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Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 16:33 GMT

World: Europe

Historian accused of Holocaust revisionism

The author stated gas chambers were intended to "disinfect" prisoners

An historian in Poland is facing charges of denying Nazi crimes, in a trial in the southern city of Opole.

A book published by Professor Dariusz Ratajczak earlier this year suggested that Nazi Germany did not have a comprehensive plan to exterminate Jews.

[ image: Denying the Holocaust in Poland is a crime]
Denying the Holocaust in Poland is a crime
In Poland, public statements denying the Holocaust are treated as criminal offences and are subject to prison terms of up to three years.

In the book, Professor Ratajczak, aged 37, states that the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps were intended to disinfect prisoners, not to exterminate them.

He also says that only three million Jews died in the Holocaust not the six million which most historians accept as fact.

'Summarising opinions'

The professor, however, maintains he is not guilty of historical revisionism and said he was merely summarising the opinions of historians who deny the Holocaust.

He was suspended from his position at the University of Opole following complaints made by an official commission investigating Nazi crimes in Poland.

The book, which was on sale at the university book store where the professor taught, has been pulled from the shelves.

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