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Geopolitics

New Leader Of Le Pen’s Party Accused Of Gas Chamber Denial

French journalist digs up troubling comments from 17 years ago by Jean-François Jalkh, who was just tapped to head the National Front party ahead of the May 7 presidential election.

National Front supporters rally in Henin-Beaumont on April 23
National Front supporters rally in Henin-Beaumont on April 23

PARIS — Far-right leader Marine Le Pen planned to spend the next two weeks trying to build her base, including more moderate voters, after clearing the first hurdle of the French election on Sunday. To do so, she announced that she would temporarily step down as leader of her National Front party, naming Jean-François Jalkh, the party's vice president, to take her place.

But a story has now surfaced that Jalkh had allegedly expressed doubts in the past that gas was used by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The comments, from an interview in 2000, surfaced Tuesday after a journalist from the Catholic daily La Croix tweeted a passage where Jalkh questioned whether Zyklon B was really used in the Holocaust gas chambers.

I stumbled onto this, concerning the new interim president of the FN!!!

The damning passage was published in Le Temps des Savoirs in 2005:

"... the use of gas, for example, called Zyklon B, I personally consider that on a technical point of view, it is impossible, clearly impossible, to use it in ... mass exterminations. Why? Because it takes days before decontaminating a room ... where one used Zyklon B."

Jalkh describes reading "the works of people who are deniers and revisionists," which surprised him for their "seriousness and rigor." It is unclear whether Jalkh was discussing his own beliefs or summarizing those of others.

Jalkh denies ever having made the comments, and the Le Pen campaign called the story "fabricated."

jalkh national front politics france

Jean-François Jalkh — Photo: Polomartini

However, researcher Magali Boumaza — now living in Istanbul — confirmed the accuracy of the quotes and claims to have recordings of the interview back in Paris: "I met Mr. Jalkh in April 2000 at the headquarters of the National Front," Boumaza told Libération. "The remarks in question represent three minutes of a three-hour interview."

Le Pen's National Front party has tried to distance itself from its anti-Semitism past. Last year, the party's founder (and Marine Le Pen's father) Jean-Marie Le Pen repeated remarks that the Holocaust was a "detail" of history. Le Pen senior, now 88, was subsequently forced out of National Front. In March, Benoît Loeuillet was suspended from the party after saying, "There were no mass deaths in the Nazi camps, as has been said." A month later, Marine Le Pen herself denied the French government's involvement in deporting Jews, saying it was the responsibility of Nazi occupiers.

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Geopolitics

It's Not About Mussolini, Searching For The Real Giorgia Meloni

As the right-wing coalition tops Italian elections, far-right leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, is set to become Italy's next prime minister. Both her autobiography and the just concluded campaign help fill in the holes in someone whose roots are in Italy's post-fascist political parties.

Giorgia Meloni at a political rally in Palermo on Sept. 20.

Alessandro Calvi

-Analysis-

ROME — After Sunday’s national election results, Italy is set to have its first ever woman prime minister. But Giorgia Meloni has been drawing extra attention both inside and outside of the country because of her ideology, not her gender.

Her far-right pedigree in a country that invented fascism a century ago has had commentators rummaging through the past of Meloni and her colleagues in the Brothers of Italy party in search of references to Benito Mussolini.

But even as her victory speech spoke of uniting the country, it is far more useful to listen to what she herself has said since entering politics to understand the vision the 45-year-old lifelong politician has for Italy’s future.

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