Bishop Williamson wins appeal against conviction in Germany
On Ash Wednesday, 22nd February 2012, the courageous British Bishop Richard Williamson won the latest round in the struggle for free source-critical opinion in Europe, when the German appeal court quashed his conviction for “holocaust denial”.
Bishop Williamson had been under tremendous pressure from within his church, including the leadership of his traditional Catholic Society of St Pius X (SSPX), to abandon his defence and meekly accept criminalisation, following a prosecution which originated in an interview he gave to a Swedish television journalist in November 2008.
Fifty-five minutes into this interview, which had focused on religious matters as the Bishop had expected, the journalist suddenly sprang the question: “Bishop Williamson, are these your views?” and quoted comments made by the Bishop several years earlier in Canada
Bishop Williamson had then stated that – on the basis of the historical evidence as he understood it – he did not believe there had been any homicidal gas chambers in Third Reich Germany. When unexpectedly challenged by the Swedish interviewer, he defended these views, saying:
“I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”
The interview was broadcast in January 2009 and became widely available on the internet. International Jewish organisations orchestrated an outcry, leading to pressure on the Roman Catholic Church from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
It is of course legal to hold such views or make Bishop Williamson’s comments in Canada, or in Sweden, or in the United Kingdom – but in Germany so-called “holocaust denial” is punishable by up to five years in prison.
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