For more than a decade now, revisionists have been sent to prison in many European countries. And it is to be expected that many more will follow before the legal situation will change. In this essay I want to give an insight into my own time in various U.S. and German prisons. I will abstain from reporting about the daily humdrum reigning in every prison, however, and will instead focus on the more uplifting aspects, the acts of inner restance. I hope that this might inspire others who might find themselves in such an unpleasant spot in the future. May they, too, resist as much as they can!
In various papers, most of which are also posted on my website at www.germarrudolf.com, I have described how I became a revisionist and what impact that had on my life, with the nadir being my eventual arrest and long-term incarceration. I will not here repeat my personal story which got me into the gaol here, so the uninformed curious reader is advised to read those autobiographical essays as a background to the present essay.
As is known, in 2000 I had applied for political asylum in the U.S. In 2003 the U.S. administration had decided that my asylum application had been unmerited and indeed fraudulent. I was a mere fugitive from justice in their eyes. In 2004, while my asylum case was pending review by a U.S. Federal Court, I married a U.S. citizen and thus asked to be granted permanent residence in the U.S. based on this marriage. The U.S. Immigration Services, however, denied that I even had a right to submit such a request. So that case went to the Federal Court as well.
On October 19, 2005, roughly a year after my wedding, we were invited by the U.S. Immigration Services in Chicago for an interview where they would determine whether our marriage was genuine or of convenience to immigration purposes. That is standard procedure. We went there not only with a plethora of documentation about our shared life, but also with our six-months-old baby in a stroller. We won hands down.
A short while after the interview, the lady who had conducted it approached us, congratulated us, handed us our ornate certificate of our acknowledged-genuine marriage, and told us that we could now go one level lower to apply for permanent legal residence for me.
But then two guys stepped out from behind her and told me that I was under arrest. After a long argument between one of them and my lawyer, I ended up handcuffed and shackled to a chain together with a bunch of convicts in a prison van on the way to Kenosha County Jail in Wisconsin. I got my personal wristband identifying me and stating the reason why I was there. I was the only person in the entire jail that had as a reason given: “non-criminal.” Even the prison guards did not believe their eyes. Why the heck do they put a non-criminal person into prison? In Kenosha I loved to discuss with the inmates all kinds of controversial topics, giving them a heads-up about how we all are getting screwed over by the Powers That Be. We had a swell time… to some degree.
I stayed there four weeks, during which my lawyer went all the way up to the Supreme Court in a vain attempt to stop my deportation. My constitutional right to a legal hearing was denied. When the Federal Court ruled three months after my deportation that the U.S. government’s refusal to allow me to apply for permanent legal residence was illegal, it was not much more than a bad joke. By that time I was stuck in a German prison for years. They also confirmed that my asylum application had been without merit, stating that it is all right if a respected democracy like Germany persecutes dissidents. Then it is simply called lawful prosecution. So if a respected democracy decided to gas all Jews, that’s all right, too? The court also argued that, after a history of jailing dissidents and burning books (during the Third Reich era), Germany today has the right or even the obligation to jail dissidents and burn books. Makes sense to me.
3. Inner Resistance
In Germany I got put into almost solitary confinement, because I was either considered a threat to the other inmates or they were allegedly a threat to me, or both. Since I was considered a “Nazi” and most inmates are immigrants, the prison officials thought that I would either beat them up or vice-versa. Fact is that many immigrants in German prisons are Muslims. When they found out why I was in prison, I had a large community of fans and ardent listeners to my stories. One of them, an Iranian national who thanked me for showing him the proper historico-political way, even offered to organize a personal protection squad for me in 2008 at the Rottenburg prison. But I had no need for it. An athlete of 6'5" can take care of himself pretty well.
Birthday, © Germar Rudolf 2006
A little over two months after Germar Rudolf's arrest in the U.S. and after his deportation to Germany, at the beginning of the Christmas church service of 2005 in the Stuttgart-Stammheim penitentiary, every inmate received a red rose. Rudolf tied his to a shelf board in his cell so that it would dry. Not quite two months later he drew this rose with a ball point pen based on the now shriveled-up dry rose and sent it to his wife on the occasion of the first birthday of their daughter. This was the start of roughly two years of artistic activities behind bars.
One of the first things the German authorities asked me to do was sign away my constitutional right for privacy of my correspondence. I refused. So a judge had to make a decision to revoke that right, as a consequence of which the prosecution, which normally does the prison censorship, lost that privilege, and the judge himself, with no staff at his disposal, had to censor my letters. He couldn’t handle it. I quickly figured out that he wasn’t even reading any of my foreign language letters. They went in and out unread. So I tested the waters more and more. For instance, in a letter of Dec. 30, 2005, just 6 weeks after I had arrived in Germany, I wrote a letter to Fredrick Töben discussing revisionist issues and even talking about publishing projects.1 A while after that I realized that all the instructions I had given while in Kenosha to keep my revisionist publishing empire going were being ignored or handled amateurishly, so I sent out a number of angry letters to several people being very clear as to what I expected them to do. They all arrived unimpeded.
