Calling a legal proceeding a “show trial” amounts to accusing the involved judiciary of not playing by the rules of a fair trial. The degree of unfairness can vary, of course. The following are some of the features that distinguish show trials from normal, fair trials. The more of them are that are present, the more a trial has the characteristics of a show trial. The following list of key features of show trials includes a brief discussion of the degree to which these features are typically given for trials against alleged perpetrators of claimed Holocaust crimes, or of historical dissidents challenging the mainstream narrative in countries where this is a criminal offense (see the “Penal Law” section of the entry on censorship):
- The crime as such, which in some cases is invented or exaggerated, cannot be challenged, or only with great obstacles. As the entries on absurd claims, exaggerated death tolls, cremation propaganda and many individual witnesses demonstrate, claims about the Holocaust have been partially invented and at times greatly exaggerated. Furthermore, ever since and including the Allied post-war trials, the Holocaust, with many of its claimed constituent crimes, has been legally undeniable and incontestable in many countries. Even in the U.S., the court dealing with the Mermelstein case decided that the use of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz cannot be contested. The “reality” of Holocaust claims is said to be as self-evident as the fact that water doesn’t flow uphill. (Although that is circular logic, because we define uphill as the direction in which water doesn’t flow.)
- The alleged crimes are described as extraordinarily evil. The Holocaust is frequently referred to as the worst crime in the history of mankind, the nadir of absolute evil. Challenging the veracity of Holocaust claims in turn is equated with violating the world’s holiest of all taboos. There is no heresy worse than contesting that “it” happened the way that the orthodoxy claims it did.
- The indictment contains polemical and/or political expressions. Defendants accused of perpetrating Holocaust crimes are frequently depicted as assistants of the devil incarnate, Adolf Hitler. Scholars trying to revise the lopsided historical image are called by media and judiciary the worst names our society has at its disposal: deniers, anti-Semites, Nazis, racists…
- During the trial, the acts investigated are forced into an overarching ideological framework of alleged moral or historical evil. During trials against alleged perpetrators, it is common legal practice not to focus primarily on the defendant’s deeds, but first to paint a grand image of unique and unparalleled National-Socialist atrocities, in which the defendant’s acts are portrayed as a more-or-less important cogwheel in the machinery of unimaginable terror. Any attempt to portray events in a more differentiated way is seen as a despicable and in some countries even illegal act of “minimizing” or “trivializing” the Holocaust.
- The judges are subjected to significant political and public pressure to sentence the defendants. Especially during Israeli trials (against Adolf Eichmann and John Demjanjuk) and during West-German proceedings against alleged NS perpetrators, public and political expectations were massive to see the defendants convicted and sentenced severely. Whenever a defendant was acquitted or punished only mildly, harsh criticism was sure to follow. See the entry on Karl Wolff to learn, how even juries were pressured to secure convictions. So far only one case is known where judges decided to convict a historical dissident mildly, granting him honorable motives in trying to defend his nation (Günter Deckert, Germany). This caused a media uproar which led to this judge, Dr. Rainer Orlet, having to retire early to avoid prosecution.
- The defendants/victims are unpopular individuals, usually political or ideological dissidents. There is no political ideology more despised than National Socialism. Any defendant accused of participation in claimed Holocaust crimes is inevitably linked to that ideology. Most were even members of the party or one of its affiliated organizations. Historical dissidents on this topic are also regularly depicted as adherents of this most-nefarious of all ideologies, although that is not even true in most cases.
- The aim is to deter and discipline adherents and sympathizers of the targeted political or ideological group. After the war, the aim clearly was to utterly destroy the targeted political groups – National Socialism as an ideology and its organizations as their manifestation – to destroy their reputation for all eternity, and to deter anyone from developing any sympathy for them. This goal has not changed to this day, and the judiciary is misused to achieve it. This is not to say that combating totalitarian or dictatorial ideologies isn’t a legitimate objective. However, abusing the judiciary to achieve political or ideological objectives is clearly wrong.
- One-sided media attention serves to publicly prejudge, denigrate and humiliate the defendants. One of the first things the Allies did after the war was to ensure that no media outlet existed in Europe that could present arguments of the other side. Total censorship came down over Europe. Only one side of the story has ever been published during trials against alleged Holocaust perpetrators, and with great sensationalism. The Holocaust narrative that media outlets are allowed to tell is today enshrined by law in many European countries, in Israel, Australia and Canada. Amazon, Google, YouTube, Ingram Content Group, and other major players on the Internet and in the distribution of media items have joined the club of total censorship of dissident viewpoints. As a result, the mainstream media can spread their one-sided and mendacious stories with impunity and without anyone correcting or complementing them. Dissidents, in particular those on trial, have been and are portrayed by the mainstream media as vile individuals deserving the utmost contempt and punishment. The mainstream media ferociously demand the destruction of free speech, so they can solidify their monopoly over the public mind.
