To the Mannheim Jail: Justice and Truth in Contemporary Germany
My seven months' imprisonment in Mannheim, Germany in 1999 was quite a physical and mental experience for me, and I shall attempt to contextualize this within a personal historical narrative that may shed some light on the persecutors' mind-set.
I can ask you: which version of my story do you want to hear? The good one or the bad one? The good story is all about my making the most of a difficult situation. But afterwards you may say: Hey, I don't have to feel sorry for you anymore. The bad story is all about the pain of being deprived of personal freedom -- and it will make you feel very sad, not only for me, but also for anyone who in some way has lost the physical and mental freedom that we normally take for granted.
Of course, there really is nothing new in this. During the same year I was jailed, German historian Ingrid Weckert was fined 3,000 marks for having written an article published in the German journal Sleipnir in which she contrasted diary entries -- one positive, the other negative -- written by two men who spent time in Dachau.
For me personally, it was interesting to meet members of Germany's judiciary and legal profession, and to find out what made them tick. For example, what makes people such as German public prosecutor Hans-Heiko Klein pursue revisionists fifty-five years after the end of the Second World War?
Soon after my arrest, on April 8, 1999, rumor had it that I had deliberately gone into the lion's den to sacrifice myself for the cause. The only truth to this is that I have tried to lead by example, and for years I have proclaimed that we must be prepared to go to prison in order to defend free speech.
I talked and talked about it, and still consider my approach to be based on reason -- to speak to friend and foe alike. Why? Well, if we stop talking to one another, then other forms of communication emerge not based on reason.
While in prison I had a lot of time to think, and I formulated the following: "If you deny me my freedom to think and speak, then you take away my humanity, and you commit a crime against humanity. Truth is my defense." It's elementary, but so is our human nature -- and we take for granted the freedom to think and to speak without realizing that there are forces that wish to take it from us.
Linked to the freedom concept, and vital in any human enterprise, is the moral value of truth-telling. Who today wants to hear the word Truth? It is a rare commodity, particularly in any government agency.
Work to Do
Let me briefly go back to the beginning of my second revisionist tour. On February 22, 1999, the day of my departure from Australia, our local Wimmera Mail-Times newspaper in Horsham accurately reported my intentions in visiting Germany: to discuss this Holocaust business with lawyers, public prosecutors, and judges -- something I subsequently did, both before my arrest and after my release on November 11, 1999.
During my imprisonment, information about the outside world became vitally important for me. More than a hundred people worldwide wrote and offered their support. For that I am forever grateful to them. I never formally thanked the IHR for supporting me -- I do that now.
It was also important for me to know that our work at Adelaide Institute was continuing. While I was in prison, Richard Krege -- our associate in the Australian Capital Territory -- led an expedition to the site of the wartime German camp of Treblinka in Poland, where he carried out an investigation using a sophisticated Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) device. The GPR images did not confirm the official Treblinka story. [See the May-June 2000 Journal, p. 20.] Although this research is still not complete, we can safely say that yet another Holocaust myth has been destroyed with the help of state-of-the art technology.
The aim, it must be stressed, is not to destroy myths for the sake of destroying myths. We all need our myths. The worry begins when some insist that their myths rest on some physical reality. When such a claim is clearly wrong, it becomes a lie. Greek and Egyptian myths, for example, do have some connection with reality, as archeologists illustrate when they confirm elements of them through their investigations. The Holocaust homicidal gas chamber extermination myth, on the other hand, has no such connection with physical reality, and hence legal means are used to prevent public expression of such dissident skepticism.
The Feverish Mind
The mind that creates and upholds the Holocaust myth is a feverish one, abandoning any cherishing of truth-telling as a moral virtue. Here is an example of what I mean, written by a professed Holocaust survivor:
I grew up and became an adult in a time and in a society that didn't want to listen, or perhaps was incapable of listening. "Children have no memories, children forget quickly, you must forget it all, it was just a bad dream." These were the words, endlessly repeated, that were used on me from my school days to erase my past and make me keep quiet. So for decades I was silent, but my memory could not be wiped clean. Very occasionally I would make timid attempts to share at least some parts of it with someone, but these attempts always went wrong. A finger tapping against the forehead or aggressive questions in return soon made me fall silent, taking back what I'd revealed. It is so easy to make a child mistrust his own reflections, to take away his voice. I wanted my own certainty back, and I wanted my voice back, so I began to write....
