Regular readers are familiar with the German free-speech activist Conny Axel Meier, who spoke at the 2007 Brussels Conference. A translation of Conny’s article about the kangaroo trial of Michael Mannheimer was also featured in this space last spring. The latter article gave rise to the charges that author now faces for “insulting” a judge by questioning the competence of his decision.
Our Canadian correspondent Rembrandt Clancy has translated a selection of material on Conny Axel Meier’s case, and accompanies it with his own explanatory description. The translator includes this note:
In the Addendum to the PI article the author brings together the Mannheimer and Meier cases, but it not entirely understandable by itself, unless readers have been following a number of PI articles which appeared as the Michael Mannheimer’s case unfolded. Thus I have included a long end note designed to clarify the actors and time sequences mentioned in the Addendum. Since the author makes the point that Mannheimer’s Manifesto is a political target of the judges, I include my own translation of its last four paragraphs, so that those interested can get a first-hand view of what is at stake.
Heilbronn: Once Again, A Penal Order Against an Islam Critic
by Rembrandt Clancy
Is it possible that a German with the official title of Regional Court Judge would file a charge of “Insult”* against someone who addressed him in an Internet posting as “District Court Judge”? Or are there deeper waters? These are the questions addressed in the current article “Heilbronn: Once Again, A Penal Order* Against Islam Critic” posted on the German Internet portal Politically Incorrect on 7 February 2014.
* Note: The following legal terms are translated as follows throughout:
Insult: Beleidigung, which may carry the meaning of “slander” or “libel”, is rendered here as “insult” following its official English translation in the German Criminal Code, Section 185.)
A “penal order” is the official translation of Strafbefehl following the Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (BMJ), the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, in their English translation of the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO). Compare for example the Criminal Code § 373a and the BMJ’s official English translation of it. The “penal order” may specify a fine, is without proceedings, and the monetary penalty is always expressed primarily as a daily rate (Tagessatz), a system which takes into account the “personal and financial circumstances” of the accused. If the defendant appeals the penal order within a specified time period, the fine is annulled and a trial date is set. For the rules on daily rates see Section 40 of the German Criminal Code.
“It seems that in Germany, court documents are not released to the public, so it is hard to verify trials” (The Legal Project).
The subject of the following article is Mr. Conny Axel Meier, who on 2 May 2013 wrote an analysis of the trial of Michael Mannheimer, a journalist and Counterjihad activist. District Court Judge Thomas Berkner of Heilbronn, in northern Baden-Württemberg, found Michael Mannheimer guilty of insult. Now the same court has charged Conny Axel Meier himself with insult based on statements he made in his critical article entitled “Farce-Trial in Heilbronn District Court”, and posted 3 May 2013 on Gates of Vienna.
Conny Axel Meier is “the Chief Executive Manager of Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (Citizens’ Movement Pax Europa, BPE), the foremost Human Rights organization in Germany, which fights against the rising threats being imposed by the Islamization of Europe” (Baron Bodissey).
But there is another important aspect to the identity of Conny Axel Meier. We are reminded of it by the salient “analogy” Mr. Meier draws between a particular aspect of the Mannheimer trial, presided over by Heilbronn District Court Judge Thomas Berkner, and a very specific corresponding practice in the show trials presided over by the notorious National Socialist judge, Roland Freisler (d. 1945), to be elaborated below. Freisler was a lawyer, judge and president of the so-called Volksgericht, or People’s Court. The patriots of the German White Rose (Weiße Rose) resistance, known for their underground leaflet campaign between 1942 and 1943 calling for citizens to resist the Third Reich, were among those featured in Freisler’s show trials, which ended in the decapitation of the White Rose members, including the famous Sophie Scholl.
Therefore it is perhaps ironic, in light of the foregoing “analogy” between the historical and the current trial, that Conny Axel Meier and Michael Mannheimer were among 8 activists who in July of 2012 resurrected the White Rose (Weiße Rose). Also present among the new founders was the last surviving member of the original resistance, the late Susanne Zeller-Herzel, a close friend of Sophie Scholl.
The following one-and-a-half minute video permits a more intimate appreciation of Conny Axel Meier on the occasion of the revival of the White Rose. He speaks about the danger to freedom of speech, which is of course what his trial and that of Michael Mannheimer are about.
