Schriftleitergesetz: Hiding the Holocaust with censorship

There is ongoing debate about whether the average German citizen knew anything about the Holocaust while it was in progress. If they did know, there remains a question about the exact point in time, for example, was it known in 1942 or only in 1943? Wikipedia has an article dedicated to the very question of how much the German population knew and when.

Brunhilde Pomsel was the secretary of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Despite her proximity to the Nazi leadership, she is one of many government employees who denied any knowledge of what her boss was doing. Is this plausible?

In fact, we can see that the Nazis went to great lengths to cultivate a culture of silence. They began doing this in the early days of their rule. The Schriftleitergesetz was introduced in October 1933. This was a Code of Conduct for the newspapers and journalists. (article in English and original legislation in German)

The reports about Schriftleitergesetz give many details about the everyday practical impact of the law. For example, every journalist had to do a new training course and exam. The most significant thing to note about Schriftleitergesetz is that journalists could be arrested in the same manner as rapists and murderers.

Many were not willing to tolerate that risk: The Guardian was banned from Germany. Other newspapers chose to shut down or work from abroad.

In the years after World War 2, various countries have decided to adopt laws on criminal speech/defamation. In other words, as in Nazi Germany, these laws put speaking and writing into the same category as rape and murder by giving it a notion of criminality.

If you write a blog post about the Scientologists then every week, one of the Scientologists in your region will go to a police station and file a complaint about you. There is no cost for these fanatics to go and make these complaints. The system encourages them to do so.

The very existence of such laws adds friction to communication. People may fear the police coming to their workplace to ask questions about something they wrote on Twitter, so they don't write anything at all.

It is easy to imagine that the German population had hints about the Holocaust. They knew that people were disappearing. Nonetheless, they would have been terrified to talk about the disappearances. Speech was a crime.

We can compare free speech to a nuclear reaction. The spread of information is like the spread of neutrons in the fuel. If the neutrons can spread quickly enough then there is a self-sustaining chain reaction and power is generated. If a neutron inhibitor like graphite or heavy water is used to separate the fuel rods then the chain reaction is not self-sustaining and it quickly stops. Criminal speech laws and the fanatics who exploit them tend to have the same effect as the graphite. They are an inhibitor to all communication, they prevent the spread of important facts, such as volunteer suicides to the same extent that they inhibit fake news and defamation.

This, in turn, allows regimes to cover up and perpetuate whatever manner of conspiracies they are engaged in.

Here is a translation from the law:

Editors are especially bound to keep out of the newspapers anything which: (…) tends to weaken the strength of the German Reich, outwardly or inwardly, the common will of the German people, the German defense ability, culture, or economy, or offends the religious sentiments of others.

Here is an example of the criminal speech/defamation law in Switzerland:

Any person who in addressing a third party, makes an accusation against or casts suspicion on another of dishonourable conduct or of other conduct that is liable to damage another's reputation, any person who disseminates such accusations or suspicions, is liable on complaint to a monetary penalty.

The law goes on to say that people are guilty until proven innocent:

If the accused proves that the statement made or disseminated by him corresponds to the truth or that he had substantial grounds to hold an honest belief that it was true, he is not liable to a penalty.

The police and the judges, who are appointed by politicians, become a second master for every journalist and blogger.

Articles about the Schriftleitergesetz note that the propaganda ministry was like a second master for every journalist, carrying more influence than the newspaper owners:

Anyone who worked for the press was directly subordinate to the Ministry of Propaganda and was accountable to the Ministry – instead of to their publishers.

In practice, the presence of this second master makes many people afraid to speak and therefore it limits the flow of important information like volunteer suicides.

We can see a similar phenomena in the Catholic abuse crisis in Australia. Looking through the official report, we see that people were aware of things in their local communities back in the 1980s and 1990s. The church was able to very effectively stop these discussions by moving the priest to the other side of the city and asking the victim to sign a confidentiality agreement in exchange for some cash.

Now we see the same phenomena in Debian, FSFE and other free software communities. People disappear. Fanatics can openly call for disappearances, for example, compare the words of Molly de Blanc to the words of Adolf Hitler. Banning people implies some sort of violence:

Our communities have no space for people like Richard M. Stallman

Dr Stallman is from a Jewish background. Hitler wrote similar things about the Jews:

the total removal of all Jews from our midst

Each time somebody defended Dr Stallman they were censored from mailing lists, IRC channels and some social media platforms. They would be ex-communicated within a matter of minutes.

The Nazis were similarly brutal. If somebody defended a Jew, that person would suffer immediate retribution. It is unlikely a third or fourth person would step in to save that person.

We now see the same phenomena in Debian. Cabal members have submitted documents in various legal proceedings claiming that because all the rival opinions have been deleted from online discussions, they don't exist at all. They claim that everybody agrees with them, not because it is true, but because everybody else has been beaten into silence or disappeared.

One prominent example of this was the second expulsion of Dr Norbert Preining. Dr Preining had simply mentioned the name of a victim and he was punished brutally and immediately.

Dr Preining: No there is no public record (for now), as all happened on debian-private. In due time I will document the whole process, since I have access to all of debian-private until recently. Time to show what really went on.

The responses from Pierre-Elliott Bécue are truly chilling:

And as debian-private is private, there is little to no chance a Debian Member will provide any mail Norbert might not provide.

The Nazis gave similar orders to their troops: what goes on in Auschwitz stays in Auschwitz. Fascist groups the world over use the same tactics to cultivative silence.

And, for the sake of clarity, neither Norbert should provide no mail at all, for the forementioned reason.

This is really chilling. Bécue is telling us that even if somebody leaves Debian, that person must continue to remain obedient and complicit in hiding things.

Asking Dr Preining to remain silent even after he has been expelled is like the church asking abuse victims to sign a confidentiality agreement. As long as Dr Preining remains silent, the cabal can act with impunity and exploit new victims, a lot like the priests who were moved to new locations.

The Debian Social Contract tells us:

We will not hide problems

Volunteers have begun leaking debian-private archives through IPFS. For IPFS to work in the long term, it requires people to run the local IPFS daemon and pin the content ID of the content that is being shared.

The recent demise of the Red Hat source code makes the debian-private archives particularly relevant. The archives contain many of the early discussions about the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and the relationships between Debian, OSI, SPI and Red Hat.