[The Van Pelt Report]: Electronic Edition, by Robert Jan van Pelt

Table of Contents

VIII Auschwitz and the Faurisson Affair

Demnant: "There are people who claim that in Auschwitz Jews were never gassed."
Klehr: "Jews never gassed? No? Yes, I have already been asked about that...Three elderly ladies come to visit us here. That is such an official society. They always want to support us a little bit, to give us a present on our birthdays, and so on, and one of them asked me once if people were gassed in Auschwitz? I said--I will tell you openly and honestly, but if it were someone else, I would have answered that I did not know. But because it is you, I will tell you precisely, that people were gassed. And anyone who maintains that there are no gassing...Yes, I don't understand him, he must be crazy or on the wrong....When you are three, four years in Auschwitz and experiences everything, then I cannot get myself to lie about it and say that no gassings were conducted."667
Josef Klehr, former SS guard in Auschwitz, in interview with Ebbo Demnant, 1978.
When, in September 1996, David Irving took out a Writ of Summons against Penguin Books Ltd, Deborah Lipstadt, and four book sellers, a new act began in a public drama that had begun eighteen years earlier as the so-called Faurisson Affair. The central issue at stake in this drama was the allegation that Auschwitz had not been an extermination camp, that the gas chambers belonged to the world of legend, and that, consequently, the Holocaust was a Hoax. The central protagonist in this drama was the onetime lecturer in French literature at the University of Lyons-2, Dr. Robert Faurisson. It was Faurisson who brought Holocaust denial to public attention, it was Faurisson who orchestrated the defence of the two Zündel Trials in Toronto, it was Faurisson who created in early 1988 the brief for Leuchter's investigation in Auschwitz--the very investigation that produced   the Leuchter report which pulled David Irving into the middle of the second Zündel Trial, which in turn led to Deborah Lipstadt's description of David Irving's role in the trial which has become the content of Irving's complaint against Penguin, Lipstadt, and the four others. Therefore, in order to understand the background of the events of 1988, it is necessary to consider the so-called "Faurisson Affair" in some detail.
As a student of French literature, Faurisson developed early a special interest in debunkment, using a radical method of textual criticism he called the "Ajax method" because "it scours as it cleans as it shines." All of this was of little public interest, until Faurisson turned his attention to the Holocaust, and more specifically Auschwitz. Surveying the literature, the great debunker found many contradictions in, among other things, statements about the total number of victims who had died in Auschwitz. Shortly after the liberation the Russians had given the number of four million victims. Commandant Rudolf Höss had mentioned at one time three million victims, of whom two and half million had been gassed--the rest having died from "natural causes," and at another time had mentioned a number of some 1,130,000 victims. And as historians like Gerald Reitlinger had estimated that there "only" 700,000 Jews had died in Auschwitz. Then Faurisson discovered other contradictions in the literature: for example, the plan of the crematoria published in the war-time War Refugee Board report, based on the testimony of two escaped prisoners and released in November 1944, showed little relation to the plans of the crematoria published after the war. And of course, many witness testimonies contradicted each other, while some plagiarized other texts. Faurisson concluded that all these contradictions pointed only at one possible conclusion: the story that Auschwitz had been an extermination camp was a hoax.
One cannot deny that he worked hard to make himself at home in the subject. For example, in 1975 he visited Auschwitz for one day, and in 1976 he stayed there for ten days. Ten years after his first visit, he was sufficiently at home in the subject to be qualified as an expert witness for the defence on the subject in the first Zündel Trial in Toronto. In the examination in which the defence counsel Douglas Christie presented Faurisson's credentials, the issue of his first visit to Auschwitz came up.
[Christie]: "Right. In your inquiry what did you do then?"
  [Faurisson]: "So I went to visit first what is called Crematorium 1."
Q.: "Where is that?"
A.: "In Auschwitz I."
Q.: "Yes."
A.: "you have in the same building a path, on the left, called 'Krematorium,' and on the right a place called 'Gas Chamber.'"
Q.: "Yes."
A.: "I got first into the place called 'Krematorium'. There were there two furnaces with two openings."
Q.: "What did you do?"
A.: "I noticed some things which were not normal."
Q.: "What did you notice? Tells us what you noticed."
A.: "I noticed, for example, that there was no soot at all."
Q.: "How did you find that out?"
A.: "Putting my finger like that, I saw that there was no soot."
Q.: "Inside the furnaces?"
A.: "yes."
Q.: "All right."
A.: "So I decided to find the highest possible responsible...."
Q.: "person."
A.: "....person, of the Auschwitz Museum."
Q.: "And then what did you do."
A.: "I found that man called [J]an Machalek. I asked him to come to the spot. I asked him if those ovens were genuine or not."
Q.: "Yeah. Don't tell us what he said. What did you ask him for?"
A.: "I can say that I showed all the same that there was no soot?"
Q.: "Yes."
A.: "Okay. The conclusion was that it was a reconstruction, a rebuilding and not something genuine."668
A specialist in scouring words, Faurisson had discovered like a latter-day Holmes   the implications of the immaculate muffles of the Auschwitz incinerators. And he remembered that, thirty years earlier, a certain toxologist René Faivre had investigated a room in the concentration camp Strutthof in the Alsace by taking samples from the walls around the ventilation system and having them analyzed forensically. The results had been lost. And, ignoring Polish investigations that had established the presence of the hydrogen cyanide in six zinc ventilation covers of the gas chamber of crematorium 2, and dismissing similar tests that had found such traces in the many bags of human hair found near the crematoria--the French scholar maintained that it would have been a usual practice to "disinfect" human hair with Zyklon B669--Faurisson wondered if it was not time to repeat Faivre's experiment in Auschwitz.670
Yet unlike Holmes, Faurisson proved a lousy student of evidence. In the following pages, I will consider Faurisson's published writings, concentrating on the manner in which he deals with Auschwitz. I will ignoring for the sake of brevity the more biographical aspects of Faurisson's turn to Holocaust denial.
As I have discussed in Chapter Five, one of the important contemporary pieces of evidence concerning the use of Auschwitz as an extermination camp is the war-time diary of Dr. Johann Paul Kremer, Dozent of Anatomy at the University of Münster. Kremer had served in Auschwitz in the late Summer and Fall of 1942. Faurisson "attacked" the text of Kremer's diary in a 50-page essay entitled "Professor of Medicine Johann Paul Kremer Faces the Horrors Caused by Typhus in Auschwitz during September and October 1942."671 It began with a two-page introduction about the prevalence of exanthematous typhus during the Second World War, and the German inability to suppress it. The horror   of Bergen-Belsen was caused by exanthematous typhus, and both the Germans before the liberation of the camp and the English afterwards could do little about it.
Neither the Germans nor the English killed in Bergen-Belsen; typhus killed: first and foremost typhus, but also other related epidemics caused by malnutrition. There was in Belsen not a "war crime" ("crime de guerre") perpetrated by one particular nation but, if one desires to hold on to the term "crime" (which is always off when one talks about war), one should say, in my judgement, that those horrors are "a crime of war" ("un crime de la guerre"), a "crime" caused by human folly. As the famous engraving of Dürer shows, peste accompanies war.672
We will forego the task of analyzing Faurisson's exculpating language, with the suggested equivalence between the inability of the German jailors to stop the epidemic in a concentration camp of their making and the inability of the English liberators to immediately stop the ravaging effects of the disease after they took over the camp. Instead we will concentrate on Faurisson's textual analysis of Kremer's diary. The first observation one can make is that Faurisson's approach was wrought with contradiction. Following his own principles of textual exegesis, Faurisson completely discarded any testimony given in Cracow--that is any external evidence given by the author of the diary that helped to elucidate his own text. Yet, at the same time, Faurisson was happy to provide an exegesis of various diary entries to establish that Dr. Kremer was first of all a decent scientist. For example, on January 13, 1943, Kremer wrote that "There is no Aryan, Negroid, Mongoloid or Jewish science, only true or false science."
I had never dreamt there existed anything like "a gagged science." By such manoeuvres science has received a mortal blow and has been banished from the country! The situation in Germany today is no better than in the times when Galileo was forced to recant and when science was threatened by tortures and the stake. Where, for Heaven's sake, is this situation going to lead us in the twentieth century!!! I could almost feel ashamed to be a German. And so I shall have to end   my days as a victim of science and a fanatic of truth.673
Faurisson happily quoted these lines as a character reference, but remarkably failed to provide the context of Kremer's observation on the state of science in Germany.
Mrs. Glaser left for Krefeld today. I heard from Gülker at the Sanitary Office for National Health that Fenner had put in a good word for me at the District Office--concerning the chair of heredity biology--but that they had told him I would not be taken into consideration on account of my Driburg work--A Noteworthy Contribution to the Problem of the Hereditary Nature of Deformations-.--They had nothing else against my person. There we have the much praised freedom of scholarship. It is difficult to imagine a greater gagging of it! Science with a blindfold over its eyes is and remains only a farce. And so I have really become a victim of my sincere belief in scientific ideals and in the unlimited freedom of research, as I had never even dreamt there existed anything like "a gagged science." By such manoeuvres science has received a mortal blow....674
In other words, Kremer's outburst was triggered by problems he faced in his career: as a Dozent he was, at the age of fifty-nine, stuck at the bottom end of the academic hierarchy, and his attempt to spend the last ten years of his academic career in the well-paid and highly-honored comfort of a chair had obviously failed. Given this context, it is clear that, without any further corroboration, his rant cannot be taken as convincing evidence for his integrity as a scientist.
Faurisson also desired to portray Kremer as a true humanitarian. For this he quoted the diary entry of July 26, 1945, when German refugees from the East were streaming into Münster.  
The weather is still very hot and dry. The corn ripens before its time, gnats are pestering us more than ever, and Russians, Poles and Italians still harass the starving, needy and homeless inhabitants. People are crowded in goods trains like cattle and carried hither and thither, while at night they try to find shelter in the stench of dirty, verminous bunkers. Quite indescribable is the fate of these poor refugees, driven into uncertainty by death, hunger and despair.675
Having constructed Kremer's moral universe, Faurisson ventured to reconstruct the circumstances of his time in Auschwitz. For that purpose he provided one page with the various entries in the so-called "Auschwitz Calendarium" that mention a exanthematous typhus epidemic during the summer of 1942. Thus Kremer had arrived in Auschwitz in the midst of a typhus epidemic. And Faurisson proceeded to quote the various references in Kremer's diary to exanthematous typhus.
After having argued the presence of a typhus epidemic, which no-one contests, Faurisson had to "neutralize" Kremer's entries that mentioned outright murder. The most problematic one was, of course, the entry of September 2.
September 2, 1942. Was present for the first time at a special action at 3 a.m. By comparison Dante's inferno seems almost a comedy. Auschwitz is justly called an extermination camp!676
Not without justification, Faurisson showed that the translation of this text was imprecise. The original German is slightly different.
Zum 1. Male draussen um 3 Uhr früh bei einer Sonderaktion zugegen. Im Vergleich hierzu erscheint mir das Dante'sche Inferno fas wie eine Komödie. Umsonst wird   Auschwitz nicht das Lager der Vernichtung genannt. 677
Faurisson noted that the adverb "draussen" ("outside") had not been included in the translation, and neither had been the personal pronoun "mir" ("to me"). Furthermore in German Auschwitz was called "das lager der Vernichtung" ("the camp of extermination") and not "an extermination camp." Hence the correct translation should read as follows:
September 2, 1942. Was present for the first time outside at a special action at 3 a.m. By comparison Dante's inferno seems to me almost a comedy. Auschwitz is justly called the camp of extermination!
All of this made a tremendous difference, according to Faurisson. "Special Actions," so he claimed, were usually interpreted as gassings. Yet Kremer said that he participated in a special action that took place outside. Hence it could not refer to a gassing, since the Germans gassed people inside.678 Then there was the issue of the term "Vernichtung" and the fact that Kremer called Auschwitz "the camp of extermination." This, Faurisson claimed, did not refer to what legend knows as "an extermination camp," but to "a camp in which extermination occurs."
To understand the entry of September 2, Faurisson claimed, it was necessary to put it in the context of the entries of September 1 and September 3.
September 1, 1942. Have ordered SS officer's cap, sword-belt and brace from Berlin by letter. In the afternoon was present at the gassing of a block with Cyclon B against lice.
September 2, 1942. Was present for the first time at a special action at 3 a.m. By comparison Dante's inferno seems almost a comedy. Auschwitz is justly called an extermination camp!
 
September 3, 1942. Was for the first time taken ill with the diarrhoea which attacks everybody in the camp here. Vomiting and colic-like paroxysmal pains. Water did not cause it as I had not drunk any. Neither was it the bread. People who take white bread only (diet) also fall ill. Most probably it is the unhealthy tropical climate, very dry and tropically hot, with clouds of dust and insects (flies).679
This context made it clear, Faurisson argued, that the entry of September 2 should be considered within the context of the epidemic, referred to obliquely in the entry of September 1 as the delousing of a barrack with Zyklon B serves to kill the primary hosts of the typhus virus: lice. There is a description of the effects of illness in the entry of September 3. Thus the entry of September 2 ought be read as referring to an event related to the epidemic. Noting that Kremer had not provided the potentially incriminating term Sonderaktion within quotations marks, Faurisson observed that this was absolutely appropriate because the term Sonderaktion routinely occurred in German military vocabulary.
The real work of professor of medicine Johann Paul Kremer at Auschwitz is his laboratory research on all kinds of diseases, especially typhus. But at times he is also asked to participate in special actions: assist in taking charge of a transport, in solving some difficulty, at the sorting of the ill in the hospital wards, and so on. I believe to know that, in the French army, all extra efforts, which are not really covered within one's normal duties, carry the pompous name "mission exceptionelle" (special mission), the word "mission" denoting a "task" without necessarily implying an idea of movement. At three o'clock in the morning, Dr. Kremer is asked for a special action that takes place "outside" (draussen), which means that there are also special actions that take place "inside" (drinnen). It is a pity that we cannot precisely establish what this action was, but we know it was horrible, at least in his eyes....One always claims that this special action concerned the arrival of a convoy from Drancy. That is not impossible. In fact, a   convoy from Drancy arrived in Auschwitz on September 2, 1942. One should verify the hour of arrival. It is not difficult to imagine the arrival of those people who were not affected by the epidemic in a camp that has fallen prey to typhus. The task of the doctor was not only to separate those fit to work from those who are unfit....It is also necessary to find billets for the arrivals in the barracks in the camp. Or always, or almost always, there are at the place of arrival ill people and people who are on the verge of death. One should imagine the crowding. To assist with that for many hours, sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes at dawn, sometimes during the day, that must have been Dantesque. One may imagine the terrible anxiety of those who arrive in that hell....After the war, in a similar fashion, the German populations deported from the East, who were discreetly referred to as "displaced persons," were also crammed in overpopulated camps ravaged by epidemics.680
Thus ends Faurisson's "debunkment" of Kremer's diary entry of September 2. The only other trumpcard he has not shown yet, but which he will produce close to the end of his essay, is the final "proof" that with the words "Dante's Inferno" he referred to a hell caused by typhus. After all, in a letter he wrote back home on October 21, he announced that he did not know for certain, but that he expected "to be back in Münster before December 1, so that I will have definitively turned my back to this hell Auschwitz, where now not only typhus and so on reigns, but also typhoid fever."681 And Faurisson triumphantly exclaimed:
Here then that "inferno of Dante" of his entry of 2 September 1942! Professor of medicine Johann Paul Kremer has seen the horrors of a massive epidemic destroying in Auschwitz both prisoners and guards: he has never seen the   monstrous gassing operations meant to exterminate human beings.682
So much for the application of the "Ajax Method" to history.
I will not deal with his attempt to negate the plain meaning of some of the other entries, and move straight to the entry of October 12.
October 12, 1942. (The second inoculation against typhus; strong reaction in the evening (fever). In spite of this was present at night at another special action with a draft from Holland (1,600 persons). Horrible scene in front of the last bunker! Hössler!) This was the 10th special action.683
2. Schutzimpfung gegen Typhus; danach abends starke Allgemeinreaktion (Fieber). Trotzdem in der Nacht noch bei einer Sonderaktion aus Holland (1600 personen) zugegen. Schauerliche Szene vor dem letzten Bunker (Hössler)! Das war die 10. Sonderaktion. 684
Faurisson attached great significance to the fact that the German text did say "Sonderaktion aus Holland (1600 Personen)." It is, admittedly, rather awkward in German: "Special Action from Holland (1600 persons)." To make it grammatically correct one needs to add between "Special Action" and 'from" something like "of a draft" or "of a group of people." Yet this common sense interpretation of Kremer's shorthand notation did not satisfy Faurisson's sense of the possible. He brazenly proposed that the preposition "aus" referred to the German nouns of "Auswahl" or "Auslehse," synonyms of "Selektion," selection. The verb "to chose from" was in German "auswählen" or "auslesen." On the basis   of this tenuous link he proposed now that the text referred to "a simple medical selection (to separate those fit for work and those unfit for work; or also, in that situation, the sick and the healthy; or the contagious and the not-contagious) enacted on a group of 1,600 people."685
After much thought, the logic of Faurisson's interpretation still eludes me, even if it was not without precedent: in 1949 the historian Jean Bruhat had employed in the Kravchenko trial the kind of philological reasoning to whitewash the Soviet regime. "The Purges of the Bolshevik Party," he testified, present absolutely no mystery."
Every Soviet citizen who joins the Bolshevik Party knows that by entering it, he undertakes a certain number of responsibilities. And no one compels him to be a member of the Bolshevik Party. Among other obligations, he must accept this one, which is to account publicly at any moment for his activity. That is what is called a Purge.686
Faurisson had no difficulty neutralizing the obvious reading of the sentence "Horrible scene in front of the last bunker!" as referring to the situation at either Bunker 1 or Bunker 2 in Birkenau, the converted cottages that served as gas chambers until the completion of the four new crematoria in the Spring of 1943. Completely ignoring the fact that both the SS and the inmates referred in common parlance to those extermination installations as "bunkers," Faurisson stated that the true meaning of the sentence must be obvious to "anyone who knows the topography of the Auschwitz camp." And with that he leads us to a place more than two miles distance from bunkers 1 and 2.
The "last bunker" cannot be but the bunker at the end of the camp, the famous bunker no. 11 that houses the prison of the camp, very far from the place where   the deportees disembarked (the railway platforms that also served as the place of selection). It is in front of that bunker (exactly between bunker 10 and 11) that the place of executions was located.687
The problem, of course, is that while Faurisson may know the topography of the camp, he shows himself wholly ignorant of the nomenclature. The buildings he refers to, the camp prison and the adjacent barrack with the execution place in between, are, were, and always have been known as "Block 11" and "Block 10," not "Bunker 11" and "Bunker 10." The noun "bunker" referred in camp jargon either to the two cottages (1 and 2, or perhaps "the first" and "the last") that served as gas chambers or, after the completion of crematoria 2, 3, 4 and 5, to their gas chambers probably. The latter because these gas chambers took over the function of the "bunkers."
Of course, Faurisson would not look at external evidence to guide his interpretation. Yet is he had chosen to do so, he could, for example, have found in his research in the Auschwitz archive a description of the situation at the "last bunker." On May 10, 1945 Judge Jan Sehn, member of the Polish Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, took the testimony of a surviving Sonderkommando of the crematoria, Shlomo Dragon. Dragon had worked at Bunker II, the gas chamber in the grove of birch forests that had been the site of most of the mass killings in the second half of 1942 and the first months of 1943. Dragon told how he was first brought to the Bunker in December 1942.
We were taken into a forest where there was a brick cottage covered with thatch; its windows were bricked in. On the doors to the interior of the cottage was a metal plate with the inscription "Hochspannung--Lebensgefahr" ("High Voltage--Danger"). Two wooden barracks were at 30 or 40 meters distance. On the other side of the cottage were four pits 30 meters long, 7 meters wide and 3 meters deep. The edges of these pits were burned and blackened. We were lined up in front of the house; then [SS-Untercharführer] Moll arrived and told us we would work here at the burning old and lice-infected people, that we would be given   something to eat and in the evening we would be taken back to the camp, and that we had to work. And if we did not, we would be beaten and for that purpose there were always clubs and dogs at hand. The SS who escorted us had indeed dogs. Then we were split in a number of groups. I was detailed with 11 others in a group which, as we learned later, was to remove the bodies from this cottage. We were all given masks, and were led through the door into the cottage. Moll opened the door, and only then could we see that the cottage was full of naked corpses of both sexes and all ages. Moll ordered us to remove these corpses from the cottage through the door to the yard. We started work with four men carrying one body. This annoyed Moll. He rolled up his sleeves, and threw a body through the door into the yard. When, despite this example, we said we were incapable of doing that, he detailed two of us to carry each body. Once the corpses were in the yard, a dental technician, assisted by an SS man, pulled out the teeth. A barber, also watched by an SS man, shaved off the hair; After that another group loaded the bodies onto a cart. This cart ran on a narrow-gauge track to the edge of the pits. Still another group prepared the pit for burning the corpses. First of all, big logs were put in the bottom, then smaller and smaller wood, in criss-cross fashion, and finally dry twigs. Another group took the bodies that had been brought by the cart and threw them into the pit. Once all the bodies had been brought from the cottage to the pit, Moll poured kerosene over them in the four corners of the pit and set fire to it by throwing a burning rubber comb over the kerosene-soaked areas. That is how the fire started and the corpses burned. While Moll started the fire, we were in front of the cottage and could see what he was doing. After having removed all the bodies from the cottage, we had to clean it thoroughly, wash the floor with water, spread it with sawdust, and whitewash the walls. The interior of the cottage was divided into four rooms by partition walls. One, in which one could house 1200 naked people, the second with a capacity of 700, the third of 400, and the fourth with a capacity of between 200 and 250. In the first room, the biggest, there were in the wall two little windows. The three smaller rooms each had one small window. These windows were closed by the wooden doors. Each room had a separate access. On the entrance door there was a metal sign with the inscription "Hochspannung--Lebensgefahr," as I mentioned earlier. When the door was opened, this sign was invisible but on could see another "Zum Baden" ("To the Baths"). The people   who were in these rooms saw on the exit door another sign with the inscription ("Zur Desinfektion")("To Disinfection"). Behind this door there was obviously no disinfection, because through these doors we removed the bodies into the yard. Each room had its own entrance door.688
Dragon continued to explain how this cottage was known as Bunker II, and that there was also another cottage, Bunker I, which contained only two chambers and which could hold less than 2,000 people. He explained that he and his fellow workers were mainly involved with the removal and burning of the corpses, and that only occasionally was he present at the actual, mostly nightly gassings, which was mainly run by the SS men themselves. His role at those occasions was to help undress ill people. At those times he witnessed how, after all had been driven into the cottage, the doors were closed, and how SS-Rottenführer Steinmetz collected a tin of Zyklon B from a red cross van, donned a gas mask, opened it, threw it through one of the windows, closed the window, and carried the tin back to the van.689
Dragon also gave a graphic account of the situation inside Bunker II the next morning.
