Robert Faurisson - A Long View
By Arthur R. Butz, PhD
Great men do not need praise as much as they need an understanding of what they have done. I believe I have known Robert Faurisson longer than any other person currently active in 'Holocaust' revisionism, except for one relative of his, so it is incumbent on me to attempt to provide a long view of his work and the problem of its appreciation.
I Make the Acquaintance of Robert Faurisson
After my book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century was first published in 1976, I received many letters from people, most of whom I have forgotten and who did not sustain their interest. Among these communications was a letter from a French literature professor I had never heard of. I corresponded with this Robert Faurisson for almost a year with somewhat mixed thoughts about him. On the one hand, it was clear that he was very active in researching the subject of our mutual interest. On the other hand, he had no finished work or even manuscript to show me. He said he intended to publish a book entitled Le Mythe des Chambres à Gaz Hitlériennes, but activity, wishes, and intentions do not equal results, as I have observed countless times as a professional academic. This failure to show me evidence of significant work in 1976 is the major theme that I shall develop here; it is a key to understanding the problem of appreciating his work.
In the summer of 1977, I visited with him in Paris for a few days. That meeting with him was not the reason I went to Paris. During that trip, the principal points of my itinerary consisted in a visit to my publisher in Brighton, England, then a visit to Udo Walendy in Vlotho, Germany. Walendy was the distributor/translator of the German translation of my book. Beyond that, I had an intention to visit Wilhelm Stäglich in Hamburg and Robert Graham in Rome. Paris, mid-way between Brighton and Vlotho, was of interest to me mainly because I wanted to inquire into certain documents said to be held at the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine (CDJC). In addition, there was a man in Paris interested in publishing a French translation of my book.
Meeting Faurisson was not a principal concern of mine at the time, and it may be that his eagerness to be hospitable to me had a lot to do with my agreeing to meet him. As I left England and headed toward Paris, I must have wondered if this man would be worth any of my time. Though he professed great interest in the subject matter and even expended great energy pursuing it, he seemed to have made no significant contributions.
Faurisson had indicated to me earlier in our correspondence that he had written some letters, which caused angry and stupid reactions from some quarters. For example, his letters raising earnest questions about the alleged gas chambers, and requesting earnest replies resulted in accusations that he denied the existence of the camps. When I met him in 1977, there had been a recent column in Le Monde by Pierre Viansson-Ponté, criticizing the French version of the booklet Did Six Million Really Die?, and Faurisson attempted to publish a rebuttal there.
My apprehensions concerning Faurisson were justified but were quickly dispelled. Faurisson was a regular researcher at the CDJC, and he took me there. I remember the lady at the reception desk when we entered together. She stared at me incredulously, pointed to Faurisson, and asked "Vous êtes avec Monsieur?" (Are you with this man?)
In our conversations, Robert described his work to me. He had interviewed Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, and done additional work on that subject. He had visited Auschwitz, and he showed me engineering plans of crematoria, which he had obtained there and which he was not to publish until several years later. I realized that this man was resourceful and serious indeed. Bear in mind that my conversations with Robert are now being recollected after 26 years, and it may be that he showed me more of his work.
After I returned home in September 1977, I continued my correspondence with Robert with new respect. I may have been the only person in the world at that time who had any comprehension of his work. Faurisson continued his letter writing and attempts to publish an article of decent length and breadth expressing his views. As of mid-1978, he was unsuccessful in the latter, but in June 1978, he was able to publish a short article in Maurice Bardèche's obscure neo-fascist Défense de l'Occident.
Robert Faurisson Becomes a Public Figure
In late 1978, there were two interesting developments in Europe. In Germany, Hellmut Diwald published his thick tome Geschichte der Deutschen (History of the Germans), which had a few pages that seemed to have an unacknowledged dependence on my book. Diwald's book did not last long in that form. As many copies as possible were recalled and the revisionist pages were replaced with politically acceptable ones.
In France, the weekly L'Express published an interview, in its issue of 28 Oct. - 4 Nov. 1978, with Louis Darquier de Pellepois, who had been in charge of the Jewish policy of the Vichy regime during the German occupation. Darquier asserted that the only creatures gassed at Auschwitz had been lice and that the 6 million legend was "An invention pure and simple. A Jewish invention." Of course there was a great uproar, but Darquier's enemies were frustrated by the fact that he was long and safely established in Spain. A substitute villain had to be found. Faurisson became the target. A vicious campaign against Faurisson ensued, but a consequence was that Faurisson was able to publish a well researched article in Le Monde (29 Dec. 1978).
Faurisson thus as a vicarious target became a public figure. In this he was handicapped by the fact that there existed no substantial corpus of writings of his that could accurately represent his views against the distortions of his enemies. In contrast, I remained silent until my book was published in 1976 so that, when the storm broke around me in early 1977, I was satisfactorily represented in print.
