Gerald Fredrick Töben

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Töben standing in front of the Birkenau entrance

Gerald Fredrick Töben (born 1944) is a German-born Australian citizen and founder and former director of the Adelaide Institute. He is the author of numerous works on education, political science and history, although he became best known after being arrested for Holocaust denial.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Töben claims he cannot deny that which never happened. He has served two jail sentences, one in Germany for defaming the dead and one in Australia for breaching a court order to refrain from publishing material on his website vilifying Jews. He apologised for breaching the court order.

Early life and career

Töben was born in Jaderberg, Germany. In 1954, when he was ten years old, Töben moved to Australia with his family. He studied at Melbourne University BA (1970), in Australia and Wellington University BA (1968), in New Zealand, later earning a D Phil (1977) from Stuttgart University, and a Grad Cert Ed (1978) from the University of Rhodesia.[7] He went on to teach at secondary level at Leongatha, Kings Park, St. Arnaud, and Goroke, and tertiary level at the Warrnambool Institute/Deakin University, Victoria. During 1981-82 he lectured at the Advanced College of Education, Minna, Nigeria.[8]

From 1980 to 1985, Töben worked as a temporary employee for the Victorian Department of Education and Training in Melbourne. He was dismissed from his teaching position on the grounds of incompetence and disobedience, working afterward as a school bus driver.

Töben won his initial case against dismissal in the County Court and his appeal in the Supreme Court of Victoria, mitigating his own damages.[8]

Views on the Holocaust

Töben rejects what he calls the "official conspiracy theory" that Germans systematically exterminated European Jewry. Töben has stated that he considers the Holocaust to be a lie[9] ostensibly perpetuated by "the Holocaust Racketeers, the corpse peddlers and the Shoah Business Merchants";[10] he has further asserted that "the current U.S. government is influenced by world Zionist considerations to retain the survival of the European colonial, apartheid, Zionist, racist entity of Israel."[11]

In 1994 he established the Adelaide Institute, which he directed until 2009. Töben and his associates at the Adelaide Institute have denied "being Holocaust deniers" in interviews conducted by Australian media, claiming they cannot deny that which never happened.[12]

On 10 October 2000, the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission ruled that the Adelaide Institute should remove website material the Commission considered racial hate speech. On 17 September 2002, the Federal Court of Australia affirmed on appeal the application of Australian anti-racial hatred laws against speech on Töben's website. It did not, however, force Töben to apologise. The ruling in Toben v Jones (2003) 129 FCR 515, was one of the first applications of Australian anti-racial hatred laws to speech against religious groups.[13][14][15]

In 2005 in an interview with Iranian state television he indicated that it was his belief that "Israel is founded on the Holocaust lie."[9] In 2006 Töben attended the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust in Iran.[3]

Imprisonment

In 1998 Töben was imprisoned for nine months at Mannheim Prison for breaching Germany's Holocaust Law, Section 130, that prohibits anyone from "defaming the dead".[16]

In April 2009, Töben was found guilty of contempt of court for breaching a court order to refrain from publishing material on his website vilifying Jewish people. He unreservedly apologised for breaching the court order.[17] He appealed against the sentence, but on 13 August 2009 the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia rejected his appeal, and he started his 3-month jail sentence, one week in maximum security-punishment block – first at Yatala Labour Prison, and later at Cadell Training Centre, a low security prison farm.[18]

The contempt arose from an action by Jeremy Jones, former President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. In 2012 Jones sought his court costs of more than $175,000 from Töben, who pleaded that he had no money. The Federal Magistrates Court declared Töben bankrupt and, consequently, his passport was confiscated.[19]

2008 extradition attempt

In 2008, the German federal authorities attempted unsuccessfully to extradite Töben from the United Kingdom under a European Arrest Warrant for allegedly publishing "antisemitic and / or revisionist" material on his website, which he writes from his home in Australia, and is a crime that does not exist in Britain. The European Arrest Warrant had three boxes ticked: racism, xenophobia and cybercrime, which did not fulfill British legal requirements and so the EAW was judged to be deficient.[20] On 1 October 2008, Töben was detained at Heathrow Airport while flying from the United States to Dubai.[3] In Westminster Magistrates' Court the next day, he objected to the terms of the warrant, claiming that he was protected by the terms of the Schengen agreement and said that his historical and political views had motivated the German authorities' decision to issue the warrant. He instructed Kevin Lowry-Mullins to represent him in the Extradition proceedings issued by the German Government.

