Switzerland: Prison Term for 'Holocaust Denial'

On April 10, 2000, a Swiss court sentenced 79-year-old publicist and retired teacher Gaston-Armand Amaudruz to one year in prison for "denying" the existence of homicidal gas chambers in World War II German concentration camps.

Amaudruz was found guilty of violating Switzerland's five-year-old "anti-racism" law, which makes it a crime to "deny, grossly minimize or seek to justify genocide or other crimes against humanity." He had broken the law, the court ruled, through his distribution of revisionist books, and for two articles in 1995 issues of his newsletter Courrier du Continent. In one of the offending items he had written: "For my part, I maintain my position: I don't believe in the gas chambers. Let the exterminationists provide the proof and I will believe it. But as I've been waiting for this proof for decades, I don't believe I will see it soon."

In addition to the non-suspended prison sentence, the criminal court in Lausanne ordered Amaudruz to pay a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs (about $600) to each of four civil parties in the case: the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, the Paris-based International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), the Association of Sons and Daughters of Deported Jews of France, and a Jewish concentration camp survivor. Amaudruz must also pay the trial costs, as well as the costs of publishing a notice of the court's judgment in three daily newspapers and in an official gazette.

Jewish groups expressed satisfaction with the judgment, which Amaudruz is appealing.

The three-day trial (April 3-5) was his first appearance before a court for anything he has written or published. For half a century, Amaudruz has been putting out his Courrier newsletter with no detectable harm to the country's Jews, much less to Swiss society as a whole.

'Long Live Revisionism!'

Shortly before the trial began, Amaudruz wrote an intentionally provocative article, "Vive le révisionnisme!," that appeared in the April 2000 issue (No. 418) of his Courrier newsletter. He wrote:

Revisionism exists to call into question our "certainties," even the most seemingly solid ones. This methodology, very familiar to scientists, applies to all fields of knowledge.

In several countries there is an untouchable dogma: the "Six Million" and the "gas chambers"... In Switzerland, Section 261 of the criminal code ... supposedly meant to suppress "racial discrimination," does not define the offense, thereby leaving the definition up to the judges, who can condemn or acquit the accused as they see fit, or on the basis of received instructions. And just what in the world does disputing the Six Million figure have to do with 'racial discrimination'?...

As one who has been indicted for revisionism, I repeat:

  • The Six Million figure is impossible.
  • I do not believe in the gas chambers, because there is no proof for them.

My trial is a political trial; the verdict is based exclusively on the appropriateness of considerations of the moment.

I prefer to obey my conscience rather than an immoral and criminal law, and I hold to my conviction. Long live revisionism!

In his testimony during the trial, Amaudruz defiantly repeated his skepticism, "for lack of proof," of gas chamber claims, and said that it was "impossible" for six million Jews to have been killed by German authorities during World War II.

Amaudruz was asked why he continued to express disbelief in gas chambers and the Six Million even after Switzerland's' Anti-Racism Law came into effect in early 1995. He responded by saying that there is nothing in the law about gas chambers or the Six Million, and he did not know at the time that these two dogmas were untouchable. He added:

If the Six Million figure were correct, and the gas chambers existed, it would not be necessary to suppress dissident opinions with a muzzle law. In such a situation one should be able to present proofs. The existence of Section 261 [Anti-Racism Law] is the best argument against the standard version of the fate of the Jews in the Second World War. Given how the media incessantly serves up this version, doubts are practically obligatory.

Why, he was asked, does he continue to express doubts about the Holocaust? "Because," he replied simply, "the lobby continues to put out its propaganda."

An Unabashed Racist

While on the witness stand, Amaudruz was asked if he is a racist. "Yes," was his forthright reply, "and on the basis of the Petit Larousse [a standard dictionary] of 1947, which defines Racism as 'the theory of those who seek to defend the unity of the race of the nation'." Today, he went on, "those who want to exploit or exterminate other races are called 'racist'." In that sense, he said, he is not a racist, because he doesn't want to exploit or kill anyone.

When asked if his opposition to racial mixing is not discrimination, he replied: "Race-mixing destroys that which nature has created over eons of time. Racism protects the rights of all human societies." Amaudruz reaffirmed his long-standing conviction that "the European peoples must remain white." He also expressed opposition to abortion, and support for the right to life of all human beings.

