The Daily Telegraph,
From: David Irving, London
To: Letters Editor
The Daily Telegraph
Sunday, April 13, 1997
Sir, -- I was sad to see (Apr. 12) that a Mannheim court has sentenced my friend Günter Deckert, (right) whom you describe as "one of Germany's most notorious neo-Nazis", to a further two years and three months in jail (he is already serving a two-year sentence for interpreting for a visiting American lecturer).
Deckert, 57 and father of two, is a former schoolmaster, city councillor, and chairman of the NPD, one of Germany's lawful and constitutional political parties. Two years ago two German judges praised his character and motives in the highest terms (which led to their enforced retirement). This latest jail-term has been imposed because Mr Deckert chaired a lecture for me in Weinheim in 1990 (yes, Germany really is catching up with her past).
When defence lawyers pointed out that the video- and audiotapes offered in evidence showed no trace of the incriminating sentence which I was accused of having spoken -- nor indeed was it uttered -- the public prosecutor held that I had intended to speak it; and that the unfortunate prisoner was mentally aware that I had intended to do so.
All of this results from Germany's law for the suppression of free speech (para. 130 of her penal code), which Mr Blair has announced he is eager to introduce here too.
Professor Gottfried Dietze, of the department of political science at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has just told a Munich court trying a similar case (against the publisher Dr Sander), "Para. 130 of the German penal code is incompatible with western civilised views of the freedom of expression of opinion." He says it "smacks of the Hitler dictatorship."
Small wonder that the next judge in the Deckert case, when formally challenged earlier last week, agreed that he was not impartial and withdrew. His replacement appears to have had no compunctions.