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Germany: 95-year-old Holocaust denier back in court

June 7, 2024

The notorious German Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck has been repeatedly convicted of inciting hatred. Now, a new trial against the 95-year-old woman has begun in the port city of Hamburg.

Ursula Haverbeck speaks with her lawyer Wolfram Nahrath at the beginning of her appeal proceedings in the regional court in Hamburg
The 95-year-old Ursula Haverbeck has been repeatedly convicted of inciting hatred over the past 20 yearsImage: Markus Scholz/dpa/picture alliance

Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck went on trial again on Friday in the German city of Hamburg for incitement to hatred.

Haverbeck has repeatedly and publicly denied the genocide of European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

This has made her a popular figure in the far-right scene.

On November 12, 2015, she was sentenced to 10 months in prison without parole by the Hamburg District Court.

She then filed an appeal. Almost nine years later, the case is once again before the courts.

What is the case about?

The current case concerns statements made by Haverbeck in April 2015 on the sidelines of a trial against the later convicted SS member Oskar Gröning at the Lüneburg District Court and in a television interview.

According to prosecutors, she told journalists that Auschwitz was not an extermination camp but a labor camp. In a television interview with the NDR "Panorama" program, she also denied that mass extermination had taken place there.

The 95-year-old, who lives in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has convicted mutliple times of incitement over 20 years, including serving prison sentences without parole.

In 2022, a Berlin court sentenced her to one year in prison without probation for incitement to hatred. The verdict is final, but the prison sentence has not yet begun.

What did Haverbeck say?

"I never denied the Holocaust," the 95-year-old said, claiming that she had only asked questions.

Her statements in TV reports were not questions, but statements of fact, the judge stressed.

The judge asked where the defendant stood today with regard to her previous statements. Haverbeck then repeated one of the statements.

Because of her age, Haverbeck was accompanied by a representative of the forensic medical service.

The long trip was far too strenuous for her, said Haverbeck, who repeatedly complained of the "infirmities of old age."

"I think you're really fit," the judge said. The trial is scheduled to continue on June 12 and June 26.

Holocaust remembrance vital as antisemitism rises in Europe


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Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany

Denying or trivializing the Holocaust is a crime in Germany if it is done at a meeting or in public in a way that is likely to disturb the public peace.

This is explicitly regulated as a special case of incitement to hatred in Section 130 of the German Criminal Code. The penalty is a fine or up to five years in prison.

Historians estimate that at least 1.1 million people were murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp alone.

dh/nm (AFP, dpa)