Irving case prompts Austria law debateBreaking News
The law was enacted after World War II, and was meant to prevent any further Nazi activities.
Austria had been annexed to Nazi Germany in 1938, and was deeply involved in the crimes of the Third Reich.
A few Austrians, such as Lothar Hobelt,
an associate professor of history at the University of Vienna, believe it should never have been set up at all.
"This is a silly law by silly people for silly people," he said.
"In fact, having a law that says you mustn't question a particular historical instance, if anything, creates doubt about it, because if an argument has to be protected by the force of law, it means it's a weak argument."
But many other Austrians believe that not having the law would lay them open to the charge that they were not confronting their country Nazi past.
For many years, Austrians saw themselves as victims not perpetrators. The legacy of this reluctance to admit responsibility still casts a shadow here.
Professor Theo Ohlinger, an expert in constitutional law at Vienna University, says the law is a sensitive issue.
"It is so clear that the Holocaust existed that everybody who denies it is considered a fool. But abolishing this law could signal that Austria may not be really active in fighting against any National Socialist activities, and that is a problem."
Before World War II, 200,000 Jews lived in Vienna. Nowadays, the community is only a few thousand strong.
Vienna's chief Rabbi Chaim Eisenberg says denying the Holocaust is dangerous.
"All this is very ugly, despicable," he says.
"I am not sure if people should go to jail, but there should be some measure to make sure that this does not happen."
In Vienna's cobbled Judenplatz stands the stone memorial to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who died in the Holocaust.
These days, few Austrians dispute the genocide, and historian Tina Walzer says the debate has moved on.
"The discussion is on a completely different level," she says.
"Today we are talking about compensation payments, we are talking about restitution. This is much more concrete than just talking about 'did the Holocaust happen or did it not?'"
The fact that people are daring to debate the Holocaust denial law shows that Austrians are less afraid to confront the past.
But sensitivities still run very high, and as long as that is the case, the law will remain in force.
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Soviet Politburo Discussed CIA Billion Dollar Spy Adolf Tolkachev
- Pentagon withholds Iraq War photos showing detainee abuse
- These Rebels Have Amassed A Library From Syria’s Ruins
- Was 1916 fire at Canadian Parliament set by German saboteur?
- United Nations Calls On U.S. To Pay African Americans Reparations For Slavery
- Juan Cole says America’s inclination to turn to the military started with Manifest Destiny
- History Jobs Drop
- Paul Krugman gives credence to Robert J. Gordon's pessimism about American economic growth
- Harvard President Drew Faust Condemns Free Tuition Proposal from Outsider Overseers Ticket
- Andrew Roberts says Trump is the Mussolini of America with double the vulgarity