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News Holocaust denial is a crime

  1. Feb 20, 2006 #1
    I'm not from Europe or Jewish, so I probably do not have the correct perspective, but what's up with this? Apparently you can't deny the Holocaust ever happen in certain countries - I did not know that.

    This guy is clearly a lousy historian, an arsehole, and most likely a narcissistic racist, but should he be jailed? I'm not saying he shouldn't, just asking for your opinion. Three years does seem like an awfully long time. What about a revocation of his teaching certificate, or travel ban, or fine? And does anyone find this thing slightly contradictory to the way that the papers handled the Islam free speech debate?

    Really not trying to stir up a hornet's nest, just curious...


    Holocaust denier Irving is jailed

    British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and sentenced to three years in prison.
    He had pleaded guilty to the charge, based on a speech and interview he gave in Austria in 1989.

    "I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," he told the court in the Austrian capital.

    Irving appeared stunned by the sentence, and told reporters: "I'm very shocked and I'm going to appeal."

    An unidentified onlooker told him: "Stay strong!".

    Irving's lawyer said he considered the verdict "a little too stringent".

    "I would say it's a bit of a message trial," said Elmar Kresbach.

    But Karen Pollock, chief executive of the UK's Holocaust Educational Trust disagreed. "Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism dressed up as intellectual debate. It should be regarded as such and treated as such," Ms Pollock told the BBC News website.

    Fears that the court case would provoke right-wing demonstrations and counter-protests did not materialise, the BBC's Ben Brown at the court in Vienna said.

    I'm not an expert on the Holocaust
    David Irving
    Irving arrived in the court room handcuffed, wearing a blue suit, and carrying a copy of Hitler's War, one of many books he has written on the Nazis, and which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

    Irving was arrested in Austria in November, on a warrant dating back to 1989, when he gave a speech and interview denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

    He was stopped by police on a motorway in southern Austria, where he was visiting to give a lecture to a far-right student fraternity. He has been held in custody since then.

    'I've changed'

    During the one-day trial, he was questioned by the prosecutor and chief judge, and answered questions in fluent German.

    He admitted that in 1989 he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews. He said this is what he believed, until he later saw the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organiser of the Holocaust.

    "I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that anymore and I wouldn't say that now," Irving told the court.

    "The Nazis did murder millions of Jews."

    In the past, he had claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little, if anything, about the Holocaust, and that the gas chambers were a hoax.

    Czech Republic

    In 2000, a British court threw out a libel action he had brought, and declared him "an active Holocaust denier... anti-Semitic and racist".

    On Monday, before the trial began, he told reporters: "I'm not a Holocaust denier. Obviously, I've changed my views.

    "History is a constantly growing tree - the more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989."

    Asked how many Jews were killed by Nazis, he replied: "I don't know the figures. I'm not an expert on the Holocaust."

    Of his guilty plea, he told reporters: "I have no choice."

    He said it was "ridiculous" that he was being tried for expressing an opinion.

    "Of course it's a question of freedom of speech... I think within 12 months this law will have vanished from the Austrian statute book," he said.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 20, 2006 #2
    In Europe, if you were to get on a computer and post in forums that the Holocaust never happened - could you be arrested? What if you had a webpage?
  4. Feb 20, 2006 #3
    That is a pretty dumb law. If people don't want to believe it, who cares?
  5. Feb 20, 2006 #4


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    The crime is not "denying the Holocaust", the crime is "spreading racial hatred".

    This article seems to phrase it as if it's the actual denial that's illegal, but I suspect (though without facts to back it up) that a closer, less editiorial look at the case will reveal that the actual crime is the racist poo-flinging that is used to express the opinions.
  6. Feb 20, 2006 #5
    I wouldn't be surprise if Iran has a law aganist holocaust acceptance...
  7. Feb 20, 2006 #6
    I don't know what the law explicitly says, but the article says "guilty of denying the Holocaust", not guilty of spreading hatred. If the crime is indeed to express an opinion on whether the events happened or not then I don't understand this law. It flies in the face of freedom of expression. It makes no sense to me that you can voice an opinion on the existence of God but not the existence of an event. And given other recent news, I'm glad to see that Denmark is not in the list of countries with such a law because I would have seen this as hypocritical.

    Having said this, the geography of the relevant countries shows that it was obviously passed based on local events and on local wishes of the population. I'm sure very strong emotions played a part. So while I can understand this part, I still could not agree with it in principle. Like I said elsewhere, let people express what they want to express. The opinion of other people may offend you, but you are not obliged to agree with it. Grow up and get over it.

    Of course if the crime is not what the news story reports then we are discussing from a false premise.
  8. Feb 20, 2006 #7
    Yes it is against the law in Austria to denying the Holocaust... He was falsifying historical documentation and spreading lies about what happened. The Holocaust is fact, and the reasoning behind the law is so that our children are taught about what happened so we can avoid anything as evil to happen again, and the people of Germany can confront there demons head on.