Legal accredited truth is one thing -- the truth of a life another. Years of research, many journeys back to the places where I remember things happened, and countless conversations with specialists and historians have helped me to clarify many previously inexplicable shreds of memory, to identify places and people, to find them again and to make a possible, more or less logical chronology out of it. I thank them all.
This rather moving account of a child finding his identity within the Holocaust mythology, of pain and suffering endured, comes from the afterword of Binjamin Wilkomirski's book Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood. [See the September-October 1998 Journal, pp. 15-16.] We now know that this work, which is still sold in book stores, is a total fabrication. It is fiction sold as fact.
Wilkomirski's "memoir" is a prime example of the level of ruthless emotional exploitation to which the Holocaust racket has sunk. Historical revisionists are not the only ones who are critical of the Holocaust myth makers. Peter Novick, in his 1999 study The Holocaust in American Life, says of Wilkomirski's book: "When evidence emerged that one Holocaust memoir, highly praised for its authenticity, might have been completely invented, Deborah Lipstadt, who used the memoir in her teaching of the Holocaust, acknowledged that if this turned out to be the case, it 'might complicate matters somewhat,' but insisted that it would still be 'powerful' as a novel."
I may ask: With what kind of moral framework is Professor Deborah Lipstadt imbuing her students? With impunity she is still defaming and inciting hatred against the German people -- which is a crime against the Germans' human rights. Lipstadt is thus committing a crime against humanity. Then again, the Germans are letting it happen!
Natural Justice: From the 'Educators'
Let's go back 15 years, to February 1985, when Ernst Zündel began his legal battle with the world Holocaust lobby. The first "great Holocaust trial" was beginning in Toronto.
In Australia, I had just been dismissed from my teaching post, and was beginning an eight-year legal battle against the Victorian Education Department, ultimately to succeed in having the dismissal reversed. How did I manage that? The issue in court was whether I had been given "natural justice," that is, the right of reply to an allegation. The principle of natural justice is, of course, not a part of statute law but rather of common law. The Crown solicitor stated in the interrogatories -- the question and answer section of the proceedings where preliminary matters are tested to find out how strong each side's case is -- that I "was given every opportunity to respond to the allegations -- and in fact did so" during the formal hearing in the director-general's office. This legal opinion rested on documentary evidence: during the formal hearing on February 7, 1985, a legal officer had taken notes when my witnesses and I talked with the director-general. This legal officer had written that I "was given every opportunity to respond to the allegations, and in fact did so." My legal counsel of one year -- I had already been rejected by four legal firms -- threw in the towel, claiming that I could not win the case because "you have been given natural justice."
What to do next? I insisted that I had not been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations leveled against me -- seven allegations of incompetence and five allegations of disobedience (the latter all alleged to have happened during a time-span of less than five minutes).
On the day of the formal hearing -- February 7, 1985 -- I attempted to hand to the director-general my written response to the eleven allegations. I still recall his words: "Dr. Töben, it is not a matter of you responding to these allegations point-by-point. Give me a reason why I should not act on the legally constituted enquiry's recommendation that your services be dispensed with."
Luckily I had secretly recorded this whole interview, and a young barrister to whom I played the tape listened intently: "I think your case has stumps, not yet legs, but certainly stumps. I think we can run this case." He then had the whole tape transcribed. At the end of the trial, the judge found that because the official inquiry looked into my competence, but not into the disobedience allegations -- that were no doubt simply added to give weight to the former allegations -- I had not been given natural justice, that is, the right of reply. The judge also said something about the director-general "shifting ground" -- that's a euphemism for lying.
It was only a technical victory because I was not reinstated. But in 1992 I presented my case to the South Australian Teachers' Registration Board, and was given permission to teach in South Australian schools.
Complicated court cases rarely produce outright winners or losers. Knowing this, lawyers shrug their shoulders with a cynical attitude, "win some, lose some." In my case, the concept of natural justice -- a right of reply -- thus defeated outright lying.
