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Czech Police charge activist Jan Šinágl with genocide denial

Prague, 11.7.2012 21:01, (ROMEA)
ilustrační foto

The Czech Police have launched the prosecution of the well-known activist Jan Šinágl, charging him with the crime of denying, approving and justifying genocide. Officers said the defendant has published two articles on his website in which he "brutally denied the crimes committed by the Nazis against the Czech nation on the territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during the period after Reinhard Heydrich became Reichsprotektor in 1941 and in the aftermath of his assassination".

Police say Šinágl, who is a member of the board of the Sudeten German Countrymen's Association in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia (Sudetoněmecké krajanské sdružení v Čechách, na Moravě a ve Slezsku) denied the Nazi crimes in those two articles. The author says he is innocent. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

Last year, Šinágl published the texts on his website, entitled "Press Release: Prague Municipal Court versus the Sudeten German Association of the Czech Republic" ("Tisková zpráva: MS Praha versus Sudetoněmecké sdružení v České republice") and "Seven Days... and Farewell to the Sudetenland" ("7 dní ..... a sbohem Sudety"). According to the decision to initiate criminal prosecution, those are the texts in which Šinágl denied the Nazi crimes.

In the articles, Šinágl says the assassination of Heydrich was carried out against the will of the domestic resistance and that "hundreds if not thousands" of people were found in Prague who were ready to turn in the assassins. He also claims that the number of victims of Heydrich's government were only a fraction of the victims of the "postwar genocide" and that Heydrich's rule "cannot be compared to the way in which the communists governed during the 1950s". Police also say Šinágl claims that during the Nazi massacre of Lidice 172 people were killed, all of them male, and that the massacre took place in "wartime". Police say the total number of victims massacred was actually 340.

Šinágl, according to the decision to file charges, has told police that his texts cite other authors and include links to online documents. He says the number of victims of the Lidice massacre that he has referenced relates to a specific event within a specific timeframe. Šinágl also claims that he wrote the articles because he merely wanted to draw attention to other crimes and wrongs. He believes that the victims of crimes committed by Czechs are not much discussed and are often minimized. He also said that he did not intend "to spark sympathy for fascist movements, the policy of Nazi Germany or its representatives among readers of the articles".

This past March, Šinágl published an interview with one of the leading right-wing extremists in the Czech Republic, Patrik Vondrák, in which he helped Vondrák legitimize his opinions and positions. Several years ago, Šinágl joined neo-Nazis and other Holocaust deniers demonstrating in front of the German Embassy in Prague in support of Holocuast denier Ernst Zündel, who had been arrested in Germany. Many other figures came to shout the neo-Nazis down, including two 90-year-old women who had survived the Nazi concentration camps. Šinágl was there on the side of the neo-Nazis, from whom he borrowed a megaphone to rebuke the democratic counter-protesters for allegedly not being democrats because they were interrupting neo-Nazi speeches.

Political scientist Bohumil Doležal has stood up for Šinágl in the Czech daily Lidové noviny over his most recent scandal. Doležal believes Šinágl's texts do not deny the crimes of German Nazism and that police have initiated his prosecution because his opinions are nonconformist. "The charging of Mr Šinágl is an attempt at the exact opposite of a free discussion," Doležal said. The criminal charges against Šinágl were initially filed by a former deputy to the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly, Bohuslav Hubálek, the singer Helena Vondráčková, and her husband, Martin Michal.

Excerpts from one of Šinágl's articles:

"It is not well known that after the assassination of Heydrich (which was carried out against the will of the domestic resistance) a wave of nationwide opposition to the assassination rose up. In the eyes of the average Czech person, the assassins then had the same image as the Mašín brothers have today, i.e., the image of someone who irresponsibly disturbs a comfortable collaboration and confronts us with a difficult, uncomfortable moral dilemma. Hundreds if not thousands of people could be found in Prague at the time who were ready to turn the assassins in, and the reward of two million for assistance in tracking down the murderers was eventually divided into so many portions that the need later developed to invent a 'main' traitor, Karel Čurda, in order to cover up that fact.

Heydrich knew how to handle the Czechs. Immediately after taking office he abolished inequality in food rationing, and through other measures he managed to win the hearts of the average, slightly cowardly and very conformist Czech, who understood that if he would conscientiously work for the Reich, the Reich would take care of him and he would want for nothing, but that if he caused trouble, an evil fate awaited him. Heydrich was so certain of his policy that he could even afford to travel around the Protectorate in an open automobile without bodyguards, which would have been unthinkable anywhere else in occupied Europe. The Protectorate, in short, was a little paradise on earth. Heydrich's policy worked, and that is the problem the Czechs have with him to this day. For the rest, if we completely objectively compare the Reichsprotektor with the heads of state who followed him, we must acknowledge in all fairness that Heydrich definitely does not come out as the worst among them. The number of the victims of his government is just a fraction of the victims of the postwar genocide and cannot be compared to the way in which the communists governed during the 1950s. This raises the question of whether a law should not be passed honoring Heydrich's services, or whether at least a commemorative gathering at the site of the assassination should be held in the same numbers as those who met at the grave of the criminal and mass murderer Klement Gottwald this year?"

Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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