In general we found, when we opened the rooms, the bodies of the gassed in lying positions. When there were many, they were on top of one another, often in standing positions, with their upper bodies bent down. In many cases I saw on the lips of the gassed a white foam. In the rooms it was after they were opened very hot and one could sense the gas. It caused an itching feeling at the throat. On   one's lips one senses a sweetish, pleasant taste.690
Dragon recorded that Bunker I was demolished in 1943, and that in the same year the barracks situated next to Bunker II were also dismantled, and that at that time the cremation pits were filled with earth. Bunker II remained, however, standing to be used once more during the Hungarian Action of 1944.
If Faurisson missed Dragon's account, he certainly should have been able to consult that of Pery Broad, as it had been published by the time he began his investigation. A non-commissioned officer in the Auschwitz Political Department, the 34-year old SS-Unterscharführer Pery Broad was captured by the British near Ravensbrück on 6 May, 1945. In the prisoner-of-war camp he worked as a translator, and wrote voluntarily a report on his activities in Auschwitz. The Broad report corroborated Dragon's account of the Birkenau extermination installations, those "innocuous looking farmhouses, the 'bunkers' as those gas chambers were generally called."691
At some distance from the Birkenau camp, which was growing at an incredible rate, there stood, amidst pleasant scenery, two pretty and tidy-looking farmhouses, separated from one another by a grove. They were dazzlingly whitewashed, cosily thatched and surrounded with fruit trees of the kind that usually grew there. Such was the first hasty impression! Nobody would have thought it credible that in those insignificant little houses as many people had perished as would have filled a city. The attentive spectator might have noticed signs in many languages on the houses. The signs read: "To disinfection." then he might observe that the houses were windowless, but had a disproportionate number of remarkably strong doors, made air-tight with rubber and secured with   screwed-down bolts, while small wooden flaps were fixed near the bolts. Near the small houses there were several incongruously large stables, such as were used in Birkenau to accommodate prisoners. The roads leading to them bore the tracks of many heavily loaded vans. If the visitor discovered, in addition, that from the back doors there led a railway track to some pits hidden by brushwood fences, then he would certainly guess that the houses served some special purpose.692
There followed a detailed account of the killing procedure, from the arrival of the victims at the bunker, to the arrival of the tins of Zyklon B in an ambulance commanded by the medical orderly SS-Oberscharführer Josef Klehr. And Broad described the last phase of the killing process: the incineration of their bodies on the huge pyres. It corroborated Dragon's account given a month earlier--a testimony given in Poland and which was not and could not have been available to either Broad or his interrogators. Yet Broad could add the unique perspective of an outside observer. For example, Broad knew that the SS leadership was concerned about the fact that the killings as Bunkers I and II could not be kept secret.
The great pyres were spreading such a stench that the whole countryside for miles around had been infected. At night, the red sky above Auschwitz was visible from far away. But it would have been impossible to do away with the immense quantities of corpses, both of those who died in the camp and of those who had perished in the gas chambers, without the huge pyres. The chimney of the Auschwitz crematorium [crematorium 1] showed dangerous clefts due to overheating. Sentries were punished for gossiping: they were supposed to be guilty of betraying the secrets, but it was by reason of the unmistakable sweet smell and the nightly flames that the neighbourhood of Auschwitz learnt about the goings-on in the camp of death. Railwaymen used to tell the civilian population how thousands were being brought to Auschwitz every day, and yet the camp was not growing larger at a corresponding rate. The same information was supplied by the police escorts of the transports. The result was that a party speaker, when making   his speech in the town of Auschwitz, had to retreat as most of the audience was hostile.693
The creation of four new crematoria, which ended the need to incinerate the corpses on large pyres, allowed the Germans to restore the very secrecy that allowed, thirty years later, a man like Faurisson to negate the existence of these bunkers.
Fearful of external evidence, Faurisson stayed away from Dragon, Broad, Klehr, and the many other testimonies that describe the operation of the bunkers in excruciating detail. Ignorantly of context, he soldiered on, with as his only compass the linguistic insights offered by his "Ajax Method." Persistence paid. After many years of work he finally was able in late 1978 to propagate his ideas in the prestigious daily Le Monde. I will consider below the circumstances that led Faurisson's "breakthrough." Here I will limit myself to the conclusion about the Kremer diary that he was able to present to the French nation at large.
The physician Johann Paul Kremer's diary should be quoted correctly. It will thus be observed that when he speaks about the horrors of Auschwitz, it is an allusion to the typhus epidemic of September-October 1942. On October 3, he wrote: "At Auschwitz, whole streets have been annihilated by typhus." He himself would contract what he calls "the Auschwitz disease." Germans would die of it. The sorting out of the ill from the healthy was the "selection" or one of the forms of the "special action" performed by the physician. The sorting out took place either within buildings or outdoors. Never did he write that Auschwitz was a Vernichtungslager, that is, according to a terminology developed by the Allies after the war, an "extermination camp" (by which we are to understand a camp endowed with a gas chamber). In reality, what he wrote was: "It is not for nothing that Auschwitz is called the camp of annihilation (das Lager der Venichtung)." In the etymological sense of the word, typhus annihilates those whom it strikes. Another seriously mistaken quotation: for the date of September 2, 1942,   Kremer's manuscript reads: "This morning, I was present, outdoors, for the first time, at a special action." Historians and magistrates customarily suppress the word "outdoors (draussen)" in order to have Kremer say that the action took place in a "gas chamber." Finally, the atrocious scenes in front of the "last bunker" (this was the courtyard of Bunker 11) were executions of prisoners sentenced to death, executions the physician was obliged to attend. Among those sentenced were three women who had arrived in a convoy from Holland.694
This passage received the reply it deserved in Pierre Vidal-Naquet's brilliant essay "Un Eichmann de papier" ("A Paper Eichmann"). Vidal-Naquet characterized Faurisson's method as "the Art of Not Reading Texts," and in his comment on Faurisson's interpretation of Kremer's diary Vidal-Naquet amply demonstrated that, unlike Faurisson, he understood the art of reading texts. For example, as to Faurisson's discussion on the all-important distinction between Vernichtungslager and das Lager der Vernichtung, Vidal-Naquet wrote that "the fact that Auschwitz was the Lager der Vernichtung has no relation to typhus epidemics."
Indeed, Faurisson, who is so concerned with precision when it comes to translation, did not perceive that Kremer, in speaking of typhus, did not use the verb vernichten. He wrote on October 3, "In Auschwitz whole streets have been stricken down by typhus (In Auschwitz liegen ganze Strassenzüge an Typhus darnieder)." The difference in verbs (darniederliegen instead of vernichten) is significant, and Faurisson allowed himself to be fooled by the translation of the Polish publisher. Finally, a detail which I mention to show how Faurisson reads texts: it is false that Kremer had typhus and that what he called the Auschwitz illness is typhus. The indications in the diary for September 3, 4 and 14, show clearly that the Auschwitz illness is diarrhea with a moderate fever (37.8 degrees C. On September 14), Kremer was, in fact, vaccinated against (exanthematic) typhus and against typhoid fever. Faurisson's interpretation is thus not admissible, and the explanation--so dear to those revisionists, like Butz, prepared to admit   that there was a lot of dying in Auschwitz--of the death rates at Auschwitz by typhus stands condemned along with it. One must return to what is to be learned from the camp archives and from Kremer's confessions: that the "special actions" correspond to the arrival of convoys of deportees (who were, as a rule, duly registered in the camp archives); that deportees not enrolled in the camp were gassed in the bunkers of Birkenau (small houses located in the forest); that those suffering from illnesses in the camp (and specifically from typhus) as well as male and female "Muslims" were also gassed; and that at the last moment, there were occasionally painful scenes, such as that of October 18, 1942, with three "young and healthy" Dutch women who "did not want to enter the gas chamber and cried to save their lives" and who were shot, scenes that disturbed the SS-imposed order.
When Kremer spoke of the camp of annihilation, he was not, it is true, referring to a juridico-administrative concept, which did not figure, as is also true, on the official rolls of the Third Reich. He was simply speaking about what he saw. On the level he most cherishes, that of philological precision and accurate translation, Faurisson's interpretation is incoherent; on the level of intellectual ethics and scientific probity, it is bogus.695
The same judgment applies to Faurisson's analysis of the confessions of Kommandant Höss. He found in Höss's autobiography, written in Poland awaiting his sentence, an account how he had been beaten up immediately after his arrest by the British in March 1946, and on the basis of this he concluded that his entire confession had been the result of torture. Furthermore there were discrepancies between his different confessions--the one he gave immediately after his arrest, the one he gave in early April in Nuremberg, the one he gave later that month to prison psychologist Dr. Gustave M. Gilbert, and the two major confessions he wrote in Poland. And to make matters worse, Höss was weak on the technical details of gassing. Hence he was useless as a witness.696   Yet, at the same time, Faurisson was prepared to subject Höss's language to a most detailed exegesis whenever it suited him. For example, he juxtaposed the following two of Höss's statements.
The door was opened a half an hour after the gas was thrown in and the ventilation system was turned on. Work was immediately started to remove the corpses.697
Closely reading this passage, Faurisson noted the adverb "immediately." In other words, work began immediately when the ventilation began, that means when the room was still highly toxic. This was very dangerous. It was evident, Faurisson argued, that the Sonderkommando only could have entered the space equipped with gas masks.698 The second statement by Höss seemed, however, to preclude this.
They dragged the bodies from the gas chambers, removed the gold teeth, cut off the hair, then dragged the bodies to the pits or to the ovens. On top of that, they had to maintain the fires in the pits, pour off the accumulated fat, and poke holes into the burning mountain of bodies, so that more oxygen could enter. All these jobs they performed with an indifferent coolness, just as if this was an everyday affair. While dragging the bodies, they ate or smoked. Even the gruesome job of burning the bodies dug up after being in mass graves for a long time did not prevent them from eating.699
Faurisson observed that Höss saw the Sonderkommando dragging bodies while eating and smoking, they were obviously not wearing gas masks--probably because of their   "indifferent coolness." In short, there was an inexplicable contradiction between the extreme toxicity of the gas chamber and the behaviour of the Sonderkommandos. Adding to the collection the official instruction manual of Zyklon B, which stipulated that spaces that had been fumigated with the agent should air out for at least 20 hours, Faurisson came to the conclusion that Höss obviously did not know what he was writing about, and that his testimony was worthless.700 Yet on examination, it is clear that his "Ajax Method" did not do the texts justice. The second quotation taken from Höss occurs in the middle of a paragraph that deals with the "strange" behaviour of the Sonderkommando. It did not discuss the extermination procedure in any logical order. When Höss mentions that the Sonderkommando ate or smoked while dragging bodies, he did not say "while dragging bodies from the gas chambers." In fact, there was a lot of body-dragging in Auschwitz: in crematoria 2 and 3 bodies were dragged within the incineration halls from the elevator doors to the ovens, in crematoria 4 and 5, bodies were dragged not only from the gas chambers to the morgue, but also from the morgue to the incineration room, and in the case of the open air burning of the buried corpses in the late summer and fall of 1942, bodies were dragged from the opened mass graves to the incineration pits. At no time did the Sonderkommando need a gas mask for this awful job. Likewise Faurisson misrepresented the Zyklon B instruction manual. The rule for spaces to be aired for 20 hours applies to rooms without any special ventilation system. After 20 hours of natural ventilation, and another hour with closed windows and doors, the room should be available for all activities except sleeping: this should wait another day. The situation in the gas chambers was different. With its powerful ventilation system, and with the fact that most of the hydrogen cyanide was absorbed by the victims' bodies, the time could be reduced to 20 minutes.
While Faurisson examined the testimony of witnesses for every possible contradiction, he steadfastly refused to apply his "Ajax Method," or even the most basic rules of criticism, to the utterances of his hero Rassinier. Faurisson accepted his writings without criticism. Given Rassinier's glaring abuse of sources and their systematic violation of even the most elementary rules of legitimate scholarship, Faurisson's endorsement of his works can only be explained as a testimony of his bad faith--of his need to cling to a belief   in order to oppose another belief, a belief which, so I sense, Faurisson maintains in the absence of any true conviction.
