I didn’t know this.
I have always hated and avoided the World War II era.
“The enemies of free speech see ‘Hitler’ as a kind of trump card against calls for unrestricted and unadulterated free speech. The implication is that the Nazis’ rise to power and the Holocaust could have been prevented if only the German state had been prepared to censor Nazi propaganda.
The historical truth is that the Nazis and their ideas were often censored in Weimar Germany. Anti-Semitic speech was prohibited by law. The offence of ‘insulting communities of faith’ carried a three-year prison sentence. As Flemming Rose points out in The Tyranny of Silence, leading Nazis including Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch and Julius Streicher were all prosecuted for hate speech before they rose to power – and Streicher was imprisoned twice. The Nazi publication Der Stürmer was regularly confiscated and its editors were taken to court on at least 36 occasions.
Far from ‘free speech’ allowing Nazism to flourish, attempts to censor Nazi propaganda often backfired. Rather than tackling Nazi anti-Semitism, dragging leading Nazis through the courts allowed them to pose as martyrs. As Alan Bovoroy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, writes in When Freedoms Collide: ‘During the 15 years before Hitler came to power, there were more than 200 prosecutions based on anti-Semitic speech… As subsequent history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it.’
“Researching my book, I looked into what actually happened in the Weimar Republic. I found that, contrary to what most people think, Weimar Germany did have hate-speech laws, and they were applied quite frequently. The assertion that Nazi propaganda played a significant role in mobilizing anti-Jewish sentiment is, of course, irrefutable. But to claim that the Holocaust could have been prevented if only anti-Semitic speech and Nazi propaganda had been banned has little basis in reality. Leading Nazis such as Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch, and Julius Streicher were all prosecuted for anti-Semitic speech. Streicher served two prison sentences. Rather than deterring the Nazis and countering anti-Semitism, the many court cases served as effective public-relations machinery, affording Streicher the kind of attention he would never have found in a climate of a free and open debate**. In the years from 1923 to 1933,**Der Stürmer[Streicher’s newspaper] was either confiscated or editors taken to court on no fewer than thirty-six occasions. The more charges Streicher faced, the greater became the admiration of his supporters. The courts became an important platform for Streicher’s campaign against the Jews. In the words of a present-day civil-rights campaigner, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the anti-hate laws of today, and they were enforced with some vigor. As history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it …”
Did you know there was more deplatforming, Antifa violence and prosecutions for hate speech in the Weimar Republic than there is today?