Wednesday

16th Jun 2021

Investigation

EU money used by neo-Nazi to promote Holocaust denial

  • Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. The newsletters promoted an event at a nearby manorhouse, owned by Holocaust-denier Ursula Haverbeck (Photo: Wikipedia)

European Parliament funds were used to promote Holocaust-deniers, in a series of newsletters published by a German neo-Nazi jailed for hate crimes.

W+B Medien Nordland Verlag, a small mail-order firm managed by militant neo-Nazi Thorsten Heise, received some €35,000 of European Parliament money in 2018.

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  • Cover of EU-funded newsletter showcases convicted Holocaust-denier Ursula Haferbeck (Photo: EUobserver)

Heise's criminal record includes the attempted murder of a Lebanese refugee, appearing in uniform at a Rudolf Hess Memorial March, distribution of CDs to incite hatred against minorities, and violent assaults.

He is known to organise neo-Nazi concerts and launched a record label spouting the same music from his home in Thuringia, a central state in Germany where people recently voted in a fascist for city council chair.

The money was handed over by Germany's Udo Voigt when he was still an MEP, representing the ultra-nationalist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD.)

EUobserver obtained the six newsletters published by Heise for Voigt via a freedom-of-information request.

The request was made after a European Parliament official in charge of so-called "non-attached" MEPs refused to disclose how the money was spent and by whom.

The newsletters are entitled "Nation in Europa" and were primarily written by glorifiers of the Nazi regime and Holocaust-deniers alongside short op-eds by Voigt.

Some of the writers had accompanied Voigt as 'journalists' on his parliamentary trips to Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Romania, Serbia, and Syria.

Spending rules violated

Among the more prominent writers was Karl Richter, a Saxony NPD parliamentary staff member, who dedicated a newsletter to Holocaust-denier Ursula Haferbeck.

A right-wing extremist with links to the NPD, Haferbeck claims the murder of millions of Jews was a historical fiction and a lie.

The octogenarian Haferbeck was sentenced to a two-and-half-year prison term in 2016 for Holocaust denial, a crime in Germany. That verdict followed a separate and earlier 11-month jail sentence for incitement to hate.

Her face then made front cover of one of the EU-funded newsletters, followed by a large block title demanding her immediate release. Voigt's status as a non-attached member is written in fine print in the top right hand corner.

This may be a violation of European Parliament rules, which says cover pages must clearly state the name of [the] MEP involved.

"Both the name and status [of the MEP] must be prominent and must appear on the cover page of any publication or information material produced," according to those rules.

Haferbeck's name pops up throughout the other newsletters, as do other Holocaust-deniers like Horst Mahler, who once tried unsuccessfully to seek asylum in Hungary to avoid jail in Germany.

Other writers include neo-Nazi activist Angelika Willig, Voigt's parliamentary assistant Kersten Radzimanowski, and former NPD chair Uwe Meenen.

Together they depicted Voigt, an MEP for the NPD from 2014-19, as a seasoned statesman who defended European identity against a liberal elite.

They praised him for supporting Azerbaijan's dictator Ilham Aliyev, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban, Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

They glorified Kremlin reactionary thinker Alexander Dugin at the so-called New Horizon conference in Iran, which was also attended by other conspiracists like rabbi David Weiss along with Voigt.

And they railed against the European Union, globalisation, Israel, liberal democracies, immigration, and repeat antisemitic conspiracies linked to George Soros.

Nazi book tour near Buchenwald

Voigt's own book was also promoted throughout the newsletters.

His book was printed by Europa Terra Nostra, a far-right European political foundation that also received EU funds.

The book-promotion included an article on an event inside a former manor house near Weimar, a city haunted by the atrocities committed at Buchenwald concentration camp only eight kilometres from its centre.

Also known as Guthmannshausen, the house had in the early 1990s been sold to Holocaust-denier Haverbeck.

The book event had been organised in December 2017 by far-right extremist and senior NPD member Frank Rohleder and was attended by neo-Nazi supporters.

Another article described Voigt's early morning meeting in Lebanon with a Maronite archbishop at a cafe next to a highway, where he handed him a signed copy of his book.

They also detailed a trip to Syria in a delegation led by Roberto Fiore, the leader of Italy's Forza Nuova party with Voigt in tow.

Belgian nationalist Hervé Van Laethem, Slovakia's neo-Nazi leader Marian Kotleba, and Croatia's NPD sympathiser Željko Glasnović were among the delegation.

In Damascus, they met with Grand mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun and senior ministry officials. They were then flown to Aleppo on a Russian YAK 40, where they met regime officials and had a "nice lunch".

"The plane rolled right up to the entrance of the reception building, where we [could] enjoy refreshing drinks," noted the article.

MEPs are allowed to use the money to finance "political and information activities" under the European Parliament's budget line.

The rules set out conditions for the money, noting it cannot be used for campaigns or to finance political parties at the national level.

Other notable MEPs who used this money to publish newsletters include former Hungarian MEP and alleged Russian spy, Bela Kovacs.

Kovacs awarded Budapest-based firm M-N Print KFT €25,000 to print two 16-page newsletters, also obtained by EUobserver.

This article was updated on 20 October, 2020 at 15:51. The original piece had incorrectly stated that the words "non-attached" did not appear on the cover.

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