An Assessment of the Garaudy/Abbe Pierre Affair
The Garaudy affair began in January 1996 and that of Abbe Pierre in April of the same year. The two episodes, taken together, occupied an important place in the media up until Abbe Pierre's retraction, announced on July 23. Their most positive consequence is contained in two articles by historian Jacques Baynac published on September 2 and 3 in Le Nouveau Quotidien (de Lausanne) [The New Daily, Lausanne, Switzerland].
It is regrettable that Roger Garaudy and Abbe Pierre did not manifest greater courage. From the time when the media tempest got underway against them in France, they began to beat a hasty retreat. Their financial means and the various support which they had enjoyed over the years in foreign lands allowed them, for a time, to take their leave of France, one for the Arab countries and the other for Italy and Switzerland. We shall not be too severe with them about this. It is important to understand how violent these storms are; even the most resilient person would take fright; all the more men of their advanced age. Up until that time, both men had known harsh trials in their lives. They knew what hate was, particularly as they themselves had practised hate against their enemies. R. Garaudy had, in effect, long considered anti-Communists, and even anti-Stalinists, as sub-humans, while Abbe Pierre had, in the course of his political activity, given proof of a remarkable lack of charity towards his adversaries. Yet, regardless, life had ended up pampering these two men. Then suddenly, in 1996, the sky fell on their heads. And, plainly, they were in the fullest sense of the word brought down to earth.
The First Edition of R. Garaudy's Book
In December 1995, Pierre Guillaume, director of the review La Vieille Taupe [The Old Mole], published R. Garaudy's Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne [The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics]. In order to avoid the fulminations of the Fabius-Gayssot law (or Lex Faurissonia), he did this with the utmost caution. The book was sold off the market as a "confidential tract reserved for Friends of La Vieille Taupe." While the entire revisionist part of the book was put together through borrowing in large measure from my own texts, my name was carefully avoided; it appeared but one time (page 119), and then only as that of a professor who had been a victim of anti-revisionist repression, but without any indication why: neither a book nor an article by this professor was cited.
The book contains roughly 230 pages. The religious and political considerations make up the greater part; they might possibly offend certain followers of the Jewish religion and most Zionists, yet the pages which unleashed the ire of Jewish organisations and the media, first in France and then in most of the western world, were the 75 or so pages of revisionist inspiration which constituted the heart of the work (pages 72-147). These touched upon "the myth of justice at Nuremberg," the "Final Solution," the "testimonies," the "trials," the "crime weapon" (which is to say, the Nazi gas chambers), and "the myth of the Holocaust." On the gas chambers, the author expressed his sincere doubts "and even [his] scepticism" regarding this, the very heart of the burning subject (page 135). These 75 pages were written hastily and composed of disparate elements. The presentation was rather desultory; oversights were rife. Notably in regard to David Irving, there were also errors. For example, the author should have known that D. Irving could not serve as a valid reference either on the "Holocaust" — which D. Irving had not studied — nor on The Diary of Anne Frank, since he had never analysed it in the least, being so lax as to take into consideration the rumour, founded on a gross misunderstanding, according to which the book had been written by a certain Meyer Levin!
Nevertheless, despite all its shortcomings, the book by R. Garaudy could not help upsetting the Jewish organisations, which already had too great a tendency to see revisionists coming out of the woodwork, and knew in him a man whose political opinions — he had been one of the most orthodox Stalinist apparatchiks — could in no way be qualified as "Fascist." Furthermore, R. Garaudy had also been a Protestant, then a Catholic before becoming a Moslem during the 1980s. Under all of these labels, he had shown himself a steadfast opponent of any form of racism.
The Second, Revised Edition
Le Canard enchainé [The Shackled Duck, a satirical leftwing weekly] and Le Monde first brought their guns to bear in January 1996. Anti-racist organisations began lodging complaints. A good part of the French and international press thereafter echoed the noises of "the Garaudy affair."
On 11 March, P. Guillaume, acting on behalf of R. Garaudy, endeavoured through his usual channels to obtain a printing — which he had announced in the newsletter of La Vieille Taupe — of an edition of Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne, this time for public release. For reasons of which I am uncertain, the printer refused to do the job. Then, R. Garaudy decided to publish his work via samisdat (i.e. via desktop publishing).
On 3 April, P. Guillaume put out a copy of this samisdat for "legal sale." Endowed with a foreword as well as an annex containing, in particular, a list of works by the same author improperly called a "bibliography," the original text had been reworked in such a manner as to mitigate its revisionist character. Yet nothing alerted the reader that this was a revised edition. Some passages had been cut out, others added, still others rewritten. On pages 119-120 of the first edition, nine paragraphs had been devoted to the policy of silence and the persecution endured by the leading revisionists; and it was there, as I said earlier, that my name appeared for a single instance with those of Arthur Butz and Wilhelm Stäglich; on pages 134-135 of the second edition, these nine paragraphs disappeared to make room for a tale of the woes, in truth quite minor, experienced by the author himself, initially in 1982-1983 for taking a position in favour of the Palestinians and then, at the beginning of 1996, for the publication of Les Mythes fondateurs... issued privately by La Vieille Taupe. The names of Butz, Stäglich and Faurisson had totally disappeared from the book. As for Serge Thion, his did not appear either in the first or the second edition, something which, for a revisionist work published by La Vieille Taupe, constituted an anomaly.
In the first edition, R. Garaudy opted for the spelling "mediat(s)," with a "t" (a rallying sign of revisionist friends of La Vieille Taupe, as decreed by P. Guillaume); in the second edition, he re-established the spelling demanded by proper usage: "media(s)" [media], without the "t." Obviously, he did not want to reveal that he was on good terms with the revisionist editor.
