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Holocaust denial verdict against UK bishop upheld

The Local · 11 Jul 2011, 14:53

Published: 11 Jul 2011 14:53 GMT+02:00

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Williamson, 71, who was not in court, had appealed his conviction by a court in Regensburg, southern Germany, for denying key facts about the Holocaust in an interview he gave to Swedish television in Regensburg in 2008.

The bishop alleged he was duped by a Swedish reporter into believing the interview would only be broadcast in Sweden.

Lawyers for London-based Williamson did not deny the statements made by the bishop, a member of the breakaway ultra-conservative Catholic fraternity the Saint Pius X Society, but stressed that in Sweden such opinions could be freely voiced.

In Germany it is an offence to deny that the Nazis murdered six million Jews during World War II.

Williamson told Swedish television that "200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps" and disputed the existence of the gas chambers.

Story continues below…

In April 2010, Williamson, who now lives in London, was fined €10,000 by the lower court, reduced from an earlier fine of €12,000 he had refused to pay, for inciting racial hatred.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:43 July 11, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
How short memories are. It was the German courts of law which were largely responsible for the enforcement of the tyranny against the Jewish people!

Many Britons lost their lives fighting those responsible for that extremely cruel oppression.

Amongst the freedoms brought back into Germany in 1945, was the right to express a free opinion. Now it can be seen that once again, that it is a German court of law which is denying such rights.

The misapplication of political power, to bring about such laws, may not currently be so ghastly as it was during the Hitler regime, but it is still certainly very disturbing. Although we may not in any way agree with what Bishop Williamson says, every democrat believing in basic human-rights, would concede, that he has the right to say it.

No German court of law is so consummate, that it has the legitimacy to fine British citizens for saying what they believe to be true. It is becoming rather obvious, not only in the field of military belligerence, but also in judicial matters, that Germany is turning back from all it has learnt about peace and democracy.
15:50 July 11, 2011 by hOU
Seriously, what the hell can you expect from a priest , his entire professional existence is based on fairy stories. What is asserted without evidence can be discounted without evidence ...

... and when there are survivors of the camps still alive today!

Hard to put words to this kind of rank stupidity.
15:58 July 11, 2011 by lunchbreak
Oh, his excellency only meant that his remarks be broadcast in Sweden. That's alright then. Lets buy him some flowers.

This crank needs some good old fashioned reeducation, the close encounters kind, but the real question is why anyone is paying ANY attention to what he says. Its the Press that should really be spanked. Williamson is merely a loon.
16:19 July 11, 2011 by freechoice
yeah! go ahead and punish this guy for his ignorance, by making him cough up some fines! and let those Neo Nazis right wing extremists have their field day.
16:57 July 11, 2011 by MrBowlocks
@Kenneth Ingle

I agree totally with the above post. Throughout modern german society are indicators of political censorship and control. It is impossible to conduct rational discussions with anybody who throws up their hands and cries 'I'm offended' whenever a sensitive subject is broached. As another poster pointed out, irrational beliefs are this priest's stock in trade, but his rights to hold these beliefs is absolute, and no court has the right to censor him, especially a German court with such an obvious political agenda.

True freedom of expression in Germany is a myth, otherwise why would they need 'Beleidigung' laws and be so quick to trot them out!
17:08 July 11, 2011 by Loth
There is something offensive in the idea that you must believe what I say, no matter what. No questions,No right to ask. Just believe. Then feel guilty and send foreign aid to Israel. If even one person is wronged it is a terrible thing in Germany Asia or even America. But not to have the right to question, is to raise doubt.
17:47 July 11, 2011 by michael4096
Time this law was deprecated.

@Kenneth - the law was invoked when the UK, France, the US and Russia had control over such things. So, your comment, being rather absolute, must relate more to those countries than to Germany. Of course, your comments are also rather silly as even British, US and French laws do not allow "citizens [to] say[ing] what they believe to be true". There are lots of rules about libel and 'inciting violence' in all countries.

@MrBowlocks - congratulations on finding an appropriate handle

I assume, as every country has its own version of libel, you feel that the concept of country (nation) is flawed?

@Loth - the right of the individual vs the right of a society? Hard one, that! In general at any rate - here, it is not so schwere. At one time, the threat of neo-nazi insurgency was sufficiently high that taking away one's right to spouting cr*p was self-evident. Now it is far less clear.

@lunchbread - "This crank needs some good old fashioned reeducation, the close encounters kind..."

