Chemist Germar Rudolf is one of the most often cited Holocaust deniers of the past decade, and now he'll have to answer for his contention that there were no Auschwitz gas chambers.
Rudolf's lawyers are well known for repesenting far-right causes
The 42-year-old Rudolf was arraigned at a regional court in Mannheim on Monday. Prosecutors accuse him of "representing the Holocaust as a myth," which is forbidden under German law. He faces a second charge of disturbing the peace of the dead.
Rudolf called the Holocaust "a gigantic fraud," at the start of proceedings in Mannheim.
Rudolf, who has a degree in chemistry, first attracted attention in the early 1990s, when he was called as an expert witness for the defense in the trial of a former German military general accused of denying the Holocaust. The report Rudolf submitted to the court claimed that chemical tests carried out on material from the Auschwitz concentration camp proved that there were no gas chambers there.
Rudolf was fired by his employer, the Max Planck Institute, when that institution found out he had used his position to carry out the tests. In 1996, a court in the German city of Tübingen found him guilty of public incitement for denying the Holocaust and sentenced him to 14 months in jail.
Rudolf fled Germany to escape that sentence, traveling first to Spain, then England. He eventually landed in the United States, where he unsuccessfully applied for political asylum.
In November 2005, he was deported to Germany, where the authorities immediately arrested him.
Pseudonyms as sources
The evidence for the Holocuats is overwhelming, but denial remains a problem
Rudolf has been linked with the German far right, in particular with the Republican Party. In 1998, he submitted expert testimony on behalf of British Holocaust denier David Irving in the latter's libel lawsuit against Penguin Books. Irving lost that suit.
Rudolf has published a number of works disputing the reality of the Holocaust. He has used half a dozen pseudonyms and had admitted to citing works published under his assumed names in order to create the impression that others support his theses. He also gave an interview with an Islamic radio station in which he disputes central facts concerning the Holocaust.
Rudolf is the second prominent Holocaust denier to face charges in Mannheim this year. This trial of the first, Ernst Zündel, got underway in June and is still going on.
A verdict in Rudolf's case is not expected until 2007.