A Free Hand for Revisionism?

Revisionists, who have taken on themselves the task of overturning the handed-down historical account of the annihilation of the Jews by the 3rd Reich, defend their work as being conformable to scientific standards. If this is so, they are entitled to the protection of the German Fundamental Law which in Article 5, Section 3 protects scientific freedom of research.

From a certain quarter it is always objected that works that end in completely or partly denying or refuting the intentional, industrially-organized annihilation of European Jews by the Nazis - the Holocaust - are fundamentally not scientific because anyone who operated by accepted scientific method must automatically come to the conclusion that the so-far accepted description of the Holocaust is the historical truth.

Others object that, even if the Revisionists works meet the formal criteria of scientific method, the protection of Fundamental Law does not apply here. This is based on the clearly established fact that the Holocaust happened and that any assertion to the contrary represents an assault on the human dignity of Holocaust victims, their families and descendants and of all Jews in general. Thereby the basic rights of third-parties are massively injured. Inasmuch as human dignity must be valued more highly than freedom of research, science must be forbidden to take any such position. The mere proposition that the Holocaust - the purposeful, planned destruction of the Jews in the 3rd Reich - did not happen involves the implicit accusation that the Holocaust story was willfully and decietfully contrived and was possibly misused for material and political advantage. This, however, is an attack on the dignity of anyone who might be implicated thereby, which must not be tolerated.

In what follows I would like to examine this thesis.

Freedom to Theorize and Criticise: Foundations of Science

Note first that the basis of the objections is that freedom of science should be thought a lesser good than human dignity. This idea is very doubtful. Science is not merely a plaything of unworldly researchers. On the contrary, it is not only the highest manifestation of our capacity to perceive and understand, but in the word's most general sense it is the basis of every human capacity to perceive and understand that exceeds that of animals. It is the basis of every human mode of living and doing that is distinguishable from the modes of living and doing of the animals. One could say that science, in the words most comprehensive sense, first made man human and gave him that dignity that lifts him above the animals. The freedom of science is thus inextricably involved with human dignity. Scientific understanding has always served human reasoning both personally and politically - that is why nature provided us with the drive to understand. The presumption of the truth of scientific knowledge is necessary in order to reason correctly about reality.

That the truth be the sole standard for science means that any other influence on the process of discovery of the truth must be excluded, including those of an economic or political nature. It must also be made certain that all scientific discoveries can be published and distributed without hindrance, because only the unhindered process of scientific dispute in public fora can assure that the most convincing theories - those most descriptive of reality - will prevail. In our case it means that there can be no ground to suppress a scientific theory in any way.

I assert with Prof. Dr. Hans Mohr that:

"'Freedom of research' also implies that the purpose of research may be anything whatever. An 'Index of Forbidden Knowledge' or a 'Catalog of Taboo Research Aims' are unreconcilable with self-understanding and the worth of science, because we must unfailingly and in all circumstances maintain that understanding is better than ignorance." [2]

It is equally unreconcilable with self-understanding and the worth of science when the protectors of the Zeitgeist may require this or that conclusion or forbid some other. That science is free always and before all else presupposes that it is free to take any approach and reach any conclusion. No science that is worthy of the name can exclude any conclusion beforehand.

Prof. Walter Nagl[3] maintains that every scientific discipline possesses a certain conservative inertia with respect to its paradigms that can often be supported by campaigns of Political Correctness. Usually it takes a number of researchers attacking the same point in order for newer theories to prevail over older, no longer adequate theories. Although some science has held good for thousands of years it is also true that no scientific paradigm, whether in the natural or in the social sciences, can make a claim to eternal validity. Rather it is the duty of scientists and also lay people not simply to accept the obvious, supposedly finally-proven facts, even when they are there in the textbooks, but always to look critically on them.[4]

This also applies to researches into the Holocaust-complex. I agree with historian Prof. Dr. Peter Steinbach that our Fundamental Law protects the freedom of scientific research without "if" or "but" and seeks unrestricted freedom to pursue any question and make any finding:

"That applies not only to, but particularly to, historical science, in which it is not a question of pointing out a red thread and making it obligatory, but rather of proposing ideas that can be discussed. That must be divisive and controversial in a pluralistic society." [5]

Especially in historiography and in the publication of the findings thereof there is now the phenomenon that Eckhard Fuhr, speaking of the treatment of irksome scientists, has characterised as systematic falsification. [6] It is not the scientifically evaluable truth of a scientist's assertion that is the criterium for the media and the politicians, but rather the question of its political usefulness.

Under pressure to conform to the Zeitgeist and in fear of the inquisition conducted by the media and the political class, many a scientist feels forced to adjust his research outcomes to the political standard. This withholding of the full truth or even the promotion of a half- or even a complete lie due to public pressure is the most corruptive thing that can happen to science. Not only is the respect for science destroyed thereby, but also immeasurable damage is inflicted on our people and on all mankind.

Prof. Dr. Christian Meier has stated that that truth which has been arrived at by the rules of the scientific method can never be dangerous. [7] In the writing of history especially, it is half-truths and lies that are dangerous for the amity of peoples.

