Alberta Holocaust denier convicted in Germany for 'incitement to hatred'

An Alberta woman arrested in Germany on “incitement to hatred” charges has been convicted and sentenced to time served.

Monika Schaefer released on time served

Monika Schaefer was arrested in Germany after she denied the Holocaust ever happened in an online video. (Emilio Avalos/CBC)

An Alberta woman arrested in Germany on "incitement to hatred" charges has been convicted and sentenced to time served.

Monika Schaefer's trial concluded in a Munich courthouse on Friday, according to German freelance photojournalist Anne Wild.

Schaefer, who comes from Jasper, Alta., was sentenced to 10 months but was later released because she has been in prison since charges were laid in January.

Wild said Schaefer talked for more than three hours in the courtroom on Friday. 

"She talked about her youth in Canada and the end of her career with the Green Party, and how she came to question 9/11. And after that, she started to question historical events in general, such as the Holocaust."

'Full of hatred' 

Wild, who contracts with organizations that monitor far-right activities, has been covering the trial throughout more than 20 days of proceedings.

"She said that she didn't feel any hatred, and I don't think the judge believed her, and he made that clear in his verdict," Wild said.  

"He said it right out that what [Schaefer] had done was full of hatred."

Schaefer, 59, and her German-Canadian brother, Alfred Schaefer, were tried together for Volksverhetzung, which translates in English from the German Criminal Code as "incitement to hatred."

Alfred Schaefer, 63, received a prison sentence of three years and two months.

Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in Germany. The sentence for the crime ranges from fines to up to five years in prison.

The Schaefer trial began in early July, and final arguments were heard this week.

Monika Schaefer gained notoriety in July 2016 after appearing in a YouTube video in which she described the Holocaust as the "biggest and most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history."

In the video, titled Sorry mom, I was wrong about the Holocaust, she expressed her view that six million Jewish people did not die at the hands of Nazi Germany, and referred to the Holocaust as "the six-million lie."   

At least one hate speech complaint was filed against her with the Alberta and Canadian human rights commissions. ​

She was arrested in Munich in January while attending the trial of Sylvia Stolz, who was later convicted as a Holocaust denier. Schaefer was charged with six counts of "incitement."

Born in Canada of German heritage, Monika Schaefer described herself on her Facebook page as a self-employed violin instructor. She ran for the federal Green Party in Alberta's Yellowhead riding in 2006, 2008 and 2011. She was ousted from the party after the controversial video surfaced online.

B'nai Brith Canada, a human rights organization involved with combating racism and anti-Semitism, welcomed news of the convictions. 

"We are very pleased to see Alfred and Monika Schaefer facing legal consequences for incitement to hatred under German law," Ran Ukashi, national director of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada, said Friday in an emailed statement. 

"B'nai Brith Canada alerted German authorities to a despicable 2016 Holocaust denial video produced in Germany by the Schaefers, which is illegal in the country.

"We have been following their activities for years and regularly documented their disgusting and vicious promotion of not only Holocaust denial but other anti-Semitic tropes, and could not be more satisfied to see anti-Semitism being met with consequences."

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon

Journalist

Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca