Jean-Marie Le Pen has been a fighter all his life. He fought for his country in Indochina and in Algeria, and has been fighting for it politically since he founded the National Front in 1972. His hero is also a fighter — Joan of Arc — and his house is filled with statues of the Maid of Orleans.
Like anyone who talks sense about race or immigration, Mr. Le Pen must contend daily with mind-readers who claim to know what he thinks better than he does himself. During the latest campaign, practically every article about him that appeared in the American press reminded readers he was a notorious anti-Semite who had unmasked himself by calling the Holocaust a “minor point” or “footnote” of history. It is fascinating that one phrase spoken 15 years ago can follow a man around like a ghost, but let us see exactly what he said.
First, Mr. Le Pen was talking about gas chambers specifically, not the Holocaust. The California-based Holocaust revisionist organization, the Institute for Historical Review, has provided a translation of his remarks made during a television interview in September, 1987, in which he was asked about the controversy over Professor Robert Faurisson’s assertion that the Germans had not used gas chambers to kill Jews:
Do you want me to say it is a revealed truth that everyone has to believe? That it’s a moral obligation? I say there are historians who are debating these questions. I am not saying that the gas chambers did not exist. I couldn’t see them myself. I haven’t studied the questions specially. But I believe that it is a minor point [point de détail] in the history of the Second World War.
Far more astonishing and significant than this remark is that Mr. Le Pen was convicted under a law that forbids the French to “contest” “crimes against humanity” as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal that tried Nazi war criminals after the war. After a long court battle, a judge fined Mr. Le Pen the equivalent of $200,000 for failing to give the gas chambers the importance French law requires.
Ten years later on a trip to Germany, he was asked what he had meant by his earlier remark. He replied: “There is nothing belittling or scornful about such a statement . . . If you take a book of a thousand pages on the Second World War, in which 50 million people died, the concentration camps occupy two pages and the gas chambers ten or 15 lines, and that’s what’s called a detail.”
Amazingly, in Dec., 1997, a Paris court again found him guilty, fining him and ordering him to pay to have the court’s decision printed in a dozen French newspapers. At that time, he vowed never again to talk about gas chambers, noting that it is now a legally taboo subject, on which certain opinions are now required by law.
Although Le Pen’s comments may sound insensitive, as Professor Faurisson himself has noted, his views are no different from those of several distinguished authorities. There is no mention of gas chambers at all in Dwight Eisenhower’s 559-page war memoir, Crusade in Europe, nor in Winston Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War, nor in Charles de Gaulle’s 2,054-page Mémoires de Guerre. The British tank warfare specialist and historian Sir Basil Liddell-Hart never mentioned Jews in his final book, The Second World War, much less the gas chambers.
Mr. Le Pen speaks in vigorous phrases that lend themselves to quotation, both by friends and enemies. During the campaign, he summarized his positions this way: “Socially I am to the left. Economically I am to the right. Nationally, more than ever, I am for France.”
Here is a selection of some of his other observations:
Look at California. The Americans conquered it from Mexico. Now Mexico is getting it back through immigration.
Our system of social support encourages the lowest elements of society to breed like rabbits — why should we spend our tax money to pay for unwed black mothers to produce more babies who will grow up into illiterates?
I call the Euro ‘the currency of occupation;’ it’s the currency of the European Bank, of Frankfurt [seat of the European Bank]. It doesn’t express anything for me. The Franc, on the other hand, is bound to our national and historic identity. The loss of our monetary independence will lead to the loss of our budgetary independence, and then to our political independence as well.
There is an Islamic population in France, most of which comes from the North African countries. Though some may have French citizenship, they don’t have the French cultural background or sociological structure. They operate according to a different logic than most of the population here. Their values are different from those of the Judeo-Christian world. Not long ago, they spat at the president of the republic. They booed when the national anthem was played at a soccer game [in Paris, between the national teams of France and Algeria]. These elements have a negative effect on all of public security. They are strengthened demographically both by natural reproduction and by immigration, which reinforces their stubborn ethnic segregation, their domineering nature. This is the world of Islam in all its aberrations.
The identity of France “is indissolubly linked to blood, soil and memory . . . It is composed of a homogenous people living on a territory inherited from its forefathers according to tradition.”
In the Olympic Games there is an obvious inequality between the black and white races in sport, running in particular. This is a fact . . . I observe that the races are unequal.
We are supposed to be electing a president of the republic but the republic no longer exists. France does not even have the powers of an American state like Florida or California because it cannot even reestablish the death penalty [which is forbidden by the European Union].