From the Editor

Published: 1992-04-01

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It is doubtful that anything has done more to shape the popular American view of history than motion pictures. Many Americans really believe, for instance, that the wartime motion picture classic Casablanca is a more or less accurate depiction of the "good guys" and "bad guys" of the Second World War.

One of Hollywood's most enduring popular images of this era has been that of the idealistic and courageous French Resistance fighter, who cleverly outwits the wicked but generally inept German occupiers. Like so much else about this period, this widely-accepted image has only the most tenuous relationship with reality.

In fact, it was not until the final year of the war, and particularly after the Anglo-American D-Day landing at Normandy in June 1944, that popular sentiment in France turned against the legitimate government of Marshal petain. Right up until the end of the war, in fact, he was still widely respected and even revered.

As French-Jewish film maker Marcel Ophuls strikingly emphasized in his much-discussed documentary film The Sorrow and the Pity, support for the anti-German Resistance movement was actually quite limited, and many Resistance activists were less than admirable characters.

The simplistic view of most "educated" Americans is that Marshal Petain was a traitor and that "Free French" leader Charles De Gaulle was a patriotic hero. In truth, each of these extraordinary figures was a patriot – each in his own remarkable way.

Similarly, few Americans realize that it was France that declared war against Germany in 1939 (and not the other way around), or that after the stunning French military defeat in June 1940, Germany's treatment of the vanquished nation was vastly more generous and benign than the Allied treatment of defeated Germany five years later.

The role of De Gaulle's ''Free French" Allied forces is well known, but few Americans realize that many thousands of Frenchman fought with the Germans, most notably in the "Charlemagne" SS Division.

In our lead article, "A Dry Chronicle of the Purge," French scholar (and frequent Journal contributor) Robert Faurisson takes a look at the wave of mass terror that swept France during the 1944-1946 period. Although the Purge (or epuration in French) was almost certainly the worst single outbreak of mass killing in French domestic history, few Americans know anything about it. In this essay, Dr. Faurisson details the grim record of the Purge in just one small region of France, and thus gives an idea of the nationwide scope of the bloodletting.

Perhaps the best single account available in English of this grim period is contained in Sisley Huddleston's fascinating first-person overview, France: The Tragic Years, 1939-1947. Huddleston, who was born in England and lived most of his life in France, was Paris director of the London Times and European correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor. He contributed to a score of British and American periodicals, and was the author of some twenty books.

In France: The Tragic Years, he writes:

There has never been, in the history of France, a bloodier period than that which followed the Liberation of 1944-1945. The massacres of 1944 were no less savage than the massacres of Jacquerie, of st. Bartholomew, of the Revolutionary Terror, of the Commune; and they were certainly more numerous and on a wider scale. ( ...)

It is estimated that 20,000 persons lost their lives under the [18th century] Reign of Terror; that 18,000 fell in the frightful butchery that followed the war and insurrection of 1870-1871. The American services put the figures of "summary executions" in France in the first months of the Liberation at 80,000. A former French minister later placed the figure at 105,000. ( ...)

Authentic figures about the disorders and massacres of 1944-1945 are impossible to obtain but, in spite of belated official attempts to minimize the number of victims – in many cases innocent of any serious offense – the evidence points to a total of at least a hundred thousand persons – men women and even children – murdered (I can employ no other term) by individuals, by criminal bands, by irregular tribunals, by selfappointed bodies which proceeded , without trial, to what were euphemistically called "summary executions." (...)

There was an almost unlimited field Рan "open season" Рfor the épurateurs [Purgists]. Everybody in France was a "collaborator," in the sense that he had at some time or Gther come into contact with the Germans.

"In practice," Huddleston goes on to note, "the épuration was purely arbitrary." The alleged crime of collaboration was often merely a pretext: Many of those who lost their lives in the Purge were actually victims of personal vendettas and hatreds.

Huddleston also notes that many of the epurateurs were foreigners, and that the ad hoc tribunals that summarily sentenced alleged "collaborators" to death or imprisonment were often dominated by Communists.

Among the Purge's victims was the brilliant young writer Robert Brassilach, as well as several members of the Academie Franc;:aise. Another victim was the internationally renowned scientist Dr. Alexis Carrel, author of the brilliant work Man the Unknown.

Our second feature piece is the postwar prison memoir of Hideki Tojo, Japan's wartime premier. Like the memoir of any political personality, of course, Tojo's writings are self-serving and self-justifying. Nevertheless, this material by a key figure of twentieth century history is a significant historical document. We are proud to be able to present it here for the first time in English.

Next, we present two historic speeches by Charles A. Lindbergh from 1939 and 1940. Reading them today strongly underscores the drastic extent to which the basic outlook and fundamental prevailing assumptions about life of Americans have changed during the last half century. The reader may also be struck by the thought that few, if any, prominent Americans today seem capable of speaking with Lindbergh's clarity, honesty and truthfulness.

In a culturally distorted age that boisterously acclaims a figure like "Magic" Johnson as a hero and role model, it is refreshing to recall the life and legacy of an authentic American hero.

In September 1939, just before Lindbergh delivered the first of his speeches against efforts to involve the United States in the war raging in Europe, President Franklin Roosevelt tried to "buy off" the aviator with a prestigious and comfortable high-level post in his administration. Naturally, this would mean that Lindbergh would have to refrain from any public criticism of Roosevelt's policies. The aviator promptly rejected the attractive bribe.

In 1970, looking back on the legacy of the Second World War, Lindbergh reflected:

We won the war in a military sense; but in a broader sense it seems to me we lost it, for our Western civilization is less respected and secure than it was before. In order to defeat Germany and Japan we supported the still greater menaces of Russia and China ... Much of our Western culture was destroyed. We lost the genetic heredity formed through aeons in many millions of lives ... It is alarmingly possible that World War II marks the beginning of our Western civilization's breakdown ...

In the next essay, "Why Holocaust Revisionism," IHR editor Theodore O'Keefe makes an eloquent and persuasive plea for a skeptical look at the orthodox Six Million extermination story.

In the Book Review section, John Cobden critically reviews Chutzpah, attorney Alan Dershowitz' best-selling manifesto. Then, in a review of Professor David Fischer's acclaimed work, Albion's Seed, Nelson Rosit discusses the lasting legacy of British migration to the United States, including the crucial impact of the British cultural heritage on American life, customs and thinking.

In the "Historical News and Comment" section, we first present a startling essay by Roger Stolley that provides further evidence that President Roosevelt knew in advance about the December 1941 Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor.

A short item follows that tells about a recently uncovered official document, 'Joint Plan Red," which outlines a startling 1930 contingency plan for war by the United States against Britain and Canada.

We conclude this issue with the text of a noteworthy letter by Paul Rassinier, the founder of scholarly Holocaust Revisionism. This letter, which is published here for the first time in English, sheds light on the motives and outlook of this remarkable Frenchman.

—Mark Weber

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Mark Weber
Title: From the Editor
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 4 (spring 1992), 118, 126f.
Published: 1992-04-01
First posted on CODOH: Nov. 17, 2012, 6 p.m.
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