Application Number 25062/94

European Commission of Human Rights

The applicant wrote articles in a periodical which denied the existence of gas chambers and the mass extermination of the victims of the Holocaust. The EComHR found that this was not protected speech, rendering the application manifestly ill-founded.


Theme(s): Genocide Denial (Holocaust)

Date: 18 October 1995

Description of applicant(s): Writer/Editor of various periodicals

Brief description of facts: The Investigating Judge of the Vienna Regional Court instituted preliminary investigations against the applicant on the suspicion that articles written, published and distributed by the applicant in his periodical “Halt” constituted National Socialist activities.  The investigations related to articles which appeared in the above periodical in September and November 1986 which denied the existence of gas chambers in concentration camps under the National Socialist regime and mass extermination therein.

(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Jews

The Commission’s assessment of the impugned speech: The Commission noted that speech related to the promotion of National Socialist ideas is not protected speech under Article 10. It then proceeded to note the relevance of Article 17 and find the application manifestly ill-founded. A clear cut distinction between the use of this article is not particularly apparent in this case.

Important paragraph(s) from the judgment:

The Commission refers to its previous case-law in which it has held that “the prohibition against activities involving the expression of National Socialist ideas is both lawful in Austria and, in view of the historical past forming the immediate background of the Convention itself, can be justified as being necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security and territorial integrity as well as for the prevention of crime.

The Commission particularly notes the findings of the Court of Assizes and the Supreme Court that the applicant’s publications in a biased and polemical manner far from any scientific objectivity denied the systematic killing of Jews in National Socialist concentration camps by use of toxic gas.  The Commission has previously held that statements of the kind the applicant made ran counter one of the basic ideas of the Convention, as expressed in its preamble, namely justice and peace, and further reflect racial and religious discrimination

ECHR Article: Article 17

Decision: Manifestly ill-founded

Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Commission in its assessment? No