Horst Mahler loses appeal

11 Aug 2009 by CST

Horst Mahler, the far left terrorist-turned-far right Holocaust Denier, has lost his appeal against a six year prison sentence for Holocaust Denial and anti-Jewish incitement:

A German federal court on Tuesday upheld the Holocaust denial conviction of a founding member of a left-wing terrorist group turned neo-Nazi, saying he must serve his six-year sentence.

The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe threw out Horst Mahler's appeal of the Munich state court ruling made in February.

Mahler, a founder of the Red Army Faction in 1970, was convicted of incitement for posting videos denying the Holocaust on the Internet and distributing CDs promoting anti-Jewish hatred and violence. Denial of the Nazi Holocaust is a crime in Germany.

It was the latest in a string of neo-Nazi-related convictions for Mahler, a lawyer. In addition, a court in Mainz in 2003 found Mahler guilty of condoning a crime for saying the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States were justified and fined him several thousand euros (dollars).

He was also convicted in the mid-1970s for Red Army Faction-related activities — including several bank robberies and for helping notorious terrorist Andreas Baader, another founding member of the group, to escape from jail.

He was sentenced to 14 years in prison but was released in 1980 after he made several public statements condemning terrorism and Red Army Faction methods.

Mahler was a member of the far-right National Democratic Party from 2000 to 2003, and acted as its attorney.

 This is not the place to rehearse all the arguments for and against the criminalisation of Holocaust Denial, other than to say that Germany has particular reason to do so, beyond that which might apply in the UK; and that, as this ruling rightly observes, Holocaust Denial is a form of incitement against Jews, and not just another offensive, and wrong, opinion.

More interesting is the political journey of Mahler himself, from violent left wing revolutionary to far right advocate. While far left and far right consider themselves to be opposites, many have argued that their similarities outweigh their differences. Mahler himself has argued that he has been entirely consistent: "In the old days [1960s] our principal enemy was American imperialism. And today it still is: American policy is to balkanize Europe in order to render it non-competitive." Perhaps the most perceptive analysis was provided by Professor George Michael in a paper on Mahler, published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, but reproduced on far right bulletin boards:

Mahler’s present Weltanschauung contains several themes that resonate with a seemingly disparate collection of dissidents who arrive at a critique of globalization, capitalism, the United States, and Zionism, albeit for different reasons. For example, both the extreme right and militant Islam charge that a Jewish conspiracy is undermining their societies. A new synthesis has been created centered on the narrative of a U.S.-Israeli alliance. The Israeli-Jewish hand is seen as pulling the strings of the American leviathan. Just as bin Laden has conflated the United States and Israel under the rubric of the “Zionist-Crusader” alliance, so has the international extreme right reified the notion of the United States government hopelessly under the control of a Jewish cabal in the acronym “ZOG” (Zionist Occupation Government). Mahler’s synthesis of anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism makes for a radical political force, the viability of which is less than certain. Nevertheless, it demonstrates an interesting fusion of seemingly contradictory positions that resonate in some dissident quarters in an era of globalization.

Subscribe to Blog Feed

Blog Archive

Future Updates

“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights