Germany’s jailed “Nazi grandma” on Friday lost a challenge before the country’s highest court, which reaffirmed that constitutional free speech guarantees do not cover Holocaust denial, AFP reported.
Ursula Haverbeck, 89, began her latest prison term in May for insisting that Nazi Germany’s mass murder of millions of Jews and others was “only a belief” and that Auschwitz was “not historically proven” to have been a death camp.
German law makes it illegal to deny the genocide committed by Adolf Hitler’s regime, which in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland alone claimed some 1.1 million lives, mostly of European Jews.
Holocaust denial and other forms of incitement to hatred against segments of the population carry up to five years in prison, while the use of Nazi symbols such as swastikas is also banned.
The Constitutional Court ruled that “punishment for denying the National Socialist genocide is fundamentally compatible with Article 5 (1) of the Basic Law,” which guarantees freedom of speech.
“The dissemination of claims that are proven to be untrue and of deliberately false assertions” was not covered by free speech, the court ruled, adding that Holocaust denial “breaches the limits of peaceful public debate and represents a disruption of the public peace”.
Haverbeck was sentenced in November of 2017 to 14 months in prison. She was sentenced by a district appeals court in Detmold after appealing her 2016 conviction for writing to the Detmold mayor during the trial of an Auschwitz guard claiming the death camp was only a labor camp.
In closing arguments at that trial, she again denied the Holocaust, prompting another conviction.
Several courts have sentenced Haverbeck to prison sentences in the past, including a Berlin district court in October, but Haverbeck had previously remained free pending appeals.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)