Freedom for Europe's Prisoners of Conscience!
Irving, Zundel, Rudolf Still in Prison
By Mark Weber -- November 16, 2006
Europeans are proud of their record of support for freedom of speech, and tolerance of dissident views. But there is a glaring exception to this record.
In Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and several other European countries, as well as in Israel, it is a crime to publicly dispute the official version of Holocaust history. Those who express dissident views about this chapter of history are routinely imprisoned, fined or forced into exile.
Currently three prominent "Holocaust deniers" are being held behind bars in Europe.
Europe's best known "thought criminal" is David Irving, an author of numerous books on military history and World War II, including several international bestsellers. The 68-year-old British historian has been held since November 11, 2005, when he was arrested during a visit in Austria for the "crime" -- committed 16 (!) years earlier -- of having referred to "mythical" gas chambers in Auschwitz during talks in the country. Denied bail, he was held until his trial on February 20, 2006, when a court in Vienna sentenced him to three years in prison for his "denial" remarks.
Newspapers, political leaders and intellectuals around the world immediately denounced the surprisingly harsh sentence, as well as the laws under which he and other "deniers" have been imprisoned and fined. (The only voices of approval were the predictable Zionist ones.)
During his months behind bars, Irving has been devoting time to history writing, to reading, to his correspondence, and to a memoir of his prison ordeal. He has appealed his sentence, and hopes for an early release.
His prison address is:
Gef. Nr. 70306
Ernst Zundel -- a German-born publicist, graphic artist and publisher -- was arrested on February 5, 2003, at the home in rural eastern Tennessee where he had been living quietly with his wife, Ingrid Rimland. He was seized on the pretext that he had missed an interview date with US immigration authorities, even though he had entered the US legally, was married to a US citizen, had no criminal record, and was acting diligently, and in full accord with the law, to secure status as a permanent legal resident.
After being held for two weeks, he was deported to Canada. For two years -- from mid-February 2003 to March 2005 -- he was held in solitary confinement as a supposed threat to "national security." His arrest and detention generated wide media attention. A few Canadian newspapers, including Toronto's prestigious Globe and Mail, and several independent analysts, acknowledged the injustice of his incarceration on an empty pretext. On March 1, 2005, Zundel was deported to Germany, and since then has been held in the Mannheim prison.
He was charged with inciting "hatred" by having written or distributed texts that "approve, deny or play down" genocidal actions carried out by Germany's wartime regime, and which "denigrate the memory of the [Jewish] dead." The first and foremost of the writings cited in the indictment are texts posted on the "Zundelsite" website, which is registered and maintained by his wife in the United States, where all such writings are entirely legal. The indictment warned that he could be punished with four years imprisonment.
Zundel's trial in Germany began on November 8, 2005, with a dramatic clash between his attorneys and the presiding judge. In the months since then, the drawn-out proceedings have sometimes been contentious, but more often have bogged down in disputes over evidentiary and procedural issues.
For some time the many Zundel supporters who routinely appeared in the courtroom showed their respect for the defendant at the start of each session by rising when he entered the chamber. But the judge eventually prohibited this and all other expressions of sympathy.
The trial is set to continue at least into early December.
The 67-year-old Zundel has been held behind bars for nearly three years now -- without ever having been found guilty of any crime! In his prison cell, he closely follows international news and trends, writes letters, and reads. His diet and living conditions, he reports, are at least better than they were during his incarceration in Canada.
Letters reach him at:
Herzogenrieder Str. 111
D - 68169 Mannheim
Born in Germany in 1964, Germar Rudolf began a serious investigation of the "gas chamber" issue while enrolled in a doctoral program at the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Solid State Physics. The youthful chemist carried out a forensic examination of the alleged gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau and concluded for a variety of technical reasons that they could not have been used for executions.
After the publication in 1993 of his findings, he was dismissed from the institute, and a court in Stuttgart ruled that his report "denies the systematic mass murder of the Jewish population in gas chambers," and therefore constitutes "popular incitement," "incitement to racial hatred," and "defamation."
In 1996 he was sentenced to 14 months in prison. Rather than serve the sentence, he fled the country, first to England and then to the United States. While in the US he ran a publishing firm that issued an impressive array of scholarly revisionist titles, and he oversaw the publication of two revisionist periodicals, one in German and one in English.
In October 2005 he was arrested in Chicago, and a few weeks later was deported to Germany, even though he and his American wife (a US citizen) were parents of a young daughter. Since then he has been serving his "original" 1996 sentence in German prisons. His trial on more recent "denial" crimes began in Mannheim on November 14, 2006, and is expected to last at least two months.
Letters reach him at:
Oberer Fauler Pelz 1
The Irving, Zundel and Rudolf cases are by no means unique. Among the many other victims of Europe's "Holocaust denial" laws have been Gaston-Armand Amaudruz and Jürgen Graf in Switzerland, Jean Plantin and Georges Theil in France, Günter Deckert, Hans Schmidt and Fredrick Toben in Germany, Pedro Varela in Spain, and Siegfried Verbeke in Belgium.
Europe's leading revisionist scholar is Robert Faurisson. Over the years this professor of literature (now retired) has been obliged to defend himself many times in French courts for his forthright writings and statements on the Holocaust issue. He has also endured several attacks by Jewish thugs, including at least one nearly fatal assault.
