Horst Mahler in 2003.
January 23, 1936 |
Haynau, Lower Silesia, Germany
|Occupation||Lawyer · Political activist|
National Democratic Party of Germany (2000–03)Red Army Fraction (1970–75)
Socialist German Student Union
Social Democratic Party of Germany (1956–60)
Horst Mahler (born 23 January 1936 in Haynau, Lower Silesia, Germany (now Chojnów, Poland)) is a former German lawyer and political activist. He once was an extreme-left militant and a founding member of the Red Army Faction. Subsequently, he became a Maoist and later shifted to the extreme-right. He was for a time a member of the National Democratic Party of Germany. He has been repeatedly convicted of Volksverhetzung ("incitement of popular hatred") and Holocaust denial and is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.
Mahler was born in Silesia on 23 January 1936, the son of a dentist. In February 1945 the family fled from the Red Army to Naumburg an der Saale. Less than a year later they moved to Dessau, and then to West Berlin after Mahler's father, a fanatical Nazi and anti-semite, committed suicide in 1949.
Horst Mahler took his school leaving exams in Wilmersdorf, Berlin, in 1955 and studied law at the Free University of Berlin. He joined the Thuringia Association, a right-wing student fraternity but soon afterwards became a member of the Socialist student body SDS.
In 1966 he was one of the founders of the Republican Club, a West Berlin leftist organisation, and was later one of the best known defenders of left-wing students in the courts.
Mahler became known as a founding member of the radical leftist Red Army Fraction in 1970. While imprisoned he became a Maoist, but later turned sharply to the right. In 2000 he joined the NPD and represented the party in court.
In an interview to an Israeli reporter, Naftali Glicksberg, Mahler claimed that he himself is of part-Jewish descent. He described his mother telling him and his brothers while bursting into tears that they have Jewish ancestry and are ⅛ Jewish.
Education and career
Mahler studied law at the Free University of Berlin with support of the German National Merit Foundation. In 1964 he founded a law firm in Berlin and practised microeconomic law. In 1966 he successfully argued a case before the European Court of Human Rights.
Early political activism
Prior to 1960, Mahler was a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the leftist students' association Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund. He was expelled from the SPD in 1960, as were other members of the SDS, that had developed from being the SPD youth wing to a radical left-wing group. He joined the new organisation's call for "extra-parliamentary opposition", or forceful resistance. Mahler joined the Ausserparlamentarische Opposition in 1964.
After the attempted assassination of Rudi Dutschke, Mahler took part in the violent protests against Springer Publishing House. He was arrested for his involvement. At that time, Mahler was active as a lawyer who defended students who faced criminal prosecution. By 1970 he had defended Beate Klarsfeld, Fritz Teufel and Rainer Langhans (both participants of the Kommune 1), the left-wing student leader Rudi Dutschke, Peter Brandt (the eldest son of Willy Brandt), as well as subsequent RAF terrorists Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin.
Founding of the RAF
Having earlier befriended Ensslin and Baader, Mahler helped plot to spring Baader from prison after his 1970 arrest. Once Baader escaped, the three, along with Ulrike Meinhof, committed a series of bank robberies in September 1970. The four fled to Jordan and trained in guerrilla tactics with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Upon his return from Jordan, Mahler was arrested with fellow RAF members Ingrid Schubert, Brigitte Asdonk, and Irene Goergens on 8 October 1970. He was tried and convicted for the bank robberies and for assisting a prison escape. By 1974, Mahler had been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment and had his license to practice law revoked.
Mahler penned a manifesto in prison. The rest of the Baader-Meinhof Group, however, resoundingly rejected it - effectively expelling him from the group. Mahler now advocated the policies of the KPD/AO (Organization to Rebuild the KPD). Then in 1975, the Movement 2 June took Peter Lorenz hostage and demanded, among others, that Mahler be freed from prison. Mahler was offered liberty, but refused it.
In 1980 Mahler was freed from prison after serving 10 years of his 14-year sentence, largely due to the efforts of his lawyer, Gerhard Schröder (who would later become chancellor). He was granted permission to practise law again in Germany in 1988, again with the help of Schröder.
Change to far-right politics
Beginning of right-wing politics
Mahler made the acquaintance of political theorists Iring Fetscher and Günter Rohrmoser, who visited him in prison. While the German courts noted a change in Mahler's political posturing in the mid 1980s, he first gained attention for it at Rohrmoser's 70th birthday celebration on 1 December 1997. There Mahler gave a speech declaring that Germany was "occupied" and had to free itself from its "debt bondage" to reestablish its national identity.
Mahler took little role in politics until an article called Zweite Steinzeit (Second Stone Age) by him appeared in the right wing paper Junge Freiheit in 1998, explaining his conversion to Völkisch ideas. Mahler has since underlined the spiritual side of his political beliefs, whilst marrying this to anti-Semitism, arguing that:
In the German people as free self-confidence, the unity of God and Man appears in the Folk-community knowing itself. This is the existing negation of the Jewish Principle and of the haggler/bargainer as its worldly shape.
The German government began a process to attempt to ban the NPD in 2001. Mahler was an attorney for the party at the time. The government, citing accusations of Volksverhetzung (Germany's hate speech law) against the party, petitioned the court to allow them to seize Mahler's computer assets. Mahler successfully defeated the effort.
