Financed, in France, by the Klarsfeld couple and, in the United States, by rabbi Michael Berenbaum (director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington from 1988 to 1993), the pharmacist Jean-Claude Pressac had known glory in the years 1993-1995, particularly with the greatly heralded launching of his book Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz, la machinerie du meurtre de masse, published in 1993 with the French taxpayer's money under the auspices of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS).
The grotesque character of his argument and his book was patent. Nonetheless, at the time, official historians and mainstream journalists rivalled each other in praise of it. In doing so they once again debased themselves, trying to sell us a sow's ear as a silk purse.
In the wartime Auschwitz camp there existed what the internees called "Radio Crapper" ; (1) elsewhere in the same era, in a French prisoners' camp at Ludwigsburg, a small internal newspaper entitled "Camp-Cans" circulated. (2) It is only human that, in any prison, in any enclosed space, rumours, gossip and other kinds of the most outlandish talk should make the rounds; besides, the senior inmates can make themselves seem interesting, especially to newcomers, by peddling fictitious horrors to be added to some already sickening realities.
But it is unconscionable that still today, sixty years after the war, historians and journalists should persist in such unison in echoing inanities of the sort to the point where they give the impression of working for a "Super Radio Crapper International" or a "Super Worldwide Camp-Cans".
As far as J.-C. Pressac is concerned, those professionals of history and information have, since his book's appearance, aggravated their case by not breathing a word either of the routing of their hero on May 9th, 1995 in the Paris criminal court's 17th chamber (the section that hears press matters), or of the act of surrender that he signed on the following June 15th, or, finally, of his premature death at age 59, on July 23rd 2003. Again in unison, all the former flatterers observed the omertà. The same media that had praised Pressac to the skies all refrained from reporting, if only with a single sentence, the passing of their erstwhile hero. In either case, that of a deafening promotion and that of a total silence, there were no orders given, no orchestration, instruction or plot to the respective effect. In an age where a subject like that of the "Holocaust" and the "Nazi gas chambers" has become taboo, everyone knows how to behave: with servility towards the lobby that holds the purse, has the whip hand and that with a single word, "anti-Semitic", can ruin a career, a reputation, a life. If those concerned feel it will please the master, there is dancing in the town square; if the master is seen to frown, it is back to the house or the kennel.
Why and how he capitulated
So then, ten years ago to the day, on June 15th, 1995, Jean-Claude Pressac capitulated, but the text of that capitulation was made public - discreetly - only in small print at the very end of a book by Valérie Igounet published in Paris in April 2000 under the title Histoire du négationnisme en France (Editions du Seuil). It may be feared that a good number of the book's readers have paid but scant attention to these two half-pages (651-652) in a great mass of text where the author lets Pressac have his say. Nonetheless they are of capital importance for the history of the "Nazi gas chambers" controversy. On them Pressac states quite simply that, when all is said and done, the official dossier on the Nazi concentration camps is "rotten". He even adds that the dossier is irremediably "rotten" and that, consequently, it is "bound for the rubbish bins of History"! He draws up a veritable indictment against "memory" which has "taken precedence over history", against the distortions inspired by "resentment and vendetta", against the communists and their associations, which have set themselves up as the guardians of a false truth (he does not dare, however, to implicate the Jews and Jewish associations). He says: "Approximation, exaggeration, omission and lying characterise the majority of the accounts of that period". He asks: "Can things be put back on an even keel?" and answers: "It is too late. An overall rectification is humanly and materially impossible".
Pressac had taken the term "rotten" from professor Michel de Boüard. A former internee at Mauthausen (he had been convicted of acts of resistance), that historian, at once a Roman Catholic and close to the communists, became after the war dean of the literature and social sciences faculty at the university of Caen (Normandy) and a member of the Institut de France. He headed the commission for the history of the deportation within the Comité de l'histoire de la deuxième guerre mondiale, directly responsible to the Prime Minister's office. A holder of the decorations Croix de guerre and Médaille de la Résistance, he was a commandeur of the Légion d'honneur. For more on the late Michel de Boüard's sudden declarations of 1986-1987, which were amply revisionist in nature, one may consult the pages listed under his name in the index of my Ecrits révisionnistes (1974-1998).
There is an explanation for Pressac's sudden change of position. On June 15th, 1995, the moment when he signed his act of surrender, the man was still feeling the effect of the humiliating blows he had taken the previous month in the 17th chamber of the Paris criminal court, presided over by Madame Martine Ract-Madoux. A deafening media clamour had, in September 1993, accompanied the appearance of his aforementioned volume. I had replied with a little book entitled Réponse à Jean-Claude Pressac sur le problème des chambers à gaz. That reply led to my prosecution under the Fabius-Gayssot Act prohibiting any disputing of the "existence" of crimes against humanity as defined and punished by the judges at Nuremberg. My barrister, Maître Eric Delcroix, and I had requested Pressac's summoning, under pain of arrest, as a witness. Two articles in my Ecrits (p. 1674-1682 and 1683-1693) give an account of that session in court relating the witness's increasingly plain discomposure, his evasiveness and inability to answer Maître Delcroix's questions, and the consternation of the presiding judge at the sight of one who, arms raised on high, declared that too much was being asked of him, that he had just one life, that he was alone in his struggle.
