Paul Rassinier was in two different concentration camps under the Nazis and wrote savagely of the conduct of some of his fellow prisoners.
He is sometimes claimed as the Father of Holocaust Denial for his criticism of the testimonies of other survivors. His later works criticised the Zionists and questioned the number of victims of the Holocaust.
Rassinier's first book Crossing the Line in 1949 describes his experience in Buchenwald, where he says the communists (of which he had counted himself one) ran the internal affairs of the camps for their own benefit. He blames the high death rate in both camps on the corruption of the prisoner administration, the Häftlingsführung. The book was an immediate critical and commercial success, and described by one reviewer as "the first testimony coldly and calmly written against the demands of resentment, idiotic hatred or chauvinism".
A year later, Rassinier wrote a second book The Lie of Ulysses: A Glance at the Literature of Concentration Camp Inmates that attacked the memoirs of other survivors for exaggerations and falsehoods. He expressed doubt about the existence of the gas chambers or a Nazi policy of extermination and was condemned as a Holocaust Denier. He was expelled from the Communist Party of France and lost his job as a teacher (though in some accounts this is linked to quite serious ill-health he suffered as a result of his treatment).
Fourteen years later (1964) Rassinier published the The Drama of the European Jews and claimed there was never a policy of extermination by Nazi Germany and that much witness testimony was unreliable. His criticism of some relatively unimportant details in Doctor At Auschwitz by Myklos Nyiszli, were later confirmed as justified.
Jean Plantin wrote a biography of Rassinier and said "his historical approach is indissociable from his pacifict convictions". Rassinier hated one-sided condemnation of the fascist nations for crimes against humanity and hated the colonial wars of the 1950's and 1960's, In his view, they were both part of the continuing struggle to divide the working class of different nations behind walls of xenophobia, nationalism and hostility. Plantin was later prosecuted for this publication and others, his degrees revoked, he was sentenced to terms of imprisonment (suspended) and all his archives confiscated.
Links to Holocaust Denial
Rassinier had studied relatively few documents or testimonies, but was innovative in what later became known as Holocaust Denier tactics: "...the refutation of testimonies of deportees and the skepticism with regard to the confessions of former Nazis, an evaluation that criticizes sources and disputes the authenticity and credibility of certain documents; the outlines of a physical, chemical, and technical refutation of the crematoriums and the gas chambers, etc".
Rassinier's writings had some influence on Holocaust Deniers. The American Harry Elmer Barnes had been a mainstream historian inclined to pacifism but turned to denial in about 1962 with a pamphlet Revisionism and Brainwashing. Barnes later wrote "In a revision of his statistics in 1966, Rassinier states that the properly corrected figures given by the "World Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation," claim that some 1,593.292 European Jews perished from all causes between 1939 and 1945. Revised analysis of the figures given by Hilberg indicates that the data reveal the death of 1,003,392 Jews from all causes during this period."
Paul Rassinier is not alleged to have falsified any part of his own experiences, it is only his opinions and the factual claims he made later that have been condemned as offensive.
- Proletarian Revolution, No. 32, November, 1949, reproduced in part in "Paul Rassinier: Socialist, Pacifist and Revisionist" by Jean Plantin, Part I, Chapter 4.
- Auschwitz: Technique And Operation Of The Gas Chambers Criticism of some relatively unimportant details in Doctor At Auschwitz by Myklos Nyiszli. The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation (1989), pp. 473–479.
- Paul Rassinier (1906-1967) Socialist, Pacifist and Revisionist the refutation of testimonies of deportees Full text of "Masters Paper of History" by Jean Plantin, Universite de Lyon-III, Mention "very good". Jean Plantin. June 30, 1990.
- Zionist Fraud: THE DRAMA OF THE EUROPEAN JEWS by Paul Rassinier. Les SeptCouleurs, Paris, 1964. (In French.), commentary by Harry Elmer Barnes.