The trial of two German-Canadian siblings charged with inciting hatred, stemming from their denial of the Holocaust, has begun in Munich.
There was drama early in the proceedings, as co-accused Alfred Schaefer gave the Nazi straight-arm salute in the courtroom three times.
Only a few days earlier, Schaefer gave the salute at a neo-Nazi rally in Nuremburg, where he reportedly said, “It’s time to exterminate the kikes!”
Schaefer, 63, and his sister, Monika Schaefer, 59, are being tried together on six counts of “incitement to hatred,” for producing and posting videos in which they denied the Holocaust.
“Both are under suspicion (for publishing) video clips in which they denied the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust during World War II,” a court spokesperson told CBC News.
Monika Schaefer, of Jasper, Alta., who is being held in Munich’s Stadlheim prison during the trial, gained notoriety in July 2016, after appearing in YouTube videos, one in English and one in German, in which she described the Holocaust as the “biggest and most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history.”
She and her brother produced the videos.
Monika Schaefer said that while there were camps where prisoners were kept against their will, “these were work camps – the prisoners of the camps were being kept as healthy and as well-fed as was possible in those terrible war years.”
In 2014, she called former Green Party of Canada president Paul Estrin “a Zionist shill,” after he wrote a defence of Israel’s operations in Gaza that year. She said Jews “have taken control of most of our major institutions, including the media, the banks and the government,” and that Judaism is a “supremacist cult.… Remember who did 9/11 – the same criminal state, which is now destroying Gaza.”
She was arrested last January in Munich, where she was attending the trial of another Holocaust denier, Sylvia Stolz. Schaefer was likely on the radar of German police because B’nai Brith Canada had filed complaints against her with officials in that country.
B’nai Brith also contacted the German Jewish community “to ensure that local police complaints were filed against the Schaefers, as well,” according to Aidan Fishman, national director of the group’s League for Human Rights.
An environmentalist and musician from Jasper, Monika Schaefer, who was born in Canada to German parents, was the federal Green party’s candidate in the Alberta riding of Yellowhead in 2006, 2008 and 2011. She was ousted over the YouTube videos, which the party condemned “in the strongest possible terms.”
We are fully confident that Alfred and Monika Schaefer will face justice for their relentless incitement against Jews in Germany and Canada.
– Michael Mostyn
In May, Alfred Schaefer, who lives outside Munich, was convicted of incitement to hatred for a speech he delivered in the German city of Dresden in February 2017. He was fined 5,000 euros ($7,700).
According to Wild, Monika Schaefer’s lawyer, Wolfram Nahrath, “is known as one of the favourite lawyers of neo-Nazis,” and is “an extremist himself, often delivering speeches at neo-Nazi rallies.”
A recent article in Die Welt magazine called Nahrath “the most well-known defence lawyer among Holocaust deniers.”
The trial resumes July 16 and continues on Aug. 16 and 17. If convicted, the siblings face up to five years in prison.
“We are fully confident that Alfred and Monika Schaefer will face justice for their relentless incitement against Jews in Germany and Canada,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “We applaud the perseverance of German authorities in pursuing this case.”
The far-right group Canadian Association for Free Expression is providing daily updates on the trial on its website. It reported on July 3 that Alfred Schaefer surrendered his German and Canadian passports, so he could be released from custody.