Enter Abbé PierreOn 15 April, Abbé Pierre wrote a long letter of support to his friend Garaudy ("Dearest Roger"). At first, only extracts appeared here and there, and the public would have to wait till the month of June to know the full contents (see below, Droit de réponse [Right of Reply] by R. Garaudy).
The following passages from this letter seem to me to be particularly interesting:
"Regarding your new book, it is impossible for me to speak about it with all the attention demanded not only by its fundamental subject, but also by the astonishing and strikingly scrupulous erudition, on which, as I have been able to note in perusing it, each premise is based. Several people around me, whose responsibilities and competence are broad and who have read it in its entirety, have been telling me of the importance of what they have gleaned from it. Everything should be done, and I shall see to it, so that in the near future true historians, with the same passion for truth as yourself, agree to debate it with you. The insults against you which I have happened to hear of are shameful.
We are hearing talk of the Pope's intention in the year 2000 (will it be the same Pope?) of confessing the historical trespasses [against the Jews] which accompanied the zeal of the Christian missionaries. May [the Pope, in his future declaration] not underestimate the role played in anti-Semitism by the words "deicidal people," something which is senseless because it was for everyone, for all humans that Jesus offered himself up in ransom!
[…] retain from these lines […] the force and fidelity of my affectionate esteem and of my respect for the […] enormous work of your new book. To confuse it with what is called "revisionism" is an imposture and [a] veritable slander by the ignorant.
It is obvious from this letter that Abbé Pierre has derived a knowledge of his friend's book only by "perusing it" and that he distinguishes himself from those "who have read it in its entirety", which is his right. We have, in effect, the right to pass judgement on a book after having merely looked it over, if we first acknowledge not having read the book in full. But the abbot appears naive or blind when he speaks of it as an "enormous work" and an undertaking totally foreign to "revisionism"; it is possible that, for him, the revisionists are nothing but a species of Nazi who deny — who knows? — the existence of the concentration camps. In reality the heart of the work is exclusively of revisionist inspiration.
The passage devoted to a possible declaration by the Pope is significant. It proves that Abbé Pierre is far from being anti-Jewish and that one can in no way accuse him — as some would do so often afterwards — of being a sort of retrograde Catholic who probably had not been able to overcome the effects of teachings received in his youth which were infused with religious anti-Judaism.
Abbé Pierre Centre-Stage
On 2 February the newspaper La Croix [The Cross] published an article written by Michel Crépu entitled: "Terminal Garaudy" [The End of Garaudy]. Abbé Pierre was consequently incensed by this attack perpetrated against his dear friend Garaudy.
At a press conference on April 18, R. Garaudy revealed, in the company of his lawyer, Mr Jacques Verges, the names of several well-known persons from whom he had obtained support, among whom figured Father Michel Lelong, the Swiss essayist Jean Ziegler, as well as Abbé Pierre. In a style all his own, Nicolas Weill reported this information in the Monde of 20 April (which appeared in Paris in the afternoon of 19 April).
Immediately, I sent to Le Monde, to Liberation, and to Agence France-Presse, by fax dated 19 April, the following:
I take note in Le Monde dated 20 April of the article by Nicolas Weill entitled "L'abbé Pierre soutient les aberrations negationnistes de Roger Garaudy" [Abbé Pierre Upholds the Negationist Aberrations of Roger Garaudy]. Assuming that N. Weill is telling the truth, here are my reactions to the contents of this article:
- I am delighted at the fact that so many people have, for some months now, been rushing to the aid of the revisionist victory;
- I deplore that it has taken until 1996 for these people to begin to perceive what, since 1979, should have been, for all the world, of blinding clarity: that the alleged Jewish genocide perpetrated, notably, with the help of the alleged Nazi gas chambers, is but a historic lie. I recall that I underscored the technically impossible character of these alleged chemical slaughterhouses; yet, in Le Monde of 21 February 1979, 34 French historians came together to sign a joint declaration which was tantamount to an act of surrender. They thus pitifully replied to me: "It is not necessary to ask oneself how, technically, such a mass murder was possible. It was technically possible, since it happened";
- I anticipate that, as usual, the persons put in question by N. Weill's article will try to make out that they did not really say what they said nor really write what they wrote; I anticipate that these persons will instead give themselves over to profusions of anti-Nazism (what courage!);
- I find that these persons continue to beat about the bush when it comes to this subject. It is necessary to call a spade a spade: this genocide and these gas chambers are an imposture. I will add that, if I were Jewish, I would be ashamed at the thought that, for half a century, so many Jews had propagated or allowed to be propagated such an imposture, underwritten by the major media the world over.
On the following day and over the subsequent days as well, the five persons in question (R. Garaudy, Abbé Pierre, Jacques Verges, Father Lelong and J. Ziegler) made a hurried retreat. R. Garaudy denounced "the absolute horror of Nazism" and specified that one should not speak of the "Holocaust" because that would mean that God was responsible for the massacre of the Jews while that was something for which only the Nazis were responsible; besides, didn't the latter cause 50 million deaths? Abbé Pierre said that the number of deaths at Auschwitz had been exaggerated, since the figure of four million had been officially replaced by that of one million (the Auschwitz State Museum opted for a figure of 1,500,000), but he denounced "the negationisms and revisionisms as intellectual and moral deceptions that must be fought at all costs." J. Verges, in regard to R. Garaudy's book, declared: "To qualify this book as negationist is an imposture." Father Lelong distanced himself in turn. J. Ziegler declared that "Revisionism is an unspeakable load of crap".
Abbé Pierre, all the while multiplying his acts of contrition and protestations of good will, held to propositions which irritated the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), presided over by Pierre Aidenbaum. He retained his trust in his friend R. Garaudy and wished for a colloquium bringing together persons of different opinions. He said that he was sure that, if his friend were shown proof that he was mistaken, the latter would acknowledge his error.
