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German Parliament Adopts Legislation Dealing with Jewish Holocaust Victims and German Victims of War

April 29, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Bundestag, sharply divided along party lines, adopted legislation late Friday night which would subject to prosecution any individual who claims that Jews were not systematically killed by the Nazis — or that Germans themselves were not victims of “genocidal” practices prior to and after the end of World War II.

The law, which in effect equates Jewish victims of the Holocaust with Germans uprooted by the war, hotly debated for months in various versions, is apparently the closest the Bundestag could bring itself to punish deniers of the Holocaust. Many leaders of the West German Jewish community have gone on record as preferring no law to the one adopted.

It was passed by the parliamentary majority commanded by Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its coalition partners, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU). Strongly opposed were the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party.

The new law does not define denial of the Holocaust as a criminal offense but rather as an insult to surviving victims of the Nazis. The victims may initiate prosecution. The offender, if convicted, would be subject to punishment of up to two years in prison.

The legislation was passed after a 90-minute debate which centered on the equation of Holocaust victims and victims of “other totalitarian regimes”, meaning obviously the Soviet Union. In the course of the debate, the Bundestag majority also denounced the annual reunions of SS veterans which have become an embarrassment to the Federal Republic.

About 1,000 former SS officers have scheduled a get-together at the Bavarian town of Nesselwang early next month. President Reagan will be in Germany at the time.

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