Historical News and Comment
Swedish Professors Defend Revisionism on Trial
R. Clarence Lang
What is the driving conviction behind holocaust revisionism? One answer might be that historical truths cannot be decided in or by the courts, for ultimately there can be no historical scholarship without freedom of research and expression.
Yet, up to now the Holocaust propagandists have used the courts on a broad scale to becloud this simple, basic truth. Note the words up to now, for recently Jan Hjaerpe and Jan Bergmann, two professors in Sweden, have confronted a court of judges in their country on this issue, in connection with the trial of Ahmed Rami in Stockholm.
Who is Ahmed Rami and what was the Rami trial?
Rami, a political refugee in Sweden for some years, is a Berber by birth and a former Moroccan army officer. Highly gifted and vocal, he passionately espouses the cause of the Palestinian people, most of whom are his fellow Muslims. Author of five books in Swedish, in 1987 he founded and directed Radio Islam, broadcasting to Swedes and the some 80,000 Muslims living in Sweden. He also used his broadcasting to inform his listeners about Revisionism, in particular the work of Dr. Robert Faurisson and the "Holocaust Trial" of Ernst Zündel in Toronto, Canada. Like Faurisson, Rami links the Holocaust to the plight of the Palestinians. For, besides the German people, but not its leaders, Faurisson sees the Palestinians, dispossessed of their homeland by the Zionists, as victims of the Holocaust propaganda.
For Rami, who has made it a point to interview noted Swedes, Holocaust Revisionism is more than a passive intellectual, historical pursuit. It is instead an active, first, necessary ideological step in the liberation of the Palestinian people. Accordingly, as long as the Holocaust remains unchallenged historically in the Western world, so long will it victimize the Palestinians. Rami recalls a quote attributed to Charles de Gaulle, who at the end of World War II claimed that for the Palestinians, World War II was merely a battle in an ongoing war. In this light, then, the intifada is really a continuation of World War II.
For such outspokenness, Rami's Islam Radio was legally closed, and Rami was brought before a Swedish court on September 5, 1989 in a trial that lasted until November of that year. Rami was convicted and sentenced to a six-month term for violating his radio license, and for broadcasting
anti-Semitism and hatred. Some claim, perhaps presumptuously, that the widely publicized international anti-hate convention in Oslo, at the end of August and the beginning of September 1990, attended by some 500 persons from all over the world, was organized by Elie Wiesel and others expressly to sustain an international campaign against Rami's small one-room radio station in Stockholm. To be sure, at this time Rami's case was being appealed.
Since Sweden was neutral in both world wars, it may well be more open to Revisionism than other European countries. There are no world war veterans' organizations, let alone groups of former resistants to German occupation as in France, Norway and Denmark. Thus it is less surprising that precisely in Sweden there has developed a confrontation between the university, with its traditional freedom from research and publication, and the courts, which may use their power to curb this freedom.
Professor Jan Hjaerpe of the University of Lund exemplified this confrontation in his testimony for Rami. Professor Hjaerpe testified that, in his opinion, Rami had contributed to a better understanding regarding Israel and Judaism in the debate over the Palestinian issue. The professor told the judge that a court is not competent to decide in debates on pollitical, historical and ideological issues. He stressed as well that treating the Holocaust as an area for historical study entails that such study be opened to the freedom of critical research, including doubt and denial. Furthermore, if one hinders the right to deny (this includes also the Establishment version of World War II), then one transforms Exterminationism into a religious dogma, i.e. a matter based on faith and not reason.
According to this argument, since Zionists have used the Holocaust as part of their historical and political claim to the legitimacy of the State of Israel, as a result seriously encroaching on the rights of the Palestinians, these, then, have a right to discuss, debate and closely examine the case for and against the Holocaust.
Professor Jan Bergmann, of the theological faculty in Uppsala, also defended Rami in court, depite a bitter press campaign waged against this scholar of ancient oriental and comparative religions. Professor Bergmann was asked his scholarly opinion as to whether Rami's claims regarding certain texts in the Old Testament (as it is called by non-Jews) and the Talmud were historically correct, since these texts allegedly claim that the Jews have a right to Palestine even at the expense of its long-time inhabitants. (And this without clear geographical borders!) Bergmann agreed with Rami's interpretation. More explicitly the theologian testified that the sacred texts of the Old Testament and the Talmud, cited by Rami, are indeed being used today as political and historical claims by Israel and the Zionists for exploiting and legitimatizing the Jewish occupation of Palestine. (Some call these the "cruel" texts of the Bible. Christians see these texts through the light of the New Testament.)
Although this testimony was not revisionist as such, the Jewish publication Judish Kroenika (April, 1989) claimed that Professor Bergmann is a Holocaust Revisionist. Allegedly, in a conversation during an airplane flight from Israel, the professor expressed doubt that some 6,000,000 Jews perished in World War II, and that the actual number was rapidly expanded after the war by Jewish organizations to create a more favorable climate for the establishment of Israel. The same publication also accused the professor of seeing in Robert Faurisson's Is the Diary of Anne Frank Genuine? serious research, thereby implying doubt as to the authenticity of the Diary.
Unlike these two professors, Krister Stendahl, the retired bishop of Stockholm, now a honorary professor at Harvard University, was flown in from the U.S. to testify against Rami. Professor Stendahl testified that the Jews alone have the right to interpret their Old Testament, upon which Rami questioned whether that right also included the right to drive out and exterminate the Palestinian people. Stendahl, a Lutheran, claimed that Luther's writing The Jews and Their Lies was un-Christian and that Luther was an anti-Semite. According to an article by Rami, the former bishop has advocated the return of Christians to the religion of their origin, that is, Judaism. Further, Professor Stendahl accepts the Zionist definition of Zionism: the national liberation movement for the Jewish people.
Rami in his writings makes little or no distinction between Zionism and Judaism, insisting that Zionism, in so far as the Palestinians are concerned, is the logical expression of Judaism, both being grounded in the same interpretation and understanding of the Old Testament and the Talmud. He sees therein an eternal hate-filled tension, as Jews dislocate the Palestinians and attempt to drive wedges among the Islamic nations, and a wedge between Christianity and Islam.
In a public declaration in the name of academic freedom, the theological professor in the University of Uppsala supported Professor Bergmann's academic freedom. (That is, the freedom of the professor, in his area, to research a topic and publish his findings, without jeopardizing his university standing.)
At the same time, Rami and professors Hjaerpe and Bergman have been supported in the Swedish press by Jan Myrdal, the son of the late famous professor and Nobel Prize winner Gunner Myrdal (in an article in Folket i Bild, a periodical published by an organization with the same name).
These developments in Sweden on the highest academic level, the university, give revisionism reason for optimism, by supporting the position, of particular importance to Revisionists in view of international legal efforts, that it is the very nature of historical truths that these cannot be decided in or by courts. Human History like life itself, are much, much more complicated than that.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1991 (Vol. 11, No. 3), pages 371-374.
About the Author
R. Clarence Lang is a retired professor of German and history. He received a B.A. at Wartburg College in Iowa, and a baccalaureate of divinity from the Wartburg Seminary. After earning an M.A. in history at the University of South Dakota, he earned a Ph.D. in history at the University of Kiel (Germany). Dr. Lang has served as an Evangelical Lutheran pastor in Canada and the Dakotas. He addressed the Eighth IHR Conference in Irvine, California, October 1987.