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Are Germany's laws on their Nazi legacy wrong?

 
 
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 12:58 pm
Germany, in stark contrast to Japan, reall goes the extra mile in post WWII reconciliation.

Japan doesn't seem to have as much willingness to face up to their misdeeds as publically and forcefully as Germany.

But does Germany go too far?

What do you think about the laws Germany has on their books that, in effect, make certain thought illegal (at least in expression)?

Is Germany legislating their reconciliation? If so, is this right?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 6,185 • Replies: 97
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 02:22 pm
Interested.
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 02:53 pm
The US also has anti-discrimination laws that forbid certain types of language and thoughts based on color, creed, sexual preference etc. Many of these laws are good but many actually create the same atmosphere they are trying to curtail.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 03:03 pm
NickFun wrote:
The US also has anti-discrimination laws that forbid certain types of language and thoughts based on color, creed, sexual preference etc. Many of these laws are good but many actually create the same atmosphere they are trying to curtail.


I don't know what you are referring to. The US has stuck very closely to the principles of freedom of speech and expression.

Nazis in the US are free publish literature and hold marches. Virulent anti-homosexual groups also express their views in quite offensive ways and are protected from prosecution. The only limits on free expression are threats, and incitement.

BTW I think the US is right. I think the policies of Germany are excessive and counter-productive.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 03:10 pm
Just to quote the relevent laws:

Basic Law ("Grundgesetz" [Constitution]):
Quote:
Article 2 [Personal freedoms]
(1) Every person shall have the right to free development of his personality insofar as he does not violate the rights of others or offend against the constitutional order or the moral law.

(2) Every person shall have the right to life and physical integrity. Freedom of the person shall be inviolable. These rights may be interfered with only pursuant to a law.


Quote:
Article 5 [Freedom of expression]
(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.

(2) These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honor.

(3) Art and scholarship, research, and teaching shall be free. The freedom of teaching shall not release any person from allegiance to the constitution.


Quote:
Article 8 [Freedom of assembly]
(1) All Germans shall have the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed without prior notification or permission.

(2) In the case of outdoor assemblies, this right may be restricted by or pursuant to a law.


Quote:
Article 9 [Freedom of association]
(1) All Germans shall have the right to form corporations and other associations.

(2) Associations whose aims or activities contravene the criminal laws, or that are directed against the constitutional order or the concept of international understanding, shall be prohibited.

(3) The right to form associations to safeguard and improve working and economic conditions shall be guaranteed to every individual and to every occupation or profession. Agreements that restrict or seek to impair this right shall be null and void; measures directed to this end shall be unlawful. Measures taken pursuant to Article 12a, to paragraphs (2) and (3) of Article 35, to paragraph (4) of Article 87a, or to Article 91 may not be directed against industrial disputes engaged in by associations within the meaning of the first sentence of this paragraph in order to safeguard and improve working and economic conditions.


Quote:
Article 18 [Forfeiture of basic rights]
Whoever abuses the freedom of expression, in particular the freedom of the press (paragraph (1) of Article 5), the freedom of teaching (paragraph (3) of Article 5), the freedom of assembly (Article 8), the freedom of association (Article 9), the privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications (Article 10), the rights of property (Article 14), or the right of asylum (Article 16a) in order to combat the free democratic basic order shall forfeit these basic rights. This forfeiture and its extent shall be declared by the Federal Constitutional Court.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 03:10 pm
Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Germany


Quote:
Section 85 Violation of a Ban of an Organization
(1) Whoever, within the territorial area of application of this law, as ringleader or supporter, maintains the organizational cohesion of:

1. a party or organization, as to which it has been determined, no longer subject to appeal, that it is a substitute organization of a banned party in a proceeding pursuant to Section 33 subsection (3), of the Law on Political Parties; or

2. an organization, which has been banned, no longer subject to appeal, because it is directed against the constitutional order or against the idea of international understanding, or as to which it has been determined, no longer subject to appeal, that it is a substitute organization of such a banned organization, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine. An attempt shall be punishable.

(2) Whoever is active as a member in a party or organization of the type indicated in subsection (1) or whoever supports its organizational cohesion, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

(3) Section 84 subsections (4) and (5), shall apply accordingly.


