Translation by Guillaume Durocher
Translator’s note: Éric Zemmour is a Sephardic Jewish French journalist and pundit, no doubt the “most nationalist” voice allowed on French television, all but telling people to vote for the Front National. I found his bestselling book Le Suicide français, while sometimes false or circumspect, surprisingly frank on certain issues. The title is taken from the text. Given the length of the text, I have bolded admissions that are significant for a mainstream publication.
The following is taken from Éric Zemmour, Le Suicide français (Albin Michel: 2014), “De Gaulle raflé au Vél d’Hiv,” pp. 379-385.
[French President Jacques Chirac, July 16, 1996:] There are, in the life of a nation, moments which hurt the memory and the idea one has of one’s country. . . . France, the fatherland of the Enlightenment and of the rights of man, land of refuge and asylum, France, on that day, committed the irredeemable. Betraying her word, she delivered her wards to their tormentors . . .
It was Brutus, his adoptive son, who returned, according to the legend, to finish off Caesar, stabbed with dagger strikes; it was Jacques Chirac, the self-styled heir of Gaullism, whose role it was to destroy the Gaullian mystique. The latter was founded upon the distinction between a legal but illegitimate Vichy [regime], a de facto but not de jure authority, and Free France, incarnation of national legitimacy, of the only France, of the France which fights . . .
If France, on that day, that of the Vél’ d’Hiv roundup, July 16, 1942, “committed the irredeemable,” then France resides in Vichy, and not in London; [Marshal Philippe] Pétain is indeed the head of the French State and [General Charles] de Gaulle returns to being a rebel and seditionist general, sentenced to death in abstentia. . . . This Gaullian mystique had founded the General’s entire political œuvre. . . .
Chirac’s speech consecrated a new approach to the Second World War, seen solely as a battle against Nazism, a regime almost excluded from the human race, outside of Germany and even of history, very different from the struggles between nations for European and global hegemony. A convenient narrative which authorized future surrenders. Even though [the Socialist François] Mitterrand had been the President who had abolished entire areas of French sovereignty by signing the Treaty of Maastricht, he was repulsed by this symbolic renunciation: “Those who demand that France apologize do not love their country.”
Though weakened by sickness, Mitterrand had fought, without ever giving way. He had organized a “National Day Commemorating the Racist and Anti-Semitic Persecutions Under the De Facto Authority of Vichy (1940–1944)”, believing this concession would be enough. He had passionately justified this at length before [Sephardic journalist] Jean-Pierre Elkabbach following revelations by [journalist] Pierre Péan on his lasting friendship with René Bousquet, the organizer of the Vél d’Hiv roundup, and the publishing of the infamous photo — which General de Gaulle had declined to make public during the 1965 presidential campaign — where we discover a young Mitterrand receiving the francisque [one Vichy’s highest medals] from the hands of the old Marshal.
On July 16, 1994, Mitterrand endured the hisses of young Jewish activists without batting an eye, making [Jewish politician and President of the Constitutional Council] Robert Bandinter rage: “I am ashamed of you!”[i.e., the Jewish activists] The worst attacks would come from those whom he [Mitterrand] had promoted. [Socialist politician] Lionel Jospin, pressed to draft his “balance sheet,” would cast his small stone: “We would dream of a simpler and clearer itinerary for the person who had been the leader of the French left during the 70s and the 80s. What I cannot understand is the maintenance, into the 1980s, of ties with people like Bousquet, the organizer of the great roundups of Jews.”
Exhausted, on the day of his departure from the Élysée, Mitterrand fulminated still, in the ear of Jean d’Ormesson, against “the Jewish lobby” which had tormented him so.
The expression shocked, repulsed, provoked a thousand virulent attacks against the incorrigible anti-Semitism of President Mitterrand.
[“Nazi hunter”] Serge Klarsfeld was the target [of the comment]. Mitterrand accused him of having moved heaven and earth, French and American Jews, national and international pressure groups, to make him submit. Mitterrand had never given way; Chirac would never even try to resist. Klarsfeld was triumphant. It was the struggle of his life.
Chirac was acclaimed, celebrated by the media and an almost unanimous political class. The media and the left had already forgotten that they had condemned, four years earlier, the “xenophobic” and “racist” Chirac for his comments on “the noise and the odors” [of immigrants], which described the exasperation of the French worker who gets up early, and earns less than his African next-door neighbor does from various social benefits. During this same year of 1991, Chirac’s great rival, [Valéry] Giscard [d’Estaing] had raised the specter of “the [immigrant] invasion” to warn the country of the tragic destiny that awaited it — and to try to resurrect his approval ratings. But Chirac, elected in 1995, had defeated his longtime enemy and his demons. It was time to shed his old skin. They erased the distant traces of “Chirac the Fascist” to write the poetry of “Chirac the antiracist,” a connoisseur of exotic civilizations and primitive arts, the conciliator who did not hesitate to “look upon the history of France with its light and its shadows.”
