February 1, 1997
AS Dr David Cesarani (right) notes (Jan. 30) I was fined DM30,000 (around £13,000) in Munich for violating a law of the kind that he and his ilk desperately want introduced in this country. According to the indictment, I uttered these words in a 1990 public lecture: "We now know that the gas chamber shown to the tourists in Auschwitz is a fake built by the Polish communists after the war." (That is the sum total of the charge, apart from a harmless reference to Germany's payments in restitution).
The German court would not allow my defence counsel to call any technical or chemical experts, or even [Franciszek Piper] the present head of the Auschwitz state museum, or to produce any documents to confirm that what I said is true -- namely that the structure in question was built in 1948 and is thus in every sense of the word a fake. The Polish government now confirms it.
The Cesaranis of this world are frantic to shut out debate, even if it means the humiliation of enacting a special law, a kind of Lex Krupp to armourplate their special interests. (What we would we make of it if President Clinton now suddenly demanded that nations introduce a law criminalising speculation on whether F.D.R. knew in advance of Pearl Harbor?)
For Dr Cesarani to say, "Free speech is actually strengthened" by such laws suggests that he and I must have learned our English at different schools.