The arrest warrant was dismissed by Westminster Magistrates' Court on 29 October 2008, with the judge stating that the details it contained were "sparse". According to Ben Watson, Töben's barrister instructed by extradition solicitor Kevin Lowry-Mullins, the court was unable to decide whether the warrant was valid because it did not specify whether any part of the crime took part in the United Kingdom and there was not sufficient information about the nature of Töben's alleged crime.[21] The warrant spoke of "worldwide Internet publications" but for it to be valid, it would have been necessary for the German authorities to have shown that the offence not only took place in Germany but that it did not take place in the United Kingdom.[22] Töben was offered bail, pending an appeal by the German prosecuting authorities to the High Court. Strict conditions were set, including limitations on Töben's communication and travel and he was able to raise the £100,000 surety required – 3 individuals offered to post bail, but an Executive Order released him from prison.[23]

The German authorities later withdrew their appeal, after the Crown Prosecution Service advised them that in the light of further information they had provided about the location of the alleged offence, it would not have been possible to satisfy the courts that the offence was extraditable. This is because under common law it is not an offence to express an opinion, as is the case in countries where Holocaust denial is criminalised.[24] The German authorities later stated their intention to attempt to extradite Töben from other jurisdictions in the future.[25]

The case caused some controversy in the United Kingdom, with the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne expressing concerns that the extradition would amount to an infringement on the freedom of speech.[26] Also British historian Geoffrey Alderman criticised Töben's arrest and the tendency "to enforce particular interpretations of history under the guise of combating racism and xenophobia". According to Alderman, "the task of the historian is to investigate, confront, challenge and, if necessary, correct society's collective memory. In this process, the state ought to have no role whatever, none at all. Certainly not in the UK, which delights in presenting itself as a bastion of academic freedom."[27]

See also

References

  1. ^ "MP backing for 'Holocaust denier'". BBC News online. 4 October 2008. 
  2. ^ "Man accused of Holocaust denial". BBC News online. 1 October 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c Brown, David (2 October 2006). "Historian held at Heathrow over Holocaust denial]". London: The Times. p. 17. 
  4. ^ Lane, Terry (22 September 2002). "Enough to make you gag, but...". The Age (Melbourne). 
  5. ^ Albrechtsen, Janet (20 April 2009). "The freedom to be offensive". The Australian. 
  6. ^ "Holocaust denier sentenced to three months". UPI. 14 May 2009. 
  7. ^ Ben-Moshe, Danny (2005). Holocaust denial in Australia. Analysis of current trends in antisemitism, Issue 25. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. p. 6. 
  8. ^ a b Toben, Gerald Frederick v State of Victoria & Allen, Graham, No. CCA 10 of 1989 (Supreme Court of Victoria, Appeal Division 1990).
  9. ^ a b Jahanbegloo, Ramin (2007). Holocaust Denial in Iran and anti-semitic discourse in the Muslim world. Egham. pp. 129–130. ISBN 978-1-905846-12-2. 
  10. ^ "Newsletter 186. USA/Canada: The Crucifixion of Ernst Zündel". Adelaide Institute. March 2003. 
  11. ^ "Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial in the Iranian Media, Special dispatch No. 855". Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 28 January 2005. 
  12. ^ Sexton, Mike (20 April 1999). "Australian historian faces German jail over Holocaust views". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  13. ^ Rees, Neil; Lindsay, Katherine; Rice, Simon (2008). Australian Anti-Discrimination Law: Text, Cases and Materials. Federation Press. pp. 529, 538, 555–58, 569. ISBN 1862876614. 
  14. ^ Change and Continuity: Review of the Federal Unlawful Discrimination Jurisdiction. Supplement, September 2002 – August 2003 (September 2000 – September 2002 ed.). Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. 1 August 2003. pp. 3–7. 
  15. ^ Green, Jonathon; Karolides, Nicholas J (2009). Encyclopedia of Censorship. Facts on File library of world history. Infobase Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 1438110014. 
  16. ^ Shears, Richard (13 August 2009). "Holocaust denier at centre of British legal row is jailed for three months in Australia". London: MailOnline. 
  17. ^ "Written apology over holocaust denial". ABC. 28 April 2009. 
  18. ^ "Toben jailed as appeal fails". ABC News. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009. 
  19. ^ "Toben grounded". Australian Jewish News. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  20. ^ "Dr Fredrick Toben's arrest should alarm us all". London: Daily Telegraph. 5 October 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  21. ^ Rozenberg, Joshua (12 October 2008). "Töben's arrest 'fatally flawed', says lawyer". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  22. ^ Rozenberg, Joshua (5 October 2008). "Man accused of denying the Holocaust may escape extradition from Britain". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  23. ^ "Extradition win for revisionist Frederick Töben". Herald Sun. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2008. [dead link]
  24. ^ "Holocaust denier wins extradition fight". The Jewish Chronicle. 21 November 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2008. 
  25. ^ "Germany to pursue Holocaust denier's arrest". The Associated Press. 24 October 2008. 
  26. ^ "Chris Huhne: Holocaust denial and a case that shows flaws in the EU". The Independent. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  27. ^ Alderman, Geoffrey (30 October 2008). "Denial is not a criminal matter: Legislating against deniers of the Holocaust is part of a dangerous trend". The Jewish Chronicle online.