The legal proceedings brought against us for the offence of revisionism, in France and abroad, have been exhausting. We have at times known discouragement and been tempted to consider it pointless to mount any defence worthy of the name. But it must be acknowledged that those court cases have greatly strengthened our cause. Our opponents had refused all our offers of debate, all public confrontation. They trumpeted that their dossier, that of the "Holocaust" or "Shoah", was as solid as could be. And the only times where we have been able to force them to confront us in any arena before an audience have been those proceedings that they had the gall to institute against us. On one lone occasion have our adversaries been able to give the impression of winning at the level of the historical or scientific controversy. That was the instance of their more recent court victory, in London, against David Irving. But David Irving is at the very most a semi-revisionist, and does not know the argumentation of "Holocaust" revisionism well at all. In the course of his lawsuit he did not know how to shut up a certain species of sub-Pressac, a sort of rabbinical visionary, the Jew Robert Jan van Pelt . (3) Irving had not accepted the offer to come to his aid made by such an expert as Germar Rudolf. In all the other cases where revisionists have really known how to stand up for themselves, the opponent's rout has been manifest. On this score, Ernst Zündel's two long trials in Toronto in 1985 and 1988 were exemplary. I am not speaking here of the judicial conclusions but of the results obtained at the historical or scientific level with, on the one hand, the flight of the opposing party's experts and witnesses and, on the other hand, the significant contributions, on the occasion of those trials, made by revisionist researchers to the advancement of historical scholarship (particularly with the Leuchter report on Auschwitz and Majdanek).
Jean-Claude Pressac died on July 23rd, 2003, at the age of 59. The man whom the media of the Western world had saluted as a sort of genius who, allegedly, had floored revisionism in general and Robert Faurisson in particular, departed this life in the most complete obscurity: not a single organ of the mainstream press that had so extolled him even announced his death. (4)
Thus June 15th, 1995, with that act of surrender by Jean-Claude Pressac, constitutes one of the most noteworthy dates in the history of revisionism.
The text of his capitulation itself
It was with much precaution that V. Igounet presented, in an appendix to her book, the text of her "interview with Jean-Claude Pressac". She wrote:
After having accorded me an interview, Mr Pressac deemed it necessary to rework the text of it entirely. The interview that follows is thus not a faithful transcript of our tape recording. This text was drafted and then processed on computer by Jean-Claude Pressac; we reproduce it here as it was given to us, without making any corrections. Certain questions were not put by the author [V. Igounet]. It goes without saying that the words of Jean-Claude Pressac are the responsibility neither of Valérie Igounet nor of the Editions du Seuil (p. 613).
A footnote specifies that the text's copyright belongs to Jean-Claude Pressac. In his "interview" of nearly forty pages, the latter first gives the impression of developing, his customary views on the "Nazi gas chambers", not without introducing significant mitigations. Then he is seen denouncing or disputing, all in a jumble 1) "an accumulation of silliness" on the subject of homicidal gassings, "each bit of which is stupider and more nonsensical than the others, which proves the pitiful level of concentration camp scholarship, based exclusively up to today on the 'sacrosanct' testimonies" (p. 621); 2) "the communist history of the [Auschwitz] camp" (p. 625); 3) "a hotchpotch of testimonies, unusable because without historical analysis" (p. 627); 4) "the irrational attitude" of the late exterminationist historian Georges Wellers (p. 633); 5) the antirevisionist [Fabius-Gayssot] law (p. 638); 6) Pierre Vidal-Naquet, one of those "who know nothing about it all" and who may be compared to "a hollow weather-vane" [sic] (p. 641); 7) "the former deportees' stubbornness in defending historically unacceptable facts or figures" (ibid.); 8) Danuta Czech, of the Auschwitz museum, "rendering herself guilty of historical forgery" (p. 649); 9) the drawings and testimony of David Olère, to which he used to attach such great importance (p. 649). Then he explains that the crematory ovens did not emit smoke and that "crude photographic tampering" had sometimes been carried out in order to lead people to believe in the alleged emissions (p. 648). Finally, when asked about his projects, he announces that he is preparing a book on the firm Topf und Söhne, makers of those ovens, and that he will deal with the "Nazi gas chambers" but, he specifies in a cryptic manner, "in a form that remains to be defined and with uncustomary results" (p. 651). The interview closes with the question: "What are your conclusions on this whole business?" Here, without further commentary, is Pressac's response in its entirety, which he wrote in his usual fractured French.
