Gerald Fredrick Töben
Gerald Fredrick Töben (born 2 June 1944) is a German-born Australian citizen who was director and founder of the Adelaide Institute, a Holocaust denial group in Australia. He is the author of numerous works on education, political science, and history. He was arrested and imprisoned for nine months in Mannheim Prison in 1998 for breaching Germany's Holocaust Law (§ 130 public incitement) prohibiting anyone from defaming the dead. Töben wrote of his work: "If you wish to begin to doubt the Holocaust-Shoah narrative, you must be prepared for personal sacrifice, must be prepared for marriage and family break-up, loss of career, and go to prison." In the past he had denied that he said that the Holocaust was a "lie".
He has served three jail sentences: in 1999 for seven months in Germany under Section 130 “defaming the memory of the dead”; in 2008 for 50 days in the United Kingdom when he was transiting through Heathrow and the Germans wanted him under the European Arrest Warrant, which the court declared invalid; in 2009 for three months in South Australia for contempt of court, for which he apologized to the court. The Australian ABC TV news labeled Toben “A Holocaust questioner” and not “a denier”
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. He went on to teach at secondary level at Leongatha, Kings Park, St. Arnaud, and Goroke, and tertiary level at the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education (now a part of Deakin University), Victoria. During 1981–82 he lectured at the Advanced College of Education, Minna, Nigeria.
From 1980 to 1985, Töben worked as a temporary employee for the Victorian Department of Education and Training until his dismissal for incompetence and disobedience on 4 January 1985. He gained local, state and national prominence with his dismissal. Instead of opting for unemployment he drove a school bus from 1985 to 1988 thus becoming “Australia’s most highly qualified school bus driver”. Toben was heavily involved in Goroke’s Centenary of Education celebrations, selling the book he compiled for the occasion.
Töben won his case against dismissal in the County Court and his appeal in the Supreme Court of Victoria, mitigating his own damages.
Views on the Holocaust
Töben rejects what he calls the "official conspiracy theory" that Germans systematically exterminated European Jewry. Töben has stated 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."
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.
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.
In 2005 in an interview with Iranian state television he indicated that it was his belief that "Israel is founded on the Holocaust lie." In 2006 Töben attended the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust in Iran.
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 his breaches of court orders and said he would not withdraw his apology as he had in the past. 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.
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.
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. On 1 October 2008, Töben was detained at Heathrow Airport while flying from the United States to Dubai. 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. 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. 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.
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. The German authorities later stated their intention to attempt to extradite Töben from other jurisdictions in the future.
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. 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."
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The instrumentalist use of Holocaust denial to undermine Zionism is evident in an interview with the German-Australian Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben published by the official Iranian news agency MEHR on 29 December 2004, in which he claimed that "the state of Israel is founded on the 'Holocaust' lie" and that "exposing this lie" would help "dismantle the Zionist entity."
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