Faurisson In Print at Last
At my urging, Faurisson was invited to speak at the first conference of the newly-founded Institute for Historical Review (IHR) in California, held in September 1979. At about the same time, the Italian popular history magazine Storia Illustrata carried an interview with Faurisson. This interview was quite fair to him, but an interview is seldom an effective way to present one's views, as the journalist chooses what is to be discussed. Happily, the IHR established its new Journal of Historical Review in 1980, and Faurisson gained an English language outlet for his work that served well for about twenty years.
About simultaneously some of Faurisson's research became directly available to the French public in a book formally authored by Serge Thion, entitled Vérité historique ou vérité politique? Le dossier de l'affaire Faurisson. La question des chambres à gaz., published in 1980 by the small leftist house La Vieille Taupe, Paris. In this book, which I have cited above, Thion related in detail the 1974-1980 events surrounding Faurisson.
However, Faurisson was the real author of this book, as only the first half is attributed to Thion, and that half consists mostly of reproductions of Faurisson's letters and some reactions to them. In the second half Faurisson presents the results of his research on gas chambers, Anne Frank, and related matters. Thus there was finally a Faurisson book, but it did not look like a Faurisson book, and its publication was a hasty defensive reaction to media hysteria.
In the aftermath of the Darquier affair Faurisson was denied use of the archives of the CDJC. However, I introduced him to Mark Weber, then a young historian living in Washington, D.C., who was able to help Faurisson gain access to the resources of the U.S. National Archives.
Thus, by the year 1980, it seemed that Faurisson was finally situated to conduct and publish his research as he deemed appropriate.
Faurisson's Career a Sequence of Battles
That happy situation, commonplace in scholarship, was not attained. A good way to grasp Faurisson's career as a revisionist since 1978 is to understand that the post-Darquier affair never ended for him, except in the sense that he was quickly barred as a contributor to the major press outlets. The long past events I have described above have been the pattern for his entire career as a revisionist. Virtually everything he has produced for the public has come forth from him in the context of some battle. I am not saying that his research was purely a defensive response. Most of it was not. However, its expression in written works has been governed to a great extent by his running battles. On the day after I started writing this chapter with this 'battle' theme in mind, a 'speak of the devil' message came to me by e-mail, which brought an article on Treblinka that Faurisson dated 12 Oct. 2003. It opens with the words:
"With regard to the wartime Treblinka camp, I have mentioned over the years - in a few conference addresses, in a video presentation, and in some correspondence - the testimony of Marian Olszuk. But because I have been absorbed in the ordeal of the revisionist struggle over the past 15 years, I have put off writing a report about my meeting with that exceptional Polish witness."
This largely proves what I am trying to say, but some of the implications may not be clear.
The main point is that, in gaining an appreciation of the work of Faurisson, the first problem is finding the work of Faurisson. Some has not been published and what has been published is largely scattered about in obscure journals or websites. Some of it is misleadingly labeled. A researcher who searches a library catalog for author Faurisson will not find the Thion book that was mostly authored by Faurisson.
Again to provide some contrast, I cannot describe any phase of my revisionist years as involvement in the 'revisionist struggle' in the sense that Faurisson uses the term.
I would say that Faurisson was 'the whole thing' in revisionism during the eighties, that assessment being close enough to being literally true for us to adopt it. However, I fear people who were not involved at the time could honestly fail to understand that fact, on account of the difficulty of determining both his intellectual output and its importance.
The most significant failure of his intellectual output to be properly credited to Faurisson came in 1988 at the second Zündel trial. It was Faurisson, in Toronto for the trial, who asked the vital questions that led directly to the famous Leuchter Report and furthered subsequent forensic investigations. I consider this activity to be essentially a product of Faurisson's work, and yet his name is not on it. As things stand now, it will be easy for even a conscientious researcher to miss Faurisson's crucial role in this important development. What actually happened is that, by asking the right questions of Fred Leuchter, Faurisson founded a fertile field of revisionist investigation. In the intellectual process the right questions are usually harder to determine than the right answers. When crucially important questions seem to follow from no pre-existing process of logical deduction, we call it 'genius,' and one of the purposes of the present book is to give the genius Faurisson the credit he deserves.
Historical circumstances obscured Faurisson's role - it was "in the ordeal of the revisionist struggle," namely in a court case. The Leuchter Report should have been a formal work co-authored by Faurisson and Fred Leuchter. As things turned out, the original version of the Report had an introduction authored by Faurisson, which was dropped in some later versions.
A second 'speak of the devil' came to me from Faurisson while writing this chapter. It was his letter to the German lawyer Horst Mahler, dated 20 Oct. 2003. Faurisson briefly summarized his revisionist work and with regard to the Leuchter Report, he told Herr Mahler:
"In 1988, thanks to an investigation commissioned by the German-Canadian Ernst Zündel, the professor's [Faurisson's] findings were confirmed by the American Fred Leuchter, designer of the gas chambers used in several United States prisons and author of a report on the alleged gas chambers of Auschwitz and Majdanek."