    Its a strange one, but I understand the reasoning behind a law like this, why would anyone want to deny the Holocaust with good intensions? In other countries (Canada I believe) have laws against spreading false news, which is basically what this law is doing, however it is direct in its agenda of stopping false claims regarding the holocaust..

    In most "developed" countries people have freedom of speach, however you have to be responsable with your freedom, you cant slander people in public with a carte blanc that you wont be sued...

    Irvine knew the law, he should have respected it, he will only get 1-2 years.. big deal!
  9. Feb 20, 2006 #8


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    This is my point.

    I would take the article with a grain of salt - I do believe it is putting a bit of a spin on events.
  10. Feb 20, 2006 #9
    Those who say the earth is flat are falsifying scientific documentation and spreading lies about its correct shape, yet it is not illegal. The obvious difference is the atrocity level. A law that prevents those who want to burry and forget the past from doing so may be expedient towards this end. What I would find more appropriate is mandatory inclusion of the events into school books instead, along with all other mandatory materials kids must learn.

    I don't believe there are laws against spreading false news in North America, otherwise a lot or tabloids would be out of business. Except for libel laws of course, which do forbid direct harm to someone's reputation. But I cannot think of a law that keeps me from telling everyone about the Martian I keep in my bath tub. Oops, I spoke too much.
  11. Feb 20, 2006 #10


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    Again, I do not believe the legality of it is so much about the falsity of the facts as it is about the hate that goes along with it.
  12. Feb 20, 2006 #11


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    Seven european countries have specific laws making holocaust denial and / or trivialising Nazi attrocities a crime.

    This offence was also included in the the draft proposal for a harmonised EU law covering racism and xenophobia but Britain has said it will not agree to this.

    I can understand perhaps why Germany and Austria would have laws banning holocaust denial but personally I'm not convinced it should be applied to all of the EU.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2006
  13. Feb 20, 2006 #12
    Whether it's for spreading racial hatred, denying the Holocaust, or teaching things which are flat-out false, one thing is certain to me: he should not be in prison. At best, he should be held civilly accountable for libel. This is just one step closer to having Thought Police.
  14. Feb 20, 2006 #13
    It's illegal in some places to be a racist or xenophobe? That's just as rediculous as the people they want to imprison.
  15. Feb 20, 2006 #14
    It is just the context of the entire matter. It is trival for a person to say the Earth is flat, because he is just insane or stupid, or a genius in some cases. However when a person says the holocost never happened, or never to that extent, what is their agenda if it is a proven historical fact? Why would they make such claims? It is racial slander. It is tastless and no one should have any buisness broadcasting that false information either. I see it as taking another potential pro-Nazi off the streets. (probably a little harsh).
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2006
  16. Feb 20, 2006 #15
    People that are racist harm society period. It is good for people tolerate other races but not the intolerant. They are ignorant, it is not that they are another race, it is just that they straight out hate other races. They have nothing useful to contribute to society and by allowing them to go unchallenged, they cause problems.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2006
  17. Feb 20, 2006 #16


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    People have all sorts of agendas for doing things. Somebody might honestly believe he doesn't have an anti-semitic bone in his body and be a holocaust denier because he's a cranky contrarian who gets off by contradicting sacred cows. Somebody might have been exposed to some selective documentary evidence that minimizes the holocaust . All kinds of reasons; you can't just infer that because somebody denies it he's pushing anti-semitic, let alone crypto-nazi, motives.
  18. Feb 20, 2006 #17
    Regardless it cannot be tolerated. He should still be set straight, which he was, but only under pressure. I think they may pursue it with such energy, because they do not want to give the anti-semetic movements that still exsist in their country any leeway, for saying "Hey this expert says.." Even if he did not mean it he gives the real racists legitimacy for their arguements such as "The Nazis were not that bad." etc.
  19. Feb 21, 2006 #18
    http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/pub/1992/vol2/texte/1992scr2_0731.txt [Broken]

    It was law but in 1992 it seems that it was nulled by the supprem court in Canada...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  20. Feb 21, 2006 #19


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    Yes. It is explicitly forbidden to deny the holocaust. Just as it is explicitly forbidden to make racist or xenophobic comments. You can be prosecuted for that.

    I have to say that personally, I'm divided on the issue: I think it is a denial of the freedom of speech which I regret ; however, given the atrocities that went with the holocaust, I can understand it up to a point. Nevertheless, this opens the gate to other limitations "for good purposes" of the freedom of speech, and that's something I am affraid of.

    But it's the law.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2006
  21. Feb 21, 2006 #20
    I stand corrected. The Supreme Court of Canada did not nullify the law but upheld it according to your links:

    So you can still publish lies in Canada but only if they are not injurious to others, or at least if you don't know that they can be (and you'd better be able to convince the court that you didn't know). So tabloids must be particularly outrageous in their stories to make sure they are not believable by their readers, otherwise they may be liable to their victim. But denyers of the Holocaust seem to be fair game for prosecution in Canada as well.

    How about the US?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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