Austrian law on Holocaust denial

David Irving (Via Jewish News)
David Irving (Via Jewish News)

Austria: a democratic country where freedom of expression is protected under European Law. Yet Holocaust denial is a crime: “whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media.”

The Verbotsgesetz 1947 is at the heart of the legal framework for current 1992 legislation as quoted above. Is this law executed?

Previously I referred to David Irving and his ilk engaging with students in the UK.

He performed two speeches in Austria in 1989 denying the Holocaust as a historic fact. A warrant to arrest him was issued shortly after the speech and he was charged by state prosecutors, with speech crime. Finally, in 2006, an eight-member jury court in Vienna convicted 68-year-old Irving. He was sentenced to 3 years but spent 13 months in the prison and was released on probation. He is banned forever to enter Austria.

Before this charge, Irving was fined in Germany which has similar legislation in this matter. Irving’s Counsel could only advise him to plea guilty.

Antisemites do not regret their crimes and shortly after his trial Irving was advocating, in Austrian prison, that Jewish genocide is a myth because so many survived.

Austria’s government, when necessary, will not hesitate to make a request for extradition like the one of Gerd Honsik, who fled Austria and was extradited from Spain. Honsik published a book titled “Acquittal for Hitler?” in which he defended Hitler’s actions.

The Austrian Court did not take any notice of Honsik’s application with respect to his age and health, so aged 67 he was found guilty and imprisoned. In fact, this application resulted in a longer conviction.

The trial of Irving had an effect, at least in theory on the Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs who called for adaptation of Austria’s ‘’Prohibition Statue’’ to international law and human rights standards explaining that this is not contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950!

We must prevent history being revised with glorification of atrocities and inflammatory hatred against others.

Education is the foundation of any society and should not be compromised by a fake cry over “freedom of expression”. A fact is a fact! Censorship is regrettable but it may be necessary as revisionist history is dangerous.  People like Irving and Honsik have issues with the Jews. Their views do not contribute to intellectual debate.

Sixteen European democracies have adopted similar laws. If countries where the Holocaust occurred censors lies in the name of preservation of truth, then no country should undermine this position.

Holocaust denial is not solely a far-right dogma. Revisionist ideas exist among the British Labour Party with groups such as Labour Against The Witch-hunt. An Antisemitic bridge has been created between differing far-left/far-right “socialist” followers.

Where is the British left or Progressive representation to refute lies? Why is there an increasing fashion to erase historical facts acknowledged in an internationally accredited environment?

Recent amendments in law in Poland offer revisionist accounts despite being mass graveyards for war crimes against Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals. Where is the international community with respect to preservation of true history?

The bottom line is that the newest statistics about Holocaust history are slightly better in Austria amongst adults than in the UK. The Austrian Jewish Claims Conference stated: “We are seeing disturbing trends pointing to the lack of Holocaust knowledge”. It is suggested that if we remain passive, we will allow for the fabrications to be victorious disrespecting victims of the Holocaust.




About the Author
Maddie is a Sociologist with a law degree, and a legal translation professional speaking many languages with an interest in international law and politics.
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