First published in the Winter 2023/24 issue of Searchlight magazine
Reynouard Absconding risk means he is likely to remain in jail if he appeals
HOLOCAUST DENIERs are panicking after an Edinburgh court judgment that threatens to end their use of the UK as a base for pseudo-academic anti-Semitism. On 12 October, Sheriff Chris Dickson ordered the extradition of French nazi Vincent Reynouard (pictured below) who is wanted by French prosecutors to answer charges relating to a series of Holocaust denial videos, one of which was titled “What to Do About the Jews?”.
Ever since the 1970s there has been an organised movement pushing theories that Hitler’s death camps were a gigantic lie invented by an international Jewish conspiracy. Although the original generation of deniers is mostly dead or very old, the internet has given the next generation a bigger platform.
Reynouard, 54, is considered to be the most active of this second generation. He spent several years on the run from French courts. Living in Welling, southeast London at a home owned by the wife of his Belgian fellow nazi Siegfried Verbeke, he worked as a maths tutor. He fled to Scotland in 2021, fearing that the authorities were catching up with him. He then hid near St Andrews for two years until his arrest in November 2023.
Searchlight has heard that Reynouard will appeal the extradition ruling and his case might not be resolved for several months, but due to the likelihood of absconding he will remain in jail in Edinburgh.
Although they often pose as academic advocates of “free speech”, most Holocaust deniers unsurprisingly have a record of far-right politics. Reynouard was an active member of both the neo-nazi PNFE (one of whose members tried to assassinate French President Jacques Chirac) and the anti-Semitic, schismatic Catholic sect SSPX.
The other leading denier of his generation, Germar Rudolf, 59, was part of several German far-right groups, including the now defunct Republikaner, before starting to publish his conspiracy theories about Auschwitz. Rudolf worked with British nazi printer Anthony Hancock, notorious for producing some of the world’s most extreme anti-Jewish literature, as well as sidelines in fake passports and forged currency.
In the UK, the main Holocaust deniers since the 1970s were former National Front vice-chairman Richard Verrall and former British National Party (BNP) deputy führer Richard Edmonds. Their most prolific international crony was Ernst Zündel, who became right-hand man to Canadian nazi leader Adrien Arcand after emigrating from his native Germany in the 1960s.
For many years the deniers’ main international network was the US-based Institute for Historical Review (IHR), co-founded by an expatriate British anti-Semite, Dave McCalden, a prominent activist in the NF and its National Party breakaway before emigrating. The IHR eventually split into two factions, each led by men with a history of far-right activism.
At the end of the 1970s Mark Weber was editor of National Vanguard, magazine of the National Alliance, the most notorious and violent racist organisation in the USA. Its leader, William Pierce, wrote The Turner Diaries, a fictional blueprint for nazi terrorism, and worked closely with a real-life terrorist group known as The Order, which carried out bank robberies and murdered a Jewish broadcaster.
Weber later split from his partner in the IHR, Willis Carto, who went on to form a rival Holocaust denial magazine called Barnes Review. Like Pierce and several other US racist leaders, Carto had a background in extremist activity dating back to the 1960s.
It should not be surprising that the Edinburgh court has found Reynouard’s “history” to be thinly disguised anti-Semitism. Although there is no explicit law in the UK against Holocaust denial, the charges that Reynouard faces in France have been ruled to be extraditable on the grounds that they are broadly similar to UK laws against inciting racial and religious hatred.
His leading French supporters include Yvonne Schleiter, sister of the notorious French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson who died in 2018, one day after speaking at a conference in London alongside Reynouard and British nazis. Schleiter’s son Philippe was part of a faction that broke away from Jean-Marie Le Pen’s French National Front in 1999, and is now a leading figure in the Islamophobic party Reconquête led by Éric Zemmour.
Reynouard’s friends on the British far right are hoping to stir up anti Semitism among conspiracy theorists, especially in the context of the war in Gaza, but they are divided among themselves over the war in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Searchlight expects that several of the usual suspects will use next year’s appeal in the Scottish courts as part of their effort to boost genocide denial and associated neo-nazi activity across Europe.