OUTRIGHT HOLOCAUST NEGATION IN POSTCOMMUNIST EAST CENTRAL EUROPE: THE UNEXPECTED 'GLOBALIZATION'
By Michael Shafir
Holocaust denial in postcommunist East-Central Europe, in most cases, comes in forms and shapes that enable its propagators to claim that they never meant what they said or wrote. Outright negation is rare, but not insignificant. To a large extent, it is part and parcel of what Hungarian sociologist Andras Kovacs calls "imported or re-imported antisemitism" (2002). In general, it is supported and inspired by the aged, ultranationalist exiled communities, many of whose members are linked with exile associations. These people have access to Western negationist literature, and some go as far as to participate themselves in the negationist drive. The Western inspiration is, however, not always acknowledged. Viewed from this perspective, one could possibly speak of "honest" and "dishonest" negationists.
Politicians usually belong to the latter category. A case in point is Stanislav Panis, the former leader of the Slovak National Unity Party and later a deputy representing the Slovak National Party in the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly (Hahn, 1994, p. 71; Cohen, 1999, p. 158; Mestan, 2000, p. 73). In an interview with Norwegian television in 1992, Panis said it would have been "technically impossible" for the Nazis to exterminate 6 million Jews in camps -- a clear echo of French negationist Robert Faurisson's contentions. Panis also claimed that Auschwitz was nothing but an "invention" of the Jews to make possible the flow of compensations to Israel. His political career did not suffer as a result of these statements, and in the late 1990s he even served as a deputy culture minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 1997).
In Bucharest, Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor in March 1994 professed to have "learned that English and American scientists (sic!) are contesting the Holocaust itself, providing documentation and logical arguments proving that the Germans could not gas 6 million Jews, this being technically and physically an impossibility." The Holocaust, he added, was nothing but "a Zionist scheme aimed at squeezing out from Germany about 100 billion Deutschmarks and terrorizing for more than 40 years all those who do not acquiesce to the Jewish yoke" ("Romania mare," 4 March 1994). In November 2000, Tudor's party became the second-strongest formation in the Romanian parliament, and the PRM leader made it to a runoff with Ion Iliescu for the position of head of state.
Not all Holocaust negationist politicians in East-Central Europe, however, go unpunished. In general, the less significant politically their formation, the greater the chance they will eventually face some sort of judicial accounting. The most famous case in point is perhaps that of Poland's Boleslaw Tejkowski, leader of the neo-fascist Polish National Commonwealth-Polish National Party. In 1995, he was given a two-year suspended sentence for insulting "the Polish authorities, the Jewish people, the pope, and the Episcopate." In Tejkowski's eyes not only Poland's entire postcommunist leadership was made up of Jews and "closet Jews," but the pope himself was Jewish. The Holocaust, he claimed, was a Jewish conspiracy that made it possible for the Jews to hide their offspring in monasteries during World War II in order for them to be baptized and take over the Catholic Church from within. This, he said, was how Karol Wojtila became a Catholic priest (Prazmowska, 1995, pp. 209-210; Szayna, 1997, p. 121; Ost, 1999, p. 96). Outlandish as this may sound, it was nonetheless not singular. In Hungary, two ultranationalist publications, "Hunnia Fuzetek" and "Szent Korona," "unmasked" Cardinal Paskai as being allegedly Jewish (Berend, 1993, p. 131); and precisely the same argument was produced in Romania by Radu Theodoru, who "revealed" that Wojtila's name was in fact "Katz" (Voicu, 2000b, pp. 82, 157). In other words, the Jews themselves are the authors of the Holocaust -- an "argument" by no means limited to the outright negationists.
For obvious reasons, Poland is the least prone to outright negationism, Tejkowski's case notwithstanding. Too many of the extermination camps were on Polish soil, and negation would be to question the largely consensual POLISH martyrdom itself. And yet negationist articles began appearing in 1994 and 1995 in "Szczerbiec" (The Sword), the publication of the extreme-right formation that calls itself National Revival of Poland (NOP). That party is led by Adam Gmurczyk and claims to be the reincarnation of the prewar, violently antisemitic youth organization National-Radical Camp, which was outlawed in 1934. The NOP is a member of the neo-Nazi International Third Position, and "Szczerbiec" lists such notorious Holocaust deniers as Derek Holland and Roberto Fiore among its editorial board members. It printed several "classics" among outright Holocaust deniers in the West (Pankowski, 2000, pp. 79-80). The NOP, following the so-called Western "revisionist" tactics, also established a National-Radical Institute which in 1997 published a volume under the title "The Myth of the Holocaust," consisting of translations from the most infamous Western Holocaust deniers. One of the regular contributors to "Szczerbiec," Maciej Przebindowski, in 1997 went as far as to emulate his Western inspirers by claiming that "a group of researchers from the National-Radical Institute" conducted field work at Auschwitz-Birkenau concluding that the extermination in gas chambers was an impossibility (Pankowski, 2000, p. 76).
In the Czech Republic, proceedings were launched by police in 2000 against Vladimir Skoupy, leader of the far-right National Alliance, a majority of whose members are skinheads. At a meeting in October 1999, Skoupy denied the existence of the Holocaust. As everywhere else in East-Central Europe, in the Czech Republic there is no specific (like Fabius-Gayssot) legislation prohibiting Holocaust denial. But again, as almost everywhere else in the area (in late 2002 Slovakia passed an amendment to the Penal Code specifically making Holocaust denial a punishable offense, see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 2001), there are articles in the Penal Code that can be used for the purpose of prosecution, provided authorities are willing to do so (which is not always the case) and provided the courts are willing to interpret those legal provisions as applying to Holocaust denial (which is even rarer). Offenders can be prosecuted on grounds of "incitement to hatred against a community," "defamation of a people or a race," or "propagating a movement aimed at suppressing the rights and freedoms of other citizens." In the Czech Republic, both advocacy of fascism and of communism are grounds for indictment.
Source (full article) here: http://www.rferl.org/eepreport/2002/06/12-120602.html
(I wonder how long will remain this thread unlocked)
PS I'm not posting to provoke, I'm just annoyed by the permanent Denier-Believer hair-splitting around