Quote:
Section 86 Dissemination of Means of Propaganda of Unconstitutional Organizations
(1) Whoever domestically disseminates or produces, stocks, imports or exports or makes publicly accessible through data storage media for dissemination domestically or abroad, means of propaganda:

1. of a party which has been declared to be unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court or a party or organization, as to which it has been determined, no longer subject to appeal, that it is a substitute organization of such a party;

2. of an organization, which has been banned, no longer subject to appeal, because it is directed against the constitutional order or against the idea of international understanding, or as to which it has been determined, no longer subject to appeal, that it is a substitute organization of such a banned organization;

3. of a government, organization or institution outside of the territorial area of application of this law which is active in pursuing the objectives of one of the parties or organizations indicated in numbers 1 and 2; or

4. means of propaganda, the contents of which are intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

(2) Means of propaganda within the meaning of subsection (1) shall only be those writings (Section 11 subsection (3)) the content of which is directed against the free, democratic constitutional order or the idea of international understanding.

(3) Subsection (1) shall not be applicable if the means of propaganda or the act serves to further civil enlightenment, to avert unconstitutional aims, to promote art or science, research or teaching, reporting about current historical events or similar purposes.

(4) If guilt is slight, the court may refrain from imposition of punishment pursuant to this provision.



Quote:
Section 86a Use of Symbols of Unconstitutional Organizations
(1) Whoever:

1. domestically distributes or publicly uses, in a meeting or in writings (Section 11 subsection (3)) disseminated by him, symbols of one of the parties or organizations indicated in Section 86 subsection (1), nos. 1, 2 and 4; or

2. produces, stocks, imports or exports objects which depict or contain such symbols for distribution or use domestically or abroad, in the manner indicated in number 1,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

(2) Symbols, within the meaning of subsection (1), shall be, in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting. Symbols which are so similar as to be mistaken for those named in sentence 1 shall be deemed to be equivalent thereto.

(3) Section 86 subsections (3) and (4), shall apply accordingly.



Quote:
Section 130 Agitation of the People
(1) Whoever, in a manner that is capable of disturbing the public peace:

1. incites hatred against segments of the population or calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them; or

2. assaults the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population,

shall be punished with imprisonment from three months to five years.

(2) Whoever:

1. with respect to writings (Section 11 subsection (3)), which incite hatred against segments of the population or a national, racial or religious group, or one characterized by its folk customs, which call for violent or arbitrary measures against them, or which assault the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming segments of the population or a previously indicated group:

a) disseminates them;

b) publicly displays, posts, presents, or otherwise makes them accessible;

c) offers, gives or makes accessible to a person under eighteen years; or

(d) produces, obtains, supplies, stocks, offers, announces, commends, undertakes to import or export them, in order to use them or copies obtained from them within the meaning of numbers a through c or facilitate such use by another; or

2. disseminates a presentation of the content indicated in number 1 by radio,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

(3) Whoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or renders harmless an act committed under the rule of National Socialism of the type indicated in Section 220a subsection (1), in a manner capable of disturbing the public piece shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine.

(4) Subsection (2) shall also apply to writings (Section 11 subsection (3)) with content such as is indicated in subsection (3).

(5) In cases under subsection (2), also in conjunction with subsection (4), and in cases of subsection (3), Section 86 subsection (3), shall apply correspondingly.


Quote:
Section 131 Representation of Violence
(1) Whoever, in relation to writings (Section 11 subsection (3)), which describe cruel or otherwise inhuman acts of violence against human beings in a manner which expresses a glorification or rendering harmless of such acts of violence or which represents the cruel or inhuman aspects of the event in a manner which injures human dignity:

1. disseminates them;

2. publicly displays, posts, presents, or otherwise makes them accessible;

3. offers, gives or makes them accessible to a person under eighteen years; or

4. produces, obtains, supplies, stocks, offers, announces, commends, undertakes to import or export them, in order to use them or copies obtained from them within the meaning of numbers 1 through 3 or facilitate such use by another,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine.

(2) Whoever disseminates a presentation of the content indicated in subsection (1) by radio, shall be similarly punished.

(3) Subsections (1) and (2) shall not apply if the act serves as reporting about current or historical events.

(4) Subsection (1), number 3 shall not be applicable if the person authorized to care for the person acts.





Quote:
Section 130a Instructions for Crimes
(1) Whoever disseminates, publicly displays, posts, presents, or otherwise makes accessible a writing (Section 11 subsection (3)) which is capable of serving as instructions for an unlawful act named in Section 126 subsection (1), and is intended by its content to encourage or awaken the readiness of others to commit such an act, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine.

(2) Whoever:

1. disseminates, publicly displays, posts, presents, or otherwise makes accessible a writing (Section 11 subsection (3)) which is capable of serving as instructions for an unlawful act named in Section 126 subsection (1); or

2. gives instructions for an unlawful act named in Section 126 subsection (1), publicly or in a meeting, in order to encourage or awaken the readiness of others to commit such an act,

shall be similarly punished.