Here there is not even a hint that Faurisson had anything to do with this trailblazing forensic investigation. The reader could reasonably infer, from Faurisson's own words, that Faurisson never heard of Leuchter until his Report was issued. The present inner circle of revisionists knows that is far from true, but can those who have not been close to such events be faulted for not understanding that?
The eighties - whose revisionist activity Faurisson utterly dominated - ended in France with the infamous Fabius-Gayssot law of 1990, a sort of Lex Faurissonia, if I may use Latin here for 'the Faurisson Law,' that is, the law specifically targeting Faurisson by the State. This was both a disaster for Faurisson and revisionism, but at the same time also a back-handed compliment to, and confirmation of, the intellectual significance of revisionism.
Faurisson Remains Inadequately Represented
It was not until 1999 that a serious compilation of Faurisson's writings appeared, as the four volume Écrits révisionnistes. The Fabius-Gayssot law forced the production of this set as an "édition privée hors-commerce", i.e., something printed by a private group of individuals strictly for its private use and not to be sold to the public. The arrangement of Faurisson's writings is chronological, implying that much of the presentation is not what Faurisson or most readers would consider optimum today. Moreover, these four volumes lack an ingredient that Faurisson has repeatedly stressed as important: pictures.
Here I am not being critical of the publishers of this set. I have some comprehension of the great difficulties the circle around Faurisson has faced in the post-Gayssot era. The fact remains that this four volume set does not satisfactorily represent the work and mature and refined views of this remarkable man.
For some time there has been an intention to publish an English language work entitled Faurisson on the Holocaust, whose schema, content, and progress as of today I am not well informed about. If it is to amount to an English translation of the Écrits révisionnistes, then it will contribute to our understanding of Faurisson's work, but will not be what we might hope for.
Does Faurisson need a biographer? Though I suppose he will get one, I believe that a biographer would not be helpful as we would just be given an account of the 'struggle.' That account may be so interesting as to obscure for us that the main problem we, and even more so the future student, face today is the problem I faced as I left England in 1977 and headed toward Faurisson and Paris. What has Faurisson actually done? At this point Faurisson does not need a biographer as much as he needs somebody to summarize his work in a concise but thorough way. As we old comrades of Robert Faurisson gather here to honor him and his work, let us note that the expression of the latter remains both incomplete and cumbersome, and that others will come not filled with the awe that tends to obscure that fact for us. He is not in danger of being forgotten, but he is in danger of being misunderstood.
Arthur R. Butz, U.S. citizen, was born and raised in New York City. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T. and his Ph.D. in Control Sciences from the University of Minnesota in 1965. In 1966 he joined the faculty of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, where he is now Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is the author of numerous technical papers. Dr. Butz is the author of the book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry (1976), one of the basic texts of 'Holocaust' revisionism. He has also published numerous revisionist articles, mostly in the Journal of Historical Review. For more details see pubweb.acns.nwu.edu/~abutz/
|||My meeting with Graham was described in the Journal of Historical Review, March/April 1998. The immediate basis for my interest in the archives of the CDJC is also described there. This material was reproduced in the 2003 printing of my book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, Theses and Dissertations Press, Chicago, pp. 361ff. It is also posted at http://pubweb.northwestern.edu/~abutz/di/vatican/graham.html .|
|||These events are related by Serge Thion, Vérité historique ou vérité politique, La Vieille Taupe, Paris, 1980, Ch. 2.|
|||Ibid., pp. 83-89.|
|||These events are related by Armin Mohler and Robert Hepp in Josef Eibicht (ed.), Hellmut Diwald, Hohenrain, Tübingen 1994, pp. 110-120, 121-147; online at www.vho.org/D/diwald. Editor's note.|
|||Serge Thion, op. cit. (note 2), Ch. 3.|
|||The interview was published in the August 1979 issue and controversy continued in the letters section in the September, October and December issues. The August interview appeared in a French translation, corrected and annotated by Faurisson, in S. Thion, op. cit. (note 2) , pp. 171-212. Later posted at www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/archFaur/1974-1979/RF7908xx2.html. An English translation was published in the Journal of Historical Review, 2(4) (1981), pp. 319-373 and later posted at www.ihr.org/jhr/v02/v02p319_Faurisson.html.|
|||R. Faurisson, "Treblinka: An Exceptional Guide," The Revisionist, 2(1) (2004), in preparation.|
|||British Historian David Irving published a version with a preface of his own, The Leuchter Report, Focal Point Publications, London 1989; German Historian Udo Walendy published a German version with a lengthy introduction about his involvement in the second Zündel trial, "Ein Prozeß, der Geschichte macht," Historische Tatsachen, no. 36, Verlag für Volkstums und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, Vlotho 1988. Editor's note.|
Source: The Revisionist 2(1) (2004), pp. 7-10.
Back to the Table of Contents