Abbé Pierre's Fainthearted Resistance
On 27 April, the weekly Le Point published a well-informed article on Revisionism and the entire affair. It cited an extract of my 19 April press release. The article ended with a sentence uttered by Abbé Pierre which had appeared in La Croix: "No longer to be able to speak a word about Jewish affairs across the millennia without being called an anti-Semite is intolerable." France's Chief Rabbi, Joseph Sitruk, suggested having a debate on the Shoah. Henri Roques and I immediately let him know publicly of our willingness to participate. The next day, the Chief Rabbi retracted his suggestion.
On 29 April, Liberation published an article entitled: "L'Abbé Pierre refuse de condamner les theses negationnistes de Garaudy" [Abbé Pierre refuses to condemn Garaudy's negationist theses]. This nearly gave the old man a fit. He said of the LICRA and other groups: "They accept absolutely no dialogue, contrary to Garaudy." Someone asked him: "Aren't you shocked that a negationist like Faurisson has rejoiced over your support for Garaudy? " To which he replied: "You are the first to tell me. Of course this bothers me. [Faurisson] represents everything opposed to what I stand for, to my life." The abbot's allusion, in all likelihood, was as much to my atheism as to my revisionism. He said that at the Brussels airport he had seen, for the first time in a long while, people coming spontaneously to meet and to thank him; these people told him: "Thank you for having the courage to challenge a taboo." He added that he was "convinced that there was a sort of 'ahh!': the taboo is lifted! People will no longer let themselves be called anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic for saying that a Jew is singing out of tune!" He added: "Once the storm has passed, many average Frenchmen will say: 'He has helped us see more clearly'."
The Expanded Offensive Against Abbé Pierre
At first, the Catholic hierarchy declared that it did not wish to become involved in the controversy. Then, the general synod of French bishops deplored the attitude of Abbé Pierre and reaffirmed that the extermination of the Jews was an uncontestable fact; it denounced the scandal constituted by any questioning of the Shoah.
R. Garaudy, in "a state of distress," implored Abbé Pierre, over the course of many telephone calls, to come to his aid.
On 1 May, P. Guillaume telephoned me to make an appeal for help: R. Garaudy urgently needed a document. I answered that his client had only to ask me for the item himself. "He won't do it," P. Guillaume told me twice. I told him of my amazement at being treated in such a way and at not even having received a copy of Les Mythes fondateurs. I observed that, as he knew, this book was merely a compilation of my own writings, as concerned its revisionist side. "That's obvious," he told me. Later, on 9 May, during a broadcast on Radio Courtoisie, to a female listener who had remarked: "The relation between Faurisson and Garaudy is the relation between the robbed and the robber," he replied: "Well... everyone knows that!"
On 2 May, Jean-Francois Kahn chose as title for his column in L'Evenement du Jeudi: "Comment, avec l'abbé Pierre, on sert la soupe a Le Pen et a Faurisson" [Grist to the Mill of Le Pen and Faurisson, thanks to Abbé Pierre]. The same day, the daily press announced that the LICRA had just expelled Abbé Pierre from its committee of honour.
On 9 May, Jean-Luc Allouche stated in Liberation that R. Garaudy, Abbé Pierre and Faurisson "have only one aim: for ever and always to attack the legitimacy of the state of Israel." He cited an extract from my introduction, dated August 1989, to the Second Leuchter Report:
"The promoters of the Holocaust, for the foreseeable future, will keep their money, their power, their capacity to produce films, to stage ceremonies, to build museums, but those films and ceremonies and museums will be more and more devoid of meaning. They will find more and more ways of oppressing the revisionists through physical attacks, press campaigns, the passing of special laws, and even murder. Fifty years after the war they will continue to prosecute all those whom they call "war criminals" in show trials. The revisionists will reply to them with historical and forensic studies, scholarly and technical books. Those books and those studies will be our stones, in this our intellectual Intifada."
On 9 May, the American Joseph Sobran wrote: "If [Abbé Pierre] had denied the divinity of Christ, the press would be hailing him for his fierce independence of mind" (The Wanderer).
On the 9th and 16th of May, in the weekly National Hebdo, the cartoonist Konk published two drawings which well mirrored the present situation; one depicted the guardians of official truth looking through binoculars at an encasement of concrete within which they believed that they had once and for all buried revisionism, but the block was showing cracks: it now threatened to explode and contaminate the entire world; the other showed cemetery attendants passing in front of three headstones: those of Faurisson, Garaudy, and Abbé Pierre, while whispering one to the other: "This is the buried-alive section." The agony of the censors is exactly this: despite formidable press campaigns, despite trials and physical violence, historical revisionism persists and is even gathering momentum. The conscience of the so-called elite is beginning to have doubts regarding the usefulness of the Fabius-Gayssot law, a "veritable gift for the revisionists" (sic).
On 13 May, the Emmaus France and Emmaus International movements published in the national dailies, at great expense, an announcement whereby "the Emmaus movement" gave notice that "any endorsement, wherever it comes from, given to revisionist theses, is intolerable," deploring that "the man of total and noble combat" had been led "astray from the terrain that is his and ours."
R. Garaudy Looks for Support
R. Garaudy made it known that he had friends who were rabbis and that one of them, Rabbi Elmer Berger, 88 years old and living in Florida, "has written a text which will be a very good preface for my book once it is published in the United States" (Tribune Juive, [Jewish Tribune] 16 May). He sought refuge, as well, among his Arab friends.