Half a Century of Dedication

Amaudruz, born in Lausanne in December 1920, is author of three books, holds a certificate of political science and social sciences, and for a time worked as a language teacher. Already as a 28-year-old he questioned claims of wartime German homicidal gas chambers in his book, Ubu Justicier au Premier Procès de Nuremberg (Paris, 1949). He played an important role in the founding, in 1951, of the Zurich-based "New European Order," an anti-Capitalist and anti-Communist organization with a "racialist" outlook inspired in part by the writings of Italian philosopher Julius Evola (1898-1974).

Since 1946 he has been editor and publisher of Courrier du Continent, a mimeographed French-language newsletter with a circulation of about 400 that is issued ten times yearly.

Amaudruz is not the first person to be punished under the country's Anti-Racism Law. In July 1998 a Swiss court punished two revisionists, Jürgen Graf and Gerhard Förster, with fines and prison terms for writing and publishing allegedly anti-Jewish books. (See "Swiss Court Punishes Two Revisionists," July-August 1998 Journal, pp. 2-13, esp. p. 13.)

A dramatic high point of that trial was the testimony of Austrian engineer Wolfgang Fröhlich, who told the court that mass gassings with Zyklon at the German wartime camps, as alleged, are technically impossible. As he spoke, the public prosecutor threatened to bring "Holocaust denial" charges against Fröhlich for his sworn testimony. Even the defense attorneys in the case risked indictment for trying to show the court that their clients' views are based on fact.

Three Jewish Witnesses

With court permission, the prosecution brought to the stand three "Holocaust survivors" (Toman, Reich and Klein). The court rejected a request by Amaudruz' attorney to permit testimony by Prof. Robert Faurisson, Europe's foremost revisionist scholar, and Eric Delcroix, an attorney who has defended revisionists in numerous court cases in France. Faurisson was rejected without explanation (either at the time of the request, or during the trial, or in the judgment). As for the rejection of Delcroix, the judge gave a convoluted explanation.

"Establishment" media coverage of the Amaudruz trial was predictably slanted. In its report on the sentencing, Switzerland's most prestigious daily paper, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (April 11, p. 13) told readers: "While conceding that human beings suffered in the camps, he [Amaudruz] does not believe in the gas chambers. Naturally Amaudruz' faith was not shaken a bit by the court's calling in three witnesses who reported on the gas chambers from their own experience."

In fact, says Jürgen Graf, who attended the proceedings, none of the three Jewish witnesses "reported on the gas chambers from their own experience." None claimed to have observed or witnessed a gassing of human beings.

The witness Reich, who was interned during the war in two labor camps, as well as in the Gross Rosen and Buchenwald concentration camps, told the court that he never saw a gas chamber. The witnesses Toman and Klein, who were interned in Auschwitz-Birkenau (among other places) during the war, did not claim to have witnessed gassings of people. They merely stated that they had observed people entering buildings, and did not see them come out.

Toman and Klein also testified to having seen flames shooting up from Birkenau crematory chimneys. (For technical reasons, this latter claim is absolutely impossible.) It is quite possible, says Graf, that these two witnesses were not consciously lying, but rather have confused what they saw 56 years ago with what they've heard and read in the years since.

The wartime fate of these three "Holocaust survivors," notes Graf, is itself difficult to reconcile with the Holocaust extermination story. Reich survived wartime internment in four German camps, while Toman survived internment in various German camps from December 1941 until the end of the war in 1945. Both Toman and his mother survived internment in Auschwitz.

Noting that Amaudruz was targeted not only by the state prosecutor, but also by several Jewish organizations, including a foreign one, Graf calls this a "Stalinist" trial. "In its illegality and malice," he says, "the proceedings against Amaudruz surpass all previous trials of revisionists in Switzerland, including the one against my publisher Gerhard Förster (since deceased) and me."

Summing up, Graf comments: "In his dignified and steadfast behavior [in the courtroom] Amaudruz showed himself to be a man of character and honor. The contrast between him and his accusers could hardly have been greater. Those who observed the trial saw in action two vastly different types of the species homo sapiens."

From The Journal of Historical Review, March/April 2000 (Vol. 19, No. 2), page 58.