Polish Professor Fired for Dissident History Book
A Polish history professor has been fired by his university and banned from teaching elsewhere for publishing a book suggesting that wartime Germany did not have an overall plan or policy to exterminate Europe's Jews. The state-run University of Opole announced in early April 2000 that Dariusz Ratajczak, 37, had violated ethical standards and would be banned from teaching at other universities for three years.
Ratajczak, who is popular with students, was suspended in April 1999 from his teaching post with the university's Historical Institute after state prosecutors opened an investigation into the publication of his book Tematy niebezpieczne ("Dangerous Themes"). With a child to support, his financial situation is precarious. (See: "Polish Professor Under Fire for 'Holocaust Denial'," May-June 1999 Journal, p. 31.)
In December 1999 a court in Opole (Silesia) found Ratajczak guilty of spreading revisionist views on the Holocaust, but the court did not punish him, saying that the book's limited distribution was not damaging enough to warrant punishment under a Polish law that makes it a crime to publicly deny German wartime or Communist-era crimes. The court also noted that Ratajczak had distanced himself from revisionist views in a preface to the second edition of the book. (See "No Punishment for Polish 'Holocaust Denier'," in the Sept.-Dec. 1999 Journal, p. 47.)
Ratajczak argued that he had merely summarized opinions of historians who hold dissident views on the Holocaust issue, and that his own views are not in line with all the opinions in his book. "I was only presenting various views on the Holocaust to students," he said.
In a five-page section of his book entitled "Holocaust Revisionism," Ratajczak matter-of-factly cited the work of such revisionists as Paul Rassinier, Robert Faurisson, David Irving and Ernst Zündel, who contend that there was no German plan or program to exterminate Europe's Jews. He also cited the forensic investigations carried out at Auschwitz and Birkenau by Fred Leuchter and Germar Rudolf, and their conclusions that, for technical reasons, well-known claims of killing millions of Jews in gas chambers are impossible.
While Ratajczak did not explicitly endorse these views, he did call Holocaust "eyewitness" testimony "useless," and described establishment Holocaust writers as "followers of a religion of the Holocaust" who impose on others "a false image of the past." He also argued that three million Jews died in "the Holocaust," not the often-claimed six million.
Ratajczak published 320 copies of the book in March 1999 at his own expense. Only a few were sold at the university bookstore or directly to students, or were given away to friends, before police seized the remaining copies. In September 1999 he financed a second edition of 30,000 copies, which were offered
in kiosks and by mail order across Poland. The publisher, a small firm in Warsaw, reportedly censored the most "extreme" statements, placing them in notes at the book's end. A few thousand copies have been sold, Ratajczak reports.
"Holocaust denial" is a crime in several European states, including Germany, France, and Austria.
From The Journal of Historical Review, May/June 2000 (Vol. 19, No. 3), page 25.