Francois Brigneau penned an article in National Hebdo, dated 16 May, on "Le Samiszdat de Garaudy" [Garaudy's Samisdat] where he sketched a picture of the incessant persecution suffered by writers in France afflicted with the stigma of "the extreme right." In passing, he noted:
"I shall not go into the substance of the book. Mr Garaudy is not of our parish. Certain aspects of his work are unpleasant. I am thinking of the use which is made of discoveries achieved by Professor Faurisson (in particular on the story of Anne Frank), of his investigative efforts and of the entirety of his work for which he has paid so dearly, while Garaudy consecrates (in the first edition of his book) a mere three lines to him in passing... It is a bit much."On 23 May, Liberation gave its opinion of an editorial in Al-Ahram, a prestigious paper considered as the unofficial voice of the Egyptian government. This paper claimed to be proud of having welcomed R. Garaudy, author of a book under assault in France, to its columns, and underscored that "a media campaign has prohibited the latter from openly expressing his point of view." In its leader, it attacked Liberation for practising "methods of Zionist propaganda" in regard to R. Garaudy while at the same time defending the right of Salman Rushdie to attack Islam.
On 31 May, R. Garaudy sent his friends a newsletter which began: "Dear friends, I thank you for the confidence you have shown me with respect to my book Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne in which you have found no trace of 'negationism.' Those who have branded me with this barbaric label either have not read my book or else have done so with deliberate ill will."
The same day, Le Figaro published extracts of an interview with R. Garaudy. If journalist Elie Maréchal is to be believed here is one of the questions and its reply: "Why did you publish the first edition of your book through La Vieille Taupe (publisher of R. Faurisson) [...]? " "By necessity. But I did not know the editor. Otherwise I would never have associated myself with him." Yet, the habits of the major press establishments being what we know them to be, one may doubt whether R. Garaudy really went so far in his repudiation.
On 29 May, the press announced: "Abbé Pierre has definitively left France for an Italian monastery." R. Garaudy would later go to see Abbé Pierre at the monastery of Praglia. He stated to the press that the latter had finally found the time to read his book: "This reading has comforted [Abbé Pierre]. He notes that no article appearing in the press has refuted my theses."
Yet the affair was suddenly to worsen.
Abbé Pierre declared to theCorriere della Serra (according to Le Figaro, 1-2 June): "The Church of France has [...] intervened so as to silence me through the pressure of the press, motivated by an international Zionist lobby." This choice of words provoked an uproar around the world.
In the month of June, journalists Michel-Antoine Burnier and Cécile Romane published a tract, Le Secret de l'Abbé Pierre [Abbé Pierre's Secret], issued by Mille et Une Nuits, wherein they revealed that, nearly three years earlier, on 27 March 1993, they had had a meeting with Abbé Pierre at his place of residence, in the company of the Jews Bernard Kouchner and Marek Halter. It was a matter of bringing together and fitting into shape several dialogues between Abbé Pierre and his friend B. Kouchner for the book Dieu et Les Hommes [God and Men] (Laffont, 1993). Yet Abbé Pierre had already made some most severe pronouncements before these two men on certain books of the Old Testament and on Zionism, comments which the two journalists had suppressed in their book. Censors, and proud of it, they now declared that at the time they had done their job as newspapermen in a responsible manner, something which now allowed them to give a morality lesson to Abbé Pierre and the revisionists.
R. Garaudy Seeks Refuge in One-upmanship
There was another tract which appeared in the month of June: Droit de Réponse/Réponse au lynchage mediatique de l'Abbé Pierre et de Roger Garaudy [Right of Reply/Response to the Media Lynching of Abbé Pierre and Roger Garaudy] (samiszdat R. Garaudy). R. Garaudy, pressing his point on what he believed, what he contested, and what he refused to believe, said that his "revisionism" was simply akin to that of orthodox historians like Francois Bedarida. As for the gas chambers, he reminded the reader that no tribunal had ever sought to examine the crime weapon, that nevertheless there was the Leuchter Report as well as "the counter-expertises of Krakow and Vienna" and that he "was astounded that these reports had not been the subject of publication and open debate." He added: "Then what is it that I deny? What I deny is the right which the Zionists claim for themselves to minimise Hitler's crimes by reducing them to the indisputable persecution of the Jews. His expansionist desires caused 50 million deaths, of which 16 million Russian or Polish Slavs, as Pope John-Paul II recalled in Miami." As one can see, R. Garaudy practises in anti-Nazism a one-upmanship identical to that in which barrister J. Verges so delighted during the trial of Klaus Barbie in Lyon, in 1987; J. Verges there attacked France which, as he put it, dared allow itself to condemn the racism of K. Barbie while having itself practised a criminal racism against its black, yellow, and Arab colonial peoples.
In annexes of his tract, R. Garaudy did not shy at reproducing "Le temoignage d'un pasteur protestant" [The Testimony of a Protestant Minister] (pp. 35-36), and "Le cri d'un deporte" [The Cry of A Deportee] (pp. 35-36). From Pastor Roger Parmentier, he transcribed the following sentence, without furnishing the least reservation or correction: "One calls 'negationists' the Nazis of today who wish to revise history in order to justify the Nazis of yesterday." And the pastor added: "I will never be led to believe (after reading statements by Abbé Pierre and the book by R. Garaudy) that these brothers have converted to Nazism." As for the "deportee", he wrote in the same spirit of overstatement as R. Garaudy: "Let the journalists now know at least one thing: that the great majority of deportees in the Nazi camps were not Jews, even though all the media have endorsed the thesis that only the Jews were deported and exterminated." And the deportee cited wild figures for the murder of Soviet soldiers, Gypsies, and Poles who were "exterminated."
