perhaps five minutes. Perhaps it was not even that long. I do not know exactly the words he found but I can assure you, when he spoke you could have heard a fly. I remember that he said: “This collaborationist, he was my pupil, he made a mistake in getting into the Milice, it was truly a mistake, but anybody can make a mistake.” Words like that. Simple words. But they were very beautiful, and I was moved.
The Miliciens, you know, were Frenchmen who fought against the Résistance, whom they called terrorists. They were French, they wore a French uniform, and they were for the Germans, against the Résistance and Communism. So Lacroix talked about that, but the words he found were beautiful. They were a miracle. They were so humane. So humane. And then he went away and I was still there, and I looked at this man in the dock for the first time. I considered him, and I realized that this collaborationist was a man who had had for his teacher Lacroix, just as I had. He was a human being, just as I was. I am not saying I was amazed. Not at all. But I began to listen to what the judge said, and I discovered that this collaborationist had done one thing. On the 14th of July 1944, on Bastille day, which is our national holiday. On that day in 1944 in the Prison de la Santé and I must tell you that santé means “good health” so there are many jokes made about that prison and every Frenchman knows this name because of the jokes so on that day the criminal class inside the prison made a revolt. Not the people who were there because they were in the Résistance, but the ordinary criminals, they made the revolt.
But it was a very bad time for such a revolt. The Anglo-American Army was in Normandy, very close to Paris. The situation was very grave for the Germans, and very grave for the Miliciens and for the collaborationists. It was an impossible time to permit such a revolt. So during the night of the 14th to the 15th of July, there had been a court martial, and this collaborationist who was in the dock had presided there. And he had condemned to death some of those people in the revolt, and now he was being prosecuted for that.
I remember how a woman who worked as a doorkeeper came into the court and said: “I saw this guy in a German uniform. Yes, Mr President, I can assure you I saw that.”
Which was so stupid! Because the Miliciens wore French uniforms. And in the dock the collaborationist said nothing. But the president of the Court questioned him as if he had already been proved guilty. With contempt, calling him not by his name, but cet individu which means “fellow,” or “guy.” His lawyer did not object to this. The collaborationist did not object. So you got the clear impression that it was impossible in that court to object to anything. The collaborationist’s name was Pierre Gallet, and I recall that he had red hair. He was quite dignified, and during all the trial he said very few words.
The second day, which was the last day of the trial, I went back. And the collaborationist Gallet was condemned to death. People shouted at that: “Shame! Scandal!” Friends of Gallet shouted: “We are on your side, Pierre!” And I can tell you that I was very moved. Perhaps I can say that I was overwhelmed. Because for the first time in my life I had before me a man who was condemned to death. And I became ashamed at how I had hated this Gallet. I felt ashamed about the trial, because the way Gallet had been examined looked to me like a scandal. And perhaps at that moment I discovered something about my hate for the Germans, the Miliciens and for the collaborationists. I discovered something about all that, and about my hate, which I did not like very much. Not at all.
When I got back to my house that night I found my father, my mother, my brothers and sisters all at the dinner table. My father did not say anything. So I sat down I must have apologized for being late and tried to eat my soup. But I was indignant. I was overwhelmed. I was ready to cry. What I remember is that I told my father I had attended that trial of the collaborationist. I wanted to get a word of sympathy from him, but it did not come. It did not come from my brothers and sisters either. It was typical of our family that we did not express feelings of this kind. There was, in fact, no solidarity among us because of the excessive authority of my father. We did not speak at table unless we were permitted to ask a question.
I can still remember the color of the liquid of the soup that night, clear and orange, like carrots. I can remember the reflection of the electric light twinkling in my soup, not strong, but yellow and clear. I remember the sound the spoon made against the side of the dish that evening. I remember this very well because it was always the same plates of earthenware, the same sound. There was a plate, and on this plate a soup plate, and they each had two lines, red and blue around the edge. And then, so each person sitting and eating could see it on each plate, there was the coat of arms of the Messageries Maritimes, an anchor with “M” on one side and ropes on the other, and a unicorn. During all my youth I had this unicorn in front of me and I never knew it was also a mediæval symbol of purity. But that night, it did not matter how moved I was. It was still necessary to scratch the silver spoon against the edge of the plate so that while I ate no drops fell back into the soup. Then I had to swallow it without making any noise. You had to control yourself in our house. Control your hand, control your soup, control your breathing, control your feelings. That is why, perhaps, I lost control.
I got up and I suppose I said: “Excuse me.” And I went to the bathroom and threw up. I vomited. And I can tell you, that night I vomited up many things. Many of the things I had believed for so long. And from that day, I began to think.