Heilbronn: Once Again, A Penal Order Against an Islam Critic
By Politically Incorrect
The Heilbronn judiciary has struck once again. Apparently it is their goal to silence the Islam-critical publicist Michael Mannheimer from Heilbronn, but this time someone else has been nabbed. On 22 January 2014 a penal order [Strafbefehl, see Introduction] was received by the director of the Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, Conny Axel Meier, who happens to live within the catchment area of the competence of the same Heilbronn District Court. The interesting thing about it is that the two cases of Mannheimer and Meier are directly connected with each other, as much regionally as thematically, for Meier was present as an observer at the proceeding against Mannheimer and published an article about it which was posted by Politically Incorrect (“Prozess-Farce am Amtsgericht Heilbronn”) and it also appeared in English translation at Gates of Vienna [Farce-Trial at Heilbronn District Court].
The presiding judge at the time, Thomas Berkner, did not like this article at all, for he found in it an injury to his dignity and honour, for which reason he filed a charge of “insult” [Beleidigung, see Introduction] against Meier. But this case is much more complicated than that, for Berkner — so it may be supposed — complained about Meier’s text to his supervisor, the President of the Heilbronn District Court, Reiner Hettinger. Among officials, it appears likely that it is not the person immediately affected who can press charges, but his superior (the superior’s fiduciary duty to provide for the welfare of his officials). One may consider the exact procedure to have unfolded somewhat as follows:
In his capacity as Thomas Berkner’s superior at the District Court Heilbronn, Hettinger files a demand for prosecution with the Public Prosecutor’s Office Heilbronn. The public prosecutor, who is working only a few hundred metres away from the said District Court, and who maintains almost daily and personal contact with the District Court Judges, is compliantly carrying out the Chief Justice’s request. Now Hettinger’s Court sends on its own account the penal order to the accused, Conny Axel Meier. Therefore the District Court is not independent, but partial and is acting on its own account; and indeed, is acting both as complainant and adjudicator in one and the same dispute… funny!
Arising from the complaint of Berkner or his superior, Hettinger, a penal order was issued to Meier in the amount of 2,400 Euros adjusted to 60 daily rates at 40 Euros each [See Introduction]. Against this penal order Meier’s solicitor launched an appeal by the due date. Thus it will come to a further litigation at the District Court Heilbronn against a German citizen who is involved in Islam-criticism, whereby the aforementioned circumstances — to express it very delicately — give rise to considerable reservations about the legality of the proceedings. Reservations increase when one reads the charge. The said penal order states the following verbatim:
On 18 April 2013 on the internet blog “Politically Incorrect”, the accused published an article entitled “Trial-Farce at the District Court Heilbronn”, which was devoted to the criminal proceedings against M.M. [Michael Mannheimer] which was before the District Court. Therein he directed a abusive criticism, which was to a very large extent derogatory, to the competent court Judge of the District Court, Berkner; whereby he consciously and deliberately diminished the latter, in a manner directed at his personality, as “District Court Judge Thomas Berkner”; and with corresponding intention he libellously argued that: “a postponement of the trial date was denied by Judge Thomas Berkner on the flimsiest of grounds.”
Let us take stock for the moment, as astounded and visibly affected as we are: It is an insult and a devalorisation to designate a judge of a District Court as a “District Court Judge”. Even with the best will in the world, this appears to us difficult if not impossible to comprehend, especially in view of the fact that — now hold on — no less of a body than the “German Association of Judges” [Deutsche Richterbund] refers to its judges in the District Courts of Germany as, guess what? Right: “District Court Judges”. It is to this same “German Association of Judges” to which Chief Justice Reiner Hettinger of the District Court Heilbronn presumably belongs, the one who is prosecuting the charges in the stead of his subordinate, Judge Berkner, who likewise, being of the District Court Heilbronn, also presumably belongs to the same association. Thus the following is written verbatim on the home page of the “German Association of Judges”:
More than half of all judges who adjudicate nationwide in the ordinary court [of law] are District Court Judges. They constitute the majority of the judges of the ordinary court.
