Institute for Historical Review

Institute for Historical Review

IHR miscellaneous files

P.O. Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659 USA


April 24, 1999

Australian Holocaust Skeptic Arrested in Germany

Free Speech Groups Protest Detention of Dr. Töben

Dr. Fredrick Töben, an Australian historian and educator, has been arrested and is being detained in Germany for "incitement to hatred," insulting Jews, denying genocidal acts of the Third Reich regime, and "denigrating the memory of the [Jewish] dead," because he has challenged Holocaust extermination allegations in his Australia-based monthly newsletter and on an Australia-based Internet web site.

Töben, director of the Adelaide Institute historical center in South Australia, was taken into custody on April 8, 1999, during a private meeting in the Mannheim office of public prosecutor Hans-Heiko Klein.

Ironically, Töben was meeting with Klein to discuss German laws that prohibit disagreement with an official view of Second World War history, especially regarding the wartime treatment of European Jews. Töben faces up to five years imprisonment.

Centered in South Australia's largest city, and funded by donations, the Adelaide Institute was founded in 1994 by Töben, who directs its work and edits its twice-monthly newsletter (P.O. Box 3300, Norwood 5067, Australia).

Disputing Holocaust extermination claims is illegal in Germany, Israel, France, and a few other countries, but it is legal in most countries, including Australia.

Adelaide Institute acting director Geoff Muirden calls the arrest "entrapment." Dr. Töben, he says, was having "a private conversation with an official, who then decided to arrest him for 'thought crimes'." "By what right does Germany impose its censorship" on an Australian-based Internet web site?," Muirden added. "Germans are not obliged to view such material, whereas they are obliged to accept the orthodox view of the Holocaust."

John Bennett, president of the Australian Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), says that Dr. Töben was arrested "under draconian anti-free-speech laws." Calling this a "classic free speech case," he is urging people to contact German embassies and other appropriate German agencies to protest Töben's arrest. Bennett has also helped organize a legal defense fund to secure the historian's release. Donations should be sent to: ACLU, P.O. Box 1137, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia. Checks should be made out to "ACLU, Töben Defense Fund."

In London, historian David Irving promptly condemned Dr. Töben's arrest as an "outrage." The best-selling British author is himself banned from Germany for his dissident views on Second World War history.

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), an independent on-line free speech group, has also spoken out against Töben's arrest, expressing particular concern that German authorities are treating material posted on an Australia-based web site as if it had been published in Germany. EFA chairman Kimberley Heitman, who is also a lawyer, says that the German government is, in effect, trying to legislate for the entire world.

The Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a research and publishing center in southern California, strongly protests Töben's arrest. "This attempt by German authorities to, in effect, impose its odd censorship laws on another country makes the Töben case particularly disgraceful," says IHR Director Mark Weber. The revisionist history "think tank" closely monitors restrictions on free speech and free historical inquiry in Germany and other countries.

Among those who have been imprisoned in Germany in recent years for expressing skepticism of the official view of the wartime treatment of Europe's Jews are Günter Deckert, an educator and political figure, and Udo Walendy, an author and publisher.

Töben was born in northern Germany in 1944, but emigrated to Australia when he was ten. He has lived most of his life in his new homeland, and is an Australian citizen. He studied at universities in Australia and Germany, and holds a doctorate in philosophy. He has worked as a school teacher in Victoria, Australia.