Historical News and Comment

How Fares the Roques Thesis?

Henri Roques

On January 18, 1988, the administrative tribunal of Nantes confirmed the annulment of my defense of my thesis, an annulment decided by Minister of Research and Higher Education Alain Devaquet and announced at a press conference held on July 2, 1986.

I immediately appealed to the Council of State.

Two years have passed, and the highest administrative jurisdiction in France has not yet reached a decision. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note the opinion expressed publicly by Didier Truchet, professor at the faculty of law at Rennes:

… the administration acted too slowly; it had made a definitive invitation to the candidate to pick up his diploma. The decision being appealed is in my opinion illegal. (Revue juridique de l’Ouest, 1988, 1, p. 25)

Therefore, at the beginning of 1988, the University of Nantes's defense seemed weak. Since then it has become even more fragile.

The affair of the Roques thesis has even entered into an electoral campaign: Revisionism is preoccupying our politicians. During the February 1989 municipal campaign Paris, 11th arrondisement), Devaquet ran against Socialist Georges Sarre, who has proposed the law of April 2, 1988 to suppress Revisionism. Devaquet shamelessly boasted of his decision to cancel my thesis defense, in a tract titled "An Open Letter to Beate Klarsfeld" (president of Sarre's campaign committee). Curiously, Devaquet made no mention of his ordering an administrative investigation by the rector, and the alleged procedural irregularities unearthed by the investigation and punished by the university, thereby providing flagrant proof of his arbitrary abuse of power.

Devaquet is no longer minister. The University of Nantes will confront two new facts when the Council of State hears my appeal: the opinion of Professor Truchet and the improper intrusion by the former minister.

Meanwhile, in a spiteful move, the University filed charges, in 1989, against me for "fraud in examinations and public competitions," belatedly implicating me in an action already under way against Professor Jean-Claude Riviére, my thesis director, and against an employee of the university administration; the university later let the charges against them lapse.

On September 12, 1989, the office of the public prosecutor urged that charges be brought against me on the grounds that my appeal before the administrative court involved me "in a procedure aimed at wrongly acquiring a university degree."

On September 14, 1989 the examining magistrate "said there was no cause for further investigation."

The prosecutor general disagreed and decided to open an investigation. The criminal appeals section of the Rennes Court of Appeals rejected the prosecutor's request and, in its decision of January 11, 1990, upheld the ruling of September 14, 1989, closing the affair.

Now I have nothing to do but calmly await the Council of State’s decision.


From The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1990 (Vol. 10, No. 3), page 371.