In 2003, after the official case to ban the NPD had been rejected by the German courts, he left the party.
Recent activities and new conviction
Mahler was involved in founding the Society for the Rehabilitation of Those persecuted for Refutation of the Holocaust (Verein zur Rehabilitierung der wegen Bestreitens des Holocaust Verfolgten or VRBHV) on 9 November 2003, or Schicksalstag. Mahler announced the society with an open letter in which he stated that the objective of the group was "to eliminate the isolation of the persecuted which has dominated so far, is to guarantee the necessary public awareness of their struggle for justice, and is to provide the financial means for a successful judicial struggle."
Mahler has faced numerous charges in German courts. In 2003 he was also charged with Volksverhetzung in connection with statements he made regarding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States—he told the court that the incident was a concocted conspiracy and "it is not true that al-Qaeda had anything to do with it." He was also charged for Holocaust denial under the Volksverhetzung law in 2004 in connection with his role in the VRBHV. In 2006 his passport was revoked by the German authorities to prevent him from attending the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust in Tehran, Iran.
As of November 2007[update], Mahler was facing new charges for Volksverhetzung. The charges stem from an interview for Vanity Fair with Michel Friedman (CDU), former vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Friedman, who intended to interview Mahler about his role in the RAF, brought charges against Mahler alleging that he was greeted with a Hitler salute and a shout of "Heil Hitler, Herr Friedman!". During the interview, Mahler told Friedman that "the systematic extermination of Jews in Auschwitz is a lie", and that Adolf Hitler was "the savior of the German people [but] not only of the German people.”
On November 23, 2007, the Amtsgericht Cottbus sentenced Mahler to six months of imprisonment without parole for having according to his own claims "ironically" performed the Hitler salute when reporting to prison for a nine-month term a year earlier.
On February 21, 2009 Mahler was sentenced to six years imprisonment, without possibility at reduction or bail, by a Munich court of justice; during the verdict, the judge said that Mahler had proven "not able to be re-educated" and declared that he as a judge should stop the "nationalist rattle" and "nonsense spread" conducted by Horst Mahler. On March 11, a Potsdam Court sentenced then 73 year old Horst Mahler to additional five years imprisonment for Holocaust denial and banalization of Nazi war crimes; due to the perceived danger of an escape attempt, the sentence was to be immediately carried out.
On March 19, 2009 Mahler's wife, former university teacher and lawyer Sylvia Stolz, was also convicted and imprisoned for Holocaust denial, for her claims that a "Jewish foreign power" ruled the German federal authorities and the Western world, and for claiming that the federal German courts practised "Allied victors' justice" by limiting free speech.
- "The destruction of the Jews is an act of reason..." ("In der Vernichtung der Juden waltet Vernunft...")
- "Billions of people would be ready to forgive Hitler if he had murdered only the Jews" ("Milliarden Menschen wären bereit, Hitler zu verzeihen, wenn er nur den Judenmord begangen hätte") Another possible translation: "Billions of people would be ready to forgive Hitler if only he had committed the murder of the Jews".
(Two of the comments made by Horst Mahler that the local court of justice of Berlin-Tiergarten (Amtsgericht Tiergarten) used to justify the prohibition of professional activity (Berufsverbot) it issued against Mahler on 8 April 2004.)
- Mahler kein Anwalt mehr, n-tv.de, 19 August 2009 (German)
- The Baader Meinhof Complex by Stefan Aust, 2008
- "Biography, Horst Mahler" (in German). Lebendiges virtuelles Museum Online. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- "Ausserparlamentarische Opposition" (in German). Lebendiges virtuelles Museum Online. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- German Law Journal (2001-08-01). "Horst Mahler: A Radical Biography". Federal Constitutional Court Issues Temporary Injunction in the NPD Party Ban Case. German Law Journal. pp. section II. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- "Horst Mahler". This is Baader-Meinhof. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- "The Baader-Meinhof Gang - Meinhof: Terrorist to Journalist". CrimeLibrary. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- Thorsten Thaler (1998-05-08). "Gerhard-Schröder-Biographie: Horst Mahler stellt das Buch eines Konservativen vor Hoffnung keimt im Verborgenen" (in German). Junge Freiheit. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- Horst Mahler. "Rede Horst Mahlers zum 70. Geburtstag Günter Rohrmosers" (in German). Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- Horst Mahler, Zweite Steinzeit, Junge Freiheit, 17. April 1998.
- 'Former left-wing radical Horst Mahler joins the neo-fascist NPD'
- H. Mahler 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question - Discovery of God instead of Jewish Hatred', 25 March 2001
- Horst Mahler (2003-11-11). "Society for the Rehabilitation of Those persecuted for Refutation of the Holocaust". National Journal. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- "Neo-Nazi blames US for 11 September". BBC News. 2003-01-13. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- "Charges filed against German extreme-rightist Horst Mahler". European Jewish Press. 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- "Sechs Monate für Hitlergruß" (in German). Die Zeit/dpa. 23 November 2007.
- Handelsblatt, newspaper, Germany 25 February 2009
- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mahler zu hoher Haftstrafe verurteilt March 11, 2009
- Mannheimer Morgen 19 March 2009. Absurde Ausschweifungen.
- Berufsverbot für Horst Mahler, Die Welt, 20 April 2004 (German)