Apparently, Le Pen said on one occasion:
Do you want me to say it is a revealed truth that everyone has to believe? That it’s a moral obligation? I say there are historians who are debating these questions. I am not saying that the gas chambers did not exist. I couldn’t see them myself. I haven’t studied the questions specially. But I believe that it is a minor point [point de detail] in the history of the Second World War.
On another he said:
I will say it again, the gas chambers were a detail in the history of the Second World War. If you take a thousand-page book written about the Second World War you will see that 50 million died, and if in the thousand pages, there are two pages which mention the gas chambers and the issue of the gas chambers is referred in only 10 to 15 lines on those two pages, that is what you might call a detail.
He was prosecuted for both statements under French law and fined a total of $250,000. The second statement was made in Munich, and upon the request of the German prosecutor the European Parliament stripped Le Pen of his immunity so he could be tried for a crime under German law that carries a 5 year prison term. (Check it out yourself on Google. The only people interested in putting the whole story together are the Holocaust deniers, the “civil libertarians” don’t care, but people won’t accept the deniers as authorities.)
Taken literally, these statements are not clearly false. Nor do they clearly insult the dead, speak favorably of the Holocaust, or do any of the other things the Europeans worry about. Even if you’re not a First Amendment fanatic, that ought to make a difference when criminal liability is in question. What the incidents show, in fact, is that it is the European governing classes as a whole—and not Le Pen—who are dangerous extremists who should be kept far away from political power.
Which is not to say that Le Pen should have said what he did. A man has a right to be annoyed when the Holocaust is used as a club to beat whoever doesn’t toe the PC line, and should be forgiven somewhat for he says when he’s annoyed. But there’s something devious in Le Pen’s statements, and the Holocaust shouldn’t be evaded. That way lies Holocaust denial, or worse, The New York Times, who until very recently routinely listed a man who actively facilitated Russia’s own Holocaust, Walter Duranty, without comment in its honor roll of Pulitzer Prize winners.