No matter which theories Revisionists start out from and no matter which results they may arrive at, it must be that their work may be done freely and that it may not be restricted in any way, as long as they satisfy the norms of scientific method. To penalize a certain result of scientific work would be to kill the freedom to do science and with it science itself. With the death of science there would die also an essential component of human dignity.

The restriction of scientific research therefore must never apply to the initial theories or the results arrived at. Scientific research should only be restricted with respect to methods. Therefore, for example, procedures which endanger the mental or physical health of living beings are not covered by the Fundamental Law.

Since in science there are no final or self-evident truths, then also there can be no such truths in respect to scientific investigation of the events of the 3rd Reich. Here also it is a fundamental duty of science to criticize old results and revise them when necessary. Revisionism is an essential component of every science.

Toward Freedom of Expression

To protect the freedom to express an opinion that corresponds with that of the ruling class is not difficult in any state. The most horrible dictatorships fulfill that criteria. A state that honors human rights distinguishes itself in that it allows those the freedom of expression whose ideas are not welcome to the ruling class. The right to freedom of expression is the citizens defense against state measures:

"In its historical development down to the present the function of fundamental rights consists in providing the citizen defensive rights against the use of state power (BVerfGE 1, 104, Decision of Federal Constitutional Court). Standing judicial opinion is that this is its primary and central effect even today (BVerfGE 50, 337)." [8]

Taken on its own merits, an opinion that contradicts the current historical description of the Holocaust endangers neither the formal foundations of our state, such as the fundamental rights, popular sovereignty, the division of power or the independence of justice, nor the formal legitimacy of those who hold power. However, there is hardly any other area in which our state proceeds more repressively against undesired opinions as with respect to the Holocaust, because:

"What is at stake is the moral foundation of our Republic." [9]

The right to free expression can only be restricted in our country when it infringes others' fundamental rights. When someone says the Holocaust did not happen the way we have always heard it did, or says it did not happen at all, his right to free expression will be defacto denied. The reason given for this will be that such assertions harm the dignity of those Jews once persecuted and murdered, their descendants today and the entire race of Jews.

One must consider this principle as an extended protection of the direct victim of a crime, in order to protect him from slander thereafter. For example, everyone would accept that it cannot be allowed for people to slander a woman who was raped, saying she invented the story of the rape only to get retribution from or take revenge on the tried and convicted rapist for some other reason. The same protection must be allowed to every Jewish fellow citizen whose former torturer was rightfully convicted. [10] Nevertheless, it is not clear to me why all the relatives of the victim or even all the members of the same religious group should enjoy the same protection as the victim himself.

In every case, however, he who maintains that the supposed crime did not take place must be given the opportunity to produce the proof. Anything else would be contrary to the order of a just state. To determine whether the proof is correct, there must be scientific examination of the evidence.

A scientific work that comes to the conclusion that there never was a Holocaust would not invariably diminish anyone's dignity. No such conclusion should be forbidden. In a just legal order, such a work must be permitted to be used as evidence in order that an accused might provide evidence in defense of his opinion.

Battlezone "Common Knowledge Fact"

Section 244 of our criminal procedure permits the court to refuse evidence on the grounds of the common knowledge of facts - as opposed to asserting the validity of the evidence. This provision allows our courts to notice as fact and not have to revisit things that have been proven in court many times before and which are commonly accepted as true. The provision seeks to restrict delaying tactics in judicial procedure and in principle, there is nothing objectionable about it. To return to our previous example, a woman who has already had to prove and has proven several times that she actually was raped should not be required to prove it anew each time someone comes forward who disputes the event. Of course, this principle of common knowledge fact does not entirely exclude that there are circumstances under which the evidence should be reexamined. It is a judicial rule that common knowledge of facts does not absolutely cut off any recourse, and that there are times when the principle should be suspended.

For one, the principle fails when a dispute about the commonly accepted fact occurs in public. For another, every court is duty-bound to suspend the principle when it receives evidence that is superior in evidentiary value to evidence formerly submitted.

In actual practice, it is media inquisitions organized by the mostly left-leaning governing elites which make it impossible that there be a public dispute. This would not be so bad if one at least were permitted to present in court proof that the evidence that he brought was superior in evidentiary value to what had been presented to German courts before. Unfortunately, in recent years we have had to suffer that every court in Germany would refuse any motion to examine merely the fact, whether new evidence was superior to old, on the grounds of the principle of common knowledge of fact.

The evidentiary value of evidence is something that can certainly never be common knowledge. However, the Federal Supreme Court has approved the practice that motions to examine evidentiary value may be denied on the basis of the common knowledge of the Holocaust, and even said that it did so because it had always been done! [11] If this ruling becomes settled, it will be clear that the judicial system of the Federal Republic of Germany has elevated the principle of the common knowledge fact of the Holocaust to an unchangeable dogma.

