THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) – A Dutch court convicted a Polish-Canadian man on Thursday for beaming a Holocaust-denying slur on Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam, in a case that sparked widespread shock in the Netherlands.
The court in Amsterdam sentenced the man, identified only as 42-year-old Robert W., to two months behind bars, less than the six months called for by prosecutors.
W. had already served this time in pre-trial detention and was released two weeks ago ahead of the verdict.
In February, he laser-beamed the message “Ann [sic] Frank, inventor of the ballpoint pen” onto the side of the building where the teenager hid from the Nazis and penned her world-famous diary.
This was a reference to a far-right, Holocaust-denying conspiracy theory that the diary is fake, as it contained pages written with a ballpoint pen, which came into use years after World War II.
The widely-debunked myth comes from the fact that around 1960, a researcher left two notes written in ballpoint pen among the original pages.
The court said the message beamed onto the house “significantly overstepped the boundaries of what is considered tolerable in society.”
“The suggestion that Anne Frank invented the ballpoint pen casts doubt on the authenticity of her diary. Given the huge symbolic significance of Anne Frank’s diary for the remembrance of the Holocaust, this can be seen as a form of Holocaust denial,” the verdict added.
The Anne Frank House Museum, which preserves the canalside house where the Jewish Frank family hid from the Nazis, expressed its “shock” and “revulsion” after the projection came to light.
At the time, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned the “reprehensible” act, while Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said it was “pure antisemitism.”
After hiding from the Nazis for two years, Anne Frank and her family were captured in a raid in 1944. The teenager and her sister died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.
Her diary, found by her father Otto, became one of the most haunting accounts of the Holocaust, selling some 30 million copies.
“Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most important accounts of the persecution of the Jews during World War II,” said the museum, which receives around one million visitors every year.
“Attacks on the authenticity of the diary… have been circulated for decades -– and now increasingly online -– mostly from antisemitic motives,” the museum added.