Man sentenced for projecting antisemitic conspiracy theory on Anne Frank House - Hindustan Times

Neo-Nazi man given two-month prison sentence for projecting antisemitic conspiracy theory on Anne Frank house museum

Oct 20, 2023 08:29 AM IST

Robert Wilson was convicted of inciting discrimination for projecting false conspiracy theory on museum. Court sees it as a form of Holocaust denial.

A neo-Nazi group member was given a two-month prison sentence for projecting an antisemitic conspiracy theory on the Anne Frank House Museum, the historic building in Amsterdam where Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.

The building in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding for two years. (Shutterstock)
The building in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding for two years. (Shutterstock)

Robert Wilson, a Polish-Canadian citizen, was convicted of insulting a group and inciting discrimination for using a laser projector in his van to display the words “Ann [sic] Frank invented the ballpoint pen” on the museum’s wall in February. The words are based on a false conspiracy theory that claims the Jewish girl’s famous diary was not authentic.

This caused widespread outrage in the Netherlands, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte denouncing it as a “reprehensible” act.

“We can never and should never accept this,” Rutte wrote on X at the time.

The court agreed with him on Thursday.

“Given the great symbolic significance of Anne Frank’s diary for the commemoration of the persecution of the Jews, this statement can be regarded as a form of Holocaust denial,” the court said in its ruling.

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Wilson, who did not appear in court for the verdict, had already spent two months in pre-trial detention, so he effectively served his sentence already.

Footage of his antisemitic act was shared on an anti-jewish Telegram channel. However, the court said there was not enough evidence to prove that he was responsible for distributing the racist image.

Wilson has always maintained his innocence, saying he was in Amsterdam for a weekend trip with his girlfriend and daughter, and that he had no idea where the museum was located.

According to prosecutors, Wilson is a significant figure within the Goyim Defense League, an identified neo-Nazi organization

He also has a history of legal troubles.

In the United States, he is currently confronting charges related to assault and using homophobic slurs towards a neighbor. Meanwhile, Polish authorities are probing whether Wilson stood in front of the Auschwitz concentration camp, displaying a sign bearing antisemitic slogans.

The phrase that Wilson projected was based on a theory promoted by Holocaust deniers that argues that Frank’s diary is fake because some pages found among her papers were written in ballpoint pen. The pages, which were discovered in the 1980s, were accidentally left in the diary in the 1960s by researchers. But conspiracy theorists say they show that the diary is fake because the ballpoint pen was not available in the Netherlands in the 1940s.

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Anne Frank's family was deported in August 1944(IFTN/United Archives/picture alliance )
Anne Frank's family was deported in August 1944(IFTN/United Archives/picture alliance )

Frank, who hid with her family in the 17th-century canal house for more than two years, kept a diary throughout her ordeal, which ended when the Gestapo arrested her family in the summer of 1944.

Her father, Otto, was the only one who survived the Nazi death camps where they were sent.

In 1947, he fulfilled his 16-year-old daughter's lifelong dream of becoming a writer by publishing her diary.

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