A few years ago, two men died on the very same day. One was the bravest of men, acknowledged for leading the Norwegian force that thwarted the German nuclear weapons development program, and in the process saved all of civilization from the Nazis.
The other was Robert Faurisson, a man who was as far from a hero as anyone could get.
Born in Middlesex, England, this bastion of denial began life as a school teacher in Vichy, in the historical province of Bourbonnais, and later became Professor of Literature at the University of Lyon.
Faurisson, whose real surname was Aitken, appears to have followed in the footsteps of two of his most confusing poetic idols – Lautremont and Rimbaud – both of whom seemed to give up on actually doing anything useful at around the age of twenty-five.
In 1974, when he was forty-five, Faurisson began his campaign to convince the world that the Holocaust was a made-up historical fib. He believed unswervingly that Algeria belonged to France, but not that any Jews died in gas chambers in World War Two. He also believed that Yad Vashem would be the ideal place to send his first denial letter, as if the Jews would suddenly agree with his bizarre claim, and waste a good monument.
And, so began, as is the case with madmen and loonies who find a platform from which to spew vitriol, his long descent into indecency, and ours into having to deal with his abject stupidity.
Soon after the Yad Vashem letter, Faurisson became both the poster boy for the Institute of Historical Review, a murder of pseudo-literate anti-Semites, and a devoted supporter of the Nazi Ernst Zundal, who died in 2017, not surprisingly in a place called Bad Wildbad.
He also threw his weight behind Fred Leuchter, a former execution method specialist, who stole bricks from Auschwitz to prove, by way of a bogus chemical analysis in his toilet, that the lack of certain trace elements in the gas chamber walls of Auschwitz meant that Jews weren’t gassed in the gas chamber walls of Auschwitz during the Holocaust.
One of Faurisson’s most notable contributions to the cause of denying was the assertion that the Diary of Anne Frank was a forgery, because, he suggested, she wrote of using a vacuum cleaner, the noise of which would’ve given her away in her hiding place.
Faurisson went on to be fined, charged, and convicted of Holocaust denial, removed from his post at the University, and ridiculed from the mid-1980s until his long-overdue death in 2018.
At his death, we can imagine this confused mass of genetic tripe reflecting on at least three of the most exceptional moments of his useless life.
First, the writing of an introduction to one of his books by none other than the scholar and Jew Noam Chomsky, who, in an academically-driven but woefully-misguided act of support for Article 19, said he saw Faurisson as something of an inoffensive and not-at-all-anti-Semitic liberal.
Later, after shaking off the effects of the Manischewitz, Chomsky adjusted his stance to stand in ‘diametric opposition’ to Faurisson’s vile views.
The second memory I think he might have had is his evening on stage with the idiot Cameroonian comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala who, for his friend Faurisson’s eightieth birthday, had his assistant dress as a concentration camp prisoner, replete with yellow star, and parade around on stage to applause and laughter. Thankfully, they thought they were keeping it historically accurate by not gassing the assistant to death at the end.
And third, and by far the best of Faurisson’s deathbed memories, must have been the day the crooked tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented him with a very special award.
It wasn’t for journaling the horror of Nazi occupation, all the time knowing you are being hunted and never far from your imminent death.
It wasn’t for being a scholar like Chomsky, who made every effort to uphold a belief in free speech even as hatred of that very speech coursed through every vein in the body.
And, it wasn’t for saving humanity from the nuclear attack that the Nazis were planning, using nerves of steel to successfully infiltrate and sabotage a German facility, and escape to safety during nights of cold dark terror, like Ronneberg.
No, Ahmadinejad presented, to a man whose life consisted of nothing but senseless, shocking attacks on a people almost annihilated by hatred in their own country, and who abused the memory of those whose lives were ended in the cruellest, most awful way, and who lived to an age few in Auschwitz could even dream of, once they’d been stripped and raped, beaten and experimented on, dehumanized, and desensitized even to the death of their own children, a special award for ‘True Bravery’.
Joachim Ronneberg was truly brave; Robert Faurisson was absolutely not.
photo by Erik Mclean