Posted Friday, August 11, 2000

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Auckland, NZ, Friday, August 11, 2000 gional&f=1&t=10


'Neo-Nazi' probe launched


Waikato University capitulated yesterday and moved to set up an independent inquiry into the enrolment of an alleged neo-Nazi student.

The inquiry, opposed by vice-chancellor Bryan Gould, will investigate Hans-Joachim Kupka's enrolment and supervision for a doctorate.

It will examine how the university dealt with complaints and may suggest policy and procedural changes.

Individual members of the university council also apologised to the Jewish community yesterday for any hurt caused to them during seven months of debate about the 55-year-old former student, who allegedly wrote neo-Nazi statements on the internet.

Jewish and academic groups had told the university that it was ethically wrong for Mr Kupka, a German, to interview Jewish immigrants for his PhD thesis on The Use of German in New Zealand.

Mr Kupka withdrew from his studies in June after public outcry but continued to deny the claims.

However, it was revealed last month that Mr Kupka is under investigation in Germany for "incitement to hatred and violence against minority groups" after six international experts claimed his internet writings were racist, antisemitic and denied the Holocaust.

Mr Kupka has also confirmed that he was a top official in Germany's far-right Republican Party. At the time it was headed by a former member of Hitler's elite SS during the Second World War.

Previously, Professor Gould had declined requests for an independent inquiry by the Jewish community, the Race Relations Conciliator, the student union, academics and the law school board.

Professor Gould was the only university council member yesterday to vote against the motion for an independent inquiry after more than 50 Jewish and academic protesters, wearing yellow Jewish stars to symbolise unity, surrounded the council room.

The group, including two Holocaust survivors, had earlier rallied outside the council room with placards, chanting "shame."

Professor Gould said in a report to the council that the university had acted properly and could not have acted any other way.

"The mere setting up of such an inquiry would be seen in some quarters as a concession that the university had acted improperly in some way, which I do not believe to be the case."

The council member who put forward the motion, Dr Tom Ryan, said the university's reputation had been badly damaged. An independent inquiry would ensure the university was transparent and accountable and would reconcile it with the Jewish community.

"It is a tangled mass of claims and counterclaims that threaten to entangle and multiply even more in the immediate future.

"I can only say 'I'm sorry' to the members of the Jewish community present today, and to all others, Jew and Gentile, who have been offended or injured by the unfolding of this unpleasantness."

A political science professor and former Waikato Jewish Association president, Dov Bing, was pleased for the Jewish community and for the university. "The inquiry will pinpoint where the university went wrong and where it went right.

"Most importantly, recommendations will be made to ensure that ethical concerns are treated more seriously and no one is alienated like this in the future."

The inquiry is yet to be set up but will be chaired by someone with no direct links to the university and will be completed by November.

Canterbury University is also conducting an independent inquiry, chaired by retired High Court judge Sir Ian Barker, into why it accepted a thesis in 1993 which questioned the Holocaust. Its author, Joel Hayward, has since withdrawn the main conclusions and is now a senior Massey University lecturer.



Related stories:

Hayward: NZ Witchhunt against historian Stuart Hayward: the remarkable details emerge | New Zealand Herald | Christchurch | May 2000 NZ Herald: University rejects protest over PhD student
Kupka: New Zealand's Holocaust denial problem | 'Holocaust' student drops PhD study
Website dossier: The Origins of anti-Semitism
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