Denying Holocaust Is Not a Human Right, EU Court Determines in Ruling Against German Neo-Nazi
A German neo-Nazi who argued before the EU’s leading human rights court that a ban on Holocaust denial was a violation of his human rights was sent packing by the unanimous decision of seven judges on Thursday.
Udo Pastörs — the former leader of the far-right National Democratic Party (NDP) — was told that denial of the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews was not a basic human right.
The judges, who serve in the Chamber of the European Court of Human Courts (ECHR), overruled an attempt by Pastörs to appeal a conviction for Holocaust denial handed down by a court in Germany in 2012.
Pastörs received an eight-month suspended sentence and a fine of 6,000 euros after he denied and demeaned the “so-called Holocaust” in a speech to the regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where he represented the NDP at the time.
In 2014, the neo-Nazi leader brought his case to the ECHR — based in the French city of Strasbourg — in the hope of overturning his earlier conviction on freedom of expression grounds.
But the ECHR ruled that Pastörs had “intentionally stated untruths” about the Holocaust in order to “defame Jews and the persecution that they had suffered.”
Concurring with the original court decision in Germany, the judges condemned the speech delivered by Pastörs during his time as a regional parliamentary deputy as “unqualified Holocaust denial showing disdain to the victims and running counter to established historical facts.”
Pastörs promotion of Holocaust denial “could not attract the protection for freedom of speech” offered by the European Convention on Human Rights as his statements were “counter to the values of the Convention itself,” the judges’ ruling said.
Neo-Nazi Pastörs, who was born shortly after World War II in 1952, has an established record of attacks on Jews. In one speech in Feb. 2009, he denounced the Federal Republic of Germany as a “Jew republic,” and referred to the American economist Alan Greenspan — who was then the chairman of the US Federal Reserve — as a “hooknose.”
Founded in 1964 by supporters of the former Hitler regime, the NPD has long been a rallying point for new generations of German Nazis, while at the same time failing dismally in local and national elections and internally-riven by faction fights. The party’s first significant electoral victory — winning a seat in the European Parliament in 2014 — was secured shortly after Pastörs was ousted as leader.
The NPD lost its sole seat in the European Parliament elections in May of this year.