Since the early 1970s Faurisson sought public attention for his work, but for many years he did not get a foot on the ground. The prestigious daily Le Monde refused to publish his letters, and also elsewhere the mainline press ignored him. Only the extreme-right Défense de l"Occident (Defense of the West) was interested, and in June 1978 published an article entitled "Le 'problème des chambres à gaz'" ("The 'Problem of the Gas Chambers.'").701 Because of its limited circulation, Faurisson sent an off-print to a number of important people, adding a convenient summary of his arguments.
Conclusions (after thirty years of research) of revisionist authors: (1) Hitler's "gas chambers" never existed. (2) The "genocide" (or: the "attempted genocide") of the Jews never took place; clearly, Hitler never ordered (nor permitted) that someone be killed for racial or religious reason. (3) The alleged "gas chambers" and the alleged "genocide" are one and the same lie. (4) This lie, which is essentially of Zionist origin, has allowed a gigantic politico-financial swindle of which the principal beneficiary is the State of Israel. (5) The principal victims of this lie and this swindle are the German and the Palestinian peoples. (6) The tremendous power of the official information channels has, until now, assured the success of the lie and censored the freedom of expression of those who denounce the lie. (7) The supporters of the lie know now that their lie is in its last years; they misrepresent the purpose and meaning of revisionist investigations; they label what is just a return to a concern for historical truth as "resurgence of Nazism" or "the falsification of history."702
Not many of the recipients gave the material a second thought. Yet the Nazi-hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld--the former a German by birth, the latter a Holocaust survivor--saw a gathering storm, and they invited Joseph Billig, who had assisted in the   Nuremberg prosecution of A. Rosenberg, and Georges Wellers, editor of "Le Monde ," to contribute to a volume entitled The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania (1978). Wellers, a survivor of Auschwitz, wrote two essays united under the heading "Reply to the Neo-Nazi Falsification of Historical Facts Concerning the Holocaust." One of the two essays dealt with Paul Rassinier's demographical "proof" that the Holocaust was a hoax, and a second essay is entitled "The Existence of the Gas Chambers." In his introductory remarks, Wellers summarized the allegations of the negationists, and noted the paradox that a Frenchman and former resistor, Rassinier, had laid down the foundations of negationism. "The paths marked out by Rassinier are faithfully followed by his imitators, who constantly refer to the master, citing him as a 'classic' who has 'definitively' demonstrated this or that," Wellers observed. Yet the pupils had started to go beyond the master, denying even the few concessions Rassinier had made to historical truth. Wellers mentioned them briefly, to end with the remark that, "[f]inally, for a certain R. Faurisson, everything is crystal clear: 'The time is ripe,' it is the 'imposture of genocide.'"703
If Klarsfeld's aim was that the publication of The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania would finish the issue, he must have been disappointed. In the fall of 1978, shortly after the book appeared, the existence, technology and operation of the gas chambers became in France an object of public contention. The catalyst for this was the notorious L'Express interview with Louis Darquier de Pellepoix. Living since the end of the war in comfortable exile in Spain, the former Commissioner General for Jewish Affairs of the Vichy government alleged that the Holocaust had not occurred, that there had been no gas chambers in Auschwitz. He claimed: "Only lice were gassed in Auschwitz."704
The Darquier interview provided Faurisson with the opportunity he needed. Within days he was published in the socialist newspaper Le Matin. Faurisson commented that the Darquier affair ought to convince the French that the Holocaust was fiction and   the gas chambers fabrications
In common with the Frenchman, Paul Rassinier (a former member of the resistance and a deportee), with the German, Wilhelm Stäglich, the Englishman, Richard E. Harwood, the American, Arthur R. Butz (author of the Hoax of the Twentieth Century, such a remarkable work that clearly no one has been able to reply to him) and twenty other authors who are either ignored or calumnied as I hereby proclaim...that the massacres in so-called "gas chambers" are a historical lie.705
A few weeks later Le Monde was forced, under the threat of legal action to publish a letter by Faurisson entitled "Le problème des chambres à gaz' ou 'le rumeur d "Auschwitz'" ("'The Problem of the Gas Chambers' or 'the Rumor of Auschwitz.'") The letter began with the declaration that "no-one contested the use of crematoria ovens in certain German camps." The high mortality due to epidemics had made those incineration facilities necessary. "It is the existence of 'gas chambers,' true slaughterhouses for humans, which is contested."706 Faurisson argued that any visitor to Auschwitz or Majdanek could observe that the gas chambers could not have worked because it would have resulted in a "catastrophe" for the perpetrators, who would be killed themselves. Furthermore it would be impossible to cram 2,000 people in a room of 210 square meters, and it would have been ridiculous to then sprinkle them with pellets of an insecticide. Faurisson argued that the plans that did exist showed that the alleged gas chambers were typical morgues, and that the gas would have taken too long to be extracted from the room. Finally he noted that in all the trials no-one had been able to produce German documentation for Bunkers I and II. Faurisson concluded with the statement that "Nazism is dead, quite dead, and also its Führer. Today only the truth remains. Let us dare to proclaim it: The non-existence of the 'gas chambers' is good news for poor   humanity. Good news like this should no longer be suppressed."707
Publication of such language in the influential and prestigious Le Monde brought, for the first time anywhere, the negationist denial of the gas chambers into public prominence. Until then, such ideas had only circulated within the fringe. And it was to stay in the public arena. Worried by the effect of Faurisson's letter, the editors of Le Monde had asked a response from Wellers who was well prepared to answer Faurisson. Wellers' letter, "Abondance de preuves" ("An Abundance of Evidence") appeared next to Faurisson's. Wellers quoted the documents that had become well known by now. First of all he quoted Bischoff's letter of 29 January 1943, which contained the information that "the planks from the concrete ceiling of the cellar used as a mortuary could not yet be removed on account of the frost. This is, however, not very important, as the gassing basement (Vergasungskeller) can be used for that purpose." Furthermore Wellers invoked the statement of Pery Broad, Höss's autobiography, the Vrba-Wetzlar report, the manuscripts of the Sonderkommandos, and so on. Specifically to the charge that those who would have worked the gas chambers would have killed, Wellers mentioned the powerful ventilation system that had been built in the walls of corpse cellar 1, the gas chamber. Wellers ended his letter with the observation that he did not address himself to fanatics, because there is no hope to convince them, but to people of good will, ignorant of the facts, and who could be taken in by the fallacies of Nazi apologists. While Wellers competently refuted the latter's arguments, the publication of his letter proved soon a mistake: the publication of the two letters on the same page created the appearance that Faurisson's and Wellers' arguments were in principle commensurate in intellectual respectability--that, in short, there were (as the negationists have tried to establish all along) a "revisionist" and an "exterminationist" thesis concerning the Holocaust the advocates of which ought to be given equal opportunity to plead their cases.
Faurisson's coup had immediate reverberations outside France. Four days after the publication of his "good news," the Italian Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi responded in an interview with the Corriere della Sera. Naively, in hindsight, Levi tried to find some rational core in Faurisson's position by assuming an actual personal link between Faurisson's ideas and the events of thirty-five years earlier.  
The operation has succeeded: it is not enough to read the horrors of Darquier de Pellepoix in L'Express last November, not enough to allow the murderers of those days space and voice in respectable magazines, so that they may dictate their truth with impunity: the truth that the millions of dead in the camps never died, that Genocide is a fable, that in Auschwitz they only used gas to kill lice. All that is obviously not enough. Obviously the time is ripe, and from his university chair Professor Faurisson comes to put the world at ease. Fascism and Nazism have been denigrated, slandered. We don't talk about Auschwitz any more: that was a sham. We talk about the lie of Auschwitz, the Jews are cheats, they always have been cheats, and liars, liars enough to concoct the gas chambers and the crematorium ovens all by themselves, after the event. I don't know who Professor Faurisson is. Perhaps he is only a fool, even if he does hold a university office. Another hypothesis is more likely. Perhaps he himself was one of those in charge at the time, as Darquier was, or perhaps he is the son, or friend, or mainstay, of people in charge, and is striving to exorcize an episode that, in spite of modern permissiveness, weighs on his conscience. We are familiar with certain psychological mechanisms. Guilt is corrosive. In times now long since gone in Italy and France, it was also dangerous. People start by denying in court, in public, then in private, then more and more to themselves. The trick succeeds. Black turns white. The dear are not dead, there is no murderer, there is no more guilt. There never was. It wasn't me who did something. That thing itself no longer exists.
No, Professor, life is not like that. The dead are truly dead. Even the women, and even the children, tens of thousands in Italy and France, millions in Poland and the Soviet Union. That's not so easy to conceal. You don't have to wear yourself out to find the evidence. If you really want to be informed, ask the survivors--there are enough of them in France. Listen to them. They saw themselves dying day after day, one by one, after their comrades who walked the dark path to the crematoria. They returned (those who did return), and they found their families wiped out. The path to avoiding guilt is not that one, Professor. Even for chair-borne Professors, facts are stubborn. If you deny the slaughter organized by your friends of that time, you must explain why, from 17 million in 1939, Jews were reduced to 11 million in 1945. You must deny the   hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans, and you must deny us, the survivors. Come and debate with us, Professor,and you'll find it harder to teach your pupils. Are all of them so badly informed that they accept this stuff? Has none of them raised a hand to protest? Then what have the university authorities done in France, and the law? By letting you deny the dead, they have tolerated your killing them a second time.708
Neither common sense nor an awareness of what the living owe the dead was to put the matter to rest. According to a nineteenth-century French law, Wellers' direct attack on Faurisson had given the latter a right of response. Faurisson did not hesitate to make use of it, and Le Monde printed his reply to Wellers on January 16th. He claimed that he had believed in the gas chambers until he had read the work of Rassinier, and that he had reflected on the issue for fourteen years, and researched it assiduously for another four.
I visited and revisited Auschwitz and Birkenau where one presents us with a reconstructed "gas chamber," and the ruins that are said to be "crematoria with gas chambers." At Struthof (Alsace) and Maidanek (Poland) I have examined sites that are presented as "gas chambers in their original state." I have analyzed thousands of documents.....I have searched in vain for a single deportee capable of proving to me that he has seen, with his own eyes, a "gas chamber." I certainly did not want an illusory abundance of proofs; I would have been satisfied with only one proof, only one proof. That proof I never found. What I found, instead was many false proofs worthy of a witch trial--proofs that dishonored the judges that accepted them.709
As to Wellers' invocation of Bischoff's letter of 29 January 1943, Faurisson approvingly quoted the interpretation offered a few years earlier by the American Arthur R. Butz that   the term "Vergasungskeller" referred to a carburation chamber. The manuscripts of the Sonderkommandos he simply tried to brush off with the remark that they had been "miraculously" rediscovered, in other words that they were most likely forgeries. And so on.
The editors noted wearily that they only printed the letter because they were legally obliged to do so, and they warned that any other response to Faurisson would give him a renewed right to publish his views. (In fact, Wellers did write another long rebuttal published on February 21, in which he did not mention Faurisson by name, nor directly refer to his letter, but in which he presented his arguments in the form of a general reflection on the musings of Rassinier, who had died three years earlier. It provided the editors of Le Monde with the legal means to deny Faurisson the right of response.)
