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French extremist reiterates claims minimizing Holocaust

FRANKFURT, Dec. 8 (JTA) — Human rights groups say they will file charges against an extremist French politician for his remarks that Nazi gas chambers are a “detail of history.” At a news conference in Munich last Friday, Jean-Marie Le Pen also insisted that what happened at Auschwitz are minor historical events and that history books need only a few lines to deal with the Holocaust. When asked about his comments, Le Pen, who is known for his anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant views, did not backtrack. “There is nothing extraordinary” in my comments, he said Saturday in a statement. Le Pen has made similar remarks in the past. A French court fined the leader of the National Front Party for comments he made 10 years ago questioning the existence of gas chambers at Nazi death camps. The news conference centered around a book written about Le Pen and his party. The book’s author is Franz Schoenhuber, a former member of the SS and the founder of the Republicans, a far right-wing political party in Germany. French observers say Le Pen’s comments in Munich were part of an internal party struggle within the National Front. Some of Le Pen’s challengers, they say, are urging a more moderate course in order to allow for cooperation with establishment right-wing parties. Le Pen, however, opposes such alliances until his party gains more power and can dictate the terms of cooperation. The National Front holds one seat in the 577-member French Parliament.