Retired university professor Robert Faurisson lives in the central French town of Vichy. At 9 am on January 24 he answered a summons to appear at the local police station. No sooner had he arrived there than he was notified by three senior officers, sent from Paris the day before, that he was now in their custody for questioning and that a search of his house would also be carried out.
In December 2006 then French President Jacques Chirac had publicly called for an investigation into Faurisson’s participation in the conference in Tehran on the Holocaust (December 11 and 12 of that year). That conference was open to all, including revisionists. A British subject before being a French citizen, it was in English that the Professor, a specialist in “the appraisal of texts and documents (literature, history, media)”, briefly spelled out the results of his research on “the Holocaust”. His paper bore the title “The Victories of Revisionism”. In it he didn’t hide his belief that the more revisionism gained ground, particularly on the Internet, the more revisionists would face repression, first in the media, then at the hands of the police and the law courts.
The Minister of Justice then put a Paris prosecutor in charge of the investigation demanded by one who, dubbed “Superliar” by French television, was now anxious to come to the aid of an imperilled “Superlie”. On April 16, 2007 police lieutenant Séverine Besse and a colleague of hers were sent to Vichy to question the professor. But to each of their queries he was to reply stubbornly: “No answer”, and he had them put down the following statement in their official record: “I refuse to collaborate with the French police and justice system in the repression of historical revisionism”.
Nine months later, on January 24, 2008, the thought police re-offended. In the meantime an examining magistrate, Marc Sommerer, was assigned to the case. And he sent the same Séverine Besse to Vichy, accompanied this time by two other officers of the Police Judiciaire (OPJ). She made it known to the professor that he was henceforth in custody for questioning and that after a session with them in a room in the station his house would be searched. There then followed a bodily search, confiscation of wallet and change purse, pen, watch and… belt (whereas the chances are nil of a man of 79 hanging himself in a police station office in the presence of three officers). In fact, it was all probably just his interrogators’ way of trying to intimidate a notorious recalcitrant, whose wife, as the police are aware, is for serious medical reasons in need of his constant presence. However, with the stubbornness of a Scottish mother’s son, R. Faurisson persisted in replying “No answer” to every question put. He reiterated his refusal to collaborate with the police and the justice system against revisionism. Then he was told that he was the target not of one but of three penal actions that had led to the issuing of as many warrants by examining magistrate Sommerer. The first two cited the professor directly for his participation in the Tehran conference; whilst one of these, originating both from the prosecution service and from a slew of pious organisations, attacked him for “disputing crimes against humanity” (under the Fabius-Gayssot law of 1990), the other, from the LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme), charged him with “defamation”. The third action, tortuously worded, was brought “against persons unknown” by the daily Libération for the “pirating” of one of its pieces in the review Dubitando where, the police officers said, twenty of the professor’s articles had appeared.
Faurisson was then taken to his house. The three “OPJ’s” and a Vichy policewoman proceeded with the search. They drew a blank. They discovered neither the coveted computer nor, in a mountain of documents, the papers sought. At the end, towards 3 pm, the professor, making careful note of the three officers’ names, affirmed to them, as he’d had occasion to do before judges in court: “It may turn out that your existence will be noted in history only insofar as I’ll have mentioned your names and in line with how I’ll have mentioned you”.
The day after this six-hour arrest for interrogation and search, that is, the 25th of January, the professor would celebrate his 79th birthday, not without a thought for those revisionist friends of his who were already in prison or who risked finding themselves there before long. He’d have a special thought for the heroic Vincent Reynouard, today a father of seven: ten years ago this maths teacher, adored by his pupils, was kicked out of the state school system in France for the crime of revisionism; at present his living conditions are more precarious than ever but he nonetheless keeps on doing copious research and producing revisionist material regularly; he stands up in person to the courts where the judges, noting his resolve, deny him the right to make a defence grounded in the substance of the case as he sees it, and sentence him with increasing severity; prison awaits him.
Faurisson would also be thinking of his fellow revisionists imprisoned in either Austria or Germany, for example Ernst Zündel, Germar Rudolf, Wolfgang Fröhlich, Gerd Honsik and indeed Sylvia Stolz, “the German Joan of Arc”.
Over the past nearly sixty years, long has grown the list of revisionists who have paid with their tranquillity, their health, their freedom and, sometimes, their lives for an attachment to the freedom of thought, the freedom of research (which, in history, should not see itself assigned any limits) and, finally, the freedom of expression.
January 24, 2008