Many regarded the publication of Faurisson's letters with confusion and mortification,and responsible historians who feared an unending cycle of negationist assertions and professional rebuttals joined together to end the farce. The well-known Holocaust historian Léon Poliakov and Pierre Vidal-Naquet, historian of ancient Greece, wrote a declaration that was consequently endorsed by 35 other prominent French historians and published in Le Monde on February 21. Entitled "La politique hitlérienne d 'extermination. Une décleration d 'historiens" (The Hitlerian Policy of extermination. A Declaration by Historians"), the manifesto pronounced that "the question of how technically such a mass murder was possible should not be raised. It was technically possible because it occurred. This is the necessary starting point for all historical investigation of the subject. It has fallen to us to recall that point with due simplicity: there is not nor can there be a debate over the existence of the gas chambers."710
Faurisson wrote a rebuttal of the statement, but it was refused for publication. In this letter, entitled "A proof...one single proof," which Faurisson published a year later in his book Mémoire en défense, he offered what seemed to be a constructive proposal.
For four years now I have wished for a public debate with anyone who desires to engage in it on "the problem of the gas chambers." One responds to me with   criminal complaints....I know a manner to advance the debate. Instead of repeating ad nauseam that there is a superabundance of proofs that attest to the existence of "gas chambers" (let us recall the value of this assumed superabundance for the "gas chambers"--mythical--of the Altreich [the German Reich within its borders of 1937], I propose that, to begin at the beginning, one supplies me with a proof, one single precise proof of the actual existence of one "gas chamber," one single "gas chamber." Let us examine this proof together, in public.711
If we compare the spirit of "A Declaration by Historians" and Faurisson's "A proof...One single proof," it is on a first view not easy to feel some sympathy for Faurisson's attitude. After all, we are heirs to a rational, liberal and individualistic culture that accepts as one of its formative myths the conflict between the Church and Galileo. It is all too easy to see in the statement of the historians a dogmatic pronouncement by a new intellectual inquisition aiming to repress evidence and logic for the sake doctrine, and in Faurisson a champion of free enquiry. And, indeed, negationists have tried to exploit this seemingly obvious parallelism for all it is worth.
There are, however, some problems in applying the myth of the Church versus Galileo to the "Faurisson Affair"--apart from the fact that historians of science have come to realize that the commonplace reading of the "Galileo Affair" as the battle between reactionary obscurantism and the spirit of science does not hold. The most important problem is that the paradigm of scientific enquiry does not really apply to history. Like history, science has an empirical component, but unlike historians, scientists can conduct experiments and repeat them ad nauseam in order to find evidence and construct a proof. After all scientists operate in a universe ruled by natural laws, while virtually all historians (with the exception of some radical Hegelians or Marxists) study a world shaped by incessant and unrelenting contingency. A historical proof is a difficult thing. Unlike the scientist, who can design a laboratory experiment so that it offers the ideal situation to study a particular phenomenon, the historian must out of necessity work with often scraps of evidence that accidently survived the times, often the testimony of witnesses who were   absolutely not qualified to bear witness, and so on.
But there is something more important, which goes directly to the heart of the seemingly authoritarian "Declaration of Historians." It is the issue that relatively quickly after an important historical event has passed--and with important I mean one that has acquired an important place in the historical consciousness--it becomes very difficult if not impossible to offer "a proof...A single proof." Why is this so? Let's look at the situation in 1979, thirty-four years after the liberation of Auschwitz. By that year scholars, judges, juries, and the public at large had acquired a consensus as to what had happened in Auschwitz. This knowledge had accrued over more than three decades by different means. There were, of course, inferences people had made on the basis of relevant evidence: confessions by SS men like öss and Broad, sworn depositions by eyewitnesses like Dragon and Tauber, original German documents like Bischoff's letter to Kammler of 29 January 1943, substantial residues of cyanide in the ventilation covers of the gas chambers of crematorium 2, and the forensic investigations of Jan Sehn and Roman Dawidowski. When these pieces of evidence were first studied--mostly in the immediate post-war years--they were things that existed in the present, but allowed the student of Auschwitz to make, by means of a valid inference based on causal regularity, a licensed move to a statement about the development and situation of Auschwitz in the past. But, by the late 1970s, other genres of knowledge been grafted on the original evidence: memoirs of survivors, interpretation of writers, evocations by filmmakers, symbolic monuments designed by architects and sculptors, public rituals of commemoration, theological speculation, and so on. In other words, by the late 1970s, knowledge of "Auschwitz" became transmitted as a mixture of learning and second-hand memory, shaped by public political discourse and private anxiety.
By the 1970s "Auschwitz" had acquired an important place in the public imagination. As such, it was both part of the life of the new generation, but also out of their reach. With that, it entered a certain twilight zone between memory and history. Eric Hobsbawn described this twilight zone as the no-man's land of time located at the intersection of the past as a generalized record that is open to relatively dispassionate inspection, and the past as a remembered part of, or background to, one's own life. "It is   by far the hardest part of history for historians, or for anyone else, to grasp,"712 Hobsbawn observed. "It forms something similar to those particoloured ancient maps filled with unreliable outlines and white spaces, framed by monsters and symbols. The monsters and symbols are magnified by the modern mass media, because the very fact that the twilight zone is important to us makes it central also to their preoccupations."713
Having become a central obsession of public discourse, a symbol of evil as such, knowledge of Auschwitz had detached itself from the knowledge of present matters of fact--confessions, sworn depositions, documents, certain amounts of residual cyanide, forensic opinions--and acquired a life of its own. This, of course, does not only apply to Auschwitz, but to all facts of history that become part of public discourse, and knowledge of Auschwitz was now not only direct, but also mediated by art and so on. With that its epistemological status had changed, definitively, and irrevocably. David Hume's argument from Section IV of Part III of Book I of A Treatise Concerning Human Nature (1739-40) that all historical knowledge is based on valid inferential arguments based on direct and certain pieces of evidence available in the present--that is that historical knowledge ultimately stems from a direct apprehension of "the facts"--is proven wrong in a situation where knowledge is so obviously mediated by social factors.714 The knowledge about Auschwitz as it was available in the late 1970s, or as it is available today, follows more Alexis de Tocqueville's observation, made in Chapter II of the Second Part of his Democracy in America, that social factors mediate perceptions and understandings, and that only a small part of any individual's knowledge is based on original, unmediated perception of evidence, while most of that person's knowledge is transmitted as one's   patrimony through social networks.715
In 1979 knowledge of Auschwitz had become part of the intellectual patrimony of the West. Recently the philosopher of history Leon Pompa explained the epistemological conundrum that follows from the circumstance that people most often engage a historical fact after they have come across it as an already accepted item of knowledge. By the late 1970s Auschwitz figured in history textbooks and in encyclopedias. It was alluded to in political speeches and demonstrations, and it had been the subject of plays such as Rolf Hochhuth's The Deputy, films like Resnais's Night and Fog, television series like Holocaust, novels like William Styron's Sophie's Choice, and so on. By the time the Faurisson Affair emerged most people had come to learn about Auschwitz through such references, but it was not in virtue of inferences drawn from these references that Auschwitz had become an item of historical knowledge. To the contrary: those references to Auschwitz had been made upon the assumption that its existence and operation as an extermination camp was already known to be true. This was unavoidable because if it were otherwise, the references to Auschwitz in the political and cultural life of the West would fail to serve their purpose. In short, the discourse on Auschwitz existed because a consensus about its history existed.716
Because Auschwitz had become part of our general cultural and historical inheritance, it had become more or less independent of the potential or actual availability of evidence. What mattered much more was the question if people accepted the beliefs that constitute one's knowledge of Auschwitz before interpreting the available evidence. Taking Pompa's ideas as our point of departure, one could say that, by the time Faurisson offered his challenge, the inherited knowledge of Auschwitz could be supported by evidence, but that more importantly one should accept the fact that the community as such did not accept the inherited account of Auschwitz because there it was possible to cite documentary evidence, but was prepared to interpret the evidence in that way because it   had inherited the belief for which it seems to be evidence.
Pompa demonstrated that this inheritance of shared historical beliefs is not just a contingent feature of our knowledge of history. At least in part, it constitutes our sense of our place in history and, therefore, of our knowledge of history. Inherited historical belief has priority over inferential historical belief because the former is the precondition for our judgement about the validity of our inferences. "[O]ur concept of historical reasoning is so dependent upon a set of accepted historical beliefs, which are partially constitutive of our sense of the structure of a determinate past, that, if we had to countenance their possible falsity, we should be left with no idea how to put any others in their place or, therefore, why we should accept the conclusions of historical reasoning as conclusions about the past." Every empirical historian operates within a context of inherited beliefs, and this allows her to discover new facts, and assimilate them into the body of inherited knowledge.
[G]iven our incapacity to find an independent criterion of historical truth, we shall be able fully to warrant claims to truth only for those products of historical reasoning which can, in some or other way, be linked to the inherited set which provides the general structure of our concept of the determinate past. That is the reason why, when, by historical argument, we try to establish facts about parts of history which, for contingent reasons, do not connect in any way with what we have received, the area of disagreement among experts becomes so wide that we are often not justified in accepting any of the many accounts which can be offered as more than plausible hypotheses. But with regards to facts which can be connected to those, which are, so to speak, known by transmission, there is scope for the establishment of many new ones, so that the body which we hand on to our successors about our known past may be a much larger body than that which we received. But it will, nevertheless, retain one part of its content in which it overlaps with what we received, and it is in virtue of this that historical belief can be thought of as being factual rather than fictional in character.717
In other words, in order to raise questions about, for example the operation of the gas   chambers in Auschwitz, much of what we may call our inherited knowledge about Auschwitz must be accepted. Without inherited knowledge of history, we would have no capacity to have any historical beliefs at all.
Pompa used the case of Caesar's assassination, first employed by Hume in his discussion of the foundations of historical knowledge, to illustrate this point. "It may seem a conceptual possibility that Caesar never existed," Pompa argued, "but it cannot be a historical possibility."718 It cannot because facts are not independent, but both interrelated to each other and progressively entrenched in the account as it is transmitted from one generation to the next. "If we were to believe that Caesar was not assassinated, an enormous range of other implicated facts, both about Caesar and about the Roman history of his time in general, would have to be abandoned," Pompa observed. This raises, of course, the issue of our general trust in the way information is communicated socially.
If we take the case of Caesar's assassination, the first to know it would, no doubt, be those who participated in it or who witnessed it. From there, belief in it would be acquired by public communication, by word of mouth or by seeing or hearing of his funeral cremation and so on. By the time it came to the general constitutional muddle which ensued, or the measures which were eventually taken by Antony and Octavian against Brutus and Cassius, Caesar's death would be so much a presupposition of what was going on in a large part of Roman constitutional life that it would already be beyond the rational possibility of doubt. But these are ways in which it would come to be an item of public knowledge for the Romans, rather than evidence for it. If anyone were to be asked why he believed that Caesar was dead, he might well refer to the way in which he had learnt of it, but this would not, except in a few cases of those who saw his dead body, count as evidence for it. If the question were pressed further, most would simply fall back upon the answer that that was what everybody else believed. In part, of course, this amounts to saying that it becomes an item of knowledge as belief in it becomes more widely accepted and as its effects multiply. But it is not merely a matter of the wider dissemination of the belief. For it also becomes more deeply entrenched within that wider body of belief, and   the practices which depend upon it, to a degree which, at a certain point, makes it impossible rationally to question it. After a certain time, belief in the event becomes so constitutive within a communal pattern of interlocking beliefs that there is no way in which doubts about it can rationally be entertained. Thus, if we were not prepared to accept that Caesar was assassinated, relying largely on the fact that, despite a lack of the availability of much evidence for most of the population, it has been transmitted to us as an item of public knowledge for the Romans, we would need, in turn, to disbelieve a very large part of Roman history as we have also received it.719
Or, if we apply Pompa's discussion to Auschwitz, one could say that the non-existence of the gas chambers may seem a conceptual possibility, but cannot be a historical possibility because their historical existence is the a priori of most of our knowledge of the Second World War. Our knowledge of the gas chambers is not independent of, for example, our knowledge of the ideological radicalization of the Nazis after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. In our understanding of the history of the Second World War, the operations of the Einsatzgruppen in the East, the deportations of German Jews from the West, the German treatment of Soviet prisoners-of-war, the expansion of the concentration camps, the first experimentations with Zyklon-B as a killing agent, and the adaptation of the morgues of crematoria 2 and 3 in Auschwitz into gas chambers are interrelated to each other. To challenge the existence of one of these facts would be to challenge all of them. This does not mean that one may not reconsider one's interpretation of the meaning of those facts in their interrelationship to those other facts. While some like to emphasize the importance of one relation, others may attach greater weight to another relation. Yet the facts are there, supporting each other, and when a person desires to deny one fact, he must rewrite the whole history of the Second World War.