In his most recent legal battle, a Paris court on October 3, 2006, found him guilty of "Holocaust denial" for having said, during an interview with Iranian television, that "there was never" a single execution gas chamber used by the Germans during World War II. That remark, the court found, constituted "complicity in contesting the existence of a crime against humanity," as determined by the Nuremberg inter-Allied tribunal of 1945-46. The court gave Dr. Faurisson a suspended prison sentence of three months, and fined him 7,500 euros (about $9,500).
One of the highest-profile "denial" cases has been that of Roger Garaudy, a French scholar who had joined the anti-German Resistance during World War II, and for some years sat in the French National Assembly as a Communist Party deputy. He later broke with Communism, and converted to Islam. Following the publication in 1995 of his book, The Founding Myths of Modern Israel, he was charged under France's Gayssot law against denial of crimes against humanity as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal. (A US edition of the book is published by the IHR.) After a trial that generated wide international attention, in February 1998 the French court found Garaudy guilty and fined him the equivalent of $40,000.
Perhaps the most bizarre "denial" case is that of Robert Hepp, a University of Osnabrück sociology professor. In 1998 a German court found that Dr. Hepp had broken the law by writing a sentence, which had appeared in Latin in a footnote of a 544-page book, that referred to the claims of systematic extermination of Jews by poison gas in World War II camps as a "fabula" (fable). The court ruled that this sentence constituted "popular incitement," that it "libeled and denigrated the memory of the [Jewish] dead," and that it could "shake the trust in legal security of Jews who live in the [German] Federal Republic, and considerably diminish their mental-emotional ability to live in peace and freedom." The court further ordered all unsold copies of the book destroyed.
Unjust and One-Sided
Europe's "Holocaust denial" laws violate ancient and universal standards of justice. They make a mockery of European pretensions of tolerance and support for freedom of speech and opinion.
These censorship laws are a giant step backwards in the history of Western civilization. They manifest and foster a witch hunt mentality. On the basis of these laws, many dozens of book titles have been banned, and thousands of books and other writings have been removed from libraries, confiscated from publishers, and destroyed.
"Denial" statutes inhibit historical inquiry and restrict free speech. They have created a new class of "thought criminals" and prisoners of conscience. For the victims of these Orwellian laws, truth is no defense. They criminalize even indisputably factual statements if they "play down" or "whitewash" the Holocaust, or "demean the memory" of Jewish wartime dead.
"Denial" laws are selective and one-sided. They uphold a blatant double standard that criminalizes writings and statements that Jews regard as offensive, while permitting writings that offend Christians, Muslims and others. They sanction a privileged status for Jews and Jewish concerns.
It was this status that moved Alain Finkielkraut, a prominent French-Jewish intellectual, to write, in an essay published in 1998 in the leading French daily Le Monde:
"Ah, how sweet it is to be Jewish at the end of this 20th century! We are no longer History's accused, but its darlings. The spirit of the times loves, honors, and defends us, watches over our interests; it even needs our imprimatur. Journalists draw up ruthless indictments against all that Europe still has in the way of Nazi collaborators or those nostalgic for the Nazi era. Churches repent, states do penance..."
A Well-Organized Campaign
Europe's "Holocaust denial" laws are by no means spontaneous expressions of righteous indignation. They are, instead, the result of a well-organized campaign by powerful Jewish-Zionist groups, including the World Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- a campaign that has been supported by compliant non-Jewish politicians.
In March 1982 the London-based Institute of Jewish Affairs, together with the World Jewish Congress, issued a report, "Making the Denial of the Holocaust a Crime in Law," that laid out a detailed plan for "Holocaust denial" legislation in countries around the world. "It is, therefore, essential to introduce special legal provisions against denial of the Holocaust," the paper concluded.
In 1991 the main Jewish association in Australia, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, called for the introduction of "Holocaust denial" laws in that country. In June 1998, the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists declared that the "denial" statutes already on the books in some countries were too lenient, and resolved to work for new and more severe laws in more than 20 countries outlawing dissident views on the treatment of Jews in Europe during World War II.
In recent years, ever more Europeans have come to acknowledge the manifestly unjust and shamefully hypocritical character of the "denial" laws.
In December 2005 French intellectuals issued a public appeal for freedom of historical inquiry and expression that included a call for the repeal of the country's "Holocaust denial" law. It was signed by hundreds of scholars, including some of the country's most prominent intellectual figures. "Historiography must not be the object of the courts," the appeal declared. "In a free country, neither the parliament nor the courts should determine historical truth. The method of operation of the state, even when motivated by the best of intentions, is not that of historiography. We demand the repeal of these legal restrictions that are unworthy of a democratic regime."
In Switzerland, Justice Minister Christoph Blocher recently called for the repeal of his country's "Holocaust denial" statute. Swiss law, he said, should be a beacon for other nations.
In Britain, historian Timothy Garton Ash recently issued a similar appeal. In an essay published in the British daily paper, The Guardian, and in the Los Angeles Times, the influential Oxford University scholar declared:
"No one can legislate historical truth. In so far as historical truth can be established at all, it must be found by unfettered historical research, with historians arguing over the evidence and the facts, testing and disputing each other's claims without fear of prosecution or persecution... Far from creating new legally enforced taboos about history, national identity and religion, we should be dismantling those that still remain on our statute books. Those European countries that have them should repeal not only their blasphemy laws but also their laws on Holocaust denial. Otherwise the charge of double standards is impossible to refute."