Human Rights In Our Country

The most radical position is that that denies freedom to Revisionism outright, on the grounds that it harms the dignity of Jews. I have some questions to propose about this:

Whose human dignity is more denied, that of the victim whose abuse is disputed, or that of the convicted criminal who may have been erroneously convicted?

Whose human dignity is more harmed, that of the victim of whom people say his suffering was a lie, or that of the scientist who people say he has constructed a pseudoscientific theory?

German courts protect the dignity of every Jew accused of lying in connection with the Holocaust from any conceivable attack. In the sense of the extended protection for victims one can accept that. When our courts use the absolutized principle of the common knowledge fact to refuse to hear any mitigating evidence they ignore or prohibit everything, for example, that could protect the dignity of the scientist who is accused of constructing a pseudoscientific theory.

Does not the scientist have the same right to the protection of his dignity as any of our Jewish citizens? Is he not entitled to have his arguments heard and considered in court?

German courts protect at law the dignity of the actual or supposed victims of the Holocaust from any conceivable attack. When they use the absolutized principle of the common knowledge fact to refuse to hear any mitigating evidence they ignore or prohibit everything that could restore the dignity of the convicted SS-man.

Does the convicted SS-man have dignity that needs to be protected? Possibly many of our contemporaries will have posed this question to themselves, and the fact that probably many would spontaneously answer this question, No, shows that the principle of equal treatment before the law has long disappeared from the understanding of many citizens. But it must be, that the dignity of the SS-man and the dignity of the Jew are equally deserving of protection before the law.

German courts correctly protect the dignity of the actual or supposed victims of the Holocaust from any conceivable attack. At the same time they ignore or prohibit anything that could restore the dignity of those of whom it is said, they were members of a criminal organization. The ignore anything that will restore the dignity of the ordinary Wehrmacht soldier, of whom it is said by his service he enabled and prolonged the murders.

German courts protect the dignity of the members of the entire Jewish race from any conceivable attack. They ignore or prohibit anything that could restore the dignity of the entire German people, who are marked as criminals.

The German state and its component German judicial system accept every injury to the dignity of the German people and each German person, or injure it themselves, and forbid anything that might defend this dignity. Does not this state and this judicial system commit a massive breach of Article 1, Section 1 of the Fundamental Law, in which human dignity is guaranteed as inviolable and the state is enjoined to use every power it possesses to defend the dignity of man?

Does not this state and its component judicial system harm the equal-treatment principle laid down in Article 3, Sections 1, 3 of the German Constitution by defending at law the dignity of every Jewish citizen, but neglecting or even forbidding the defense of the dignity of Germans generally, and of SS-members, Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht soldiers in particular?

Does not this state and its component judicial system deny to all who hold a natural-scientific world-view the freedom to profess that world-view, a freedom specified in Article 4, Section 1 of our Fundamental Law? We are forced to believe in certain eye-witness testimony that does not stand the test of a critical natural-scientific observation. [12]

Does not this state and its component judicial system refuse to allow someone to communicate his opinion of things from the standpoint of his natural-scientific world-view when they touch on the Holocaust, in violation of Article 5, Section 1 of the Fundamental Law?

Finally, does not this state and its component judicial system deny to every researcher, scientist and teacher his right to conduct an unprescribed, unrestricted search for the truth and to publish his scientific evaluation, in violation of Article 5, Section 3 of the Fundamental Law?

In that it refuses the presentation of possible mitigating evidence, in violation of Articles 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Fundamental Law, it would appear that this state and its component judicial system are inflicting an ongoing injury to the majority of its people. If we are to keep it from being said that this state is grossly inimical to human rights, it would seem to be high time to change this practice.

  1. Written in February 1995; first published in Staatsbriefen 5/95, Verlag Castel del Monte, Postfach 14 06 28, 80456 Munich, pp. 17-20; as a foreword slightly modified published in: Herbert Verbeke (Hg.), Auschwitz: Nackte Fakten, Vrij Historisch Onderzoek, Postbus 46, B-2600 Berchem 1, 1995, pp. 9-17.
  2. "Natur und Moral", Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1987, p. 41.
  3. "Gentechnologie und Grenzen der Biologie", Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1987, p. 126.
  4. Ibid., S. 127.
  5. ARD-Tagesthemen (German TV), 10th June 1994.
  6. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23rd December 1994, p. 1.
  7. In. Berichte und Mitteilungen der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, issue 3/84, p. 231.
  8. K. H. Seifert, D. Hömig (ed.), Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2nd edition, Nomos, Baden-Baden 1985, pp. 28f.
  9. Die Zeit (German weekly), 31st December 1993, p. 51.
  10. In this I differ from the author of the article titled "Menschenwürde und Revisionismus" in Staatsbriefen 2/95, who holds that a defense of reputation is not necessary whether or not an injustice has been suffered.
  11. Bundesgerichtshof (German Federal Supreme  Court), Ref. 1 StR 193/93.
  12. Cf. e.g. E. Gauss, Vorlesungen über Zeitgeschichte, Grabert, Tübingen 1993; Gauss (ed.), Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte, ibid., 1994.

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