German Judge Silences Neo-Nazi Gunman Who Attacked Synagogue on Yom Kippur After He Denies Holocaust
The neo-Nazi on trial in Germany for an attempted massacre in October 2019 of worshipers attending Yom Kippur services in the central city of Halle was silenced in court by the presiding judge for remarks in which he denied the Holocaust.
The accused, 28-year-old Stephan Balliet, claimed that the Holocaust was a myth as he delivered his final testimony to the court. Holocaust denial is a criminal offense in Germany and several other European countries.
Balliet told the court in Magdeburg that the proceedings against him were a “show trial” and denied the Holocaust, drawing shouts of protest from the co-plaintiffs on the benches.
Judge Ursula Mertens promptly reminded him that denying the Holocaust was illegal before cutting him off.
“I explained this to you, you must not repeat it,” Mertens told the defendant, as prosecuting attorney Alexander Hoffman called out, “This is a criminal offense, and he should do time for it again,”
Unrepentant neo-Nazi Balliet had previously denied the Holocaust during the trial, while also spouting racist and misogynist conspiracy theories and confirming that “attacking the synagogue was not a mistake, they are my enemies.”
On Oct. 9, 2019, as the Jewish community marked the holy day of Yom Kippur, Balliet drove to the synagogue on Halle’s Humboldtstrasse just before noon, as more than 50 worshipers inside the sanctuary held religious services. Balliet was equipped with eight firearms, several explosive devices, a helmet and a protective vest for the attack.
Having failed to break through the synagogue’s locked entrance despite exploding a grenade, a frustrated Balliet shot dead a 40-year-old female passerby. After additional violent attempts to force his way inside the building were similarly unsuccessful, Balliet sped away from the synagogue in his car.
He then drove to his next target — a small kebab restaurant where four customers and an employee were present. Balliet shot dead a 20-year-old man at the restaurant, believing him to be a Muslim.
Balliet was apprehended by police about an hour later, after he crashed his vehicle in a panicked attempt to flee the city.
Balliet is facing two counts of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder. A verdict in the trial is expected on Dec. 31.