And — to finally crown the absurdity of this penal order — the judges have their own completely special professional association, consisting entirely of judges of the German district courts, and which is not for instance called: the “Association of Judges Adjudicating in District Courts”, but the “District Court Association” [Amtsrichterverband e.V.]. In other words, the designation “District Court Judge”, which Conny Axel Meier chose as a designation for Judge Berkner of the District Court Heilbronn, is used by both the German Association of Judges [Deutschen Richterbund] and also by the Professional Association of District Judges [Berufsverband der Amtsrichter] in precisely this way, as the professional title for the magistracy of every German judge, which without any doubt also includes Thomas Berkner.
But the Heilbronn District Court sees in the standard and highly official professional title “District Judge” an “abusive criticism which was to a very large extent derogatory” and which had as its goal the diminishment (!) of the plaintiff, Judge Berkner. On the assumption that the viewpoint of the Heilbronn District Court is correct, we, as juridical laity, have the following questions of the complainant, Judge Berkner; of his supervisor, the District Court President, Hettinger; and the office of the two, the Heilbronn District Court, which issued the penal order against Conny Axel Meier:
|1.||Were Meier to pay this penal order (by withdrawing his appeal) and be penalised for disparaging Berkner, whom he disparaged as “District Court Judge” (according to the penal order), would the Heilbronn District Court not have to issue penal orders forthwith against the “German Judges Association” (Deutschen Richterbund) and against his own professional association, the “District Court Association (Amtsrichterverband e.V.), both of which (see above) use precisely this appellation for judges of District Courts?|
|2.||Were Meier to go through the trial and lose, then would the Heilbronn District Court likewise not have to launch proceedings immediately against the “German Association of Judges” [Deutschen Richterbund] and the “Professional Association of District Court Judges” [Berufsverband der Amtsrichter]? In the final analysis, the dismissive term “District Court Judge”, which is mentioned in the penal order, is used very much officially by both associations as a professional designation for judges who are adjudicating in the district courts.|
|3.||Or does such a juridical faux pas unfold internally, absent of any kind of consequences whatsoever for colleagues of a professional group who are sometimes characterised as “gods in black” on account of their quasi-unassailability even in the case of clear contraventions of the law?|
|4.||How can it be that a German district court is unaware that official sources and their own professional associations call their judges “District Court Judge”?|
|5.||How can it be, and how is it tolerated that a district court charge is brought against a German citizen who addresses a judge at the District Court correctly as “District Court Judge”, on the basis that this term is an “abusive criticism, which was to a very large extent derogatory to the competent court judge, Berkner, of the District Court”?|
|6.||Is it true that the Heilbronn District Court, which issued this penal order, is not at all primarily concerned about the accusation of Insult (wholly inaccurate and absurd), but instead is interested in the fact that a German citizen had dared to rebuke a judge at all? Is the present issue therefore not about the future prevention of any chiding of judges, which — if one reads the applicable article — is seen by many judges even as the “lèse-majesté” of a professional group which imagines itself unassailable?
Question after question, for which however we are rather certain that no answers will be forthcoming from the District Court. But perhaps this juridical farce will find its way into the most sacred precincts of the German jurists, and indeed appear as an article in the “Neuen Juristischen Wochenschrift” (NJW) [New Juridical Weekly], “the most important journal for the theory and practice of law in Germany” according to Wikipedia, and will be internally discussed therein on legal grounds — shielded from the vexatious non-juridical public.
Now, that was the first strike of the Heilbronn District Court against Conny Axel Meier. Judge Berkner’s second reproach referencing the abusive criticism, allegedly contained in Meier’s article, reads as follows (verbatim excerpt from the penal order against Meier):
[…] a postponement of the trial date was denied by Judge Thomas Berkner on the flimsiest of grounds. A defendant, to whom the right to defence is withheld in such a shabby manner [solch miese Art] is unknown even from the People’s Court trials [Volksgerichtsprozessen] of Roland Freisler [see Introduction]. Although there too, the sentences were for the most part already determined, the defendant was permitted pro forma consultation with a defence counsel. Even this was denied Michael Mannheimer at the District Court. A fair trial has a different appearance.
