Man Convicted for Denying Knowledge of Gas Chambers

ThoughtCrime: 11/22/95
Published: 1995-11-22

"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death."
George Orwell

In a seemingly politically motivated move, the Government of Austria convicted Edwin Neuwirth for claiming to have no knowledge of Nazi gas chambers. Mr. Neuwirth, was a respected industrialist and former Waffen SS soldier. He won notoriety recently when he invited Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky to Austria.

Mr. Neuwirth, who is 68 years of age, was convicted by an eight-member jury, in a seven to one vote, under a law banning statements or actions that deny Nazi atrocities or glorify Nazi activities. Neuwirth was given a one-year suspended sentence.

Neuwirth's troubles began when he invited Zhirinovsky to Austria in December 1993. The visit embarrassed establishment politicians in Austria. Many complained that Zhirinovsky, known for his fiery nationalism, not be allowed to ever return. During Zhirinovsky's visit, Neuwirth commented during an interview that he knew nothing of gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps, where it is alleged that millions of Jews were killed during the Second World War. It is reported that Neuwirth responded to a question about the gas chambers, "I know nothing about that.'' He also went on to add, "And there are studies that were made there which say there were no gas chambers.''

During the trial, Neuwirth pleaded not guilty, saying he was referring in the interview to what he knew at the time. Neuwirth served during World War II with the elite Waffen SS. He served from age 16 to 19 after his ethnic German family was driven out of Moldavia in 1940. According to the Austria Press Agency, Neuwirth said, ``My thought was that I didn't know anything during the war... What I can't see I don't know.''

The verdict in this case places all Austrians who survived the Second World War in jeopardy. The Orwellian enforcement of this law now makes honest recollection of one's wartime experiences a crime in Austria.

Neuwirth has appealed the verdict.


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Author(s): CODOH News
Title: Man Convicted for Denying Knowledge of Gas Chambers, ThoughtCrime: 11/22/95
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Published: 1995-11-22
First posted on CODOH: Nov. 20, 1995, 6 p.m.
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