Rassinier – Operation Vicar

Rassinier was born on March 18, 1906, in Bermont in the Territoire de Belfort, into a politically active family. During World War I Paul’s father Joseph, a farmer and a veteran of the French colonial army in Tonkin (present day Vietnam) was mobilized, but was put into a military prison for his pacifist attitudes, something his son Paul never forgot.
After the war, his family favored the post-war socialist revolutions, and he joined the French Communist Party (PCF) in 1922

By 1948, Paul Rassinier had been a history teacher for over twenty-two years, and was distressed to read stories about the concentration camps and deportations that he claimed were not true. He was also appalled at the unilateral condemnation of Nazi Germany for crimes against humanity that from his experience in Morocco, he didn’t consider unique, and feared that nationalistic hatreds and bitterness would divide Europe. As he explained it in The Lie of Ulysses:

…one day I realized that a false picture of the German camps had been created and that the problem of the concentration camps was a universal one, not just one that could be disposed of by placing it on the doorstep of the National Socialists. The deportees—many of whom were Communists—had been largely responsible for leading international political thinking to such an erroneous conclusion. I suddenly felt that by remaining silent I was an accomplice to a dangerous influence.

In 1965, Rassinier published his last successful book. Rolf Hochhuth’s 1963 play Der Stellvertreter. Ein christliches Trauerspiel (The Deputy: A Christian Tragedy) had been performed in several languages and many countries. Rassinier was a declared atheist, but was outraged by Hochhuth’s thesis that Pope Pius XII stood silently by while the Jews of Europe were exterminated, and saw in the play only an incitement to divide Europe by religious hostility (anti-Catholicism) and xenophobia. He traveled to Rome, and was given access to the Vatican archives. Operation Vicar was a defense of Pope Pius XII that called into question the motives of Pius’ Protestant and socialist critics. Rassinier demonstrated that Catholic opposition to Hitler compared favorably with Protestant support of him, and drew attention to Pope Pius’ pre-war condemnations of Nazism (e.g. Mit brennender Sorge) and efforts for peace, which brought Rassinier praise from the Vatican.



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