Robert Faurisson Aitken
25 January 1929
|Died||21 October 2018 (aged 89)|
|Occupation||Professor of literature and revisionist historian, known for Holocaust-denial|
Robert Faurisson (born Robert Faurisson Aitken; 25 January 1929 – 21 October 2018) was a British-born French academic who became best known for Holocaust denial. Faurisson generated much controversy with a number of articles published in the Journal of Historical Review and elsewhere, and by letters to French newspapers, especially Le Monde, which contradicted the history of the Holocaust by denying the existence of gas chambers in Nazi death camps, the systematic killing of European Jews using gas during the Second World War, and the authenticity of The Diary of Anne Frank. After the passing of the Gayssot Act against Holocaust denial in 1990, Faurisson was prosecuted and fined, and in 1991 he was dismissed from his academic post.
Early life and education
He studied French, Latin and Greek literature (Lettres classiques), and passed the agrégation (the highest competitive examination to qualify to be a secondary school teacher) in 1956. He became a high school teacher at Vichy, while working on a PhD thesis about the poet Lautréamont. He obtained his doctorate in 1972. He then became a lecturer, and then professor of French literature at the University of Lyon between 1973 and 1990.
In Vichy, as a young teacher, he gained attention when he published an interpretation of Rimbaud's Sonnet des voyelles as an erotic text. Around 1960, he developed political sympathies for the colonialist cause in Algeria (the Algérie française movement), and was arrested in the belief he was a member of the "OAS", a terrorist organisation.
In 1974, Faurisson contacted Yad Vashem with a lengthy letter detailing a variety of arguments which he claimed demonstrated that there had been no genocide of Jews during World War II. These assertions were based on his own interpretation of archival records and his skepticism about the assertions and testimony of various historical figures, including Nazi officials such as Rudolf Höss.
He became involved with the Institute for Historical Review during the 1970s, lecturing and publishing prolifically. He twice testified in defense of Canadian-German Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, and his testimony has been associated with laying the groundwork for the "Leuchter Report", an influential Holocaust-denial publication. Faurisson's activism garnered him several dedicated critics, including the Jewish French historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet.
The Diary of Anne Frank
In 1978, Faurisson authored a French-language text, "The Diary of Anne Frank – Is It Authentic?". It appeared in Dutch-language translation in 1985, with the modified title, "The Diary of Anne Frank – A Forgery". The text questioned various elements of the Diary of Anne Frank, including the use of a vacuum cleaner by the family while in hiding. Faurisson continued,
"Vacuum cleaners at that time were exceptionally noisy. I must ask: 'Is this credible?' My question is not just a formality. It is not rhetorical. Its purpose is not to astonish. My question is simply a question. An answer will have to be found."
Faurisson interviewed Otto Frank in researching the article, though much of what Faurisson asserted Frank had said was later contradicted by Frank himself. Faurisson's writing on the subject first came into the spotlight during a court case between Otto Frank and Heinz Roth, a publishing-house owner responsible for the circulation of various neo-Nazi writings, including several publications impugning the authenticity of Anne Frank's diary; Faurisson's writing on the subject was entered into the court record as an expert opinion in defense of Roth. The 1978 finding of the court was that Roth must refrain from publishing any further reading material claiming the diary was a fraud.
One of Faurisson's works, Memoire en defense, was published in 1980, prefaced by an essay by Noam Chomsky. While Chomsky had given general approval for his essay to be reproduced by others, it was included without his knowledge. Chomsky's piece was a general defense of freedom of speech, including that of Faurisson. Chomsky stated that "I see no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the Holocaust...I see no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson's work," and considered Faurisson as a "relatively apolitical liberal of some sort". Chomsky was accused of supporting Faurisson, rather than defending his right to speech, the first of which accusations Chomsky denied. Noting he had described the Holocaust as "the most fantastic outburst of collective insanity in human history", Chomsky argued that his views were "diametrically opposed" to those of Faurisson on the subject.
Legal and other consequences
In September 1989, Faurisson was beaten by unknown assailants claiming to be "The Sons of the Memory of the Jews", an organization about which nothing has been discovered either before or since the incident. Faurisson had been walking his dog in a park in Vichy and was kicked and punched by three young men, breaking his jaw.
Shortly after the Gayssot Act, a statute that prohibited Holocaust denial, was enacted in 1990, Faurisson was convicted of Holocaust denial in a French court. In 1991, Faurisson was removed from his university chair on the basis of his views under the Gayssot Act. He challenged the statute as a violation of international law at the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Human Rights Committee. Faurisson filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 1993; in 1996, the Committee rejected Faurisson's claim that France's prosecution of him was a violation of the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee upheld the Gayssot Act as necessary to counter possible antisemitism.
He challenged the statute as Faurisson was charged again in a trial on 11 July 2006. He was accused of denying the Holocaust in an interview with the Iranian television station "Sahar 1" in February 2005. On 3 October 2006, he was given a three-month probationary sentence and fined €7,500 for this offence.
