French rightist calls Nazi gas chambers ‘detail of history’
MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ Appearing alongside a German former SS sergeant, the leader of France’s extreme right renewed his assertion Friday that Nazi gas chambers were merely ``a detail of history.″
National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said he regretted that ``honest people suffered″ in Nazi death camps but that history books would treat the gas chambers as essentially insignificant.
More than 6 million people, the vast majority Jews, were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Outright denial of the mass killings is a crime in Germany.
Le Pen spoke at a news conference Friday with the former leader of the German Republican Party, Franz Schoenhuber, a former sergeant in Adolf Hitler’s SS.
Schoenhuber called Le Pen’s National Front an example for Germany’s right-wing, which has been almost completely marginalized politically.
Le Pen caused a scandal in France a decade ago, on Sept. 13, 1987, the first time he publicly called the Holocaust a ``detail in history.″ A French court later fined him a symbolic one franc (less than 20 cents) for the remark, made in a radio interview.
Le Pen repeated the statement on Friday, the same day that President Jacques Chirac turned over to a Jewish memorial center 150,000 files used in the deportation of 80,000 Jews during World War II.
In an interview Friday in the French newspaper Le Figaro, Le Pen reiterated his anti-immigration themes. He was quoted as saying that foreign ``colonies (in France) generate unemployment, insecurity, disorder and imbalance″ and that ``the French people have the right to say they are in danger of death.″
A poll of 867 people released Friday showed that 13 percent feel ``close to″ the National Front, and more than a third _ 35 percent _ approve of some of the party’s ideas. Only 48 percent disapproved entirely.
The IPSOS poll was published in the Paris newsweekly Le Point and provided no margin of error, although polls of that size generally have a margin of error of 3 percentage points.