The Roger Garaudy Affair

Published: 1996-01-05

Former communist Roger Garaudy converts to revisionism" "L'an cien communiste Roger Garaudy se convertit au révisonnisme". Such was the headline bannering Christiane Chombeau's January 31st article in Le Monde last winter, one rich in meaning for those who had followed Roger Garaudy's meandering career as a French intellectual since the 1950s.

More than just a "former communist," Garaudy had for years been the ideological muscleman of the French Communist Party, as well as a high-profile political thinker and social activist in the national life of France.

The underscored reference to Garaudy's "conversion" to Holocaust revisionism in Le Monde's headline was an added touch of irony and double-entendre aimed at the more informed French reader, who might have recalled the old communist's somewhat bombastic 1982 conversion to Islam.

Chombeau has described Garaudy's more recent ideological colours in these terms: "Anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli, anti-capitalist, Muslim..." Also accused of being anti-Semitic, Garaudy has insisted that for him "Judaism is not the issue, but that Israeli policies are" ["Le judaisme n'est pas mis en cause, mais la politique israélienne."]. Still, allegations of anti-Semitism against Garaudy surfaced again this past winter.

At issue was a long essay Roger Garaudy had written boldly challenging the traditional version of the Holocaust story. Published in the Winter 1995 edition of the journal La Vieille Taupe, the content shocked and dismayed many of Garaudy's old comrades on the Left.

In it, the 82-year-old philosopher, communist-turned-Muslim defended and promulgated the views of Holocaust revisionists, most notably (reports Chombeau) those of the controversial British historian, David Irving, whose Goebbels biography was given a last-minute heave-ho by its publisher, St. Martin's Press, earlier this month.

Titled, "The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics" "Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne", Garaudy's essay unabashedly kicked over three pillars of the traditional version of the Holocaust story: namely, the Hitler order to exterminate the Jews of Europe, the existence of the homicidal gas chambers, and the very "genocide" itself.

Since 1990 it has been illegal in France for anyone to contest any aspect of the Holocaust story. Those who have, like Prof. Robert Faurisson and others, have been summoned before the courts and duly charged with hate-mongering and racial defamation.

The same has happened to Roger Garaudy, a longtime icon of Leftist thought in France, who, along with Pierre Guillame, the publisher of La Vieille Taupe, will have to present himself before a Parisian court later this month and face the charges of hate-mongering and racial defamation levelled at him by several survivors' associations, with the same response threatened by MRAP [Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples].

As Gitta Sereny noted in the course of the Faurisson trials 15 years ago, an interesting feature about Holocaust revisionism in France has been its appeal to French intellectuals of both the Right and the Left.

In the case of Messrs. Garaudy and Guillame, it is a pair of Leftist thinkers that we shall see in the dock of a Parisian courtroom on April 25 fending off charges of hate-mongering and racial defamation for having simply embraced and espoused certain revisionist notions vis à vis the Holocaust.

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Author(s): The TransCyberian Express
Title: The Roger Garaudy Affair
Published: 1996-01-05
First posted on CODOH: May 30, 1996, 7 p.m.
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