Natural Justice: Before the 'Human Rights Commission'
In 1996, I encountered the same unprincipled legal framework.When the Adelaide Institute set up its own Internet website, Australia's leading Zionist, Jeremy Jones, was quick to act -- following a signal sent around the world by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who had designated our website a "hate site." Jones -- vice-president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) -- brought us before a "Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission" (HREOC), bitterly complaining on behalf of all Australian Jews that our work violated the recently enacted Racial Discrimination Act.
Like many similar tribunals, this commission was meant to provide low-cost conflict resolution, outside of the normally much more expensive and time-consuming regular court system. Parties before a commission tribunal are encouraged to first resolve their conflicts through conciliation meetings, before coming to a formal hearing. Our case was different, though. Jones refused to attend any conciliation meetings, and instead pressed hard to bring the matter to a formal hearing.
The lady who initially prepared our case, before any formal hearing date had been set, advised me before leaving the HREOC that our case was an international political matter. With this revelation, I was slowly beginning to understand those individuals who spoke of a "Jewish conspiracy," a notion I had rejected outright. I still do. I simply demand to be given the names of those who are doing the persecuting.
When it was time for the hearing, it was not held in Adelaide, where the alleged offense occurred, but rather in Sydney. This was a tactical move on the part of Jones and the ECAJ, and the HREOC commissioner -- who hails from Adelaide -- granted Jones' request, thereby placing additional financial hardships on me.
The formal hearing began in Sydney with Jones trying to pull a fast one on the commissioner, who was already biased against me. He claimed to represent all of Australia's Jews on this matter. I protested that Mr. Jack Selzer -- Adelaide Institute's associate in New South Wales -- was Jewish, and certainly would not have Jones representing him before the commission. The application was suitably amended.
Then came my twenty-seven witness statements in support of our work. (Those of you whom I asked for help with this will recall my request.) What happened? Sifting through the statements, the commissioner quickly deemed most of them to be irrelevant.
I then turned to her with a question: "Is truth a defense in these proceedings?" She pussyfooted about, saying something about having to follow the wording of the Racial Discrimination Act. I continued with words to the effect: "If truth is not a defense in these proceedings, then lies will flourish. Where lies flourish an immoral situation occurs because truth is a moral virtue. These proceedings are immoral and I cannot continue to participate in them any further." With that I left the room.
[On October 10, 2000, the Australian government's "Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission" (HREOC) ordered the Adelaide Institute to remove from its Internet website material that "denies the Holocaust," and to issue an abject written apology to the country's Jews. To date the Adelaide Institute's website (www.adelaideinstitute.org) continues to challenge the gas chamber myth.]
The Hayward Thesis
In each hearing we submitted a copy of Dr. Joel Hayward's 1993 master's thesis, wherein he endorses the revisionist view that the alleged homicidal gas chambers did not exist. [See the May-June 2000 Journal, pp. 21-23.] Dr. Hayward had sent me a copy of his original along with a written authorization to use it however I wished. This written consent was later withdrawn, but by then the damage had already been done.
Hayward's recent recantation does not worry me at all. He is just a good revisionist who has changed his mind. He has done so, he says, after studying the trial transcript and judgment in the London Irving-Lipstadt defamation case. Of course, it is his right to change his opinion, but I'd like to know his reasoning in detail, because that is what he, as a scholar, owes the world. Otherwise his intellectual integrity is shot to pieces.
After I returned home from prison, Hayward rang me and we had an hour-long conversation. He informed me that threats had been made against him by a staff member of the Israeli embassy in Auckland, New Zealand. He told me that he had been advised that he would never be allowed to travel to Israel, but that if, by some chance, he did get in, he would never get out. If that is not a threat, I don't know what is. Hayward dutifully made a public apology (very much in the style of David Cole) to New Zealand's Jewish community for the hurt, pain, and suffering his research, thesis, and held opinion on the Holocaust had caused them.
I consider historical writings to be professional opinion based on a specific store of information, and on the author's moral values. This store of information waxes and wanes -- often influenced by outright political constraints, as, for example, when Marxist regimes ban scholars who fail to toe the party line.
