French Rightwing Leader Expresses Skepticism About the Holocaust

French Jewry is outraged and alarmed by rightwing leader Jean Marie Le Pen’s claim in a nationally broadcast radio interview Sunday night that the Holocaust, if it indeed occurred, has been exaggerated and in any event was only a footnote to history. Le Pen, who spoke on Radio Luxembourg, heads the extreme rightwing National Front which won 10 percent of the vote in last year’s legislative elections and has 32 Deputies in the French National Assembly. He has declared himself a candidate in the Presidential elections next year.

The National Front is believed to be a cover for several French “revisionist” historians who maintain that the Holocaust was a Jewish invention. Le Pen himself has a record of rabid racism and veiled anti-Semitism. He adamantly denies being an anti-Semite and complains that his remarks are “misinterpreted.”

In the radio interview he said, “I don’t say they (the gas chambers) never existed but I have never seen any myself. Moreover, I think this (whole question) is a mere detail in the history of the Second World War.” He added, “There were many (Jewish) dead, hundreds of thousands, may be millions. But non-Jews also died.”

The Representative Council of Major French Jewish Organizations (CRIF) said Monday that Le Pen betrayed his trust as a member of Parliament. Louis Mermaz, former president of the National Assembly, said he would ask the assembly’s Ethics Committee to investigate his remarks and “draw its own conclusions.”

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