With Gibe About Ovens, Le Pen Draws New Criticism
A gibe about gas ovens, tossed into a political speech by French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, has reignited charges that the National Front chief is an incorrigible anti-Semite with Nazi leanings.
Le Pen, denounced last year for saying the Holocaust murders of 6 million Jews were a mere “detail” of history, dropped the explosive remark on Friday into a characteristic verbal attack on a Socialist government minister, Michel Durafour.
“Monsieur Durafour . . . says (the Socialists) must ally with the Communists for the municipal elections because the Communist Party is losing strength while the extreme right hasn’t stopped gaining,” Le Pen said.
“Monsieur Durafour- crematoire, thank you for that admission.”
Four crematoire is French for crematorium furnace, a device used by Nazi Germany in the mass extermination of Jews and others.
The sally by Le Pen was greeted by thunderous applause from supporters gathered in a marquee tent at Cap d’Agde, on the Mediterranean coast.
His pun, broadcast nationwide, drew instant criticism. “Le Pen, alas, is living up to his reputation,” Durafour said. " . . . I can easily see he’s nostalgic for the good old Nazi times.”
Le Pen was unrepentant. If Durafour had called him a Nazi, then the minister was “not only an imbecile but an S.O.B.,” Le Pen said on television.