- Principles of the rule of law are disregarded, in particular by curtailing the rights of the defense. The Allied postwar trials had a legal framework that made it practically impossible for the defendants to muster any kind of efficient defense. First, new laws were applied retro-actively. Next, anything witnesses for the prosecution claimed was considered true until proven otherwise. Claims in reports filed by the prosecution were incontestable. Defense lawyers could not speak in private with their clients. Access to the prosecution’s files were severely limited or not granted at all. But the worst was yet to come: when dissidents started challenging the taboo in the 1980s and 1990s, new case law was created in some countries (such as Germany) that declared it a crime to introduce any evidence challenging the taboo, and a new law allows – in fact, obligates – the court to muzzle defense lawyers if they dare challenge the taboo orally during the proceedings.
- Testimonies of alleged victims, often presented in an emotional way, receive precedent over other, more reliable types of evidence, such as documents, material evidence and expert testimonies, although testimonies of parties who have a vested interest are notoriously highly unreliable. The sad truth is that not a single defense lawyer, let alone judge or prosecutor, in any of the hundreds of trials dealing with Holocaust crimes, ever asked for the introduction of documental or physical evidence that may clarify whether the purported crimes did indeed occur, or whether certain claims about them were physically possible. Furthermore, no trace of a murder victim was ever found or forensically investigated, and no trace of a murder weapon was ever found or subjected to a forensic investigation. (With two known exceptions: the Vienna Auschwitz trial against Walter Dejaco and Fritz Ertl, where an expert witness was asked to interpret crematorium blueprints – see the entry on Walter Dejaco – and one trial in Australia, where the court initiated the exhumation of a mass grave; see the section “Forensic Findings” of the entry on the Einsatzgruppen). No normal murder trial could even begin without some trace of the victims and weapons, and could certainly never obtain a conviction. The first trials where the defense tried introducing such evidence were the trials against Holocaust dissident Ernst Zündel. After this, several other trials against historical dissidents have followed suit. However, the main outcome of this was not the unbiased evaluation of the evidence offered, but an increase in persecution of the dissidents daring to challenge the taboo, foremost directed against expert witnesses attempting to show that certain Holocaust claims can be refuted with documental and material evidence.
- Confessions and witness testimonies are obtained by illegal means (manipulation, suggestion, bribery, pressure, coercion, torture etc.). Toward the end of the war and in subsequent years, all Allied occupational forces systematically used torture and other extortion methods to obtain “confessions” from incarcerated defendants, and “survivor” organizations used their leverage over food rations and lodging options to pressure “survivors” into complicity with their scheme of writing a one-sided history. Later, prosecutors and “survivor” organization collaborated in compiling dossiers on certain crime complexes containing detailed “information” on all potential perpetrators and their claimed crimes, which were sent to witnesses, so they could learn what they were expected to “know.”
- The harsh verdict is at times disproportionate to the claimed crime. There is no punishment harsh enough for mass murder, so this cannot apply. However, in recent years, even mere bureaucrats in administrative positions, not involved in any murderous activities, were prosecuted and punished. It is argued that they must have known what is now considered “self-evident,” hence they must have known that they were aiding in mass murder. And even if not, lack of knowledge is not permitted as a defense. On the other hand, there is no parallel in the history of mankind to what has happened primarily in Europe after the war: an entire civilization decided to prescribe the writing of history by penal law and mercilessly imprison those who voice dissident points of view, with cumulative prison terms that may exceed 10 years – for writing controversial but peaceful texts about history. The world hasn’t seen such perfidy since the medieval Inquisition.
In conclusion, almost every single trial ever held against any alleged Holocaust perpetrator, and every single trial ever staged against any Holocaust dissident, has been a show trial. There may be variations as to the degree of show-trial character, but all trials fulfilled most of the above-listed criteria.
The one exception from that rule was the previously mentioned Vienna Auschwitz trial of 1972 against Dejaco and Ertl. There, the judges asked for an expert report to verify whether the blueprints of the crematoria provided by the Auschwitz Museum show any indication that these buildings contained homicidal gas chambers, or if not, whether the rooms claimed to have been such gas chambers could conceivably have been converted to serve such a purpose.
Even skilled judges are incompetent as historians, and many, if not most, verdicts ever handed down in this matter have later been demonstrated to be grossly inaccurate, if not outright wrong. History cannot and must not be written by court decisions.