From an epistemological perspective this may be less than ideal, but, as Pompa argued, centuries of experience teaches that by and large the social acceptance and transmission of historical fact has been reliable. "[W]hat has come down to us as fact is the   product of a basically truth-preserving process."720 This does not mean that all beliefs we inherit were equally certain: some are seen as more, and some as less reliable. But, as Pompa noted, in those cases the tradition clearly earmarked such beliefs as less certain. In short, the wide range of certainty that historians ascribe to recorded facts are a proof of the general truth-preserving character of the process of transmission.
This excursion into the epistemological labyrinth that confronts every historian makes clear why the declaration by the 37 French historians that there can be no debate over the existence of the gas chambers showed a realistic assessment of the possibilities and limitations of historical investigation. It also shows why Faurisson's call for "a proof...a single proof" revealed the shallow amateurism of the dilettante. Yet the daily press was not the ideal place to provide a course in the complex epistemology of historical knowledge, and so what could and should have become a very important theoretical engagement concerning the historical (im)possibility that the gas chambers had not existed came to an early end
The one lasting result of the exchange of letters was that Faurisson had become well-known in France. Fame came, however, at a high personal price. Students at the university of Lyons-2 staged demonstrations against him, and in response the university administrators suspended Faurisson's lectures. And the staff of the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Paris, which had been Faurisson's main source of information, refused to serve him.
In the months that followed Faurisson also became known also abroad. In August 1979 the Italian magazine Storia illustrata printed a long interview with him, in which Faurisson's statements were left unchallenged. Hitler, so the French scholar declared, had not engaged any more in genocide than Roosevelt. Both had interned enemy aliens in internment camps: the latter the Japanese, and the former the Jews. Yet because he had not been able to intern all Jews, Hitler had forced those who were left in the cities and villages to wear a sign.
Those who wore the stars could not freely move everywhere at all times. They were like paroled prisoners. It seems that Hitler was concerned less with the Jewish   Question than with ensuring the safety of the German soldier. The German soldier would otherwise have been unable to distinguish the Jews from the non-Jews. The sign marked them for them.721
Thus the segregation of Jews from the non-Jews occurred not for ideological, but for military reasons. To Faurisson, the fact that the Jews built 700 bunkers in the Warsaw ghetto proved their threat. Even the children challenged the military situation.
I know that sometimes that children between six and fifteen years of age could not constitute a danger and that they should not have been obliged to wear the star. But if one accepts this military logic, there exist today enough accounts and memoirs in which Jews tell us about the way they engaged, even as children, in all kinds of illicit activities or resistance against the Germans.722
Faurisson's logic was allowed to go unchallenged.
Shortly after giving his interview to the Storia illustrata, Faurisson crossed the ocean, to begin his missionary activity in the United States. In fact, his name had already become known in progressive circles. News had reached American academia that the French academic had been hindered in his pursuit of knowledge, and in response to that violation of academic freedom the following text was circulated, and signed by several hundred academics.
Dr. Robert Faurisson has served as a respected professor of twentieth century French literature and document criticism for over four years at the University of Lyon-2 in France. Since 1974 he has been conducting extensive independent historical research into the "Holocaust" question.
Since he began making his findings public, Professor Faurisson has been subject to a vicious campaign of harassment, intimidation, slander and physical   violence in a crude attempt to silence him. Fearful officials have even tried to stop him from further research by denying him access to public libraries and archives.
We strongly protest these efforts to deprive Professor Faurisson of his freedom of speech and expression, and we condemn the shameful campaign to silence him.
We strongly support Professor Faurisson's just right of academic freedom and we demand that university and government officials do everything possible to ensure his safety and the free exercise of his legal rights.723
The most prominent academic to put his name under the document was Noam Chomsky. Faurisson must have appeared to the famous linguist and public intellectual, who showed open disgust for the general subservience of the mainstream intelligentsia--"the herd of independent minds"--to the propaganda systems of their own governments, a fellow traveller worthy of support. The same year that he put his signature under the petition in support of Faurisson, Chomsky derided the proven willingness of many intellectuals to "disseminate propaganda concerning the evil practices, real or fabricated, of current enemies of the state. It is remarkable to see how susceptible intellectuals have been, over the years, to the machinations of the atrocity fabrication industry."724 Faurisson did not belong to the herd, and therefore he deserved support.
Faurisson's first stop was California, where he attended the first congress sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review. There he was to present a paper entitled "The mechanics of gassing," but because he felt that his English was rather bad, Faurisson asked a Canadian participant, Ernst Zündel, to read his paper on his behalf. It marked the beginning of an interesting relationship.
Faurisson's paper began with a discussion about the difficulty of gassing people as it imposed severe risks for the executioner. Therefore Höss's recollection that the crews began clearing the gas chambers sofort ("immediately") after the gassings did not make   any sense, as too much hydrogen cyanide would have remained in the bodies and in the air pockets between them. "What kind of superpowerful fan is able to instantly disperse so much gas drifting through the air and hidden in air pockets?" the paper asked, and it continued with the observation that "it is abundantly clear from Höss's description that the fan in question must have been endowed with magical powers in order to be able to disperse all the gas with such flawless performance so that there was no cause for concern or need for verification of the absence of the gas!"725 Then the paper reviewed the Degesch instructions for handling Zyklon-B, which stipulated that rooms fumigated with the agent should be aired at least for 21 hours, and discussed at some length the danger for explosion. At the end the paper would once more consider the issue that, according to Höss, the Sonderkommando had entered the gas chambers "immediately" after the deaths of the victims. "I contend that this point alone constitutes the cornerstone of the false evidence, because this is a physical impossibility," Faurisson wrote and Zündel spoke. "If you encounter a person who believes in the existence of the 'gas chambers,' ask him how, in his opinion, the thousands of cadavers were removed to make room for the next batch?"726 As far as we know, no-one at the meeting rose to point out that, after gassing 2,000 people in the basement of crematorium 2 in one operation, even the Germans had to allow some time before "the next batch." After all, it would take the crematoria ovens of that same crematorium more than a day and half to incinerate the bodies.
Turning to the remains in Auschwitz, the paper mentioned that the gas chamber of crematorium 2 had been merely a morgue, and that it would have been too small to accommodate the between 2,000 and 3,000 victims mentioned by Höss. Then it mentioned the obliteration of traces.
Do not be deceived into believing that before their retreat the Germans blew up the "gas chambers" and crematory ovens to conceal any trace of their alleged crimes. If one wishes to obliterate all trace of an installation which would be intrinsically quite sophisticated, it must be scrupulously dismantled from top to   bottom so that there remains not one shred of incriminating evidence.727
The paper did not mention that eyewitnesses mentioned that, indeed, the gas chambers had been "scrupulously dismantled," and that only after the perforated columns and ventilators had been removed the rooms were dynamited.
Then the paper turned to what was to become a focus of Faurisson's studies in the next years, and which was to lead to the Leuchter Report nine years later: the design, technique and operation procedures of American gas chambers. "The real gas chambers, such as those created in 1924 and developed by the Americans around 1936-1938 offers some idea of the inherent complexity of such a method of execution," the paper proclaimed. And there followed a lengthy description of the gassing procedure in American prisons, and the extensive safety precautions taken to prevent any accidents.
After discussing the American gas chambers, Faurisson returned to the German gas chambers.
If the Germans had decided to gas millions of people, a complete overhaul of some very formidable machinery would have been absolutely essential. A general order, instructions, studies, commands and plans would surely have been necessary also. Such items have never been found. Meetings of experts would have been necessary: of architects, chemists, doctors, and experts in a wide range of technical fields. Disbursement and allocations of funds would have been necessary. Had this occurred in a state such as the Third Reich, a wealth of evidence would surely have survived.728
Faurisson's paper generated a discussion, and Zündel especially liked its approach. Comparison between the structures in Auschwitz and American gas chambers was to be the key to the future of negationism, and was to provide the basis for Leuchter's involvement in the Second Zündel Trial in 1988--an involvement that directly led to   Irving's adoption of the negationist position.729 On his return to France, Faurisson made a stop in Washington DC to give a lecture at the headquarters of the National Alliance, the American neo-Nazi party. Faurisson made use of his stop-over to visit and photograph the gas chamber in the State Prison in Baltimore, Maryland. He sent those photos to Zündel who, as Faurisson testified in the Second Zündel Trial, became obsessed by the American gas chambers, and urged Faurisson to continue his investigations in that direction. But, as Faurisson testified in Zündel's 1988 trial, "I had some trouble after that that I could not really work on this question."730
Indeed, on his return home to France Faurisson became, once again, the center of public debate. In April 1980 the so-called Faurisson Affair was given new life with the publication of Serge Thion's massive, 350-page long book Vérite"historique our vérité politique? La dossier de l'affaire Faurisson. La question des chambres à gaz (Historical Truth or Political Truth? The File of the Faurisson Affair. The Question of the Gas Chambers). With the strong declaration of the 35 French historians, published in Le Monde on February 21, 1979, Faurisson had become the underdog opposed by the defenders of the status quo, and as such for the champions of the radical left, in search for a new cause to unmask the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie, Faurisson became their hero, and they began to fashion, in imitation of the "Dreyfus Affair," a so--called "Faurisson Affair." Thion, a left-wing radical, rallied to Faurisson's case, and presented this as the logical consequence of his commitment to the principles of freedom of thought. Yet it still remains baffling, however, to see with what ease Thion was willing to assimilate Faurisson's point of view, and categorically dismiss the great abundance of evidence that attests to the historical reality of the Holocaust.
What is thus most incredible for anyone preoccupied with this question is--given the enormity of the facts and the generality of their representation--the   narrowness of the sources, once one is willing to eliminate the crowd of hearsay witness who in fact did not see. It is literally stupefying to observe that the centerpiece is the set of confessions before Allied tribunals by the heads of the German camps. Once one is prepared to imagine the situation of those defeated men, gambling with their own lives between the hands of their jailers, a paltry game in which truths and lies are the basic tokens in a tactic of survival, one will not be prepared to accept all their declarations as valid currency.731
A true defender of the underdog, be it the Algerian in his battle with the French Republic, the Vietnamese in their battle with the United States, Faurisson in his battle with the establishment, Thion even had no difficulty feeling sympathy for men like Höss or Frank when they were in the dock. To Thion, the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals had been not much different from the Stalinist show trials, and therefore they had no evidentiary value.
In a lengthy response to the book entitled "A Paper Eichmann," Pierre Vidal-Naquet refuted Thion's points. First of all he observed that there is much more evidence than Thion mentions.
I dare say as well that "hearsay witnesses who in fact did not see" also have something to teach us. When, for instance, a man is separated from the rest of his family and learns from former detainees that exit from the camp is by way of the smokestack, when there exists an immense amount of analogous testimony, when one knows that the interested parties never reappeared, such testimony is, all the same, deserving of some attention.732
Then Vidal-Naquet turned to the basic assumption that the trials would have been show trials. He observed that the Nuremberg trials, or the Polish Auschwitz Trial, were of a radically different genre than the Stalinist show trials in which the accused, the police and the magistrates shared a common knowledge.  
