By Nigel Jackson
Michael Hoffman has just issued an important statement on this case: ‘Elderly German Lady sentenced to 10 months in prison for doubting Auschwitz extermination claims.’ Hoffman is the author of The Great Holocaust Trial: The Landmark Battle for the Right to Doubt the West’s Most Sacred Relic and is the publisher of Johann Andreas Eisenmenger’s Entdecktes Judenthum. His website is www.revisionisthistory.org
He reports that 87 year-old Ursula Haverbeck, former chairwoman of the now-banned free thought association Collegium Humanum, has been sentenced to imprisonment by the Hamburg District Court ‘for doubting that people were “exterminated” by “gassing” in the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz.’ More accurately, she is being punished for expressing this view in public.
It appears that in an interview with the German magazine Panorama she had stated that Auschwitz was not an extermination camp but a labour camp. The mass murder of Jews, she said, had not taken place.
During proceedings she asked the prosecutor: ‘How do you as a lawyer prove the accusation that Auschwitz was an extermination camp?’ The prosecutor mentioned that her ‘fanatical delusion’ had not abated. (In 2009 she was fined in the District Court of Bad Oeynhausen for having offended Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews.)
Her request for a revisionist historian to give evidence that at Auschwitz no one had been gassed was rejected by Judge Jonsson, who stated: ‘It is futile to argue with people who do not accept the facts.’
This sentencing of this woman can justly be described as a crime against humanity. Why is this?
There are two possibilities: either she is right (or largely right) or she is wrong (or largely wrong). Let us assume that the latter is true. We then have a pitiful spectacle of an elderly person stubbornly and irrationally clinging to a mistaken view of historical events. Shakespeare’s King Lear is the archetypal work of art examining the ramifications of such a situation. As we watch Lear rave in misery on the heath, we feel compassion for him; but that does not stop us knowing that his disaster has been mainly self-inflicted as a result of his stubborn holding of illusions earlier in the action. None of us, however, would want to punish him for the awful threats he issues during his agon.
If Ms Haverbeck is wrong (and a formidable battery of opinion, including learned opinion, around the world maintains that she is), then what damage can her statements really do to anyone? As we say, rather rudely, in Australia: ‘You can’t fart against thunder.’
If such is the situation, why on earth was she ever brought to trial? Why were her remarks not just passed over (‘Poor thing! Off her head, of course!’). Why did the prosecutor maintain that her age should not prevent her from being sentenced?
In this scenario, we plainly have an example of inhumane treatment being meted out to a too-elderly victim.
But what if she is right, or largely right? I happen to believe that she is just that, but, of course, I’m a human being and we are all prone to error. Moreover, the topic of ‘the Holocaust’ is a vast one and not easily to be assessed by the ordinary man in the street, lacking relevant specialised knowledge and not knowing the German language.
What if Ms Haverbeck is right?
Then she is a martyr to the truth and the Hamburg Court proceedings were a disgrace to the German legal profession and to Germany.
She was entitled to the following behaviours in court: (1) the prosecutor should have explained clearly and succinctly why he and the law believed that Auschwitz was an extermination camp; (2) The judge should have allowed her to call one or more revisionist historians to defend her position. Given the vast amount of revisionist scholarship on this topic now able to be studied, the judge had no right to claim that ‘the facts’ have been finally established. It is inappropriate and unethical for any court or any government to claim omniscience on such a complicated and clearly disputed historical and scientific controversy.
The prosecutor’s refusal to justify his position means that his claim that the defendant was suffering from a ‘fanatical delusion’ falls to the ground.
If Ms Haverbeck is innocent, then a much worse crime against humanity has been committed. The very dignity of mankind has been unwarrantably assailed and the ideals of Western European culture, especially the importance of intellectual freedom, wickedly scorned. Claims that her behaviour has ‘given offence’ will look like subterfuge designed to protect an endangered interest group.
But is there such a group? Yes, there is – it is an open secret that there is and that its power in many nations of the world is great indeed.
Shame, Germany, shame! Or, rather, shame on the German government and its legal profession!
Perhaps Mr Turnbull could take this serious matter up some time with Frau Merkel, his German opposite number!
Nigel Jackson is a Melbourne poet and man of letters.