Germany: New Law Criminalizes Free Speech

On Oct. 27, 2022, the German Bundestag voted an addendum to the Criminal Code’s Paragraph 130, No. 3 on denial and trivialization of the Holocaust, that comes down to opening the door for punishment of public remarks that fail to describe the conflict in Ukraine as a Russian “war of aggression”. Indeed, the addendum (No. 5) creates a gray zone allowing for interpretation as to whether public remarks “incite hatred or violence”, and “disturb the public peace”. Critics of the amendment denounced that it was passed in a rushed procedure, preventing any public debate on the subject, and warned that it would be followed by ominous “kangaroo court” sentencing of political opposition. Public remarks dating back as far as spring 2022 can be prosecuted.

Their warnings have turned out to be warranted. On Jan. 24, a court in Berlin ordered well-known peace activist Heiner Bücker, who runs the “Coop Anti- War Café”, to pay a fine of 2,000 euros, or spend 40 days in jail, and to cover all court expenses. He was charged, under Section 140 of the Criminal Code, with “rewarding and approving criminal acts”, committed by the Russians in Ukraine.

At issue was a speech Bücker gave six months (!) ago at a rally of the Peace Coordination on the anniversary of the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 2022, at the Soviet Memorial in Berlin-Treptow. In that speech, which attendees described as calmly delivered, Bücker, who is a member of the Communist Platform of the Linke Party as well as of the anti-fascist organization VVN-BdA, recalled the war of extermination waged by Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, as well as the collaboration of Russophobic Ukrainian fascists with the German occupiers at that time, to whom monuments are erected everywhere in Ukraine today.

He further stated he was at a loss to understand why the German government continues to escalate the war with arms deliveries to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia. “Never again must we as Germans be involved in any form of war against Russia”, he said. “We must unite and oppose this madness together.” He urged people to “openly and honestly try to understand the Russian reasons for the special military operation in Ukraine and why the vast majority of people in Russia support the government and President Vladimir Putin”.

Where, one might ask, is the “incitation to hatred or violence” here? And yet, Judge Pollmann of the Tiergarten District Court found that such remarks “disturbed the public peace” and had the potential of “inflaming the psychological climate o the population”, as provided in the new law. Bücker has filed an appeal. This court ruling creates a dangerous precedent for outlawing any public remarks which, even though truthful in respect to history, run contrary to the officially decreed pro-war narrative.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email