Germany: Suspected Holocaust denier to face criminal charges

Man who reportedly denied the Holocaust during a visit the Sachsenhausen concentration camp accused of hate speech.

Elad Benari ,

Sachsenhausen Concentration camp
Sachsenhausen Concentration camp

A man who reportedly denied the Holocaust during a visit to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial near Berlin will face criminal charges, Deutsche Welle reports, citing local prosecutors.

The unnamed man has been accused of hate speech and disturbing the peace of the dead during a visit to the memorial site in July 2018, according to the report.

The site's staff had reported him and others for playing down the significance of the location and denying Nazi crimes, suggesting manipulation and incompetence.

The suspect is from the state of Baden-Württemberg in the south of Germany and was part of a group of 17 visitors from the constituency of Alice Weidel, co-leader of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The visiting party was instructed to leave the area that was a Nazi concentration camp from 1936 to 1945 after some of them began denying the facts of the genocide carried out by the Nazis, according to Deutsche Welle.

The guide asked the group to leave after some of the participants denied the existence of gas chambers.

The AfD captured nearly 13 percent of the vote and almost 100 seats in parliament in the election in September of 2017.

The party opposes multiculturalism, Islam and the immigration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom it labels a "traitor".

AfD has a history of controversial statements, particularly surrounding the Holocaust. Party member Bjoern Hoecke caused a firestorm in February of 2017 when he suggested that Germany should end its decades-long tradition of acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past.

Party co-leader Alexander Gauland last year described the Nazi period as a mere "speck of bird poo in over 1,000 years of successful German history".

He had previously asserted, however, that Jews should not fear the strong election showing by AfD and indicated that he was ready to meet with German Jewish leaders “at any time.”

Tens of thousands of internees died in Sachsenhausen as a result of hunger, disease, forced labor, medical experiments and mistreatment.

In the fall of 1941, the SS murdered at least 13,000 Soviet prisoners of war, among whom many were Jews. Approximately six months later, in the spring of 1942, an extermination unit was built in the industrial yard, with a crematorium and a neck shot unit, with a gas chamber added in 1943.