Fortunately I was able to purchase a typewriter in the Stuttgart prison. I decided therefore to use this ultimate weapon of crime for its intended purpose. Some of my lawyers agreed to help me (I won’t say which). They got me books that are outlawed in Germany. They agreed to smuggle out publishing projects. So I started translating revisionist works in my prison cell: I translated “The Leuchter Report. Critical Edition” and “Auschwitz: The First Gassing” from English to German, and I also started some other books. The typescripts were then sent to England to my helpers there in order to get them published. Little did I realize that those folks were either too disorganized or inept to pull off a project like this, or else they were too timid, always afraid to harm me (or using this as an excuse, I don’t know). Anyway, fact is that I had a zillion cell searches during that time by the prison guards, but they were never suspicious of anything. After all, they were looking only for drugs, weapons, alcoholic beverages, cell phones and objects like that. Paper was not of any interest to them. Hence my piles of papers in my locker, on my desk and in my binders on the floor were always ignored…
It was at the time when I was preparing my defense speech that a correspondence partner contacted me, forwarding a question by Israeli dissident Israel Shamir. The mood I was in during those months prior to my second trial can be gleaned from my response, which is nothing short of a battle cry and which also passed through the enemy lines of censorship unintercepted.
After I had been sentenced to another 30 months due to my opus magnum “Lectures on the Holocaust,” I tried to publish my defense speech in German from within. Since censorship had been handed over by the judge to the prison staff after my verdict had become effective, I now had some keen readers of my correspondence among the prison staff itself. Since that publishing project involved sending lots of paper in and out and also was in German, it had to raise red flags. So one of those days I had the police visit me in prison (quite a parade of officers entering my tiny cell; what a spectacle!) in search of a dangerous stack of paper: my defense speech (what a threat to the state!), in which I had committed the crime of using adjectives of doubt in connection with historical claims (how dare I!). Plus I had quoted the indictment (yikes!), which consisted mostly of quotes from my book. Since my book was illegal, quoting it, even though contained in the indictment, was deemed illegal too… Fortunately my lawyer managed to get the case quashed.
One of the highlights was a Bible discussion group at Mannheim Prison. We had some 15 inmates, among them also Ernst Zündel and I. One day we discussed Paul’s letter from prison to some Christian congregation. His exhortation to stay true to his beliefs in spite of severe persecution made me comment that this is exactly what Ernst and I are experiencing. That made one of the inmates very angry (a PhD lawyer who had stolen a Spitzweg painting from a museum). He thought I was going to voice my historical views next, which he hated (although he probably didn’t know them). But that wasn’t what I had in mind. When I kept talking about parallels of those cases, he finally had enough and threatened to beat me up. I stayed very calm and merely argued that this is yet another parallel to Paul and the early Christians, who were also threatened with violence by a mob made rabid by utterly irrational hate propaganda. “Dr. Spitzweg” in turn jumped up, and only the intervention of the prison pastor and the social worker prevented him from getting physical. Both officials granted me freedom of speech, and that was the end of it. Ernst couldn’t believe what he had just experienced and that I had stayed so absolutely calm, unimpressed, rational, and cruelly to the point. I loved it!
When a judge had to decide toward the end of my term in mid-2009 whether I should be whacked with “conduct supervision” after my release, he relied on an assessment of my person by the prison authorities: I could not be deemed resocialized since I kept spreading my views among the inmates and because I had even tried to publish my defense speech from within. Bad boy! So I got a probation officer assigned to my side to keep an eye on me for three more years.
4. For Better or Worse
Even though the authorities treated me worse than other inmates because I did not recant my views and showed no signs of remorse, my lot was far better than that of the other inmates from a psychological point of view: being incarcerated did not tarnish my reputation, quite to the contrary. I wear it like a badge of honor, or as the German historian Prof. Dr. Ernst Nolte wrote to me in a letter after my release, I can now count myself among the men of honor who have gone to prison for reasons of conscience. Whereas most inmates lose most of their friends and often even the support of their families, my friends and family have stood firmly by me. Whereas most prisoners struggle financially and get in deep debt during their incarceration, as they lose their jobs and subsequently often also their home and property, I was very fortunate to find many generous supporters.
Most important and in contrast to most inmates, political prisoners don’t lose their feeling of meaning; they feel neither guilty nor ashamed of what they have done. Or as David Cole expressed it once: We are loud, we are proud, and the best of all: we are right!
This attitude, more than anything else, makes you wing even the toughest of times, and it keeps you going afterwards as well, as the New York Times correctly observed in an article entitled “Why Freed Dissidents Pick Path of Most Resistance.” This article, which was fittingly published five weeks prior to my release from prison, describes how Arab dissidents who were incarcerated for their peaceful political views went right back to their acts of civil disobedience once released from prison. As one of them expressed it:
“It is a matter not only of dignity, it is the sense of your life. It’s your choice of life, and if you give up, you will lose your sense of your life.”
He said he had no choice but to go right back to where he had left off.
|||See the document at the very end of my book Resistance Is Obligatory, Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2012.|
|||Published online at www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/world/middleeast/27egypt.html on 26 May 2009. A version of this article appeared in print on 27 May 2009, on page A6 of the New York edition under the headline “Once Freed from Prison, Dissidents Often Continue to Resist.”|