The first rule is that the accused adopt entirely the language of his accusers; but that rule, if characteristic of all trials of the Moscow sort, is valid for them alone. The second rule, which is fundamental, is that absolutely everything that the accused says, either during the official investigation or publicly at the trial, must be politically significant, in accordance with party policy.733
In other words, show trials are carefully scripted, and somehow assume that they occur within a process of historical necessity that embraces all participants in equal measure. Consequently the accused know what part to play.
Within months after bringing Thion's book on the market, La Veille Taupe published Faurisson's Mémoire en Defense--contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire. La question des chambres à gaz (Testimony in Defense--Against those who Accuse me of Falsifying History: The Question of the Gas Chambers). The true significance of the book, which made it the topic of conversation everywhere, was not to be found in the amalgamate of Faurisson's scholarship, but in Noam Chomsky's ill-advised preface. As we have seen, Chomsky had in 1979 signed a petition in support of Faurisson's academic freedom to challenge the inherited account of the Holocaust, and one thing had led to another. Entitled "Some Elementary Commentaries on the Right to the Freedom of Speech," Chomsky reviewed the reasons why he had signed the 1979 petition, and dismissed the outcry that had resulted from it. He stated that he had often signed petitions on behalf of people whose ideas he found detestable--Russian dissidents who supported American policies in Indochina--and observed that in those cases no-one had raised an objection. "If someone had, I would have regarded him with the same contempt that those who denounce the petition in favour of Faurisson's right deserve, and for the same reasons."734 Then Chomsky went on to contrast the freedom-loving practice in the United States with the stifling intellectual climate in France. Back home, he proudly   stated, Arthur Butz ("whom one may consider the American equivalent of Faurisson") was not subjected to harassment, negationists had not been hindered in running an international conference, and the American Civil Liberties Union had defended the right of neo-Nazis to march through the largely Jewish town of Skokie. The French, in other words, had much to learn.
In his final paragraph he addressed the tricky question of Faurisson's alleged antisemitism.
Let it be said that even if Faurisson were a rabid antisemite or a fanatic Nazi-supporter--and these are accusations that are levelled against him in letters that I have received and for which there is no space here to cite in detail--that has absolutely no bearing on his legitimacy of the defence of his civil rights. On the contrary, that would make the defence of these rights even more necessary since, once again, and for this there is evidence for many years, and even centuries, it is exactly the right to express the most dreadful ideas freely that must be defended most rigorously.735
Yet, in the end, Chomsky said that Faurisson was really a kind of "relatively apolitical liberal." Chomsky ended his preface with questioning the past attitude of Faurisson's critics to the French war in Indochina, or to Stalinism. The implication was obvious: they were engaged in selective indignation.
The Chomsky preface initiated a second wave of publicity for Faurisson, which led, among other things, to a radio interview on December 17, 1980. Faurisson said, among many other things, that the alleged Holocaust was a historical lie that served a huge political and financial swindle that benefited the State of Israel at the expense of the German and Palestinian peoples. This statement led to Faurisson's indictment under France's Race Relations Law. At the same time Faurisson was also indicted under Article 382 of the Civil Code for willfully distorting history. Finally Faurisson faced a libel suit initiated by the French historian Léon Poliakov, whom Faurisson had accused of fabricating his sources with reference to the Gerstein report. The first two trials certainly   put Faurisson in the position of the Dreyfusian underdog persecuted by the system, and brought him much publicity, and even sympathy. Absorbing all of Faurisson's energies to remain out of prison, the trials generated, however, not much new negationist "scholarship," and hence I will limit myself to the observation that Faurisson was convicted in each case.
By the mid 1980s Faurisson finally emerged from his legal troubles. By now he had become a very well-known figure. His theories had even led a book-length consideration of the issue by the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, of which I quote here one of the more salient passages.
"I have analyzed thousands of documents. I have tirelessly pursued specialists and historians with my questions. I have tried in vain to find a single former deportee capable of proving to me that he had really seen, with his own eyes, a gas chamber" (Faurisson in Pierre Vidal-Naquet, 1981:81) To have "really seen with his own eyes" a gas chamber would be the condition which gives one authority to say that it exists and to persuade the unbeliever. Yet it is still necessary to prove that the gas chamber was used to kill at the time it was seen. The only acceptable proof that it was used to kill is that one died from it. But if one is dead, one cannot testify that it is on account of the gas chamber.--The plaintiff [Faurisson] complains that he has been fooled about the existence of gas chambers, fooled that is, about the so-called Final Solution. His argument is: in order for a place to be identified as a gas chamber, the only eyewitnesses I will accept would be a victim of this gas chamber; now, according to my opponent, there is no victim that is not dead; otherwise, this gas chamber would not be what he or she claims it to be. There is, therefore, no gas chamber.736
Published in newspapers, books by supporters, neutral observers and opponents, Faurisson's theory that Auschwitz had not been an extermination camp, and that the gas chambers were a legend fabricated to extort money from the Germans, had become part of public discourse. It is therefore not surprising that when, in 1984, the Canadian-   German publisher Ernst Zündel faced prosecution for Holocaust denial, he turned to Faurisson for help.
Zündel is the author of various neo-Nazi books with such tantalizing titles as The Hitler We Loved and Why and publisher of a range of negationist publications that included Thies Christophersen's The Auschwitz Lie, and Richard Verrall's (alias Richard Harwood) Did Six Million Really Die? This book began with the claim that it offered "irrefutable evidence that the allegation that 6 million Jews died during the Second World War, as a direct result of official German policy of extermination, is utterly unfounded." The Holocaust, in short, was a "most colossal piece of fiction and the most successful of deceptions."737
In 1983 the Holocaust survivor Sabina Citron issued a private complaint against Zündel, who was charged under section 177 of the Criminal Code of Canada for wilfully publishing statements that he knew to be false and cause injury to a public interest. The charge concerned Zündel's activity as the author and publisher of The West, War and Islam, and his publishing of Did Six Million Die? The Crown assumed the carriage of the charge, and in 1984 indicted Zündel. In early 1985 Zündel was tried in the District Court of Ontario. District Court Judge Hugh Locke presided, attorney Peter Griffiths represented the Crown, and attorney Douglas Christie acted on behalf of Zündel. From the very beginning, two issues were central: the first was that of free speech, the second one Harwood's claim that the Holocaust was a hoax. The latter argument centred on Auschwitz, which is no surprise considering that Faurisson organized Zündel's 10-men research team. Throughout the trial the defence tried to make the case that no gassings had taken place in Auschwitz, and that therefore Harwood's book did not contain false statements.
Faurisson had cast himself in the role as an expert witness for the defense. In court, he claimed that the War Refugee Board report was one of "the three pillars of the story of the gas chamber."738 Consequently, it was his job to demolish its credibility. Christie   asked Faurisson why he attached no credence to the report.
[Defense Counsel]: "Now, in respect to this W.R.B. Report, you say because of the drawings respecting the gas chambers that are in the W.R.B. Report, and that in relation to the plans you found; is that right?"
[Faurisson]: "Yeah."
Q.: "Any other reason why you say we should not believe the W.R.B. Report of Dr. Vrba and others?"
A.: "The plan of Auschwitz, the plan of the crematorium."
Q.: "What about them?"
A.: "They do not--they are nothing."
Q.: "What do you mean, they're nothing?"
A.: "When you see the reality of the place..."
Q.: "Yes."
A.: "...It does not stand, that's all. When you see on the same level a gas chamber, then a track to put the people, the bodies in the furnaces, and when you see that in fact this place which was a mortuary was underground, that you had a little lift, and on the--at the other level you had the furnaces..."
Q.: "Yes."
A.: "...And the furnaces are not at all like they have been drawn by Dr. Vrba, and he said..."
Q.: "What do you conclude from that, doctor?"
A.: "I conclude that it is not exact."
Q.: "What do you conclude about the author of that, if he says it is exact?
A.: "I say, 'You say something which is not exact.'"
Q.: "All right. So is there any other reason why we should not believe the W.R.B. Report?"
A.: "Yes, because, for example, you have the report of the Polish major."
Q.: "Yes, which is part of the W.R.B. Report?
A.: "Yes, I remember that, that there are many things; this Polish major says that the people were gassed by a hydrocyanic bomb."739
  After a diversion on the statement of another witness, Christie asked Faurisson if he had any other reasons to say that the War Refugee Board report should not be considered credible. He answered: "I think it's sufficient for me."740
A couple of days earlier, one of the authors of the War Refugee Board report, Rudi Vrba, had testified for the prosecution. In cross-examination by Zündel's defense counsel Christie, Vrba had given the following explanation when challenged on the reliability of the drawings.
Mr.Christie: "How do you explain the fact that you've drawn on the diagram that I showed you every crematorium the same shape in 1944, when you drew the diagram upon your escape?"
A.: "Because I had only two days to write the whole report, and to try to depict the crematoria. There was a great urgency with that plan, because the objective of the plan was to get it to Hungary and to use this whole report towards the Hungarian Jews of imminent deportation. Under that conditions I didn't lose much time with details like what is the difference between Krematorium I and II and Krematorium II and III, but I limited myself to depict the position of the gas chambers and crematoria [on] one side, and the geographic position of the whole murderous complex on the other side."
Q: "Sure. I now produce and show to you a diagram which came from, I suggest, your War Refugee Report of 1944 in which you depicted a crematoria. Correct?"
A.: "That's right."
Q.: "Is it accurate?"
A.: "This I cannot say. It was said that as we were not in the large crematoria, we reconstructed it from messages which we got from members of the Sonderkommando working in the crematorium, and therefore, that approximately how it transpired in our mind, and in our ability to depict what we have heard."741
 
Prosecutor Peter Griffiths came back to Vrba's statement when he cross-examined Faurisson. He asked the French professor if he had been in court during Vrba's testimony.
[Faurisson]: "Yes. Yes."
Q.: "And did you hear Dr. Vrba say that when he drew those maps they weren't meant to be architectural drawings but to give an idea of what was there?"
A.: "Yes, yes."
Q.: "Does that change your opinion at all?
A.: "It doesn't change my opinion because it is like when he said that it was --he used a Latin expression--licence as a poetarium."
Q.: "Poetic licence."
A.: "Poetic licence."
Q.: "For those of us who are not classical scholars."
A.: "So he used this expression, and I don't think that it explains me anything of what he said in "I Cannot Forgive." The same thing when he says, you see, it's not the work of an architect. It doesn't change anything in substance, because when he says there were four--nine ovens with four opening, they were around the chimney, all was on the same ground, there is a series of fantastic errors."742
This was the sum-total of Faurisson's ability to apply the "Ajax Method" to the War Refugee Board report.
On Faurisson's suggestion, the defence had engaged Dr. William Lindsey, who had worked as a chemist for DuPont. Lindsey had been in Auschwitz where he had made a cursory examination of the gas chamber of crematorium 1, and he had studied the German documentation of Zyklon B. In negationist circles he was considered with respect since his publication of an article in the Journal of Historical Review entitled "Zyklon B, Auschwitz, and the Trial of Dr. Bruno Tesch." In this article, Lindsey had argued that the allies had originally "invented" the Holocaust during the war as part and parcel of the usual atrocity propaganda, and that, after the war, they had decided to continue to push   that story, against all evidence to the contrary, to cover up their own misdeeds and create a foundation for post-war allied solidarity.