Chirac, never forgetting petty politics, would overdo it, associating the suffering of the Jews sent to the camps with Jean-Marie Le Pen’s tasteless jokes (without naming him); he even concluded his sermon on the the conflicts tearing Yugoslavia apart with a human-rights-ist hodgepodge. But no one held it against him; this speech on the Vél’ d’Hiv would eternally be held to his credit, even among his fiercest opponents; it would endure as his masterpiece, his legacy to a grateful posterity, his abolition of the death penalty.
Serge Klarsfeld’s victory, and behind him, of all those who had expected the arrogant France of “the rights of man” to recognize — finally — her crimes, was total; but it was a Pyrrhic victory.
After Mitterrand’s long resistance, this French atonement was experienced by some as the dazzling proof of overwhelming and insolent Jewish domination, capable of forcing the submission of the leader of the “the fifth-greatest power in the world.” Over many years, the slow elevation of the “Shoah” as the crime of crimes, and of the Jews as absolute victims, had already greatly irritated the survivors and heirs of other historical massacres. Already in 1976, Charles Aznavour, of Armenian origin, had declared, commenting on his song “Ils sont tombés”: “He who does not recognize all genocides does not recognize any.”
The Caribbean Blacks would increasingly take offense at what they felt to be a “double standard.” The victimhood competition of memories, which [historian] Alain Besançon once termed “historical amnesia and hypermnesia,” was the inevitable consequence of this rise of the Shoah as the official religion of the French Republic. The comedian Dieudonné, [Jewish comedian] Élie Semoun’s former partner, was furious at not having found the necessary financing for a film he wanted to make dedicated to [Jean-Baptiste] Colbert’s Code noir, and would become the leading figure of this victimhood competition. With a talented desanctifying earthiness, Dieudonné would accumulate distinctions and provocations, such as the “Pariah-hood Prize” which he had awarded to the Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson by an actor wearing the striped pajamas of a deportee. The Jewish institutions complained, retaliated, got him sentenced in court, hounded the comedian from television, the radio stations, and even managed to shut the doors of performance halls to him. Dieudonné and his admirers, more and more numerous, in particular among young Arabs and Blacks of the banlieues, were convinced of the irresistible and sectarian power of the “Community”; all the more fearsome in that one did not have the right — like the God of the Old Testament — to pronounce his [the Jewish community’s] name.
The Dieudonné brushfire was contained for a while; but, thanks to the Internet, his success went on.
President Chirac, however, had to take the frustration of Black activists into account. They, too, got their commemorative day on the Black slave trade, and their memorial law. The slippery slope proved to be diabolical. A law on the Armenian genocide was voted; and the colonial conquests were condemned.
Every “community” demanded its own memorial law and its own commemorative day, its own crime against humanity, its own genocide. Every “community” demanded that the French state repay its debt towards them. France was no longer this venerated lady whose epic deeds were celebrated, but a hated stepmother who had accumulated crimes and injustices which supercilious creditors maintained a fastidious and vindictive accounting. We abandoned the glorious days of those who “died for France” to enter into the bitter days those who “died because of France.”
Everyone dreamed of becoming a victim, of acquiring the power — both real and imagined — which this victimhood had granted the Jews.
A historian was threatened with a trial because he did not want to recognize the “genocidal” character of the Black slave trade; even though he rightly argued that “the slave had to be maintained alive to be profitable.” The most renowned historians defended their young colleague. Finally, the politicians were touched. The historian André Kaspi was charged with examining the question of commemorations in France; he proposed the possible removal of annual national commemorative days. “It is not healthy that the number of commemorations has doubled over the course of half a century. It is unacceptable that the Nation surrender to ethnic interests and that we multiply the days of atonement to appease victims’ group.”
After these strong words, nothing was done. Days of commemoration are now a legal acquis in the name of “the reconciliation of memories.” A splendid anti-sentence.
On July 16, 2012, to celebrate with éclat his recent entry to the Élysée, and to contrast with his predecessor who had thought it good to denigrate repentance, François Hollande denounced “the crime committed in France and by France” [at the Vél’ d’Hiv]. In one sentence, the new President showed the full meaning of his Corrèzian friend’s [Chirac] transgression; he had erased the handful of verbal disclaimers that Chirac had still peppered his speech with. Hollande had eliminated any reference to Germany, to the Nazis, to the war, to the defeat, as if the exterminationist will of the Hitlers, Himmlers, and Eichmanns had been negligible, as if any historical contextualization was superfluous. . . . The survival of three-quarters of the Jews of France was entirely credited to those [few] French, those “anonymous heroes” [as opposed to French society as a whole], the Righteous Ones, thus accepting the materially impossible theory of Serge Klarsfeld. France was this inherently guilty nation for ever and ever. For all eternity.
One of Mitterrand’s signature left-wing reforms.
 “Qui ne fait pas siens tous les génocides, n’en fait sien aucun.”
 The Code Noir was a 1685 decree governing the rules for slavery in the colonies. It incidentally also demanded that “be chased out of our islands all the Jews who have established their residency there, to whom, as with all declared enemies of the Christian name, we command that they leave within three months.”