Freedom of Speech Raises Its Ugly Head

A Surprising, and Heartening Verdict in Saxony-Anhalt
Published: 2016-08-04

A high-profile dissenter in Germany had been convicted under that country’s vigorously enforced laws against “popular incitement” for publicly disputing various allegations within the Holocaust narrative, and the identity and motivations of those who defend that narrative. Hans Püschel, who had been the elected mayor of his village of Krauschwitz, pulled no punches on his now-defunct Web site as well as in statements he arranged to have quoted wherever possible. He often and clearly called the putative numbers of victims as greatly exaggerated, and further expressed the opinion that conditions and care in the concentration camps were far better than is taught in schools today and through all of the decades since Germany lost World War II.

While Püschel thus is technically no Holocaust denier, his assertions clearly seem to violate the specifications in Germany’s postwar Volksverhetzung legislation, often referred to as Section 130 of the federal laws. Nonetheless, after losing his first level of appeal at what in the US might be called district court, Püschel was acquitted by a three-judge panel at the state supreme court of Saxony-Anhalt.

All manner of professional experts, from historians to leaders of Jewish organizations have risen up in fury against the verdict. All manner, that is, except human-rights lawyers, who might give heed to a juridical value not mentioned in the media coverage of the incident: freedom of speech.

If they did give such heed publicly, of course, we know what would happen to them.

So it’s just as well they weren’t consulted, or if they were, that they weren’t quoted. But I join them in cheering the courageous judges of Saxony-Anhalt.

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Author(s): Jett Rucker
Title: Freedom of Speech Raises Its Ugly Head, A Surprising, and Heartening Verdict in Saxony-Anhalt
Published: 2016-08-04
First posted on CODOH: Aug. 4, 2016, 5:04 p.m.
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