An Islamic publication took up the defence of R. Garaudy, who had meanwhile gone to find his Moslem friends abroad; it wrote: "Garaudy never calls into question the existence of the gas chambers; he has never attempted to falsify or minimise the genocide of the Jews during the Second World War. The Zionists are presenting here a false case against Garaudy, for the only thing the author contests is the number of Jews exterminated" (Le Message de l 'Islam, June 1996, page 21).
P. Guillaume and R. Garaudy underwent committal proceedings relative to the first edition of Les Mythes fondateurs... Moreover, R. Garaudy underwent a similar judicial inquiry for the second edition of Les Mythes fondateurs... as well as for his Droit de réponse.
The Ultra-Left In Turmoil
In a small collective work published in June by the Libertarians (Libertaires et "Ultra-gauche" contre le negationnisme [Libertarians and the "Ultra-Left" Against Negationism], Editions Reflex, June 1996), confused remarks were made about — or rather against — those Libertarians and leftists who had, at some point in their lives, manifested sympathy for revisionism. The foreword was signed by Gilles Perrault who, with the utmost seriousness, wrote that "the negationists have received, in the Gayssot law, an invaluable present" (page 8); he denounced "the revisionist scum" (page 9). In the body of the work, P. Guillaume was subjected to being called a "liar," a "pervert," and a "bastard" (page 57), and the reader's attention was turned to the trials "which, ironically, assure the revisionists of a veritable and unexpected publicity windfall" (page 60). It should be mentioned that he also denounced "doubtful witnesses like Elie Wiesel" and that the LICRA (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism) was accused of "misappropriation of cadavers" to the profit of Israel (page 47); he equally took issue with "the cheap novel-style concentration camp literature of Bernadac, Steiner, Gray and company which appeals to the basest of instincts in order to sell [and] has done much harm to historical research" (page 66). Disorder had thus been sown among the ranks of the Left and Ultra-Left. Didier Daeninckx, an author of detective novels, raised the banner for the great anti-revisionist purge (with allusion to the purge of "Fascists" beginning in l944) among the ranks of the Leftist intellectuals. The academic Philippe Videlier, with his strong penchant for denunciation, came back into service.
Abbé Pierre Launches his Appeal of June 18th
A poll carried out by Louis Harris for the Lyon magazine Golias on 7 and 8 June revealed that Abbé Pierre, as Liberation of 11 June had pointed out, "retained the respect of Catholics." R. Garaudy's book was selling well despite problems with its distribution. Nevertheless, in Switzerland, the book was seized and impounded from a bookseller in Montreux, Aldo Ferraglia, on orders from a female examining magistrate in Lausanne by the name of Valerie Barth. On the same occasion, the latter pushed her zeal to the point of also seizing two of my own books, which had been published in l982 and 1983 and had never been the subject of any legal proceedings, either in France or abroad; she reserved the same treatment for the book by Francois Brigneau: Mais qui est donc le professeur Faurisson? [Just Who Is Professor Faurisson, Anyway? ]; she even took the initiative of sending detectives to some bookshops so as to warn them against the sale of any revisionist writings. It just so happened that Abbé Pierre had recently left Italy for Switzerland. From "Zermatt, 18 June," he faxed to a reporter for Le Monde a 12-page text entitled: "Vivre la verite" [Living the Truth].
This newspaper had exceeded itself in articles of the most venomous kind. Abbé Pierre, in principle, had the right to respond in its columns. Readers of Le Monde were able to verify, however, that day after day their paper failed to publish anything from the accused. A Le Monde journalist had in fact, with approval from his superiors, dangled before the abbot the possibility of publishing a text. The abbot set himself to work. In three days he composed the 12 typed pages of which, true to its custom of virtuous censorship, the paper published not a line. In this text, the abbot assured Le Monde that his friend Garaudy, during "50 years of dialogue [...] had never ceased to decry the horror of the crimes scientifically orchestrated by the Nazis, above all against the Jews." He said that R. Garaudy was now experiencing "the cruellest ordeal of [his] long life"; he spoke of a "veritable lynching, surprisingly uniform and simultaneous, as if on command (from whom? ) by all the media"; he said: "Without a doubt, I have never had so much trouble, and never been so slandered, insulted, or been accused of antisemitism." He gave account of his good relations with Shimon Peres and their mutual friend, Andre Chouraqui. He professed his love for the Jews whom he considered as a sort of elite, as "leaven," as he put it, while he denounced "Zionist intoxication." He did not even touch upon the contents of the book by R. Garaudy. He asserted: "As for me, at the monastery, I was able to read and annotate the incriminated book in peace. Having been able to find nothing blameworthy, and knowing myself to be scarcely knowledgeable on the subject, I asked the rectors of two of the largest Catholic universities in Europe to obligingly submit the book, translated into their language, to three scholars highly specialised in history, theology, and biblical science. Their advice would mean more to me than that of the LICRA, or that of several excellent friends who have described themselves as being 'astounded by the book'." Abbé Pierre equally made mention of the Gayssot law.
Professor Albert Jacquard, a darling of the caviar-Left, sent Le Monde a letter of support for Abbé Pierre, but the paper refused its publication.
Monseigneur Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris and himself of Jewish origin, stated to the weekly Tribune Juive that he had "experienced this controversy as an immense waste"; he addressed a sort of public reprimand to Abbé Pierre and disengaged the Church's responsibility. Later, on the 26th of September, during an "after dinner debate on the Shoah" at the Sorbonne, he would declare: "Negationism is the very type of lie of a man who kills his brother to flee the truth." Presently his friend Elie Wiesel would chime in: "The negationists perhaps have no soul."
