Book Burning in Germany: They do it again!

By Ronald Reeves

We all know the ugly picture: Students in Nazi uniforms and SS men crowded together on a Berlin market places in the early thirties burning unwanted literature. This is perhaps the most well-known picture of mankind history about censorship in a totalitarian country.

But read this:[1]

"It is ordered [...]

1. The seizure Republic-wide of the printed work with the title Dissecting the Holocaust. The Growing Critique of 'Truth' and 'Memory'[2] ISBN 3-87847-141-6, ISSN 0564-4186, edited by Ernst Gauss and published in 1994 by Grabert-Verlag in Tübingen[3] and distributed from there, insofar as copies of the work are found in possession of persons employed in the preparation or distribution of the work or are publicly displayed or, having been mailed, are not yet in the hands of the recipient."

This court order was issued by the German County Court of Tübingen in early 1995, not in 1935! How come? Well, the book in question challenges, as the title suggest, the official view on the Holocaust. And even though two leading German main stream historians testified that this book meets academic standards and should be protected by Germany's constitution,[4] the book was doomed. The German Penal Code says about this:[5]

"§130 incitement of the masses

(1) Who, in a way suitable to disturb public peace,

  1. stirs up to hatred against parts of the population, or calls for acts of violence or despotism against them or
  2. attacks the human dignity of others by insulting parts of the population, exposing them to contempt, or slandering them,

will be punished with a prison term from three months to five years.

(2) With a prison term of up to three years or with a fine will be punished who

1. a) disseminates,

b) exhibits, advertises, performs publicly or otherwise makes publicly accessible,

c) offers, leaves to, or makes otherwise accessible to a person younger than eighteen years, or

d) produces, orders, delivers, holds in stock, offers, announces, advertises, imports or exports, in order to use them or parts gained thereof according to the letters a to c or to enable others to such end,

writings (§11 para. 3) which incite to hatred against parts of the population or against national, racial, religious or groups defined by their ethnic identity, calls for acts of violence or despotism against them or attacks the human dignity of others by insulting parts of the population, exposing them to contempt, or slandering them,

2. In the same way will be punished who disseminates a presentation of the content as described in number 1 by broadcasting.

(3) With a prison term of up to five years or with a fine will be punished who publicly or during a gathering approves, denies or trivializes, in a way suitable to disturb public peace, an act of §220a papa. 1[6] committed under National-Sozialism.

(4) Paragraph 2 also applies to writings (§ 11 para. 3) with contents as mentioned in paragraph 3."

(Lawyers' language...)

Since the book in question "denies" certain aspects of what is generally referred to as "the Holocaust", "an act of [genocide] committed under National-Sozialism", the public prosecution of Tübingen subsequently requested that everybody is to be prosecuted involved in disseminating, or exhibiting, advertising..., or in offering, leaving to, or ...to a person younger than eighteen years, or in producing, ordering, delivering...

Now, what does that mean?

That means that in the early hours of March 27, 1995, the police stormed the premises of Grabert publishing house in Tübingen as well as the home of the editor of this book. Apart from roughly 1,500 copies of the book itself, they confiscated everything that was somehow related to the production and dissemination of it: correspondence of the editor, publisher, and authors with each other and with customers, printers, wholesalers, warehouses and so forth. And most important: Grabert's computer list of customers. With this material in hand, the police rushed to the warehouse where the books were stored and confiscated all copies it could get hold of. They rushed to four wholesalers, searched their premises and confiscated every copy of the book they could find. They rushed to the printing company to confiscate data carriers, films, and plates. They rushed to every customer on Grabert's list who bought more than one copy of the book, which clearly indicated that there was an intention to disseminate the book further. As a result, hundreds of house searches were conducted all over Germany.

The publisher, several of the authors involved in that book, the wholesalers as well as an unknown amount of multi-copy purchaser where subsequently tried and sentenced. For the editor, who fled the country in early 1996, an arrest warrant was issued. Several foreign authors are threatened to be arrested as soon as they enter German territory. The printing and warehouse companies claimed they didn't know the content of the book, and got away with it.

And what happened to the books? The German media describe it that way:

»65 years ago book burning still happened publicly, today it is performed on the quiet in a waste incineration plant.«[7]

»The remaining copies of the book are occasionally going to be destroyed in a waste incineration plant.«[8]

In fact, it is being done under the supervision of Germany's State Protection Police which makes sure that not a single copy is snatched by an employee of the incineration plant.

An isolated case? No, absolutely not. It is common practice in Germany for literature unwanted by those in power.[9] Can somebody help me, because I think I can not remember: Why did the Allies wage war against Germany?


Notes

[1]Justice Burkhardt Stein of the County Court Tübingen, March 3, 1995, ref. no. 4 Gs 173/95.
[2]The title of the original German Edition is Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte: Ein Handbuch über strittige Fragen des 20. Jahrhunderts, available from Castle Hill Publishers, PO Box 118, Hastings TN34 3ZQ (online at http://vho.org/D/gzz); the English edition is available from Theses & Dissertations Press, PO Box 64, AL 35472 (online at http://vho.org/GB/Books/dth)
[3]A small romantic, medieval university town in South-West Germany,
[4]The historians Prof. Ernst Nolte from Berlin University and Dr. Joachim Hoffmann from Germany's renowned Research Institute for Military History wrote expertises in defence of the book, cf. the latter's report in the English edition of Dissecting, pp. 561-564 (online: http://www.vho.org/GB/Books/dth/fndHoffmann.html).
[5]New version, valid since Dec. 1, 1994, cf. http://www.lawww.de/Library/stgb/130.htm.
[6]This paragraph defines genocide.
[7]Zur Zeit (Vienna), No. 9, Feb. 27, 1998.
[8]Abendzeitung (Munich), March 7/8, 1998, about the confiscation of the book Josef Eibicht (Hg.), Hellmut Diwald, Grabert, Tübingen 1995, cf. the ruling of County Court Tübingen, Ref.. 4 Gs 1085/97.
[9]Cf. the article by Anton Mägerle, "Censorship in Germany? Never! Unless...", in Dissecting, op. cit., pp. 565-575 (online: http://www.vho.org/GB/Books/dth/fndMaegerle.html).