German Ban Lifted, then Reimposed, on Revisionist Work About German War Guilt

Book by IHR Advisor Walendy Back On Censorship List
Published: 1995-03-01

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A German government ban on a revisionist book about the origins of the Second World War was lifted by the country's highest court, and then reimposed a few months later by a government censorship agency.

In a legal struggle that's been going – on for 18 years, the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled on April 26, 1994, that Germany's constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech applies to a book that disputes the Third Reich's responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War.

At issue is Truth For Germany: The Question of Guilt in the Second World War, a book by veteran revisionist historian, author and publisher Udo Walendy. He addressed the First IHR Conference in 1979, and has been a member of this Journal's Editorial Advisory Committee since 1980. In 1988 Walendy testified in the second Zündel "Holocaust trial" in Toronto.

Udo Walendy in his office

Udo Walendy in his office.

The Constitutional Court ordered Walendy's book removed from Germany's censorship list, the "Index of Literature Dangerous to Youth," where it had languished since June 1979. While critical of the work, the Court found nothing in it to warrant a ban under the German constitution. Because Walendy's book deals with questions that are inherently open to interpretation, the Court declared, and does not openly advocate anti-constitutional positions, it must enjoy the protection of the freedom of opinion.

The Constitutional Court found that the censorship agency – the "Federal Examination Office of Literature Dangerous to Youth" or Bundesprüfstelle – as well as the Federal Court that had earlier (in 1987) confirmed the ban, should have recognized that it is not beneficial for youth in a democratic state to suppress opposing viewpoints in a controversy on contemporary history.

At the same time, though, the Constitutional Court declared that the Bundesprüfstelle is free to impose a new ban on Walendy's book. Accordingly, in November 1994, the work was once again placed on the "Index of Literature Dangerous to Youth."

Truth for Germany is an unabashed defense of Hitler's foreign policy toward Czecho-Slovakia and Poland in 1938-39. While the translation prose from the original German is rough, the book contains much valuable information and many insights. Walendy cites abundant documentation from primary and secondary sources, supplemented with numerous good-quality maps. (The 53G-page English-language edition of Truth For Germany is available from the IHR for $18, softcover, and $23, hardcover, plus $2.50 for shipping. [check for current availability and price; ed.])

In addition to books, Walendy publishes the Historische Tatsachen ("Historical Facts") booklet series. More than 60 in this series of informative, illustrated, magazine-format booklets have appeared. (For further information, write: Postfach 1643, 32590 Vlotho, Germany.)

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Mark Weber
Title: German Ban Lifted, then Reimposed, on Revisionist Work About German War Guilt, Book by IHR Advisor Walendy Back On Censorship List
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 2 (March/April 1995), pp. 28f.
Published: 1995-03-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 17, 2012, 6 p.m.
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