The Anti-revisionist Offensive
In its June 26th issue, Le Monde announced that "anonymous hands these past evenings have put up posters along the Paris ring road asking: 'And if Abbé Pierre were right?' "
On 27 June, L'Evenement du jeudi itself put up posters throughout France reproducing its cover with the title: "Holocaust/The Revisionist Victory." Obviously, the magazine deplored what it called "the revisionist victory". This was an exaggeration, for terror reigned more than ever, as the revisionists saw themselves deprived of every means of publicly expressing their arguments and of responding to the innumerable attacks of which they were the targets; as for Abbé Pierre and R. Garaudy, they sought more than ever to distance themselves from these "revisionists," whom they described, or allowed to be described, as Nazi stooges.
On the same day that L'Evenement du jeudi sported its new cover, the high court of Bordeaux sentenced local bookseller Jean-Luc Lundi, father of 11 children, to one month's imprisonment (suspended) and a fine of 5,000 francs, combined with five years' probation, for exposition and sale of revisionist books. The judges ordered, besides, the destruction of the books seized.
On 16 July, Georges Piscoci-Danesco, a political refugee from Romania who runs the modest Librairie du Savoir (5, rue Malebranche, 75005 Paris) in the Latin Quarter, at which revisionist works, notably R. Garaudy's, can be bought, was attacked and injured by a Betar commando, and his shop ransacked: 2,000 volumes (some quite rare) were damaged to the point of being unsaleable; the damage — against which his insurance company would not reimburse a penny — was estimated at 250,000 francs. The Betar enjoys the protection of the Ministry of the Interior and, as usual, the Police have done nothing to find the criminals. Over the past 15 years, Jewish militants have, with similar impunity, committed more than 50 criminal acts, at times inflicting severe harm, while not a single "anti-Semite" has touched a hair of a single Jew (see "Jewish Militants: Fifteen Years, and More, of Terrorism in France," The Journal of Historical Review, March/April 1996, pp.2-13).
Abbé Pierre's Retraction
On 23 July, La Croix published two texts by Abbé Pierre, dated 22 July.
The first was a letter addressed to R. Garaudy. Abbé Pierre reminded his friend of the "state of distress" in which the latter found himself in April: "Dear Roger, surely you recall the state of distress you were in this past April, while, in a great number of telephone calls, you were appealing to me for assistance." He told him that at the time he personally knew nothing of "revisionism" and "negationism." He therefore did not at all suspect the "mad unleashing of emotion throughout the media" that was to befall the two of them. He told him that, for his part, he must "cease all participation in this cruel debate." He retained complete confidence in his sincerity but, "in accordance with the terms of the enclosed communiqué, my absolute and definitive decision is that, from this day forward, my name shall no longer in any way be tied to yours in regard to this book."
The communiqué addressed to La Croix was the following:
"Anxious to Live the Truth, free of any duress, seeing my words relating to the works of Roger Garaudy, especially the book Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne, exploited by currents that play dangerously with anti-Semitic perils, which I have fought against and which I shall always fight against, I have decided to retract my words, referring the matter entirely to the opinions of the Church experts; and, asking pardon of those whom I may have offended, I wish to leave it to God to be sole judge of the rectitude of everyone's intentions."
He thus retracted his words. He confessed his sins. He begged the world's pardon and went to the point of describing himself as being "free of any duress". This was what he called, using capital letters, being "Anxious to Live the Truth." Later, he would say to Professor Léon Schwartzenberg: "I ask your pardon" (Le Figaro, 22 August). Later still, he would choose a means typical of the media to try to obtain the pardon of the Jews and a return to grace with the press. In the issue of Faits & Documents [Facts and Documents] of 15 October, Emmanuel Ratier wrote on this subject: "Abbé Pierre has truly made his techouva (Jewish penitence) regarding his support for Roger Garaudy. In association with Planet Generation Global Move, an "engaged and humanitarian" musical group, Abbé Pierre is issuing a CD with four titles: Le Grand Pardon, with pretensions of being "music for a planetary conscience against all nationalisms," also including No Escape (Abbé Pierre/Dee Nasty, father of French hip-hop) 2 Zion (King/Maja Sutra) and Kai in ze sky (King)". In its issue of 31 October through 6 November, Le Nouvel Observateur covered the story in an article entitled "Le rap du repentir" [The Rap of Repentance], wherein the magazine specified that this CD project had been conceived by the association "Les Anges pressés" [The Hurried Angels] and that it "purports to be a hip-hop clarification of the Garaudy Affair."
All the same, the Jewish maximalists were declaring themselves to be wholly dissatisfied; Abbé Pierre's retraction did not convince them. The "confidence" which he held in the sincerity of his friend Garaudy left the Conseil representatif des institutions juives de France (CRIF, Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France) and the LICRA (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism) unsettled.
The Affair's Side Issues
The Garaudy/Abbé Pierre affair has created the usual witch-hunt climate maintained by the media in general and the newspaper Le Monde in particular. Over the past several months, all sorts of other "affairs" of the same kind have followed on the heals of one another in France, in which the victims have been suspected of having committed the mortal sin of revisionism. Let us cite, by way of example, the case of Olivier Pernet, Professor of Philosophy in Lyon, that of Marc Sautet, a promoter of philosophy cafés, that of Raymond Boudon and Bernard Bourgeois, members of the French Society of Philosophy, that of Noelle Schulman, teacher of physical chemistry at a college in the Yvelines, district, that of the female Olympic synchronised swimmers preparing a presentation intended to evoke images of the "Holocaust" for the Games in Atlanta, and that of the Corsican weekly U Ribombu, organ of a local autonomist movement, which took sides with R. Garaudy and Abbé Pierre. Just as we have seen above, the extreme Left and Libertarian Left were seized by a frenzy of mutual attacks and self-accusations.
