Germans on trial for burning Frank diary

26th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 February 2007, Magdeburg, Germany (dpa) - Seven far-right Germans in their 20s who flung a copy of Anne Frank's Diary into a bonfire amid cheers from beer-drinking neo-Nazis went on trial for sedition Monday. The Summer Solstice Party last year in the small town of Pretzien, 130 kilometres west of Berlin, caused uproar in Germany last year after it was revealed that the town mayor and police were also present and saw nothing wrong in the book and a US flag being burned. Frank, a Jewish girl who died of

26 February 2007

Magdeburg, Germany (dpa) - Seven far-right Germans in their 20s who flung a copy of Anne Frank's Diary into a bonfire amid cheers from beer-drinking neo-Nazis went on trial for sedition Monday.

The Summer Solstice Party last year in the small town of Pretzien, 130 kilometres west of Berlin, caused uproar in Germany last year after it was revealed that the town mayor and police were also present and saw nothing wrong in the book and a US flag being burned.

Frank, a Jewish girl who died of typhus in 1945 at the age of 15 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, is a figure of hatred to Holocaust deniers because of her compelling story of life in hiding in Amsterdam before her capture by the Nazis.

At a court in Magdeburg, one of the accused, 25, admitted flinging the book in the fire on the evening of June 24 last year but denied sedition and said he had not wished to trivialize her ordeal. A second man who fed the fire denied they had planned the stunt in advance.

Public prosecutor Arnold Murra said, "They mocked Anne Frank, and in her name, every victim of the concentration camps."

Denying the Holocaust is punishable in Germany as sedition by up to five years' jail. Judges were expected to examine the right-wing motivations of all the accused, who range in age from 24 to 29. The other five men have not yet been heard.

The Solstice Party was a public event with beer and food in Pretzien's community building and was organized by the East Bank of the Elbe Homeland Association, a group set up by neo-Nazis and since dissolved.

Thomas Jauch, a lawyer for the 25-year-old, said, "He is sincerely sorry that he was misunderstood." The accused's intention had been to "symbolically free himself" from the gloom cast by the Nazi period on German history, the lawyer claimed to sceptical judges.

The man went on to deny witness testimony that he shouted "It's all lies anyway," as he burned the book. Asked how he would rate himself politically, he described himself as "tinted" right.

The men are also accused of insulting the dead. They have not been charged in connection with the burning of the US flag, a symbol that neo-Nazis revile because of the Allied bombing of Germany and the post-war "denazification" of the country.

Town police were rebuked last year for not stopping the burning in Pretzien, which is located in formerly communist eastern Germany. The growth of neo-Nazi clubs among youths in the east's economically blighted small towns has caused national concern.

DPA

Subject: German news

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