During a visit in the 1970s to then-Communist East Berlin, I met with a historian at the Humboldt University. He had nothing to do. As he explained to me, the process of exclusion had been a gradual one. First his lectures were vetted to make sure nothing he said violated Marxist dogma, then he was assigned to menial work, and finally he was removed entirely from contact with students. He turned up at the university with nothing to do. (I don't know what subsequently happened to him.)
So, now I embrace two concepts.
First: Natural Justice -- the right of reply, or talking with someone instead of someone talking about me, because the latter is persecution, and,
Second: Truth as a Defense in Court Proceedings -- carrying on discussion with reference to truth-content.
It has always been important for me to speak to friend and foe alike. In 1997, when I undertook my first revisionist world trip, I met many like-minded persons, as well as a few not so like-minded, such as public prosecutor Hans-Heiko Klein in Mannheim, and Rabbi Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Cooper had labeled our website a "hate site." Why did he do it? During our meeting, he complained that our site was linked with those of non-historians such as that of Arthur Butz. I reminded him that we were linked even with the Simon Wiesenthal Center's own site because we believe it is important to have a free flow of information. He agreed that this is important, and even agreed that questioning things is essential for our mental development. Then he asked me: "Do you question the gassings?" I replied that, of course, I wanted to know what the murder weapon looked like. That was enough for him. He rose and said this ended our meeting.
Likewise with Klein, that first time. I had a cordial discussion in his office. While showing me a Leitz file folder packed with material, he said: "I know all about Adelaide Institute." He also asked the gassing question, and I indicated to him that I am aware of the German law that prohibits such questioning. He muttered something about my being like Leuchter on this free speech issue.
So, for Cooper and Klein, merely asking questions is an offense. This is a crime against humanity, because without asking questions we become mental slaves, dependent on someone else interpreting life for us. We thus never develop our own worldview, and that is bad.
To Know, Not to Believe
In August 1998 Adelaide Institute held Australia's first International Revisionist Symposium, something that upset Jeremy Jones. [See the November-December 1998 Journal, pp. 6-10.] We had the pleasure of hosting, as a visitor, His Excellency, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates.
We also had John Sack as a speaker, and some individuals were upset when he began his talk with the words: "I believe in the Holocaust." I pointed out that holding such a belief is, of course, John's right, and his participation shows how tolerant Holocaust revisionists really are. However, if he were to assert, "The Holocaust is an historical fact," then I would take issue with him, asking him to provide detailed proof supporting his assertion.
I want to know, not to believe.
In March 1999, some months after Jürgen Graf had participated in our revisionist symposium, I joined him and Carlo Mattogno on their archival research tour in former Communist countries. On April 8, 1999, I visited prosecutor Klein's office, and was subsequently arrested. Because a couple of versions of the arrest are floating about, let me briefly tell you what happened.
After arriving that morning at the local Mannheim police station, I inquired where state prosecutor Klein's office was located. An officer rang Klein and confirmed that my meeting with him was set for 2:00 p.m. I had other things planned for later in the afternoon, including travel to Bielefeld to meet, next day, with Judge Luetzenkirchen, the jurist who had confirmed Udo Walendy's earlier prison sentence.
So, around 9:30 a.m. I walked into Klein's office and asked whether he could bring forward the time of our meeting. He agreed to meet at 11 a.m. When I later walked into his personal office, I saw Klein sitting at his desk and another man sitting in a chair in front of me. I was introduced to Herr Mohr. Sensing something, I spontaneously asked Mohr: "You're not here for me, are you?" Mohr responded -- and this was corroborated by Klein almost in unison -- "No, I'm here just by chance."
Klein then invited me to present the information I had, and among other things, I mentioned that a new sign had gone up at Auschwitz-Birkenau Krematorium II telling visitors about the alleged gas induction holes at the top of the Krema morgue roof. He asked me a few questions designed to trap me into denying the gas chamber's existence, which I avoided answering. But it was no help to me, and Klein then informed me that he was arresting me, and that Mr. Mohr would be taking me to the police station. Mohr began fiddling with his handcuffs, and I said that that would not be necessary because I would not attempt to run away. I had come here to study German justice, I said, and this would help me to learn more about it.