The solution, as always with lunchbreak, is a dark room and a pair of knuckledusters.
18:46 July 11, 2011 by MJMH
It isn't his views but the reaction that is partly responsible for the rise in anti-European, pro-far right parties in Europe. When politicians and governments expect all their citizens-including priests-to be left leaning and cosmopolitan or else keep opinions silent, than there are problems.
19:09 July 11, 2011 by lunchbreak
The dark room and a pair of knuckledusters are optional michael4096. I gather you think the holocaust is "overstated" then as well? Come, come, show us you are open minded about it...
19:50 July 11, 2011 by MrBowlocks
Yeah! Michael4096! Your views are moronic, your attitude is confrontational and your English crap! You might want to look up deprecated in the dictionary for a start.
19:58 July 11, 2011 by lunchbreak
Maybe if Williamson refuses to pay this verdict as well he can get the fine reduced further. A few more appeals and the court will owe him money.
21:33 July 11, 2011 by nemo999
Lunchbreak is correct, and of course we would owe him interest on the funds that are due to him, after all we must be fair
21:50 July 11, 2011 by Kennneth Ingle
michael4096, although I respect your point of view, In England it is not a crime to openly express an honest opinion, even if the conception does not agree with the assumptions held by the general public. It is therefor not acceptable, when in Germany itself, where Jews were once oppressed and discriminated against by the judicial administration, courts of law try - probably for political reasons - to prevent open discussion.

It would be far better for the credibility of the nation, if judges would try to find out why Bishop Williamson and so many other people, have still doubts about the Holocaust. One cannot convince people, that their way of thinking is wrong, simply by placing a gag on free speech.

By the way, libel occurs when someone makes a statement which may be considered by others to be a fact. An opinion is something personal and is always open to dispute. Similarly, a "doubt" is not a "denial" and so cannot be a crime.
22:01 July 11, 2011 by TRJ
I am pleased with the verdict. The man is a dunce. Every society adopts mores reflective of difficult lessons learned from their history. In America, burning a cross on the property of a black man is not just the crime of arson; just as in Germany stating that only a few thousand jews died during the Holocaust is not just an argument about statistics. Such actions and words are clearly offered to incite passions which have their root in violence and fighting violence. His claim that he believed the taping would only be exposed to Swedes is evidence of his awareness that he was consciously breaking the law. The weasel just thought he could avoid getting caught. If he has a problem with the law, he shouldn't have come to Germany to stir the pot.
22:37 July 11, 2011 by ChrisRea
@Kennneth Ingle,

You say that In England it is not a crime to openly express an honest opinion. However several British laws say something else (and are much stricter than the German ones). For example, in 2007, Samina Malik was convicted of possessing literature deemed illegal (it included poems she had written). She received a nine-month suspended jail sentence.

Anyway, michael4096 agrees with you and thinks that the law became obsolete, essentially superfluous and either has no meaning anymore or serves no purpose and became essentially empty verbiage (is this the right meaning of the word "deprecated", MrBowlocks?). I share this point of view too and I would add that it is also time that today's Germans are not anymore associated with what happened during Hitler's time.
23:39 July 11, 2011 by wxman
We've been through this so many times it bears repeating. Socialist governments all believe in a strong central government that controls the society, for it's own good of course. There were (and are) socialist governments that are based on world expansion and domination, and others that believe in a socialist government that believe in a nationalist approach. That is the only difference between communists and fascists, period. They are cut from the same cloth and simply differ in the approach. Fascists believed that you control the methods of production (industry) and proceed from there. Communists believe in controlling all production from central authority. The facsists include the producers in their plan, and the communists don't. That's the difference. A truly democratic republic doesn't allow government interference/influence into it's process at all. Therefore, all forms of dictatorship/government control is anathema to a true republic. Therefore, all other forms are leftist in nature and contrary to a place where individuals rule their own lives.
02:33 July 12, 2011 by reinertj
While deploring the Bishops attitude, I protest the application of these laws which forbid the celebration of the memory of Werner Voss, WWI German flying ace, Jewish who happened to have swastika painted on his plane for good luck. Sadly this great pilot was killed when flying a DIII with no such symbol. I was stunned when visiting Berlin to find no mention of his contribution in the Jewish Museum.
11:37 July 12, 2011 by freechoice
where is the meinungsfreiheit enshrine in the consittution? a fully capitalists economy encourage greed due to speculation or scams, which leads to problems like Enron, Lemann Brothers..etc..

no human can create a perfect system, each has it's strength and weakness.
13:09 July 12, 2011 by hOU
The point being missed is that it's not an honest opinion: it's a revisionist version of history, and pretty offensive at that.
13:25 July 12, 2011 by lunchbreak
Thats right Proud German, your countrymen can be proud of their part in the holocaust and Bishop Williamson is standing right along with you. It was all a big lie.

In your dreams.
14:12 July 12, 2011 by Krim
The issue of the holocaust is omnipresent on TV, movies and in many cultural events. Cultivating continuously this issue of victim hood is part of an agenda and Bishop Williamson is just an instrument.

