CODOH Urges President of Humboldt University, Berlin

to Cancel Use of Humboldt Facilities for a Conference on “Holocaust Denial and Freedom of Speech in the Internet Era”, Sponsored by IAJLJ
Published: 2011-12-01

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Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz, President
Humboldt University
Berlin, Germany
[email protected]

San Diego, Cal., November 9, 2011

Dear Prof.-Dr. Olbertz:

Through its law school, Humboldt University is hosting a conference this month whose purpose is hostile to freedom of expression. Not only is your august institution making its Grimm Auditorium available for the sessions, two members of the Law School faculty (Bernd Heinrich and Tatjana Hörnle) are speakers at it. I refer, of course, to the conference of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists of November 15 through 18, titled “Holocaust Denial and Freedom of Speech in the Internet Era.”

Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz

Prof. Dr. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz

The title is deceptively abstract. In fact, it takes little imagination to see, the subject is “Using the Force of Law to Discourage Open Debate of the Holocaust on the Internet,” an agenda antithetical to the freedom of discourse upon which both universities and the development of knowledge depend. Now, I know that in today’s Germany, open debate of the Holocaust is indeed discouraged by the force of the law, and I know that Humboldt University’s Law School concerns itself with the design and application of laws. But excusing the complicity of Humboldt University in this campaign of repression is like excusing the firm of Tesch & Stabenow from developing and supplying the alleged means of the deaths of millions of Jews, Zyklon-B. (I might question whether it was used for this purpose, but I suppose doing so would violate German law, so I demur.) The accusation against Tesch & Stabenow and the German people themselves, of course, comes from the very interests whose conference you plan to host. And they mean to suppress discussion of these and many similar accusations—all over the world.


Just because a pesticide firm concerns itself with poisonous gases, or a law school with the administration of laws, is no excuse for the firm, or school, to knowingly abet inhuman conspiracies. Your relying on the innocuous styling of the conference’s title will be rejected just as were Tesch & Stabenow’s claims that Zyklon-B was for killing lice.

Germany’s academy has a long and shameful tradition of serving the state in ways later shown to be deleterious to the wellbeing of mankind. It is time for Humboldt to uphold humanitarian ideals that always have, and always will, transcend the state. Cancel the use of your facilities. Withdraw your speakers from the program. And take a stand for freedom of speech that even today remains so sadly lacking in the heart of European civilization.

Bradley Smith, Founder
Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust
PO Box 439016
San Ysidro CA 92143
Telephone: 209 682 5327

Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, founded in 1989, argues that the Holocaust story should not be the preserve of some at the expense of others, but should be open to a free exchange of ideas by all.

NOTE: This letter was copied to 1,100 faculty members in Law and Humanities at Humboldt University.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: CODOH Urges President of Humboldt University, Berlin, to Cancel Use of Humboldt Facilities for a Conference on “Holocaust Denial and Freedom of Speech in the Internet Era”, Sponsored by IAJLJ
Sources: Smith’s Report, no. 187, December 2011, pp. 6f.
Published: 2011-12-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 11, 2015, 6:50 p.m.
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