"I demand" a "ban as president of the Association of the Sons and Daughters of Deportees", said the Nazi hunter
Serge Klarsfeld, defender of the cause of the Jewish deportees of France, asks that the next reprint of the anti-Semitic pamphlets of Louis-Ferdinand Celine be banned, in an interview published Wednesday by L'Obs.
Gallimard plans to release, at an unknown date, under the title "Ecrits polémiques", a volume gathering the three anti-Semitic and racist texts of Céline: "Bagatelles for a massacre" (1937), "L'Ecole des cadavres" (1938) and "The fine sheets" (1941).
The widow of the writer, Lucette Destouches, 105 years old, had until then always opposed this reissue, according to the wishes of Céline.
"I demand" a "ban as president of the Association of the sons and daughters of deportees", replies Serge Klarsfeld, tireless activist of the memory of the Shoah.
"If it is possible to ask for a preventive ban - since ultimately these texts are known and can be imagined to be read to a magistrate before the republication provided by Gallimard - we will do," says the lawyer and historian.
In a letter sent on 12 December to the editor, the inter-ministerial delegate to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT hatred (Dilcrah), Frédéric Potier, asked for guarantees as to the "quality of the critical equipment "that will accompany this reissue.
But for Serge Klarsfeld, "no critical apparatus can alleviate the content" of Celine's "abject" remarks.
His pamphlets "simply fall under the law," he says. "Soral is forbidden (extreme right essayist condemned for denialism, ed), but for me, Soral or Dieudonne (polemist accustomed to the courts for his antisemitic exits), in terms of anti-Semitism, it's a blowgun, while Céline it's an atomic bomb. "
In a statement sent to AFP, the Gallimard editions ensure that their "intention is to frame and place in their context writings of great violence, marked in particular by the anti-Semitic hatred of the author." Critical apparatus and warning will be established by Régis Tettamanzi, a specialist in the work of Celine, Pierre Assouline signing the preface.
Celine's writings falling into the public domain in 2031 (70 years after his death), "it seemed right" to Gallimard "to take charge of all of this work, to explain it rather than to leave it to the free interpretation of misguided readers, "argues the house.
Serge Klarsfeld specifies that it is "not for a total censorship of the text": "That the universities study this book to understand, go in library to consult it, no problem".
But "imagine that we can go into a bookstore and find it in the shelves, I find it unbearable," he says.