The Fabius-Gayssot law was again questioned, save by the Communist "hard-liners" Jean-Claude Gayssot and Charles Lederman. A bevy of politicians came onto the scene, mostly anxious to insult the revisionists who were deprived, as usual, of the right to respond to the enveloping wave of attacks, calumnies, and defamation. Spokesmen for the Jewish community once again bellowed their tirades against the resurgence of the horrid beast; they expressed their anger, a sentiment in which, apparently, they enjoy living.
A Positive Consequence: The Admission of Jacques Baynac
Jacques Baynac, 57 years of age, is an orthodox historian, with leanings to the Left. He is the author of Ravachol et ses compagnons [Ravachol and His Companions] 1976, Mai retrouve [May (1968) Revisited] 1978, Les Socialistes révolutionnaires russes (1881-1917) [The Russian Socialist-Revolutionaries (1881-1917)] 1979, and La Révolution gorbatchévienne [The Gorbachev Revolution] 1988. A confirmed anti-revisionist from the outset, he has collaborated with historian Nadine Fresco in the columns of Le Monde, particularly to denounce P. Guillaume and me. I recall a heated exchange of words with him in Paris in October 1980.
Nevertheless, on 2 and 3 September, Le Nouveau Quotidien (de Lausanne) published a lengthy and well-informed study on revisionism in the light — if one can call it that — of the Garaudy/Abbé Pierre affair. J. Baynac confirmed that the revisionists, whom he called "negationists," had plenty of reason to rejoice over this scandal which had "changed the atmosphere in their favour." He noted that, as for the adversaries of the revisionists, "disarray has given over to consternation," that Pierre Vidal-Naquet "is aggrieved," that Bernard-Henri Levy "is beside himself," that Pierre-André Taguieff "is frightened," and that, since the beginning of "the Faurisson affair" in 1978-1979, historians had preferred to opt out: they "have scattered." He reproached these historians with having put their faith in Jean-Claude Pressac, a suburban chemist and "amateur historian." He considered that, in order to prove the existence of the Nazi gas chambers, they had depended too heavily on witnesses, something which was "ascientific." As for scientific proof, he began by recalling the statement by Jewish-American historian Arno Mayer in 1988: "Sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable." Then, going even further, he said that it was necessary to have the frankness to recognise that on the matter of documents, traces or other material evidence proving the existence of the said gas chambers, there was quite simply... nothing! To conclude, he believed that historians should henceforth oblige themselves to explore another path: since it was decidedly impossible to prove that these gas chambers had existed, J. Baynac suggested that the historians should seek to prove the impossibility of their not having existed!
For those knowledgeable on the subject, this stance was not really new. For several years, orthodox historians had made analogous comments or else behaved as if they were seeking to distance themselves from those cumbersome gas chambers. But it was probably the first time that an orthodox historian had thus made such a public and open acknowledgement (for more details, see my "An Orthodox Historian Finally Admits that there Is No Evidence for Nazi Gas Chambers," 2 September and 3 September 1996).
A Hard Lesson, Coupled with Progress
Two octogenarians, who believed that they knew about life and men, discovered suddenly with the surprise of children that their past existence had actually been, on the whole, rather easy. Both of them, over the space of a few days, had had to withstand an exceptional trial: that which Jewish organisations inflict as a matter of course on individuals who have the misfortune of provoking their wrath. There is in this, on the part of these organisations, neither plot nor conspiracy, but something in the order of ancestral reflex. The media, which are devoted to them and would have to pay dearly were they to do anything contrary to their wishes, know how to mobilise against the "anti-Semites," which is to say against persons who, with some exceptions, do not hate the Jews but are hated by them. Old Testament-inspired hate is one of the most terrible that exist: restless, feverish, frantic, unbridled, it suffocates its victims by the suddenness and the duration of its violence. It is incurable because those who suffer from it cannot allow themselves to uncover the real motive and thereby to relieve, at least in part, their fury. For example, a quarrel had been carried on for months with R. Garaudy over his estimation "minimising" the number of Jews who died during the Second World War. But it was only for show. The true motive lay elsewhere; it was in the sacrilegious act of calling the gas chambers into doubt. Moreover, revealing this doubt ran the risk of bringing it on, or increasing it, among the general public. Hence the need to focus on something else.
On 27 April I wrote:
"I have noted the timidity, if not to say near-silence, of journalists on the subject of the gas chambers. Every one of them should have, on the spot, denounced Garaudy's profound scepticism on the matter. But such is precisely the taboo's characteristic: those whose mission it is to preserve it dare not even reveal that it has been profaned. Garaudy had penetrated into the holiest of holies and discovered that the tabernacle, reputed to contain the magic gas chamber, was empty. Mum's the word!"
This observation has remained valid throughout the months that have followed.
As concerns Abbé Pierre, it has been the same old tricks. There have been those who rail against his supposed anti-Semitism and against his stubbornness in supporting an old friend who has gone astray; in reality, his crime has been to call for... a debate, and to call for it with insistence and artlessness. The behaviour of this old man has thoroughly revealed to the general public, first of all, that there has been no debate; furthermore, it has placed the historians, the journalists, and the heads of Jewish organisations in the most uncomfortable of positions: that of having to concoct shabby pretexts for dismissing a debate the prospect of which clearly scares them like the plague.
R. Garaudy and Abbé Pierre both have big opinions of themselves; their writings and their words exude false humility; they speak a little too much of the heart, about their heart; they readily proclaim themselves to be "smitten with the absolute," which is quite much, and state that they are animated "by the same passion for truthfulness," which is rather presumptuous. In the event, it so happens that they have seriously abused the simple truth.