Michel de Boüard, former "Nacht und Nebel" at Mauthausen, considered that "the dossier [on the concentration camp system] is rotten". On the one hand, resentment and vendetta prevailed over conciliation. Then memory over history. On the other hand, the communists' grip on the main organs of command in the camps, the setting up after the liberation of associations under their control and the establishment for fifty years of a "peoples' democratic" history of the camps have introduced the virus of antifascist cant. Approximation, exaggeration, omission and lying characterise the majority of the accounts of that period. The unanimous and irrevocable discredit in which the communist writings are held can only rub off on a concentration camp experience tainted by their ideas and annihilate it. — Can things be put back on an even keel? It is too late. An overall rectification is humanly and materially impossible. Any historical change brings on a depreciation of this set memory presented as definitive. However, new documents will inevitably spring forth and will disrupt the official certainties more and more. The current form, although triumphant, of the presentation of the camp universe is doomed. What will be salvaged of it? Little. In effect, glorifying the concentration camp universe amounts to solving the squaring of the circle, to transmuting black into white. The conscience of peoples doesn't like sad stories. A zombie's life isn't a "growth area", all the less so when the pain endured has subsequently been exploited and turned into benefits: decorations, pensions, positions, political influence. One cannot be both victim and privileged, with a turn at being executioner as well. — Of all these facts, terrible because having caused the death of women, children and old people, only the established ones will survive. The others are bound for the rubbish bins of History (p. 651-652).
It is with these words and these "rubbish bins of History", called on to collect the "rotten" dossier of a history of the concentration camp system, a body of writings and testimonies largely inspired by lies and lucre, that both Pressac's confession and Valérie Igounet's work come to an end (the remaining pages are devoted to a chronological table, sources, bibliography, index and table of contents).
Pressac had no other way out
Some naïve or pretendedly naïve persons will be tempted to pay tribute to the individual for his courage and forthrightness. That would be, first of all, to forget the base and slanderous remarks about the revisionists that he had allowed himself. In reality, by dint of grotesque theories, false undertakings, evasions, pretences, about turns and reversals with which I shall not deal again here, Pressac ended up finding himself all alone. Not only did he see himself, more than ever, tracked down by the revisionists who, on the occasion of each new strange imagining that he pronounced, demonstrated Pressac's foolishness and contradictions, but also, in the face of his repeated failures and unkept promises, all the powerful people whom he had wanted to serve gave him his notice and revoked his stipend. In the end, he had promised them that he would take up the revisionist challenge and, if unable to show a "Nazi gas chamber", would draw one. He finally came to grips with the fact that the technical drawing of that magical gas chamber was as unrealisable on a computer as what he would himself call "the squaring of the circle". Then he promised to bring out a book about the records of Topf und Söhne, but the study of those records and of the proceedings brought against the company's heads and personnel could only argue against rather than corroborate the "Nazi gas chambers'" existence. A comprehensive failure like that could not remain hidden for long. In such a situation, poor Pressac had no choice but to lay down his arms. And that is what he did on June 15th, 1995. (5)
For their part, when placed in like circumstances, caught in the act of telling outrageous lies, the Raul Hilbergs, the Elie Wiesels or the Claude Lanzmanns do not capitulate. There is a good explanation for this. They have in their favour that atavistic cheek in lying which they call in their language chutzpah and which the French Catholic Jean-Claude Pressac lacked. And then, even though between themselves they heartily tear one another apart, those three eminent Jews will always find powerful supporters within their community to defend them. Experience teaches us: if, by misfortune, a glorious figure of holocaustic literature finds himself one day publicly caught out in a lie, the rule is as follows: either the party involved is a Jew and will simply get out of it, or it is a shabbas goy, i.e. a non-Jew who had enrolled in the service of the Jews, and will be thrown to the dogs. Pressac was to know a fate comparable to that of a Binjamin Wilkomirski, — born, in reality, Bruno Grosjean, — of a Laura Grabowski, — born, in reality, Laura Rose Wilson, — or of an Enric Marco, who, with phenomenal success, had fitted himself out with the identity and the experience, made up out of nothing, of a wartime deportee.
It may be said in all fairness that Jean-Claude Pressac got his just deserts.
June 15, 2005
(1) Raphaël Esrail, secretary general of the Union des déportés d'Auschwitz, "L'évacuation d'Auschwitz", Historiens et géographes, January 2005, p. 45.
(2) Louis Charpentier, Stalag V, A, Paris, Bishop et fils, March 1944, p. 116. (The neologism camp-cans would be pronounced exactly like cancans, a word meaning "gossip" — Translator's note.) Dealing with the rumour that grows stronger with time and prospers, the author proceeded to write: "The gossip the news has thrived while growing old". It may be noted in passing that on page 112 of this book there is a sketch showing two men in gas masks coming out of a "disinfection cubicle" carrying a rod of coat hangers laden with uniforms that have just been subjected to disinfection and anti-pest treatment. In 1945-1946, it was cubicles of this kind that the victors' propaganda presented, at Dachau for example, as execution gas chambers.
(3) "Robert Jan van Pelt, a scholar who is clearly inferior to Pressac both intellectually as well as regarding his critical attitude" (Carlo Mattogno, "My Memories of Jean-Claude Pressac", The Revisionist, November 2003, p. 434).
(4) In spite of a persistent rumour, I must, yet once more, make it clear here that J.-C. Pressac was never my "collaborator" or my "disciple".
(5) On the subject of Jewish authors' bitterness towards Pressac, one may refer to two pieces of mine from 1996: "Le Monde juif contre Jean-Claude Pressac" and "Pauvre Pressac!" (ER, p. 1753-1754).