Reflections on the Upcoming Irving, Zundel and Rudolf Trials
By Paul Grubach
In recent times three major figures of the Holocaust revisionist movement, Ernst Zundel, Germar Rudolf, and David Irving, were arrested and are going to be put on trial for “denying the Holocaust”—Zundel and Rudolf in Germany, and Irving in Austria. Germany and Austria both have harsh laws that proscribe Holocaust revisionist viewpoints.
In the early part of 2005, the bitter critic of the revisionist movement, Jewish professor Deborah Lipstadt, published her widely hailed book, History on Trial: My Day in Court With David Irving.1 It is her version of the famous Irving/Lipstadt libel trial that took place in London in 2000. Sections of the book touch upon the justification for the laws that ban Holocaust revisionism in Germany.
One of those that testified on behalf of Lipstadt’s defense team at the London trial was the German intellectual, Hajo Funke, described in History on Trial as “one of Germany's leading experts on the sociological and political roots of Germany's hate scene.” In a conversation with Lipstadt, Funke “railed against foreigners, such as Irving, who come to Germany to forge common ground with the haters.” Funke insisted that men like David Irving, and the Holocaust revisionist ideas that he purveys, are a threat to “democracy” in Germany: “They wreak havoc with German democracy. We have to deal with their aftermath. Germany serves as their political playground.”2
Since Funke’s line of reasoning has important consequences for the concept of freedom of speech in Germany and Austria, let us analyze it in great detail. After all, his views are simply a mirror image of the current German and Austrian governments' official policy, and they offer an ideological “justification” as to why Holocaust revisionists should be censored and persecuted.
According to Funke, Irving’s public espousal of Holocaust revisionist viewpoints in Germany coincided with violent extremist attacks upon foreigners and guest workers. Lipstadt then makes this statement: “This extremism, which was rooted in a loose alliance between national conservatives and radical extremists, was hostile to multiracial societies and depicted ethnic minorities as criminals and parasites. Holocaust denial was useful to this alliance because it rehabilitated the Third Reich's reputation, rendered Nazism a viable political alternative, and inculcated anger toward Jews. Extremists believed that if the Holocaust, which was being used to cast an indelible stain on Nazism, could be exposed as a sham, Nazism could be resurrected.”3
In other words, the open promulgation of Holocaust revisionist viewpoints in Germany would cause the masses to view National Socialism as a better form of government than that of democracy. This in turn would lead to the violent end of the current German “democratic” system, and the development of another totalitarian National Socialist form of government. Once again, in Funke’s own words: “People like David Irving do not throw firebombs. They throw the words that can cause others to throw firebombs.”4
First of all, the current government of Germany is not truly democratic. A true democracy is tolerant of minority opinion. In Germany today, anyone who publicly disagrees with the state sponsored view of the Holocaust is persecuted and prosecuted. This is the behavior of a totalitarian government, not that of a democracy. It is this open contradiction—on the one hand, the claim that the government is democratic, and on the other hand, the ruthless persecution of anyone who offers a dissenting view on the Holocaust—that causes suspicion and hostility among the German masses for the so-called “German democracy.”
If the current German government wants to show the German people that it is a superior form of government to that of totalitarian National Socialism, then they would be tolerant of Holocaust revisionists and sponsor a national, democratic debate in which Holocaust revisionists are pitted against believers in the traditional view of the Holocaust. They would then live up to the true meaning of democracy—granting freedom of speech to minority opinions.