The sudden trial that they have had to endure towards life's end should have led them to show greater modesty. As one says in everyday language, they "snapped." R. Garaudy has had the merit of continuing his fight but he can no longer call it a fight for the whole truth since, through fear and opportunism, he has proceeded, as circumstance has required, either greatly to curtail or totally to abandon the fight for historical truth on what in his book he called the "myth of the Holocaust." As for Abbé Pierre, he has ended up abandoning all dignity. Personally, I cannot bear them any grudge because I have paid to know what it costs to confront the forces of hatred, of lies or of foolishness within the limited scope of historical research. But I regret that the Garaudy/Abbé Pierre affair has, in the final analysis, taken this course. I regret it for the two men in question and for the French revisionists, although, for revisionism itself, this affair has, despite everything, marked a new advance on the world scene regarding the search for historical truth.
It is in this way that, for the first time since 1945, an orthodox historian, J. Baynac, has found himself forced to admit that there is no proof for the existence of the alleged Nazi gas chambers.
© 1 November 1996
- Roger GARAUDY, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne [The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics], released by special issue, off the market, by the periodical La Vieille Taupe [The Old Mole], Number 2, December 1995, 240 pages.
- Roger GARAUDY, Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne, Roger Garaudy desk-top publishing, March 1996, 279 pages; without warning the reader, the author has appreciably modified his text so as to attenuate its revisionist character. One should compare, for example, pages 119-120 of the first edition with pages 134-135 of the second edition. There is no bibliography, apart from a "bibliography" in name only, beneath which denomination there is a list of the author's own works as well as one of studies devoted to him.
- Roger GARAUDY, Le Communisme et la morale [Communism and Ethics], Editions sociales, 1945, 126 pages; this tract, which opens, in the guise of a preface, with a long extract of a text by Maurice Thorez (General Secretary of the French Communist Party), allows the point to be made regarding the author's orthodox Communism in 1945.
- Roger GARAUDY, Parole d'homme [A Man's Word], Robert Laffont, 1975, 269 pages; this work permits an understanding of the author's personal character and his ideas in 1975.
- Michel-Antoine BURNIER and Cecile ROMANE, Le Secret de l'Abbé Pierre [Abbé Pierre's Secret], Mille et Une Nuits publishers, "Les petits libres" collection, Number 11, June 1996, 48 pages in-16; the authors let it be known that, in a work they published through Robert Laffont publishers in 1993, they had deemed it proper to suppress certain of Abbé Pierre's words.
- Pierre Rabcor, Francois-Georges Lavacquerie, Serge Quadruppani, Gilles Dauve, Libertaires et "ultra-gauche" contre le négationnisme [Libertarians and "Ultra-Left" Against Negationism], with a preface by Gilles Perrault, June 1996, "Reflex," 111 pages.
- Pierre-André TAGUIEFF, "L'abbé Pierre et Roger Garaudy. Négationnisme, antijudaisme, antisionisme" [Abbé Pierre and Roger Garaudy. Negationism, Anti-Judaism, Anti-Zionism], Esprit, August/September 1996, pp. 205-216.
- Roger GARAUDY, Droit de réponse/Reponse au lynchage mediatique de l'abbé Pierre et de Roger Garaudy [Right of Reply/Response to the Media Lynching of Abbé Pierre and Roger Garaudy], Roger Garaudy Samiszdat, 1996, 38 pages.
- Number 47 of the fortnightly Golias Magazine (May 1996), organ of left- or extreme leftwing Catholics.
- La Croix, 23 July 1996; this issue carries the "Communique to La Croix" of 22 July ("I have decided to retract my words"), the text of a letter "to Roger Garaudy 22 July 1996," as well as extracts from a four-page circular, drafted in July 1996 at the Abbéy of Praglia, entitled "Réponse a un inconnu" ["Reply to a Stranger"]. The entirety of this text has appeared nowhere. La Croix has mollified the contents by some shrewd cuts, one of which, made without indication, is particularly dishonest. Abbé Pierre's pronouncements in regard to Garaudy's being booked for committal proceedings, following a complaint by the LICRA, and in regard to the Fabius-Gayssot law, are passed over in silence. They make up the only passage where the abbot shows any backbone, as when he writes:
- The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism has brought legal action against [Garaudy]; I am tempted to say "All the better!" Yet I have compassion for the judges who will have to rule according to the said Gayssot law, declared by Simone Veil to be a "law that weakens historical truth by attempting to give it legal status." A law against which, along with Chirac, Juppé, Deniau, Jean de Gaulle, Barre, and Balladur, the current Ministers of Justice and Interior Toubon and Debre had voted [in Parliament in 1990], along with more than 250 members of today's majority. Without a doubt, the terms of the Gayssot law are so new, and so absurd, that they place the judges in an impossible position, according to the words of Mr Toubon [21 June 1991], declaring this law to be "inapplicable."
- Le Nouveau Quotidien (de Lausanne), 2 and 3 September 1996; these two issues carry a lengthy study by Jacques Baynac entitled "Le débat sur les chambres a gaz" [The Debate about the Gas Chambers].
- Robert FAURISSON, "Un historien orthodoxe admet enfin qu'il n'y a pas de preuves des chambres a gaz nazies" [An Orthodox Historian Finally Admits that there Is No Evidence for Nazi Gas Chambers"]; this text, dated 2 and 3 September 1996, can be found on the Internet at <http://vho.org/aaargh/fran/archFaur/1995-2000/RF961218.html> It deals with the above-mentioned study by J. Baynac.
- These are carried out by an examining magistrate assigned either to furnish the prosecutor with the basis for indictment or to order the case's dismissal.
- Hip-hop : a "musical" movement of Negro origin affecting both dance and painting.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||An Assessment of the Garaudy/Abbe Pierre Affair, (January-October 1996)|
|First posted on CODOH:||Oct. 30, 1996, 6 p.m.|