'The Catastrophe of Revisionism'

Published: 1995-09-01

This document is part of the Journal of Historical Review periodical.
Use this menu to find more documents that are part of this periodical.

Along with much of the US media, many American intellectuals have sought to dismiss the worldwide revisionist assault against the Holocaust extermination story as an inconsequential and transitory phenomenon. In Europe, though, leading intellectuals understand that revisionism is something much more profound and durable.

Few periodicals play a greater role in European intellectual life than Les Temps Modernes, a French monthly journal founded in 1945 by Jean-Paul Sartre and his lifelong companion, Simone de Beauvoir. In recent years its editor has been Claude Lanzmann, who made the Holocaust film "Shoah."

In "The Catastrophe of Revisionism" ("La Catastrophe du Revisionnisme"), the lead article in the November 1993 issue, Robert Redeker develops the view that revisionism is a "catastrophe" in the sense that it is a disastrous "change of epoch."

"Auschwitz," has been, and still is, "our mysticism." For decades, writes Redeker, this "negative mysticism" has served as a useful religious belief or "theology."

Under the impact of revisionism, the Holocaust story has become an issue of technical scrutiny and detailed discussion. As a result, writes Redeker, we are now facing the "terminus" of a respectable "mysticism." "Revisionism," he adds, "testifies to a change of generation ... Revisionism marks the end of a mysticism." Revisionism is "a great historical force ... "

On another occasion Lanzmann commented bitterly on the impact of revisionism. "In order to refute the revisionists' arguments," he said, "one must give them legitimacy, and they thus become the central point of reference. The revisionists occupy the whole terrain." (Le Nouvel Observateur, Sept. 30, 1993. See Serge Thion's essay in the July-August 1994 Journal, p. 37.)

Entirely unmentioned in Redeker's Temps Modernes essay is the man who, more than anyone, is responsible for this "catastrophe": Robert Faurisson, the indefatigable French professor who is Europe's foremost revisionist scholar. In her book Le Cérémonie des adieux (p. 153), Simone de Beauvoir relates that her last conversations with Sartre before his death in 1980 were about the "theories" of Faurisson.

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Mark Weber
Title: 'The Catastrophe of Revisionism'
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 5 (September/October 1995), p. 29
Published: 1995-09-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 23, 2012, 6 p.m.
Last revision:
Appears In: