Criticism of controversial essay on anti-Semitism ruled unconstitutional

Germany’s high court ruled Tuesday that the Federal Agency for Civic Education’s (BPB) disparaging criticism of a controversial academic text on anti-Semitism during the Nazi era was unconstitutional. After distributing the essay, the agency disavowed its content and had further copies destroyed.

Criticism of controversial essay on anti-Semitism ruled unconstitutional
A woman peruses the BPB's publications in Bonn. Photo: DPA

The political science professor, Konrad L., published an essay in the agency’s journal Deutschland Archiv in 2004 entitled, Deutsche Identität in Verfassung und Geschichte, or “The German Identity in Law and History.”

In it he argued that the majority of German people during the Nazi era were not anti-Semitic and that there had been a “German-Jewish symbiosis beneath the swastika.”

After the journal was released, the BPB sent out a written apology to subscribers stating their intention to pulp all remaining copies. They also apologised to any readers “who may feel vilified by this article.”

Konrad L. took the case to court, calling the BPB’s actions slanderous. The case was unsuccessful in a North Rhine-Westphalia state administrative court, but his appeal to the high court resulted in a favourable ruling.

The court ruled that the professor should be represented, and thus protected, in his place as an author and that destroying his work represented a “stigmatization” of him due to his handling of the “sensitive topic” of anti-Semitism.

Furthermore, administrative courts “cannot make judgements on rights as personally fundamental as the freedom of opinion,” the statement said.

The Cologne administrative court must now reconsider the professors’ claim against the BPB.

DAPD/The Local/rm

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Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.