Germany Convicts Non-Resident Blogger for Inciting Hatred by Denying Holocaust

Old news, but a new article on the Zundel Holocaust Denial prosecution in Germany.

Germany Convicts Non-Resident Blogger for Inciting Hatred by Denying Holocaust : Internet Business Law

Kelly O’Connell, IBLS Editor, Monday, September 15, 2008

Claiming the Holocaust is a hoax is illegal in Germany, even online, and a non-resident alien man who denied the veracity of the Third Reich’s “Final Solution” on a blog was imprisoned for the act. A German court sentenced Ernst Zündel, a former Tennessee, USA and Canadian resident, and lifelong Holocaust denier to five years in prison for incitement of racial hatred. His publications include “The Hitler We Loved and Why.” Zündel was convicted in Berlin on February 15, 2007, and received the harshest sentence possible for his acts.

The accused 67-year-old man was convicted in the regional court in Mannheim, Germany on 14 counts of incitement, including one charge involving offense and slander to the memory of the dead. The successful prosecution was a symbolic win for Germany, which has expressed a strong interest in making the act of Holocaust Denial an EU-wide crime, which has been defeated in such countries as Spain and Italy.

Mr. Zündel is a German citizen born in the Black Forest region, who immigrated to Canada at age 19 to avoid the draft. He spent the next four decades in Canada, where he began his pamphleteering career, releasing Nazi and anti-Jewish works. In the late 1970s he created Samisdat Publishers, one of world’s biggest distributors of Nazi and neo-Nazi propaganda and memorabilia. He has also become a central “revisionist” figure and author for his Zündelsite, since 1995 a hub for Holocaust-denial propaganda.

Zündel was not popular with the Canadian Government, as his activities led to many trials when he lived in the country, between 1958 to 2001. Zündel married his neo-Nazi Webmaster, Ingrid Rimland, and they immigrated to Tennessee, USA in 2001. But his stay was short-lived as U.S. officials deported him back to Canada for visa violations, due to his Nazi-promotions as a security risk. When Zündel arrived in Toronto, he was arrested and detained until a Canadian judge ruled in March 2005 his activities posed a threat to national and international security. He was deported back to Germany.

German courts wasted no time prosecuting Zündel, charging him with inciting racial hatred, for publishing on his site such works as Arthur Butz’s “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century,” and Austin App’s “The Six Million Swindle.”

The law used in Zündel’s prosecution is found in the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB), promulgated on November 13, 1998 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 945, p. 3322), in Section 130 Agitation of the People.

The law specifically focuses on Holocaust-deniers saying,

(3) “Whoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or renders harmless an act committed under the rule of National Socialism…in a manner capable of disturbing the public piece shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine. ”

One of the most controversial aspects of this case was the fact that all the publications had been made outside Germany, which some analysts argued took the crime outside of Germany’s jurisdiction to prosecute. Since all of Zündel’s publications were made outside of Germany, and created in Canada and the U.S., it could have been argued that the robust Anglo-American law of freedom of speech should have applied.

But German courts had already ruled on this issue, in the case of German-born Dr. Fredrick Töben, who was also charged with denying the Holocaust from the Adelaide Institute, in Australia. Toben was sentenced to 10 months in prison. He appealed on the grounds that since his Internet material was “printed” outside Germany, it should not be subject to German legislation. In response, the German Federal Court of Justice ruled that any persons publishing pro-Nazi material on the Internet is subject to German law, regardless of their country of origin.

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