Letter from Prof. Vladimir Deijer


Mettur Bungalow, Wolfgang Abendroth

Podanur - 641 023 Gunther Anders

INDIA - Tamilnadu

Mehmet Ali Aybar

Lelio Basso

Simone de Beauvoir

Lazaro Cardenas

Stokeley Carmichael

Lawrence Daly

Dave Dellinger

Isaac Deutscher

Amado Hernandez

Mahmud Ali Kasuri

Kinju Morikawa

Shoichi Sakata

Laurent Schwartz


Ralph Schoenman

June 24th, 1988.

Dear Mr. Premanand,

The recent, alarming accusation of attorney Gottfried Niemietz under Section 166 Criminal Code, the so-called "blasphemy paragraph", in the Federal Republic of Germany gives me cause to write to you.

Since our common appeal for the abolition of this medieval paragraph resistance against this new inquisition has been successful in several cases thanks to international support. Yet the German authorities are far from abandoning atheist persecution.

With the accusation of the Freiburg attorney Gottfried Niemietz in May this compaign has come to a new climax. Gottfried Niemietz is the leading legal expert on blasphemy legislation in West Germany, of whose capability and integrity I have the highest personal esteem. Our close cooperation in this cause in recent years made him a personal friend to me. He has successfully defended several victims of this modern inquisition all over Germany. Just three weeks ago he achieved an acquittal for two Wuerzburg journalists accused for a critical article on the church. By his numerous lectures in this field, in Germany as well as abroad, he has become a symbolic figure for the atheist opposition in the FRG.

Gottfried Niemietz is accused for giving a scientific lecture on the historic background of Section 166 in Wuerzburg on December 11th last year. The local bishop himself, as well as a listener of the lecture, had informed against him. There are two charges: Firstly the marking of the church as the biggest criminal organisation of history and secondly an insulting remark ("Kleriker-Schweine") Gottfried Niemietz is claimed to have made.

As for the first charge: Apart from the fact that in a democracy it should be possible discussing this historical evaluation anywhere anytime, the public prosecutor even supresses that it was merely a quotation of a former client of Gottfried Niemietz, the atheist Birgit Roemermann of Goettingen, who for this statement had been harshly fined in an earlier 166 procedure.

As for the second charge: There is clear evidence that Gottfried Niemietz never made this remark.

The fact that the authorities boldly ignore basic legal regulations in the accusation, and that for the first time they accuse a 166 defense lawyer himself and even incriminate a scientific lecture show that they have but one aim: to condemn - and thus silence - Gottfried Niemietz. There is no doubt that they are well aware of his importance, both as the most successful 166 defence lawyer as well as a key figure of the West German atheist opposition in general.

The experience of the Russell Tribunal has shown over and over that only the protest of an international democratic public can stop violations of Human Rights in West Germany. I have sent a cable of protest to the authorities. I appeal to you to join my protest and to demand the instantaneous discontinuation of the procedure against Gottfried Niemietz. Thank you for your support.

Prof. Vladmir Dedijer,

President of Russell Tribunal.

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Last update: 27 August 1998