Imagine a fight between Tyson and woody Allen and imagine who is asking for help. Because of the holocaust, Tyson needs help of course.
14:40 July 12, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
>>>Krim: I think you need help !

100 000 or 6 millions? why should the exact number make a difference? many people will regard (rightly) that any dispute about numbers amount to revisionism. because it SHOULD NOT MATTER

the indisputable fact (well some still deny it) is that there was a systematic persecution and eventually ethnic cleansing of Jewish people by the Nazis ....

on the other hand I don´t think that fining bigots for speech is a productive idea either ....
18:33 July 12, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
@MrBowlocks - "It is impossible to conduct rational discussions with anybody who throws up their hands and cries 'I'm offended' whenever a sensitive subject is broached."

I hear that. It's like if someone doesn't put in the appropriate amount of PC speech about the injustice of the evil Germans, they're afraid they might have to actually form their own opinion. Everyone already knows about the Holocaust. The article was about a misguided priest who is making a fool of himself. It seems he's not the only one.
21:26 July 12, 2011 by carliecutie
He lied about the number of Jews that died, and the existence of gas chambers. He was given a fine of a certain amount, and he "refused" to pay it. So the Judge reduced the amount of the original fine. He was going to get a slap on the wrist with a spoon, said no way, and instead he gets slapped with a feather.
21:29 July 12, 2011 by german-guardian
@ lunchbreak

People like you are so steriotyping. who cares about 70 years ago. Histroy goes back thousands and thousands of years ago. Why do you focus on just the last 70 years. and Bishop Williamson is a idiotic moron who just wants to get attention for him self. Perhaps he even hates Germans. Germans contribution to the world goes back thousands of years. Listen, Germans are the most kind, loving, creative, helpful and carying people on this world. Did you know that the invention of Christmas tree was a German idea in 1700. That is just one example. People like you are always blaming a whole nation of 70 million people who are loving and carying, and steriotyping them and always make a excuse to relate them back to world war 2. In world war 2, millions of hard working German soldiers lost their lives as well. So many civilians died in General. and you blam all the Germans. Even all the innocent children that saw their father die defending his homeland. All wars are bad. People like you should realize that steriotyping a whole nation is only an excuse for fools who want to bash others, and promote their own personal ideas of hate. In World War 2, 60 million people lost their life. England was the first country to declare war on Germany, the soviet union killed 20 million of its own people for being against the government. China lost about 20-30 million during the war with Japan and based on its own communist government. Again wars are bad, death is bad. We want to build a healthy and beautiful world where everyone are happy and live with joy and prosperity under the help of God. Being a proud German has nothing to do with world war 2. Being a proud German means loving your country, and your community and helping society to build a strong and healthy nation and you can help the world. God bless everybody and love to all.
10:13 July 13, 2011 by Englishted

"England was the first country to declare war on Germany"

Very true and we did in ww1 too.Makes me proud .

Stupid Hitler declared war on the U.S.A. that was the only time he was true to his word.
10:34 July 13, 2011 by Krim

I am not questionning the six millions victims.

When Norman Finkelstein published his book entitled the Holocaust industry. Everyone said that he needs help. No one was able to debate with him the contents and the facts in the book.

The recent fake victims who were sucking money just support his writing. I do not know who really need help.
16:01 July 13, 2011 by lunchbreak
Sure Proud German, who cares about 70 years ago. Its sure that you don't.
13:22 July 16, 2011 by JG_London
Can British people please get over the 'two world wars, and a world cup' mentality?!? It's used repeatedly as short-hand for 'we British are good, you Germans are bad'. Wouldn't the world be wonderful if things were so simple?

In the above discussion, while this cliched phrase hasn't been used, the underlying viewpoint seeps out when British commentators use the term 'we' in relation to Britons' apparent superiority in past political and social conflicts. When I read that 'we did such-and-such...' I always wonder, who are the 'we'?

When 'we' talk of pride in British involvement in 20th century conflicts, do 'we' lament or deny the British establishing the world's first concentration camps earlier in the 20th century during the Boer War? What about when 'we' expelled all Jewish people from England in the 13th century in order to write off debts owing to them because the laws of the time restricted Jewish people to money-lending to make a living.

And do 'we' rejoice or condemn the subjucation of various peoples and nations during the expansion of the British Empire?

My point? There is little light to be shed on the rights and, to my mind, self-evident wrongs of Holocaust denial by resorting to banal 'we have the moral high ground' arguments, particularly when those referring to 'we' had absolutely no input or influence over what 'we' did many years before 'we' were born. So, debate the Bishop's behaviour in context and leave empty moral point-scoring between Britons and Germans out of it!
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