French Historians and the Holocaust

Douglas Johnson on why French historians are still arguing about the Holocaust.

In April 1996 the philosopher Roger Garaudy held a press conference in a Paris hotel. It was to launch his latest book which was an attack against the state of Israel. There was only a curiosity interest in the work of the former Stalinist who had been expelled from the Communist Party and who had turned to both Catholicism and Protestantism before being converted to Islam. Nor was there much concern about the chapter entitled 'Myths of the Twentieth Century' which stated that the supposed killing of some six million Jews during the war had not taken place. But when Jacques Verges, the lawyer who had defended the ex- Gestapo chief, Klaus Barbie, when he was charged in France with crimes against humanity, announced that Garaudy's book had the full support of the Abbe Pierre, this was a sensation. The Abbe Pierre was the most popular man in France. For more than forty years he had been the champion of the poor and the homeless, a model of devotion and courage.

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