A Belgian Foundation Battles for Free Speech

Revisionist Center in Flanders Makes Waves
Published: 1996-01-01

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For some years now, one of Europe's most important revisionist publishing centers has been the Foundation for Free Historical Research, or Vrij Historish Onderzoek (VHO). From the Flemish region of Belgium, the VHO publishes and distributes a range of revisionist materials in Dutch, French, German and English.

Through the efforts above all of Siegfried Verbeke, a printer in his mid-50s, the VHO has developed into an important link in the growing worldwide revisionist community. Several times yearly VHO publishes an informative newsletter, VHO-Nieuwsbrief, which often includes material reprinted from this Journal. The well-organized VHO catalog includes a range of revisionist titles and periodicals, including such IHR books as The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, and Flashpoint: Kristallnacht 1938.

VHO has published more than a dozen serious, attractively produced books and booklets in its "Revisionistische Bibliotheek" series, including Dutch language editions of The Ball Report (by John Ball), the first and second Leuchter Report by American gas chamber specialist Fred Leuchter, and a 170-page booklet on the crematory ovens at Auschwitz and Birkenau by Carlo Mattogno and engineer Franco Deana. VHO is now preparing a French edition of the Rudolf Report and further foreign-language editions of works by Carlo Mattogno.

In 1995 VHO published Auschwitz: Nackte Fakten ("Auschwitz: Naked Facts"). Subtitled "A Response to Jean-Claude Pressac," this 170-page illustrated German-language paperback book includes scholarly contributions by Prof. Robert Faurisson, Manfred Köhler, Carlo Mattogno and Serge Thion.

As in other countries, the usual forces of "politically correct" bigotry have been trying to shut down this dissident voice. In 1992 four Netherlands organizations – the B'nai B'rith, the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, the Anne Frank Foundation, and the National Bureau on Combatting Racism – brought a joint civil suit against Verbeke and a colleague for circulating material, including the Leuchter Report, that calls into question the officially ordained version of 20th century history. This case received extensive newspaper and television coverage in both Belgium and the Netherlands.

Because publication of such "Holocaust denial" material was quite legal in Belgium at the time, the suit was a bit of legal chicanery. This cross-border lawsuit, apparently the first legal action of its kind, was permitted by new European Community rules. In late 1992 a court ordered VHO director Verbeke to pay 10,000 Dutch guilders (about $6,000) for each revisionist "violation." However, he has refused to pay any fine.

In 1993 the Anne Frank Foundation in the Netherlands and the Anne Frank Fund in Switzerland brought a lawsuit in the Netherlands against Robert Faurisson, Siegfried Verbeke and a VHO colleague for publishing a 125-page booklet critical of the Anne Frank Diary. The defendants were charged with slander, outrage, abuse toward a group and incitement to hatred, discrimination or violence. "It must be remembered," the lawsuit charged, "that for years Anne Frank has been the symbol of the Jews who were victims of the Holocaust. In this way, her name and her diary assume an additional value. Therefore, one has to expect that in this connection oral or written arguments be subjected to a greater prudence, from a social point of view, than Dutch law generally requires." Although the defendants completed their arguments some time ago, the Frank organizations seem afraid to respond in court to Faurisson's arguments, and reluctant to pursue the case further.

In 1994 Verbeke made headlines again for distributing the Dutch-language edition of the Rudolf Report. He was falsely chastised as a "neo-Nazi," and an official of a prominent Jewish organization dismissed the Rudolf Report as "dangerous anti-Semitic poison."

In 1995 Belgium's parliament approved a new anti-revisionist law, similar to those already in force in France and Austria, making it a crime to dispute the Holocaust story. Anyone who denies, plays down or seeks to justify "the genocide of the German National Socialist regime during the Second World War" may be punished with a fine or a prison term of up to one year.

Defying the new law, Verbeke carries on the struggle. He comments: "When you are living in a country where nearly 40 percent of the productive population is in some way a 'government employee' you will understand everything – that is, nothing turns out well, and we survive by improvisation."

For further information, write: [... now defunct; see www.vho.org for its successor; ed.]

Three Stages

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
—Arthur Schopenhauer

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Mark Weber
Title: A Belgian Foundation Battles for Free Speech, Revisionist Center in Flanders Makes Waves
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 16, no. 1 (January/February 1996), p. 46
Published: 1996-01-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 27, 2012, 6 p.m.
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