In Germany an arrested person must, by law, be brought before a judge within twenty-four hours. I was, and the arrest warrant that was issued against me reflected the haste with which it had been written up. I didn't recognize myself in what was said about me. I was seemingly the author of most of Ernst Zündel's works and of Germar Rudolf's publications. (It also appeared from my correspondence with Professor Gerald Fleming that he had lodged a complaint against me with the German authorities. Andreas Röhler, publisher of Sleipnir, soon established contact with Fleming, who assured Röhler that my imprisonment had nothing to do with him, and that he opposed it.)
This arrest warrant (Haftbefehl) was enough to send me to jail. Bail was refused, citing the experience with Fred Leuchter. [The American gas chamber specialist, author of the 1988 "Leuchter Report," was arrested in Cologne on October 28, 1993, just before he was to appear as a guest on a television program, and held for thirty-four days until his release on November 30, 1993. See the November-December 1993 Journal, pp. 22-23.] Klein alleged that Leuchter had skipped the country after he had been let out on bail. Later a confidential prison source informed me that the German authorities had, in fact, wanted Leuchter to leave Germany and return to the United States.
It is common practice to challenge an arrest warrant, and a week later this was done. By that time, though, Klein had gotten his act together, and a second arrest warrant was issued on May 3 that listed five allegedly criminal writings, all taken from Adelaide Institute's website.
Let me just clarify; I was held on remand, or in detention, while awaiting trial, or, in German, Untersuchungshaft, literally "investigative custody." Imprisonment, that is, a prison term following sentencing for a crime, is Haft in German. However, I tend not to differentiate between detention, house arrest, imprisonment, or jail, because each amounts to a loss of personal freedom.
During my seven months in prison I had a dream every night -- but not once did I have one that unsettled me. Nor did I suffer from depression, as many prisoners do during their first few weeks in jail.
It was obvious to me that my case was an attempt by Klein to play world policeman over the Internet, something opposed even by German jurists (such as Prof. Ulrich Siebert of Würzburg University, who wrote a detailed paper in July 1999 about my case).
The day after the second arrest warrant was issued, a local radio station broadcast a news item about my further detention in Mannheim prison. It also reported that the State of Israel had sent good wishes to the Mannheim public prosecutor's office. When I head that, I knew that I had become a political prisoner.
My attorney, Ludwig Bock, and I had decided not to mount a defense, because any revisionist evidence offered by either of us in our own defense would itself constitute an additional violation of law. Bock also informed the judge he would no longer act as my attorney because he, Bock, was facing a similar charge. (At the time I accepted Bock as my lawyer in this case, I did not know that Klein had charged Bock with inciting racial hatred for having, two years earlier, too vigorously defended yet another German "thought criminal," Günter Deckert. Three weeks before my arrest, Bock was found guilty and fined 9,000 marks. His conviction was later upheld.)
Rejecting Bock's plea, the court ordered him to continue to represent me. But to protect himself, on the first day of my trial, November 8, Bock read out a statement saying this court case was like a witch trial, and that he and I would remain silent throughout the proceedings because evidence is not privileged in such cases.
In addition to the five allegations listed in the arrest warrant, Klein introduced a number of items of evidence that the two judges, Kern and Schmetzer, each read aloud in turn. One was a letter to me in prison from Jürgen Graf, who admonished me for having visited Klein. Graf wrote that he, along with Carlo Mattogno, Robert Faurisson, and so forth -- the list was a lengthy "Who's Who" of revisionists -- had all warned me not to visit this madman. Klein cited this letter to prove that I was one of the world's leading revisionists, and therefore as evidence of my criminal mindset.
At the end of the first day of trial I had time to think about my situation. I came to the view that instead of going down with barely a whimper, I should put up a fight. So on the second day of my trial, before the proceedings commenced, I read out the following statement:
- It would be painful for me if I let myself be forced to be silent, especially if it concerns seeking clarification or solving problems.
- I regard this trial as a state-sanctioned mental rape of my person.
- Through a lifetime of philosophical studies I have liberated myself from my own ignorance, thereby not shying away from becoming a citizen who voices his concerns and who takes a moral-ethical stand against injustices.
