Jewish and governmental leaders have criticized the decision of a German court to dismiss a case against two neo-Nazis who used a telephone service to spread Holocaust-denial propaganda.
A court in Hamburg dismissed the case over the weekend against the two neo- Nazis, who used an outgoing telephone message to spread the word that the murder of millions of Jews during World War II was merely “an Auschwitz myth.”
The court ruled that the use of that term did not amount to Holocaust-denial, a punishable offense in Germany.
Ingatz Bubis, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called the decision “destructive.” The term “Auschwitz myth” creates the impression that the wartime horrors perpetrated at Auschwitz are a legend, he said.
The sentence was handed down less than a week after commemorations were held in Poland and elsewhere marking the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops.
Parliamentarian Cornelie Sonntag of the opposition Social Democratic Party said the court’s ruling “was unacceptable and must be corrected.”
Michael Friedman, chairman of the Frankfurt Jewish community, said the decision was an indication that German judges were still unable to cope with “mental arsonists who were using words as weapons.”
Hamburg’s Justice Minister Klaus Hardrath expressed confidence that the decision would come under judicial review.
The judge who handed down the decision declined to comment.
After the ruling, the two neo-Nazis prepared a new telephone message in which they said the Hamburg court had proven that there were still “honest judges with civil courage” in Germany.
The prosecution has announced that it will appeal the court’s decision.