France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen clashed today with her father, the party founder, after he reiterated his position that Nazi gas chambers were “a detail” of World War II history.
“Once again, I strongly disagree with Jean-Marie Le Pen on both the form and the content” of his statement, the 46-year-old party chief told Europe 1 radio. Le Pen’s father spoke earlier on RMC radio.
Marine Le Pen took over the helm of the National Front in 2011. On her watch, the FN, as the party is known in French, has set aside Holocaust denials and the anti-Semitic rhetoric employed by her father and his allies, most of whom are still members of the party. She called the Holocaust “the height of barbarity” in a 2011 interview with Le Point magazine.
The anti-immigrant, anti-euro National Front gained elected officials across France in the March 29 local elections as voters sanctioned President Francois Hollande and his Socialist Party. While the FN gained officials, it failed to take power in any one district.
Le Pen, 86, who came second to Jacques Chirac in France’s 2002 presidential elections, first made the remarks about the gas chambers in a television interview in 1987, incurring a 200,000-euro ($216,500) fine. He repeated them in 1997, 2005 and 2008.
In 2009 the European Parliament denied Jean-Marie Le Pen the right to chair the opening session of the assembly’s new term in July because of his comments.
Some 76,000 Jews were deported to Nazi death camps from France during World War II and only 3,000 returned. France has the largest Jewish community in Europe with about 500,000 members.