A scientific investigation will verify that Meier’s statement about Roland Freisler is historically correct. A juridical investigation will verify that it is likewise correct that Berkner is in violation of § 217 StPO, 218 [Strafprozessordnung, or Code of Criminal Procedure], for he quashed the application of the Mannheimer council for a postponement of the trial date; the lawyer’s basis for his submission being that he had received the invitation for the defence at too late a stage. It will likewise be proven that the challenge on the grounds of bias, which was received on behalf of the Mannheimer defence against Berkner (and other judges), were likewise wrongfully dismissed.
Therefore Meier’s assertion that the Heilbronn Court unlawfully denied a defendant his defence counsel, and likewise denied a postponement to another date, is truthful and correct. The facts cited by Meier are both on their individual merits, and also in their analogy to each other, incontrovertible. To infer from these (which presumably happened in the case of Berkner, his superior and on the part of the Heilbronn public prosecutor), that Meier thereby placed Judge Berkner on an equal footing with Roland Freisler, is incorrect and is completely unsubstantiated by the evidence.
Meier avails himself of a comparison which is reasonable and well-founded, especially in view of our National Socialist past and the efforts of Germany to divorce herself from this era in the wake of the National Socialist period. That Berkner is no Freisler is beyond dispute, and Meier also confirmed this with us unconditionally. Berkner’s denial of defence counsel to Michael Mannheimer was the sole point at issue which brought about a connection with Freisler’s practices; a connection, which by way of this singular point of analogy, even made it possible for the accused to be at variance with Berkner. If such analogies are no longer covered by freedom of speech, then there is no longer freedom of speech.
Conny Axel Meier is anticipating the trial in a relaxed frame of mind. He told Politically Incorrect that he is amazed that judges are so thin-skinned. Apart from that he says he is unwilling to comment further on the ongoing proceedings.
Although Mannheimer had made a Call for Resistance Against the Political Establishment, an action against him for alleged “incitement to hatred” [Volksverhetzung]* (the plaintiff is an Imam in North Rhine-Westphalia), had still not been initiated when the Bodenmiller action, which took place very much later, was pushed through as quickly as possible and (from the standpoint of the external observer) ended with the expected guilty verdict. It was desirable for Mannheimer to be seen as guilty. This appeared clear to all observers of the trial (including the attending media representatives, who in any event would like to have seen Mannheimer convicted)**.
The charges against Mannheimer therefore aim primarily at the judicial obstruction or shutdown of Islam-criticism (which is a part of the basic right to free speech), whilst the charge against Meier pursues the strategy of criminalising any criticism of judges. Together, both themes are closely interrelated in terms of both content and scope, for the investigating judges are looking into matters of Islam-criticism.
Were judges to allow their modus operandi or their decisions to be criticised, they would be open to attack when sentencing Islam critics. Therefore, they proceed against Islam critics just as ruthlessly, and with legally questionable methods (to formulate the matter very cautiously), as they do against those who criticise them. For when criticism of judges is no longer possible, then they will have arrived where many judges are pleased to see themselves: hovering above the law as “gods in black robes”.
** [Translator’s note: Michael Mannheimer’s appeal of District Court Judge Thomas Berkner’s guilty verdict to the Court of Second Instance in Heilbronn failed on 27 November 2013 and he was found guilty of two charges, “insult” and “copyright violation”. He is appealing (cf. Politically Incorrect). Albert Bodenmiller, also mentioned in the Addendum, was a joint plaintiff in the very same proceedings, resulting in Michael Mannheimer’s being convicted on a second charge of copyright violation. Mannheimer had published a photo of Bodenmiller without permission, although the said photo was already available on the Rottenburg city Council Website, and Bodenmiller is a public figure, a city councillor in Rottenburg am Neckar in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The Schwarzwaelder-bote.de a regional newspaper in the Black Forest, refers to Bodenmiller as litigious (Klagewütiger) and labels him as an obstructionist (Quertreiber).
According to Family Security Matters, on October 11, 2011 Mannheimer published an article (no longer accessible) on his personal web site which was “sharply critical of Bodenmiller as one of the ‘Enemies of Germany’ [Feinde Deutschlands]. In this article Mannheimer … presented Bodenmiller as an ‘SED-Man’ or member of the ruling Communist party (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands or Socialist Unity Party of Germany) in the former East German Soviet-satellite dictatorship”.
