SUBJECT: HOLOCAUST DENIAL IN GERMANY
Voice of America transcript, 10-Aug-94 9:22 AM EDT (1322 UTC)
Intro: The German government and Jewish community leaders are criticizing a
German court for its handling of the case of a far-right party leader who
denied the Holocaust ever took place. VOA’s Dagmar Breitenbach reports from
Text: A Mannheim regional court gave Guenter Deckert, head of the far-right
National Democratic Party, a one-year suspended prison sentence, and the
equivalent of a six-thousand dollar fine after his conviction of incitement
to racial hatred.
The penalty was announced last June. But the judge’s justification for the
suspended sentence — made public only this week — is what has caused
outrage among German government and Jewish leaders alike.
The court excused Mr. Deckert’s denial of the Holocaust, saying he was
defending his political conviction, which the court described as a “matter
of the heart” for him.
The court said Mr. Deckert was strengthening the resistance of the German
people to Jewish demands stemming from the Holocaust.
The ruling prompted an uproar from government officials and the country’s
Jewish leader Ignatz Bubis says the court’s explanation has practically
made anti-Semitism by neo-Nazis and extreme rightists socially acceptable.
Justice minster Sabine Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger called the
justification a slap in the face for all victims of the Holocaust, and a
shocking signal. What good are the most effective regulations to combat
neo-Nazism, she said, if a German court calls the denial of the Holocaust a
“matter of the heart.”
The case arose from a 1991 lecture in Germany by U.S. neo-Nazi activist
Fred Leuchter. Mr. Leuchter insists Jews were never killed at death camps
run by the Nazis. Mr. Deckert translated the lecture, and told the audience
he agreed with Mr. Leuchter.
The regional court had previously convicted Mr. Deckert, and given him the
same suspended sentence. But Germany’s highest appeals court overturned the
lower court verdict, saying the evidence presented at the time did not
prove he was guilty of a crime. It instructed the regional court to
re-examine the case to determine whether Mr. Deckert really subscribed to
Nazi ideology. The court reached the conclusion that he did, and handed
down the same sentence as before.
State prosecutors, who had called for a two-year prison sentence, say they
will appeal the court’s ruling.