Sydney, Australia, Saturday, April 17, 1999
Rewriting the Holocaust
Crusader for truth or Holocaust denier? Penelope Debelle follows the career of Frederick Toben.
"Wish me luck," Dr Fredrick Toben posted on his Web site at the end of March  as he left Eastern Europe and entered Germany on a provocative research mission in the cause of Holocaust revisionism.
A fortnight later, the German-born Australian schoolteacher found himself in jail in Mannheim.
Dr Toben, who runs the international Holocaust revisionist forum, the Adelaide Institute, primarily through a well-organised Web site, is expected to be in jail for at least the next three to four months until a hearing is held.
After that, bail is likely to be set at a level which his Australian lawyer, Mr John Bennett, from the Australian Civil Liberties Union, expects to be as high as $100,000 and is unlikely to be met.
A court case will then be fought accusing Dr Toben of defaming the dead, a charge introduced in Germany specifically to curb Holocaust denial.
According to Mr Bennett, who will go to Germany for Dr Toben's hearing, the charge carries a possible jail sentence of five years.
Dr Toben says he is not a Holocaust denier.
"No-one denies that this terrible thing happened," Dr Toben told me in a 1996 interview. "We are looking at the allegations that Germans systematically killed people, specifically Jews, in homicidal gas chambers."
His Adelaide Institute colleague, David Brockschmidt, who knew Oskar Schindler and says his father organised the work permits for 1,200 Jews to travel from Poland to Schindler's Czech factory, says Dr Toben is a courageous man, a free and independent thinker and truth-seeker.
"None of us are neo-Nazis or any nonsense which the other side -- especially organised Jewry -- is trying to throw on us," Brockschmidt says. "One of our major jobs is to divide the historical fact from the hysterical fact of war propaganda.
"If you have a few loonies of the neo-Nazi Right who hop on the bandwagon and use that, that's too bad and we cannot stop that, but more than 90 per cent of us, I can tell you, are serious people."
Brockschmidt met Toben in Adelaide at a viewing of the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler's List. The film, he says, was Hollywood Zionist propaganda soap opera.
"I couldn't believe what this Hollywood man, Steven Spielberg, made out of it," Brockschmidt says.
"It's a sad thing that these people have to forget history all the time to get what they want."
Brockschmidt introduced himself to Toben and was immediately impressed with the institute and his work. It is neither racist nor anti-Semitic, he says, but scientific research.
"History and the Holocaust has nothing to do with race," he says. "It's history, facts and figures -- nothing more."
Jeremy Jones, the Sydney-based director of community affairs for the Australia, Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, says his office received distressed calls from Holocaust survivors and their children after Toben's Web site -- which can be found using the word Auschwitz in a search engine -- began in early 1996.
As well as being investigated by the Human Rights Commission after complaints by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, it is the continuing subject of direct complaint by Mr Jones's council under the Federal Racial Hatred Act.
"Fredrick Toben is one of a number of Australians who has sought to offend, insult, intimidate or bring into contempt Jewish Australians through the vehicle of Holocaust denial," Mr Jones said. "Neither he nor his colleagues deserve anything but the contempt of all thinking Australians."
Toben, 55, is a driven man. Born in Jade, northern Germany, in 1944, he emigrated to Australia when he was 10 to live with his family at Edenhope, western Victoria. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees from Melbourne and Wellington universities, and a PhD in English and philosophy from Melbourne.
He went on to teach at Goroke Consolidated School near Edenhope but in 1985 fell foul of the Victorian Education Department and was sacked, allegedly for incompetence and disobedience.
Toben, who after that drove the school bus to earn money, took the Education Department to court, claiming wrongful dismissal. His claim was upheld and he was awarded a small sum but was not re- employed, although he tutored in sociology for a time at Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education, now a Deakin University campus. He wrote a book about the sacking called Bloodied but Unbowed.
After moving to South Australia, Dr Toben has worked sporadically as a temporary relief teacher but his employment record shows only one day of relief teaching last year and none in 1999.
Over the past five years, the Adelaide Institute and its pursuit of a Holocaust without the Auschwitz gas chambers and with far fewer casualties has become his passion.
This journey, he says, is the final intellectual challenge of the 20th century.
"We are worried about the fact that to date it has been impossible to reconstruct a homicidal gas chamber," Toben writes of the institute's forensically based mission to prove, or disprove, the Holocaust.
"Even the Holocaust Museum in Washington informed us that it could not bring one across from Europe because there are none available. This is like a space museum without a rocket or the Vatican without a crucifix."
Brockschmidt is expecting a media backlash against the Adelaide Institute but overall, with Toben in jail, business could not be better.
"We are extremely happy about it because the feedback coming from all over the world is fantastic," he says. "And they are creating a martyr."
Historical note: The Nazi Holocaust of Jewish people in World War II is one of the most thoroughly researched subjects of modern history. Scholars agree the total number killed is between 5.8 million and 6.6 million, and that nearly a third of those were murdered in death camps, many by the use of poison gas or diesel exhaust.
German bid to muzzle Internet
Germany will use its prosecution of the Adelaide-based Holocaust revisionist, Dr Fredrick Toben, to try to erect national boundaries over the Internet.
Dr Toben, arrested in Mannheim, Germany, last week for publicly disputing the mass murder of Jews, is being charged over material posted on his Adelaide Institute Web site.
The Australian online liberty group said because the material was downloaded in Germany it was being treated as a German publication for which Dr Toben was liable under laws prohibiting Holocaust denial.
The charges were separate from those arising from Dr Toben's conversation with a government prosecutor, Mr Hans Klein, and which led to his arrest.
West Australian lawyer Mr Kimberley Heitman, chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the German Government was in effect deciding it intended to legislate for the entire world.
But Mr Heitman said its attempts to enforce this in an international medium forum were likely to be futile.
"As a result we should simply acknowledge that the global Internet is the sort of resource where the opinion of one Government doesn't mean much," Mr Heitman said.
Germany has made three similar attempts to bring the Internet to heel, without much success. The American Internet service provider Compuserve voluntarily censored pornographic material from its service feeds in a clumsy attempt to meet Germany's concerns but Mr Heitman said the material simply turned up on other providers.--Penelope Debelle