A LIFE IN FULL; M'Lady's Not for Turning ; She Was a Model Who Married One of New Zealand's Wealthiest Men. They Divorced When He Discovered That She Wasn't Really a Russian Aristocrat. Then She Befriended Holocaust `Revisionist' David Irving and Turned Up at Conference of Extreme Right-Wingers. JOHANN HARI Meets Lady Renouf (and Some of Her Less Savoury Acquaintances)

By Hari, Johann | The Independent on Sunday (London, England), April 13, 2003 | Go to article overview
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A LIFE IN FULL; M'Lady's Not for Turning ; She Was a Model Who Married One of New Zealand's Wealthiest Men. They Divorced When He Discovered That She Wasn't Really a Russian Aristocrat. Then She Befriended Holocaust `Revisionist' David Irving and Turned Up at Conference of Extreme Right-Wingers. JOHANN HARI Meets Lady Renouf (and Some of Her Less Savoury Acquaintances)


Hari, Johann, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)


A sweet little granny is sitting next to me, knitting a scarf. She is listening to an elderly professor who is delivering a speech about the Holocaust. Every now and then, at the most rousing moments of the speech, this tiny old woman will mutter her agreement. "Kikes," she says absently as she nods her head, "dirty fucking kikes."

Nobody objects; nobody even turns to look. This Nazi granny is among friends here. She is sitting in the plush Irvine Marriott Hotel in Orange County, California. The people running this hotel obviously think that the 200 or so people gathered here are attending an academic conference. That is, indeed, what the organisers claim: that this is a gathering of serious historians, academics and interested lay-people. Some of them even seem to believe it. This horde includes some of the earth's most hardcore anti-semites, gathered for the humble purpose of rehabilitating the political reputation of Adolf Hitler. And ingratiating herself into this network sits an English aristocrat and fashion model, Lady Renouf of Kensington. The Institute for Historical Review insists in all its publicity material that they are "objective historians" who are only interested in discovering "the truth about the Holocaust and other controversial historical events". That claim seems implausible within ten minutes of the conference starting. The audience reacts with whoops to waves of anti- semitic claims and slander. One guy brings up the old myth that Jews were responsible for the slave-trade; another claims that they "control the world". Much of the audience was brought to its feet cheering for one smear after another. One little fat man yelled, when the discussion was opened to the floor, "They think they can screw anyone they damn well please! The Jews are trying to show that they can fuck up whoever they want and nobody's going to stop 'em!" He received crushing applause. On the front row, I glimpsed two kids applauding. They looked about 12. Later, I found out that their dad brought them because "I want them to know what kind of world they are going to grow up in."

The main argument of these "revisionists", as they call themselves, is that the Holocaust did not happen. Seriously. Sure, there were some "harsh" measures - but no gas chambers and, as Robert Faurisson, a former Professor of Literature at the University of Lyons, put it in his speech, "The Jews were persecuted, but they were protected by Hitler too."

And Lady Renouf? You might have spotted her in a Cable and Wireless advert a few years ago, rising, topless, out of an oyster shell. She looked only marginally less ridiculous as she sprang to her feet during a speech by a Palestinian representative to screech, "You have to look at causes. Why are you being treated like this? You are victims of the heathen scriptures of the Jews! The Talmud is the book of hate!" Over breakfast in the hotel lobby the next morning, she explained to me exactly what she meant. Speaking in a very plain, matter-of-fact voice, she began, "You have to go back and look at the Jews' religious texts. You see, the Torah and the Talmud state quite clearly that only Jews have a soul. The rest of us are merely cattle. That is the reason why they treat people the way they do - and why they are so despised throughout history. People act as though Judaism is just another religion like Christianity or Islam. It's not. It's a creed of domination and racial superiority."

When I got back, I phoned around several experts in Jewish theology - people who spend their lives reading and learning about Jewish texts. None of them recognised a word of this. I had found myself, quite by coincidence, travelling over on the same plane as Michele Renouf and even staying in a neighbouring hotel room. She is a well-preserved fifty-something woman with long blonde hair and the smooth good looks that only very expensive clothes and grooming can achieve.

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A LIFE IN FULL; M'Lady's Not for Turning ; She Was a Model Who Married One of New Zealand's Wealthiest Men. They Divorced When He Discovered That She Wasn't Really a Russian Aristocrat. Then She Befriended Holocaust `Revisionist' David Irving and Turned Up at Conference of Extreme Right-Wingers. JOHANN HARI Meets Lady Renouf (and Some of Her Less Savoury Acquaintances)
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