(3) Section 86 subsection (3), shall apply correspondingly.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 03:15 pm
ebrown_p wrote:

BTW I think the US is right. I think the policies of Germany are excessive and counter-productive.



These laws are basicly in force since 1945, when they were introduced first by the Allied Control Authority on demand of the USA.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 03:38 pm
My understanding of German law (I had trouble parsing the law walter posted but I think it agrees) is that certain organizations in Germany, and certain viewpoints, can be banned.

This is in stark contrast to American laws.

In the US, even the Nazis are protected. The US courts have ruled that a city can not prevent them from holding a public rally as long as they are peaceful.

I have read (although I don't have time to search out a link right now) that US laws cause a problem in Germany since people can publish material in the US that is illegal there. It is very hard to keep this material out, especially on the internet.

Under the American Consitution, freedom of speech is sacred. We will protect the free speech of the most vile, dangerous groups.

I think this it what Craven was referring to.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 03:43 pm
ebrown_p wrote:
Under the American Consitution, freedom of speech is sacred. We will protect the free speech of the most vile, dangerous groups.

I think this it what Craven was referring to.


I know - and therfore posted these articles and laws.

Constitutional rights here can be narrowed - which usually leads to complaints at the Federal Constitutional Court.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 03:45 pm
ebrown has a good idea of what I am talking about.

Thomas reminded me of it today when he sais that denying the Holocaust is illegal in Germany.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 04:03 pm
Hate speech, human rights and harassment - a comparative analysis of US and European trends

Actually, I see our laws - forbidding public incitement and the instigation of racial hatred, including the distribution of Nazi propaganda or literature liable to corrupt the youth - on the same level as the US' hate-crime laws.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 04:07 pm
Hate crime laws in the United States do not, or cannot contain constraints on free expression which cannot be shown to incite to violence or discrimination. To simply praise Hitler publicly, or publicly contend that Americans of African descent are racially inferior is no crime. No statute which seeks to repress speech which does not contain incitement will stand a challenge on appeal.

Most legislatures have know this, and hate crime legislation in the United States by and large consists of mitigation against someone convicted of another crime, such as assault or property damage. Therefore, if i have good body armor, i can stand on a street corner and shout "nigger" all day long. If i use the term while assaulting someone who is darkly complected, i could very likely suffer much heavier penalties than those entailed in any similar assault lacking the racial invective.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 04:18 pm
They do not measure up to what we would consider freedom of speech. However, in light of the Nazi experience I can understand why they exist. Do I think they are wrong? No.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 04:26 pm
I guess the BIG question is what kind of parties are banned?

And, yeah, it is sort of crazy to make it illegal to say the Holocaust didn't happen. That is a direct violation of freedom of speech, expression and Hell, probably something else. Of course, ten people hearing such an idiotic statement are free to tell the denier he's got his head up his ass.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 05:10 pm
Actually, there is something of small academic "industry" of holocaust denial, which seems to legitimize some of the maunderings of the far right, and gives joy to conspiracy theorists. I am unsure of how influential it is - but a number of jewish organizations seem quite worried about it:

http://www.google.com.au/search?q=%22Holocaust+denial%22&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search&meta=
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 05:13 pm
I grew up being taught that the holocaust was exagerrated.

Nearly any white supremacy site will have their long speil on how it's blown out of proportions and how Hiler only killed...

My only response to whatever they come up with is "ONLY _ _ _...??!!"
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 05:15 pm
It might be crazy to say the Holocaust did not happen. But say it often enough and people will begin to believe it. The German government or at least those who generated that law do not want history to be revised, They want it remembered as a black mark in German history that must never happen again. At least that is my take.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 05:19 pm
Hoping Walter, or someone who knows, might shed light on other such laws that restrict speech--and what the criteria is on banned groups?

Also, wondering if Walter, hamburger, or others under such laws, think it is time to change some of the more oppressive laws... Don't we think Germany has paid for the crimes of their forefathers? Some of these laws seem assumed Guilt By Association To Previous Generations...
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 05:22 pm
Hmm - it seems it can be an offence to deny the holocaust in Oz, too....under our racial vilification laws.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/lawrpt/stories/s683070.htm
This is a debate about this re freedom of speech principles.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2004 05:26 pm
Walter--

Excuse me; I see you did provide a link of laws.

Do you think they should be updated to reflect the passage of time, and enhanced freedoms of speech?

Wow, dlowan. I didn't know about the Oz law. Quite an education. Thanks for the link.
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