The former leader of the French far-right, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been fined 30,000 euros for saying the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail” of World War II.
He was convicted of contesting crimes against humanity, the same charge he received in 2012 when he said that the Nazi occupation of France was “not particularly inhumane.”
France has strict laws against Holocaust denial. There have been many instances in recent decades of downplaying the impact of the Holocaust or even denying it ever took place. This is often done by far-right politicians or sympathizers who wish to cast doubt on the horrors, in order to make their own brand of extremism more acceptable.
Even though the evidence is overwhelming, many far-right politicians and supporters continue to deny the fact of the Holocaust or its extent. One of these is LePen.
Le Pen told a journalist his remarks “corresponded to my thought that the gas chambers were a detail of the history of war.”
When asked if “millions of deaths” could be considered a “point of detail,” Le Pen said, “It is not a million deaths, it is the gas chambers. I’m talking about specific things. I have not talked about the number of dead. I spoke of a system. I said it was a detail of the history of warfare.”
Besides the Holocaust, Le Pen has made other controversial comments. In 2014, he said that the Ebola virus could end Europe’s “immigration problem.”
He was expelled from the party he started by his own daughter, the current leader. She is distancing the party from his “extreme beliefs.” Le Pen is too extreme for what many regard as an extreme party.
Le Pen was indicted in 2015 for inciting hatred after comparing French Muslims to the Nazis who occupied France in the war. He has often been accused of making racist comments as well as denying the Holocaust.
He has always been controversial- he served in the Algerian War of Independence. He found the National Front, and his party’s main policies included a curb on immigration and he was runner-up in the Presidential election of 2000. However, his increasingly extreme language and ideas have led him to become increasingly marginalized.
His daughter is now leader of the party he found- she is expected to do well in the upcoming French Presidential election. However, it seems likely that Le Pen senior will not have any official role in the party’s election campaign.