Anti-Nazi drive gets masters nullified

July 6, 2001

A postgraduate degree awarded 11 years ago has been withdrawn by the University of Lyon-III on the grounds of revisionism after campaigns by anti-Nazi bodies.

Jean Plantin, a publisher who two years ago was convicted on charges connected with denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers, was absent last week from the meeting at which a jury cancelled his masters.

Plantin's degree in contemporary history was given a distinction for his dissertation about Paul Rassinier, a founder of revisionism. It was presented in 1990 as a study of the origins of revisionism, despite a jury member's reservations about lack of objectivity and his call for adjustments to remove ambiguity. The objecting jury member did not read the final version, and the degree was awarded.

It was Plantin's second postgraduate qualification to be retracted. Last November, the University of Lyon-II revoked a diploma it awarded him in 1991 for research into typhus epidemics in German concentration camps.

In 1999, Plantin was convicted for denying crimes against humanity, a criminal offence in France, after publishing a review of works banned by the interior ministry that included a report on the development and control of cyanide compounds at Auschwitz.

For some years, the universities of Lyon have been associated with revisionist tendencies. With support from anti-racist associations, staff and students formed a committee of vigilance against the extreme right. In June, the committee demanded that a commission of historians and education ministry inspectors scrutinise the recruitment and promotion of rightwing teachers at Lyon-III.

The committee also campaigns for the cancellation of revisionist or anti-Semitic diplomas: one target is the validation by Germanist Jean-Paul Allard at Lyon-III in 1985 of a thesis challenging the existence of the gas chambers.

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