The Future of a Negation: Reflections on the Question of Genocide

The Future of a Negation: Reflections on the Question of Genocide

The Future of a Negation: Reflections on the Question of Genocide

The Future of a Negation: Reflections on the Question of Genocide

Synopsis

The Future of a Negation is a crucial statement on the Holocaust -- and on Holocaust denial -- from Alain Finkielkraut, one of the most acclaimed and influential intellectuals in contemporary Europe.

The book examines the Holocaust, its origins in modern European thought and politics, and recent "revisionist" attempts to deny its full dimensions and, in some cases, its very existence as historical fact. Finkielkraut's central topic is the impulse toward "negation" of the Nazi horrors: the arguments made by many people, of varying political orientations, that "the gas chambers are a hoax or, in any case, an unverifiable rumor". In addition, Finkielkraut looks at other instances of twentieth-century mass murder and at arguments made by contemporary politicians and intellectuals that similarly deny the full extent of these other atrocities. An original, fearless book, The Future of a Negation is an essential contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust and of genocidal politics and thought in our century.

Excerpt

In late June 1996, publicity posters appeared in bookshop windows and newsstand displays throughout France announcing the upcoming issue of the popular French weekly magazine L'Evénement du jeudi. Frequently used by l'edj and other French magazines to attract readership, these posters regularly announce provocative cover stories and include striking photographs. the poster for the 27 June-3 July issue was no exception. in bold red, black, and white letters, the poster announced The Holocaust: the Victory of the Revisionists. the headline was superimposed on a crisp color photograph of the familiar bearded face of an aging priest known throughout France as Father Pierre. When the issue of l'edj appeared on the newsstands, it sold out within hours.

While the headline alone was certainly shocking enough to attract a large readership, it was the juxtaposition of the announcement of the victory of the "revisionists" with the photo of Father Pierre that brought into sharp focus the latest episode of what has come to be known in France as le négationnisme -- "negationism," or the denial of the Holocaust. Shocking as it may have been in 1996, such "negationism" had already been identified and brilliantly dissected in 1982 by the young public intellectual Alain Finkielkraut in The Future of a Negation.

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