With no "Holocaust" to take their place in the columns of the world's newspapers, the many surreptitious, undercover activities, plans and responsibilities of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his proto-United Nations conspirators prior to, during and after the war--today still too-little publicized--would have come under immediate, murderous, and lasting scrutiny. This would have resulted in the United Nations wartime charges and the (still-vulnerable) "integrity" of this organization being ripped asunder in a manner which would have made the revelations about the Allied lies found in the World War I Bryce Committee Report on propaganda charges look by comparison like reports on a love feast. If the many plans already formulated diplomatically and formally or informally in war conferences were to be fully, irreversibly implemented as the planners wished, the "New" United Nations organization would have to meet the full support of those who might otherwise strongly oppose it. The wartime "atrocity propaganda" charges made by the victors to inflame their soldiers and citizenry, and to justify and condone their own use of progressively more violent, ruthless measures against Germany and Japan, simply had to be sustained after the war.743
On paper, Lindsey showed the very kind of eloquence and argumentation which attracted Zündel, and he also seemed to know a decent amount about hydrogen cyanide in general, and Zyklon B in particular. But, as an expert witness, Lindsey' performance was not very satisfactory. When Christie asked if he believed that either 2.5 million or even 1 million people had been gassed in the crematoria, Lindsey answered that "I find it, from my point of view, I find it is absolutely impossible to believe that. The method as described, the rate at which they can burn these bodies and carry out the gassing   procedure, I find it's impossible."744 In the witness stand Lindsey showed very little eloquence, and contrary to the impression he had given in the many notes that accompanied his article, Lindsey proved unable to back up his opinions with demonstrable scientific facts, and therefore his testimony had failed to satisfy Faurisson's demands. The case ended with Zündel's conviction for publishing Did Six Million Die?, And he was sentenced to a prison term of fifteen months.
Despite Zündel's conviction, Holocaust deniers celebrated the trial, soon to be known in their own circles as "The Great Holocaust Trial," as a watershed. First of all, it had given them a very public platform, comparable to that which Faurisson had occupied in the late 1970s in France. Since then, Holocaust deniers had sought to engage Holocaust scholars in an open debate on the issues that divided them. Arguing that their "revisionist" or "heterodox" interpretation of the Holocaust is as legitimate as what they term the "exterminationist" or "orthodox" approach, they seek legitimacy by becoming a partner in discussion. Yet they did not get the opportunity because Holocaust scholars realized that there was no debating with people who are, in Lipstadt's words, "contemptuous of the very tools that shape any honest debate: truth and reason. Debating them would be like trying to nail a glob of jelly to the wall."745 And so the examinations and cross-examinations of the expert witnesses of both sides took the place of the scholarly debate. For this very reason Faurisson, who had unsuccessfully called for a public debate, welcomed the trial "where the two sides found themselves face to face before a judge and a jury."746 Therefore Zündel's legal defeat could still be re-interpreted as a resounding victory for the negationist cause. "For the first time in modern history, the consensus reality most accurately described as Exterminationism, was tested and challenged in a court of law," one of Zündel's supporters claimed. Zionists, Holocaust historians, and the public at   large, had been shown to have no answer to "the revisionist revelations within the Great Holocaust Trial." Instead of addressing the "radical questions [the trial] has raised and the bedrock of previously censored facts it has unearthed," those who pushed the Holocaust Hoax had only turned up "the volume on their hysterics."
How pathetic they are, and how doomed to defeat. Slinking away from debate, hiding behind a judge's robes and the scene-flats of tinsel town, the "Holocaust" hoaxers have an inevitable appointment with destiny. The seeds of their denouement were planted by Ernst Christof Friedrich Zündel, son of Swabian lumberjacks and peasants....On a snowy Sunday, on an eve of his judicial ordeal, Ernst announced to a small circle of friends, "When this trial is over, the 'Holocaust' hoax will be known as 'Before Zündel and After Zündel.'" The proof of that prophecy lies not only in the head-spinner of Reagan at Bitburg, but in the renaissance of enthusiasm, solidarity and determination that has arisen among the rapidly-swelling ranks of revisionists world-wide, who are coming out of seclusion to form an unbeatable coalition of activist truth-seekers, eager to confront nothing less than the mind-polluters and enslavers of humanity.747
On appeal the ruling against Zündel was overturned on procedural grounds and a new trial was ordered, all who were to be involved in the second trial knew exactly what was to come. While there was a change in the cast of characters who were to appear on the bench and represent the crown--District Court Judge Ron Thomas was to preside, and John Pearson and Catherine White were conduct the prosecution--Christie was to represent Zündel again, and, as it became soon clear, Faurisson was once more to head the research team. Lindsey was not to be asked to testify in the second trial.
 

Notes

667. Josef Klehr in interview, in Ebbo Demant, ed., Auschwitz--"Direkt von der Rampe weg..."/ Kaduk, Erber, Klehr: Drei Täter geben zu Protokoll (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1979), 114.
668. Testimony Faurisson, 1st Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, 2364ff.
669. Zyklon B is not a disinfectant, but a delousing agent. It does not kill bacteria.
670. Testimony Faurisson, 1st Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, 2585f.
671. Robert Faurisson, "Le Professeur de médicine Johann Paul Kremer devant les horreurs du typhus à Auschwitz en Septembre-Octobre 1942," in Robert Faurisson, Memoire en Defense contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire / La question des chambres à gaz, preface by Noam Chomsky (Paris: La Veille Taupe, 1980), 13-64.
672. Ibid., 14.
673. Kremer, "Diary," in Auschwitz--Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, 177.
674. Ibid.
675. Ibid., 212.
676. Kremer, "Diary," in Auschwitz--Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, 162.
677. Faurisson, "Le Professeur de médicine Johann Paul Kremer devant les horreurs du typhus à Auschwitz en Septembre-Octobre 1942," in Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 22.
678. Ibid., 23f.
679. Kremer, "Diary," in Auschwitz--Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, 161f.
680. Faurisson, "Le Professeur de médicine Johann Paul Kremer devant les horreurs du typhus à Auschwitz en Septembre-Octobre 1942," in Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 31f.
681. Ibid., 55f.
682. Ibid., 56.
683. Kremer, "Diary," in Auschwitz--Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, 168. In the Lüneburg Trial, Hössler admitted of having been present at selections of the gas chambers. See Phillips, ed., Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-Four Others, 196,714f.
684. As quoted in Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Assasins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust, transl. Jeffery Mehlman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992 ), 113.
685. Faurisson, "Le Professeur de médicine Johann Paul Kremer devant les horreurs du typhus à Auschwitz en Septembre-Octobre 1942," in Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 37.
686. As quoted in Victor A. Kravchenko, I chose Justice (New Brunswick and Oxford: Transaction Publishers, 1989), 136.
687. Ibid., 37
688. Protocol testimony Shlomo Dragon, 10 and 11 May 1945, added as Appendix 17 to: Cracow District Commission for the Investigation of German War Crimes, "Protocol on the Machinery of Mass Extermination of Humans in Birkenau," 26 November 1946, transl. Roman Sas-Zalaziocky, in Republic of Austria, Ministry of Justice, Case 20 Vr 3806/64 (Ertl/Dejaco), Landesgericht für Strafsachen, Vienna, file ON 264, 393y to 393z.
689. Ibid., 393aa.
690. Ibid.
691. Pery Broad, "Reminiscences," in Auschwitz--Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, 132. The translation quoted is similar to the one read in the Frankfurt court in 1964. See Bernd Naumann, Auschwitz: A Report on the Proceedings Against Robert Ludwig Mulka and Others before the Court at Frankfurt, transl. Jean Steinberg, introduction Hannah Arendt (New York, Washington and London: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966), 162-182.
692. Broad, "Reminiscences," in Auschwitz--Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, 131.
693. "Reminiscences," in Auschwitz--Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, KL Auschwitz Seen by the SS, 135.
694. Letter Faurisson to Le Monde, 16 January 1979, as printed in Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 85f.; the English translation given here can be found in Vidal-Naquet, "A Paper Eichmann," 48
695. Vidal-Naquet, "A Paper Eichmann," 49f.
696. Testimony Faurisson, 1st Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, 2767ff.
697. Rudolph Höss, "The Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Concentration Camp Auschwitz," in Höss, Death Dealer, 44.
698. Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 161.
699. Höss, "[My Life]," in Death Dealer, 160.
700. Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 160, 164.
701. Printed in Serge Thion. Vérité historique our vérité politique? La dossier de l'affaire Faurisson. La question des chambres à gaz (Paris:La Veille Taupe, 1980), 83-89.
702. Printed in Thion. Vérité historique our vérité politique?, 89.
703. Georges Wellers, "Reply to the Neo-Nazi Falsification of Historical Facts Concerning the Holocaust," in Serge Klarsfeld, ed., The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania, transl. Barbara Rucci (New York: The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1978), 108.
704. Gill Seidel, The Holocaust Denial: Antisemitism, Racism & the New Right (Leeds: Beyond the Pale Collective, 1986), 99.
705. As quoted in Seidel, The Holocaust Denial, 101.
706. Letter Faurisson to Le Monde, 29 December 1978, as printed in Robert Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 73.
707. Ibid., 75.
708. Primo Levi, Corriere della Sera, January 3, 1979, as quoted in Myriam Anissimov, Primo Levi: Tragedy of an Optimist, transl. Steve Cox (Woodstock: The Overlook Press, 1999), 331f.
709. Letter Faurisson to Le Monde, 16 January 1979, as printed in Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 84.
710. "La politique hitlérienne d 'extermination. Une décleration d 'historiens" Le Monde, 21 February, 1979.
711. Letter Faurisson to Le Monde, 26 February 1979, as printed in Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, 100.
712. E.J. Hobsbawn, The Age of Empire 1875-1914 (New York: Vintage Books,1989), 3.
713. Ibid., 5.
714. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Ernest C. Mossner ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), 130f.
715. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Henry Reeve, ed. Phillips Bradley, 2 vols. (New York: Vintage Classics, 1990), vol. 2, 9.
716. Leon Pompa, Human Nature and Historical Knowledge: Hume, Hegel and Vico (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1990), 27f.
717. Ibid., 204.
718. Ibid., 197.
719. Ibid., 200f.
720. Ibid., 203.
721. Thion. Vérité historique our vérité politique?, 189f.
722. Ibid.
723. Ibid., 163.
724. Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, After the cataclysm: Postwar Indochina & the reconstruction of imperial ideology (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1979), 24.
725. Robert Faurisson, "The Mechanics of Gassing," The Journal of Historical Review, vol 1 (1980),**.
726. Ibid., **
727. Ibid., ***
728. Ibid., ***.
729. Faurisson Testimony, 2nd Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1988, 8490ff..
730. Faurisson Testimony, 2nd Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1988, 8498.
731. Thion. Vérité historique our vérité politique?, 33f.
732. Vidal-Naquet, Assassins of Memory, 25.
733. Ibid., 27.
734. Noam Chomsky, "Quelques commentaires elementaires sur le droit a la liberté d 'expression," in Faurisson, Memoire en Defense, xii.
735. Ibid., xiv.
736. Jean-François Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute, transl. Georges Van Den Abbeele, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), 3f.
737. Richard E. Harwood, Did Six Million Really Die? (Toronto: Samisdat, n.d.), 5.
738. Testimony Faurisson, 1st Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, 2390.
739. Ibid., 2530f.
740. Ibid., 2532.
741. Testimony Vrba, 1st Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, 1478f.
742. Testimony Faurisson, 1st Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, 2756f.
743. William C. Lindsey, "Zyklon B, Auschwitz, and the Trial of Dr. Bruno Tesch," The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 4 (1984), 287f.
744. Lindsey Testimony, 1st Zündel Trial, Transcript of Her majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zündel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, 3085.
745. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, 221.
746. Robert Faurisson, "Foreword," in Barbara Kulaszka, ed., Did Six Million Really Die? Report of the Evidence in the Canadian "false News" Trial of Ernst Zündel-1988 (Toronto: Samisdat, 1992), iv.
747. Hoffman II, The Great Holocaust Trial, 7ff.
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