'Nazi Grandma' holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck sentenced to jail

An 87-year-old woman has been sentenced to prison after she claimed that Jews were never exterminated in Auschwitz. Her criminal record includes two fines and another sentence for sedition.

A court in Detmold on Friday sentenced Ursula Haverbeck to eight months in jail on charges of sedition. The presiding judge ruled out the possibility of parole and said that Haverbeck had a lack of "any kind of respect" and that she had made more offensive comments in the courtroom.

Haverbeck is expected to appeal against the sentencing. In Germany, anyone who publicly denies, endorses or plays down the extermination of Jews during Adolf Hitler's regime can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail.

Haverbeck was found guilty of writing a letter to Detmold's mayor, Rainer Heller, saying it was "clearly recognizable" that Auschwitz was nothing more than a labor camp. She wrote her message at the time when the Detmold court was trying Reinhold Hanning, a former guard who served at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Deutschland Detmold Prozess gegen Reinhold Hanning früherer Auschwitz-Wachmann

Reinhold Hanning (center) was witness to thousands of murders at Auschwitz

The 94-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison after the court found him guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people, mostly Jews. Haverbeck spoke about Hanning's trial in her letter, alleging that the witnesses at the trial were set up to prove the existence of the concentration camp.

Ursula Haverbeck is known for her right-wing extremist views. Several courts have sentenced her and her punishments include two fines and another suspended sedition sentence. She was on trial last year for saying that the Holocaust was "the biggest and longest-lasting lie in history."

An estimated 6 million Jews were exterminated across Europe under Adolf Hitler's dictatorship.

mg/kms (AFP, dpa)

The original bas-relief "Athletes" can be found in the sports ground of Vogelsang College. Most of the 2,000 exclusively male students schooled there and at another Nazi college in Krössinsee in what is now Poland came from lower-middle-class backgrounds and had suffered unemployment in the recession that preceded Hitler's rise. The curriculum consisted largely of physical exercise and drills.

Pictured from the new exhibition is a photo of the "cult chamber" which featured a statue of the "new German man" flanked on the walls by the names of "martyrs" killed in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923. The exhibition also contains striking photographs of ordinary-looking men smiling in their uniforms, as well as interactive displays with testimony by Holocaust victims.

Vogelsang was opened to the public in 2006 after the Belgian army vacated it, confronting authorities with a dilemma because the place is festooned with Nazi symbols and statues. Researcher Gabriele Harzheim is pictured holding a historic photo of the site.

A court in Detmold on Friday sentenced Ursula Haverbeck to eight months in jail on charges of sedition. The presiding judge ruled out the possibility of parole and said that Haverbeck had a lack of "any kind of respect" and that she had made more offensive comments in the courtroom.

Haverbeck is expected to appeal against the sentencing. In Germany, anyone who publicly denies, endorses or plays down the extermination of Jews during Adolf Hitler's regime can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail.

Haverbeck was found guilty of writing a letter to Detmold's mayor, Rainer Heller, saying it was "clearly recognizable" that Auschwitz was nothing more than a labor camp. She wrote her message at the time when the Detmold court was trying Reinhold Hanning, a former guard who served at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Deutschland Detmold Prozess gegen Reinhold Hanning früherer Auschwitz-Wachmann

Reinhold Hanning (center) was witness to thousands of murders at Auschwitz

The 94-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison after the court found him guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people, mostly Jews. Haverbeck spoke about Hanning's trial in her letter, alleging that the witnesses at the trial were set up to prove the existence of the concentration camp.

Ursula Haverbeck is known for her right-wing extremist views. Several courts have sentenced her and her punishments include two fines and another suspended sedition sentence. She was on trial last year for saying that the Holocaust was "the biggest and longest-lasting lie in history."

An estimated 6 million Jews were exterminated across Europe under Adolf Hitler's dictatorship.

mg/kms (AFP, dpa)

History

The Nazi ideal

A new exhibition at the Vogelsang College, a former Nazi School in western Germany, opens on September 11 as part of a 45-million-euro ($50-million) project to secure the crumbling buildings. The exhibition includes this model of a bas-relief depicting idealized athletes at Vogelsang. The damaged original still stands at the sports ground of the site.

History

Making up for past wounds

The original bas-relief "Athletes" can be found in the sports ground of Vogelsang College. Most of the 2,000 exclusively male students schooled there and at another Nazi college in Krössinsee in what is now Poland came from lower-middle-class backgrounds and had suffered unemployment in the recession that preceded Hitler's rise. The curriculum consisted largely of physical exercise and drills.

History

Site used for military after WWII

Vogelsang straddles a slope overlooking a spectacular vista of lakes and wooded hills in the Eifel region of western Germany. It was off-limits for 60 years because it was used as a military base and training camp for NATO troops.

History

Medieval imagery

This Teutonic knight can be seen at an entrance tower to Vogelsang College. Formed at the end of the 12th century, the Teutonic knights were an order formed to protect Christian pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. Many of the Nazi symbols draw on medieval imagery.

History

How ordinary men became capable of terror

Pictured from the new exhibition is a photo of the "cult chamber" which featured a statue of the "new German man" flanked on the walls by the names of "martyrs" killed in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923. The exhibition also contains striking photographs of ordinary-looking men smiling in their uniforms, as well as interactive displays with testimony by Holocaust victims.

History

The making of monsters

Stefan Wunsch is the scientific director of the exhibition. He is pictured with an exhibit containing an interview with Lithuanian Holocaust survivor Mascha Rolnikaite, talking about the so-called "Butcher of Vilnius" Franz Murer, a former college student at a different Nazi college in Krössinsee who was responsible for killing thousands of Jews in Lithuania.

History

What does Vogelsang mean for me?

"Visitors are confronted with the question, 'What has this got to do with me?' If you look at political developments today, it's very relevant," says Gabriele Harzheim, a researcher at Vogelsang. Here, she is pictured standing in the former cult chamber inside the main tower of Vogelsang with photos of it in its original state.

History

A tarnished site

Vogelsang was opened to the public in 2006 after the Belgian army vacated it, confronting authorities with a dilemma because the place is festooned with Nazi symbols and statues. Researcher Gabriele Harzheim is pictured holding a historic photo of the site.

History

Ideological architecture

The communal halls at Vogelsang were feudal and elaborately decorated, while the squat, barrack-like dormitories were spartan to emphasize the community over the individual.

History

Historical witness

Organizers expect the new exhibition and surrounding facility to draw 300,000 visitors per year. However, neo-Nazis also continue to visit the place. This five-meter (16.4-foot) torch bearer at Vogelsang College is a popular location for them to unfurl propaganda banners and have photos taken of themselves.

History

Nazi sites may draw extremists

Museum directors and tourism officials are well aware of the risk of pandering to "dark tourism" - neo-Nazis fascinated with the macabre grandeur of the Nazi regime. Curators have tried to break the spell with sober exhibitions and architectural changes that counter the soaring bombasticism of Hitler's architects.

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