Posted Friday, February 22, 2002

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Robert Faurisson, a professor of French literature there, was punished by a university commission, and permanently barred from contact with students.


The Chronicle of Higher Education

Friday, February 22, 2002


French Panel Investigates Accusations of Holocaust Denial at University of Lyon 3


A COMMISSION set up by France's education minister has begun investigating the activities of extreme right-wing faculty members at a major public university in Lyon. Jack Lang, minister of national education, ordered the inquiry after students repeatedly protested incidents of Holocaust denial by a small number of professors and students over two decades.

The commission, which is to submit its report next January, is made up of six scholars headed by a history professor, Henri Rousso. He is director of research at France's National Center for Scientific Research and a leading specialist on France's World War II Vichy regime.

In a letter to Mr. Rousso outlining his task, the minister said he wants the commission to

"uncover the truth about the racism and [Holocaust] denial which appear to have found expression at the University of Lyon 3."

Critics accuse Gilles Guyot, president of Lyon 3, of being overly indulgent of the far right at his institution. Mr. Guyot, a professor of management, said that his university does not tolerate racism or the promotion of Holocaust denial, and that he welcomes the scrutiny.

"Many falsehoods have been spread and a lot has been made of very little things. This will be an occasion to establish the truth."

The issue has particular resonance in Lyon, in southeastern France. The city served as headquarters for both the Gestapo -- the Nazi secret police -- and the French Resistance against the German occupation during the Second World War. Three decades ago, Lyon 3 was established by conservative faculty members and students from Lyon 2 who were unhappy with the institution's predominantly left-wing character. Lyon 3 is officially known as Jean Moulin University, after the leader of the French Resistance who was captured by the Germans and tortured to death in the city.

In the years after the war, the city became a sort of center for France's small community of far-right academics. Ironically, the first public scandal involving them took place at the left-wing institution, Lyon 2. In 1981, Robert Faurisson, a professor of French literature there, was punished by a university commission, and permanently barred from contact with students, after he published an article denying the existence of the Nazi gas chambers. Mr. Faurisson could not be reached for comment.

Lyon 2's administration took a firm stand against faculty members' expressing such positions, and in the years that followed, Lyon 3 became the focus of far-right academic expression and of the opposition to it.

In 1985, Jean-Paul Allard, a professor of medieval German literature, headed a commission that approved a student's doctoral thesis that denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers. The next year a commission of the education ministry canceled the approval. Commissions at two other universities reprimanded the two outside professors who were part of the thesis committee. Lyon 3, however, took no disciplinary action against Mr. Allard. He could not be reached for comment.

In 1990, Bernard Notin, a professor of economics, published an article raising doubts about the Holocaust. After months of protests, mainly by students and Jewish groups, a Lyon 3 commission reprimanded him and suspended him for one year. Mr. Notin could not be reached for comment, but he said at the time, "This punishment for my ideas, that they've purposely turned into caricatures while forgetting about my years of teaching and research, can only leave a bitter taste in the mouths of free men." A law passed that year made denial of the Holocaust a crime in France.

The next year, an Institute of Indo-European Studies was established at Lyon 3 under the direction of Mr. Allard, the professor of German. It quickly became the rallying point for a handful of extremely conservative academics who, critics say, were nostalgic for a pure, white race, which they postulate as the precursors of modern Europeans. Many were close to France's far-right National Front party of Jean-Marie Le Pen. Critics say several of the institute's scholars are known for having promoted racist ideas.

There followed a series of student protests, including a sit-in at the university president's office. Then a report by a commission established by the education ministry found that the institute's output could not be considered of an academic nature, and said the body "has no place" inside a university's walls. In 1999 the institute was closed.

Critics concede that Holocaust denial does not go on openly today at Lyon 3. But they argue that there are continuing efforts at the university to recruit and promote extreme right-wing faculty members.

Marc Jampy, a doctoral student in history at Lyon 3, is the leader of a student movement that has led the protests against Holocaust denial. It is called "Hippocampe," French for a part of the brain associated with memory. "We're not fighting against the far right," he says. "We're against professors who use their classes to promote Holocaust denial and racist and anti-Semitic theories."

With France's presidential elections only two months off, some feel that party politics has played a role in the decision of the education minister, Mr. Lang, to order the inquiry now. He is a well-known Socialist intellectual, and, the theory goes, he may feel the move could embarrass the right wing and give an edge to Lionel Jospin, France's Socialist prime minister, who is a candidate for president.

Eric Froment, president of the Association of European Universities and a former president of Lyon 2, says that even if there is some truth to that, there are good reasons for the inquiry. At Lyon 3, he says, "there is a tolerance of Holocaust denial and racist ideas that would not be accepted elsewhere."

Joan Waynick contributed to this article.


France probes 'far-right' university (and David Irving's comment)
Prof. Robert Faurisson
Dr Henri Rocques

WEBSITE NOTE. Irresponsible elements close to Prof. Robert Faurisson have ascertained for us the identities of the six conformist historians forming the learned and academic "Commission on Racism and Denial" ("Commission sur le racisme et le négationnisme"). Here they are:

Henry Rousso, président :
Annette Becker :
Philippe Burrin :
Daniel Filâtre :
Pierre-André Taguieff :
Florent Brayard : ...

You may wish to impress your views on them individually, or click this button to write what you think to all six of them at once:

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