The Corner

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Free Speech Under Attack in Germany

Any sort of extremism in Germany sets off alarm bells, and Michael Stuerzenberger may well be some sort of extremist. He sounds as if he is making a reasoned argument against the mass immigration that is changing the identity of Germany but there’s no way of knowing what’s really going on in his head. He has been mixed up with the Freedom Party and PEGIDA, both of them small anti-immigration pressure groups that their critics make sure to call racist and Islamophobic.

A Munich court has just sentenced him to six months imprisonment. This is because he put on Facebook a photograph taken in Berlin in about 1942 of Haj Amin Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, greeting a prominent Nazi in uniform complete with swastika arm-band, by the look of him it is Robert Ley. Other Nazis in uniform are in the background. There is nothing very special about it. Often reproduced are far more compromising photographs of the Mufti in the company of Hitler or Himmler. The Mufti hoped to participate in the Holocaust and the Allies hoped to try him as a war criminal. Whatever might have been Stuerzenberger’s motive in publishing that photograph, the judge sentencing him is forbidding free speech and dropping the historical record down the memory hole. “All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary.” George Orwell, where are you? Worst of all, officially sanctioned abuse of the law compels the violence it is trying to defuse.