Siegmar Faust was a noted civil rights activist in the former East Germany. Monitored by the Stasi (East German secret police) for “subversive activities”, he spent years in Communist prisons. When he finally made it to West Germany, he must have assumed that he would now enjoy a lifestime of free speech. How wrong he was.
In recent years, Faust has been employed as a tour guide in the same Stasi prison in Saxony where he himself was once locked up.
He lost his job a few days ago after giving an interview to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper in which he suggested that the persecution of “Holocaust deniers” was excessive.
“I have no sympathy for *Horst Mahler”, said Faust. But he finds it “unbearable, what the justice system is doing” and in respect of the the six million Jews murdered by the National Socialists, he asks himself: “Is the number six million sacred?”
He understands, says Faust, “that the crimes of the Nazi period continue to have effects. But “you have to stop a bit some time. You shouldn’t overplay it.” Finally, the pensioner claims that in Hohenschönhausen there are “few people who think differently from him”.
Well, Faust got the answer to his question right away when he lost his job. Apparently the number of 6 million is sacred. Not only those who question it must be persecuted, but anyone who even expresses sympathy for them. In its statement about the termination of his employment, the Stasi Victims’ Memorial Centre also cited Faust’s involvement with the AfD as being unacceptable.
There is tremendous irony in a man formerly persecuted for his free speech activism in East Germany now facing persecution for the same thing in “free” Germany. It will be interesting to see if Faust now campaigns publicly on the issue as he did before.
* Horst Mahler was a lawyer and far-left activist who spent many years in prison for crimes related to his involvement in the Baader-Meinhof gang in the 70s. When he was eventually released, he transitioned from the far-left to the far-right, resumed practising as a lawyer and defended the “far right” NPD party when the German state tried to shut it down.
He founded an organisation to defend “Holocaust deniers” but was subjected to constant legal harassment by the German state.
Mahler was ultimately banned from practising law on the basis of two statements he had made.
“There is rationality in the annihilation of the Jews”
“Billions would have been ready to forgive Hitler if he had only murdered the Jews”
Ultimately, Mahler was charged with Holocaust denial himself and sentenced to 6 years in prison. Further charges were brought against him when he was inside and the sentence was increased. He applied for asylum in Hungary but was rejected.
Now in his 70s, and with an amputated leg, Horst Mahler is still in prison in Germany. Here is the powerful final statement he gave before returning to incarceration.