- After I left the court Monday afternoon I reflected a lot on what was happening in court. I also saw a television news item in which reporter Volker Hurrle insulted me and incited hatred against me. Yesterday morning I read articles by Ulrich Willenberg in the Frankfurter Rundschau and the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung that also offered an ideologically distorted picture of my endeavors, and thereby defamed and incited hatred against me.
- Every thinking human being is a revisionist. Revisionism is nothing but a method, a heuristic principle, with which to construct one's world view. Opinions are constantly revised through a free flow of information. Only encrusted minds cannot absorb new information, preventing moral responsibility from coming to the fore. Then citizens such as myself are arrested during a private discussion and thrown into prison.
- I revised my plans last night when I heard German president Johannes Rau's address, given on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Rau said that no one is expelled from Germany for disagreeing with the government's opinions. He also talked about freedom, and how justice requires it. I now add that in Germany there is a basic law that protects my human rights. I therefore request that I may defend myself in this court with a new lawyer, Dr. Thor von Waldenstein.
- I am now in my eighth month in Mannheim jail, and I have gained many impressions of the German justice system. I was elected spokesperson for the 250 prisoners on remand, and I hear many prisoners insult prosecutors and judges as "racists" and "Nazis." Public prosecutor Klein -- that's the irony -- also defames me with these words. He even decorates his office wall with a swastika!
- I see prosecutors and judges order prisoners on remand placed in their cells for twenty-three hours a day. They are treated like convicted prisoners, and not as innocent persons. Convicts are better off than prisoners on remand, who are not even allowed to participate in the church service and in the Bible study group. This is human rights abuse -- the prevention of exercising one's religious belief. Why do Hurrle and Willenberg not focus on such injustices?
- I have no criticism to make of the staff of the Mannheim jail. They attempt to do their best in coping with a difficult situation, but they can do only so much, and they are often just overburdened.
A Free Man
Judge Klaus Kern refused my request to remove my silent lawyer, Ludwig Bock, from my case, and to order a new trial with proper legal representation.
In his summation, prosecutor Klein demanded a sentence of two years and four months for me because, he said, "it is obvious that the seven months in prison have had no effect on him." He also claimed that my criminal intent was evident in my revisionist mindset, and that this makes me a hard-core revisionist, an anti-Semite, and a racist.
After adjourning for about an hour, the judges returned. Judge Kern read out the sentence: three months for allegations one through three; six months for an open letter I had written to Judge Clapiér-Krespach (violating section 130 of the criminal code, which outlaws "popular incitement," because I had mailed it, and several copies, to persons in Germany); and three months for allegation five. The judge rounded this down to ten months, and then set bail at six thousand marks. Because I had already spent seven months behind bars, and had been well behaved during my imprisonment, the "two-thirds" rule applied. I was therefore released for time served in custody.
This deprivation of my mental freedom rests on the Holocaust myth, the Holocaust dogma. The dogma is all-pervasive and gaining in strength, but the stronger it becomes, the more resistance will grow against it. These are interesting times. The United States of America, with its free speech guarantee, will continue to play a leading role in keeping the controversy alive.
[On December 12, 2000, the federal German appeals court in Karlsruhe criticized the Mannheim court for its leniency, and ordered that Fredrick Töben be retried. The appeals court upheld the principle that German courts may try foreigners for actions which are lawful in the countries in which they are committed.]
About the author
Fredrick Töben was born in June 1941 in Germany, and emigrated to Australia when he was ten. He studied at Melbourne University in Australia, as well as at universities in Heidelberg, Tübingen and Stuttgart in Germany, where he earned a doctorate in philosophy. He is the founder and director of the Adelaide Institute, an important revisionist research and publishing center (P.O. Box 3300, Norwood 5067, Australia. Web site: www.adelaideinstitute.org). This essay is adapted from his address at IHR's Thirteenth International Conference, May 28, 2000. This essay is adapted from Robert Faurisson's foreword to Fredrick Töben's forthcoming book, When Truth is No Defence: I Want to Break Free.
From The Journal of Historical Review, May/June 2001 (Vol. 20, No. 3), page 29.