In December 2006, Faurisson gave a speech at the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, which was sponsored by the government of Iran.
Beginning in late 2008, Faurisson became close to the comedian and political activist Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, appearing with him publicly on stage and in video, and celebrating his (Faurisson's) 80th birthday in his theater. Dieudonné awarded Robert Faurisson an "insolent outcast" prize. The award was presented by one of Dieudonné's assistants, Jacky, dressed in a concentration camp uniform with a yellow badge. This earned Dieudonné a court conviction.
- A-t-on LU Rimbaud ?, Bizarre, no. 21–22, 1961. 2nd edition under the title A-t-on lu Rimbaud ? Suivi de l'Affaire Rimbaud, Paris: J.J. Pauvert, 1971. 3rd edition published by La Vieille Taupe, 1991.
- A-t-on bien lu Lautréamont ?, Paris: Gallimard, 1972.
- La clé des Chimères et autres chimères de Nerval, Paris: J.J. Pauvert, c.1977.
- Mémoire en défense: contre ceux qui m’accusent de falsifier l’histoire, Paris: La Vieille Taupe, 1980.
- (edited by Serge Thion) Vérité historique ou vérité politique : le dossier de l’affaire Faurisson : la question des chambres à gaz, Paris: La Vieille Taupe, 1980.
- Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Paris: La Vieille Taupe, 1982.
- "Chronique sèche de l'Épuration – Exécutions sommaires dans quelques communes de Charente limousine", Revue d'Histoire révisionniste, no. 4, February–April 1991.
- Réponse à Jean-Claude Pressac, published by AAARGH, 1993
- Écrits révisionnistes (1974–1998), 4 volumes, privately printed, 1999.
- (With Siegfried Verbeke) Het «Dagboek» van Anne Frank : een kritische benadering
- Le négationniste Robert Faurisson est mort (in French)
- Charny, Israel W. (1999). Encyclopedia of Genocide. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 182. ISBN 9780874369281.
- Levy, Richard S. (2005). Antisemitism: a historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 225. ISBN 9781851094448.
- Brigneau, François (1992), Mais qui est donc le professeur Faurisson? (in French), Publications FB, OCLC 38790837, retrieved 30 May 2012[page needed]
- Henry Rousso, « Le négationnisme est une parole de haine », L'histoire, no 294, 2004, p. 86-87. See also Henry Rousso, « The Political and Cultural Roots of Negationism in France », South Central Review, vol. 23 « Fascism, Nazism : Cultural Legacies of Reaction », no 1, 2006, p. 67-88.
- Frank, Anne and Hardy, H.J.J. and Barnouw, David and van der Stroom, Gerrold. "The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition" (2003, pp. 93-96)
- Some Elementary Comments on The Rights of Freedom of Expression by Noam Chomsky; appeared as a Preface to Robert Faurisson, Mémoire en défense, 11 October 1980.
- Faurisson, Robert. Mémoire en défense (contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'Histoire : la question des chambres à gaz). Paris: La vieille taupe, 1980-11-01. 280 pp. ISBN 978-2903279035
- Mark Achbar & Peter Wintonick. Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. Zeitgeist Films, 1992.
- "Chomsky and the Neo-Nazis"
- "His Right to Say It", chomsky.info, The Nation, 28 February 1981.
- Igounet, Valérie (2000). Histoire du négationnisme en France (in French). Paris: Ed. du Seuil. ISBN 9782020354929.[page needed]
- Bouniot, Sophie (3 April 2007), "Viscéralement antisémite, voilà ce que vous êtes M. Faurisson", L'Humanité (in French), retrieved 7 May 2010
- "French Historian Who Dismisses Holocaust Is Beaten". Los Angeles Times. 17 September 1989. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "UN HRC views in case Faurisson v. France, No. 550/1993". umn.edu. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- "Négationnisme. Robert Faurisson condamné à trois mois avec sursis." L'Humanité, 4 October 2006.
- Full text of the speech of Professor Robert Faurisson at the Iran Holocaust Conference, December 11, 2006.
- "REGARDEZ - Dieudonné-Faurisson: ouverture d'une enquête préliminaire, actualité Société: Le Point" (in French). Lepoint.fr. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- "Dieudonné, Faurisson, Le Pen: décryptage du trio infernal" (in French). Rue89. 11 January 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- Dieudonné s'enfonce un peu plus. Le Journal du Dimanche, 2 January 2009; accessed 9 january 2015.
- "Injures" antisémites : Dieudonné condamné à 10.000 euros d'amende. Le Nouvel Observateur, 28 October 2009.
- Amende de 10.000€ pour Dieudonné, Le Figaro, 27 October 2009.
- Les étranges amitiés de Dieudonné. By Abel Mestre et Caroline Monnot. Le Monde, 24 February 2009.
- N. Maruani; A. Savyon (23 February 2012). "Iranian 'Conference on Hollywoodism and Cinema' Honors Prominent French Holocaust Deniers" (Inquiry and Analysis Series Report No.802). MEMRI. Retrieved 28 June 2012.