|Thies Christophersen (1918-1997) was a pioneer revisionist writer and courageous fighter for truth in history.
In a memoir first published in Germany in 1973, he related his wartime experiences as a German army officer in the Auschwitz camp complex. "During the time I was in Auschwitz, I did not notice the slightest evidence of mass gassings," he wrote in Die Auschwitz-Lüge ("The Auschwitz Lie"). As one of the first important works squarely to confront the Auschwitz extermination legend, Christophersen's first-hand account was a major factor in the growth and development of Holocaust revisionism.
"The Auschwitz Lie" caused an immediate sensation in Germany, where it was soon banned. This did not stop publication of German-language editions in Switzerland and Denmark, however, and before long editions appeared in all the major European languages, including several in English. Christophersen predictably came under hostile and mendacious media attack.
Until the outbreak of war in Europe, he worked as a farmer in Schleswig, northern Germany. Called to military service, he was badly wounded in 1940 while serving in the western campaign. After recuperating and undergoing some specialized agricultural training, he was assigned to a research center in German-occupied Ukraine that experimentally cultivated a variety of dandelion (kok saghyz) as an alternative source of natural rubber derived from the plant's latex.
In the face of Soviet military advances, the center was transferred to the labor camp of Raisko, a satellite of Auschwitz. During the period he lived and worked there January to December 1944 Christophersen was responsible for the daily work of inmate laborers. The young second lieutenant supervised about 300 workers, many of them Jewish, of whom 200 were women from the Raisko camp, and 100 were men from the nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. On a number of occasions he visited Birkenau where, it is alleged, hundreds of thousands of Jews were systematically gassed to death in May-July 1944. Although he knew of Birkenau's crematories, it wasn't until after the war that he first heard anything of "gas chamber" killings or mass exterminations.
After the war he returned to farming. An ardent and life-long defender of the interests of German farmers, he also turned his considerable talents as a writer to this cause. For years he edited and published the quarterly magazine Die Bauernschaft ("The Farming Community"), which served as a forum for his straight-forward reporting and forthright and often witty commentary on cultural, historical and current social-political issues. He also ran the Nordwind book service, which distributed a range of works, including revisionist titles.
In March 1988 he testified in the "Holocaust trial" in Toronto of German-Canadian Ernst Zündel. Under oath, he detailed his wartime experiences at Auschwitz, and answered numerous pointed questions by the prosecuting attorney.
Although he was never prosecuted for his "Auschwitz Lie" booklet, he was charged for other outspoken writings. In the 1980s he served a year in prison on charges of "insulting the state" and "insulting the memory of the dead."
Driven from his homeland, he was forced to live in exile in Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland. While Danish police stood by, hundreds of "anti-fascist" thugs attacked his modest home in the small town of Kollund, pelting it with stones and defacing it with spray paint. They also severely damaged his book warehouse and, using corrosive acid, ravaged his car and expensive copy equipment. After months of such abuse, in 1995 Christophersen was forced to leave Denmark. Ill with cancer, he sought treatment in Switzerland, but in December 1995 was forced to leave that country. He next found temporary refuge in Spain. Meanwhile, the German printer of his Bauernschaft magazine was fined 50,000 marks.
During his final months, German officials treated him as a virtual "enemy of the state." His bank account in Germany was closed down, and in early 1996 a German court rejected his application to return to his homeland for a brief visit to attend the burial of a son who had died in a car crash. On the grounds that he had no permanent place of residence, in 1996 German authorities cancelled his state medical insurance coverage and stopped payment of his modest state retirement pension (into which he had paid for 45 years), as well as his military service pension.
Christophersen was arrested for the last time a few weeks before his death. A German judge declared him too ill to be jailed, and he was released to a son's custody. He died a few days later, on February 13, 1997.
For more about Christophersen and his life, see his essay, "Reflections on Auschwitz and West German Justice," from the Spring 1985 Journal of Historical Review, and the obituary in the May-June 1997 Journal of Historical Review.