Therefore, according to the theory expressed in the Addendum, the court procedures connected with the Manifesto are being delayed pending conviction on the above charges stemming from much later events. Hence Michael Mannheimer would face charges of “incitement to hatred” (Volksverhetzung) already glowing with the aura of “guilty”. Mannheimer’s defence lawyers noted that “Parts of the Strafbefehl presented themselves as almost literal repetitions of the August 16, 2011, criminal complaint from the Imam Baschschar Maasri of the Islamic Center [Islamisches Zentrum] in Düsseldorf”, the Imam mentioned in the Addendum. “Did”, asks the defense team, “the judiciary allow itself to become an extended arm of legal jihad?” (Family Security Matters)
So readers appreciate the impact of Michael Mannheimer’s Manifesto of 8 April 2011, “Call for General Resistance of the German People according to article 20/4 of the German Constitution”, the present writer presents his own translation of only that portion of the Manifesto which calls for action, the last four paragraphs. The rest of the manifesto can be found by following the above link.
Last Four Paragraphs of Michael Mannheimer’s Manifesto
In consideration of the fact that the entire German establishment, politicians, scientists, media, the courts and now even the churches sympathise and collaborate with Islam, and in accordance with the interests of Islam, they have made a massive transition to working on the gradual abolition of the German Constitution; and, in consideration likewise of the unconstitutional de-ethnicising of the German population, which is contrary to previously enacted Supreme Court decisions, contrary to the expressed will of our Constitution and contrary to the will of the absolute majority of the population, I consider therefore that the time has arrived to call for the implementation and rigorous bringing to bear of the right to resistance (and the duty to resist) of all Germans pursuant to Article 20, Section 4 of the Basic Law!
The aforementioned article and section of the Basic Law reads as follows:
All Germans shall have the right to resist any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order, if no other remedy is available (Source: Deutsche Bundestag: Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany).
Mr. Mannheimer continues:
Under the provisions of this right to resistance, the German people have the right and duty to rise up against ALL forces, which are poised to abolish the German Constitution — which includes political parties, local and state governments and the federal government — but also the media and other important disseminators of public opinion, which support all of the aforementioned. The right to resistance expressly permits this combat by all means available, even armed and under conditions of a civil war, when other measures have failed.
German citizens! German police! Soldiers and officers of Germany! Rise up! Defend your liberty and the liberty of us all! Defend the continued existence of our liberal Constitution against its enemies, which come from the ranks of ALL political parties and the editorial offices of most German media! And defend it likewise against the enemies who come from the ranks of those Islamic immigrants, who wish to make our country an Islamic country and introduce here the barbaric, pre-Stone Age Sharia.
Drive the ruling establishment from their offices and writing rooms! Put those responsible on trial. As in 1933 this establishment has failed! Organise yourselves! Get off your sofas! Take to the streets! Take up arms when there are no remaining alternatives: for us, for our children, for our history! Long live freedom!
Germany, 8. April 2011
Revival of the White Rose, Conny Axel Meier
I am very much pleased about this initiative which was launched by Marc [Doll] to awaken the White Rose to new life, because especially at the present time, it is enormously important to be able to support free expression of opinion, which in those days was not possible, and which today is still only conditionally possible. It is also very important to stand up for our standard of human rights worldwide.
And when one considers that back then the White Rose, which today through historical misrepresentation is being pushed into proximity with so-called anti-fascists, actually was a national-conservative, liberal movement.
Then it is also necessary to bring this standpoint back into the public eye again. Indeed, if one first reads through the leaflets of the White Rose and becomes familiar with their contents, then one will not run away from it screaming nowadays.
But one must naturally look at it from the perspective of those former times. And we no longer live today as in 1933; we are also no longer living as in 1943, but we are now living in 2012. And yet, even today freedom of speech is in danger, as is freedom generally, and for that reason it is important that a movement emerge, which is open to everyone, to all who support freedom, democracy and human rights.
And for that reason I consider this initiative very significant.
For links to previous articles by or about Michael Mannheimer, see the Michael Mannheimer Archives.