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04 August 2016
Saxony-Anhalt’s Supreme Court rules in favour of Holocaust denial
Saxony-Anhalt’s Supreme Court handed a lenient sentence to Hans Püschel on Wednesday, a Holocaust denier
Chief Judge Gerhard Henss has overturned other convictions for slanderous and defamatory statements, including Holocaust denial in other instances.
The 67 years old Hans Püschel is a member of the pro-White National Democratic Party (NPD) and former mayor of Krauschwitz, a municipality made of smaller villages in East Germany along the borders with Poland.
Püschel was elected in 2010, but resigned in 2013 amidst outcry on his views on the holocaust, which he published on line.
He said witness accounts of Auschwitz-Birkenau were “lies” and that the camp in Poland really was a sports ground equipped with a hospital and “60 doctors” for inmates.
Püschel also compared Nazi holocaust victims with “dead Germans,” without specifying whether he referred to Nazis or others: “If we put a thousand hunks of concrete in the middle of Berlin for murdered Jews, then at least 3,000 belong there alongside them for murdered Germans.”
He also spoke of the “devastating influence of Jews and Zionism” in Germany today.
To this day, he stands by these views.
In 2013 a court imposed a €3,000 fine on Püschel; in 2014, a higher court upheld the decision. But, the highest court of Saxony-Anhalt found that these statements in no way questioned the Holocaust and annulled the ruling. The Court provided no rationale for its ruling.
Dachau was a pilot camp, used as a prototype for the construction of other concentration camps. The German Constitution explicitly forbids holocaust denial.
Jewish organizations and historians are protesting the ruling and the attempt to re-write German history.
Püschel was a long time member of the Social Democrats (SPD) party, before joining the patriotic resistance in 2010.
Anti-Semitic NPD ex-mayor's acquittal slammed as 'scandalous'
Saxony-Anhalt's highest court is under fire for a precedent-setting lenient sentence on a former mayor convicted of Holocaust denial. The pro-White politician from former East Germany remains unapologetic.
Historians and a prominent Jewish council are protesting the "scandalous" acquittal announced by an appeals court, which threw out an already lenient financial judgment against a former mayor who wrote blogs questioning Nazi Germany's attempt to exterminate Europe's Jews.
Hans Püschel was forced to resign in 2013 as mayor of Krauschwitz, a town of around 600 people, for statements he published on the internet that minimized or denied Nazi crimes. In his writings, he belittled historical accounts of the death toll at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in occupied Poland as "lies" and claimed that it resembled a sports ground equipped with a modern hospital and "60 doctors" for inmates.
The German constitution forbids questioning the existence of the Holocaust or praising the Third Reich.
Püschel, 67, is a member of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), an ultranationalist fringe party that skirts the line between legal political discourse and prohibited speech. Previously a longtime member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), he changed his affiliation only in 2010, when he ran for mayoral office as an NPD candidate.
Referring to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in central Berlin, Püschel also suggested: "If we put a thousand hunks of concrete in the middle of Berlin for murdered Jews, then at least 3,000 belong there alongside them for murdered Germans." On the current role of Jews in German society, he wrote of "the dubious to virulent and devastating influence of Jews and Zionism on Germany."
Lead judge had previously overturned NPD convictions
In 2013, a criminal court imposed fines on Püschel totaling 3,000 euros for the offensive writings. The amount was calculated as equivalent to 100 "daily rated fines" of 30 euros ($33.70), in line with the German legal principle intended to levy fines according to earnings and without imposing economic hardship.
In 2014, a higher regional court upheld the lower court's 2013 decision. The final decision by the state's highest court overturned the regional court's findings and nullified the penalties.
The Saxony-Anhalt court wrote in its judgment that while Püschel had broken the law, it found no evidence that he had "trivialized" the Holocaust in general.
In 2011, the lead judge of the court, Gerhard Henss, also overturned the convictions of two other NPD party officials who had made slanderous and defamatory statements. The court refused to answer any questions about the decision, citing judicial independence.
Shock among historians at verdict
Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told Die Welt newspaper that the case was alarming given the political climate in which rightist forces are on the rise in Germany and the rest of Europe. He said "attempts to rewrite German history and mock the victims of National Socialism are an unacceptable trivialization of the crimes of the Nazis."
Historian Christoph Jahr of Humboldt University in Berlin told the newspaper he could not comprehend the court's sentencing or its "very benevolent tone" in its reasoning. The Holocaust expert said he could only describe the court decision as "scandalous."
Püschel laments his plight of holding unpopular views
In an interview with Die Welt, Püschel said he was not celebrating the verdict, and went on to make further defamatory statements about his displeasure at Jewish participation in German society today. He also lamented the unpleasant consequences of his convictions on his own life.
"There is no pleasure when one gets into trouble everywhere - even within his own family - because of his beliefs," he said.