German tourism worker fired for Holocaust denial views

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NEW YORK — An employee of the German Tourist Board with ties to the Holocaust denial movement was fired from her job last month, soon after her views were exposed.

Elke Berg worked for 18 years as director of special promotions for the tourist board, a body that officially represents the nation of Germany in the United States.

Berg apparently helped her husband, Friedrich Berg, with the translation of an article, "Typhus and the Jews," for a Holocaust denial publication, the Journal for Historical Review.

The article was published in the winter 1988-1989 edition of the journal, which denies that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. The journal is published by the Institute of Historical Review of Torrance, Calif.

Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center discovered Berg's connection to the denial movement last week, and wrote a letter May 10 to the German consul general of New York.

"Since Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany, it is astounding that a representative of an official German body can hold such a position," wrote Weitzman, director of the center's Task Force Against Hate.

One day later, Hans Heinrich von Stackelberg, acting consul general of New York, wrote to Weitzman that Berg was being dismissed, effective immediately.

"It is totally unacceptable for the German Consulate General, that government-subsidized agencies employ people with revisionist views," the consul general wrote to Weitzman.

He noted that Berg's translations, which had been written under her maiden name, Kniekamp, "would most likely be punishable under German criminal law."

Berg has reportedly claimed that her translations for the article were of a technical nature only.

She reputedly had been using her maiden name to avoid detection.

Friedrich Berg's activities have been tracked for years by the Wiesenthal Center, according to Weitzman, who called him "a prime source for Holocaust denial."

In the article "Typhus and the Jews," Friedrich Berg wrote:

"In my article about the German delousing chambers in the spring 1985 issue of this journal, I included a brief discussion of the large, well-designed gas chambers which were used to fumigate entire railroad trains, one or more railroad cars at a time, with Zyklon-B.

"Those chambers would have been ideal for the mass extermination of people if the Germans had ever intended to commit mass extermination of Jews or anyone else."

The article reaches the conclusion that "the Holocaust story is absurd," Weitzman said.

Weitzman said he was pleased with the German government's immediate attention to the matter.

"I am puzzled that she could work there 18 years without them knowing, but their response was very prompt," he said. "It was the morally right thing to do."

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."