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B.H., M.W., H.P. and G.K. v. Austria, dec., No. 12774/87, ECommHR, 12 October 1987


Expression of National Socialist ideas. Discrimination in sanctioning those who deny or minimize crimes of National Socialism. Lawful interference with freedom of expression.

Normative references

Art. 10 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR


1.    The prohibition against activities involving the expression of National Socialist ideas can be justified as being “necessary in a democratic society” within the meaning of Art. 10, para 2 ECHR. This is mainly given the historical past forming the background of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

2.    Different sanctions are admissible for those who deny and minimize different crimes in view of the specific historical experience of a county, its international obligations, and its social context.

(In the instant case, the applicant, a member of a right-wing political organization, was convicted of having committed activities inspired by National Socialist ideas. He complains of a violation of Art. 10 and Art. 14 ECHR. On one hand, he argued that historical facts should be discussed freely in a democratic society. On the other, he observed that sanctions are not provided by Austrian authorities for those who deny or minimize war crimes of the Allied Parties. The Commission found that the applicant's complaints were manifestly ill-founded and rejected the application).