German entrepreneur sentenced for anti-Polish hate speech

The northern Polish city of Gdańsk’s District Court found Hans G. (name withheld under Polish privacy law) guilty of hate speech towards Poles and sentenced him to a fine of PLN 50,000 (EUR 11,560).

German entrepreneur charged with hate speech faces court

The hearing on the so-called hate speech against the German entrepreneur Hans G. (name withheld under Polish privacy laws) took place in the...

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The fine is to be paid to the Piaśnice Museum in the northern Polish town of Wejherowo. The lawsuit’s plaintiff Natalia Nitek-Płażyńska – a former employee of Pos System company in the Polish Pomerania province co-owned by the defendant – initially demanded a fine three-times-higher at PLN 150,000 (EUR 34,680).

The civil proceedings were initiated by Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska in 2017. The plaintiff was managing projects at the defendant’s company from June 2015 to January 2016.

In addition to the fine, the German entrepreneur is to make a statement including the following content: “I, Hans G. [with full name revealed in this case - ed.] plead guilty of the words I uttered and my behaviour that offended Natalia Nitek-Płażyńska and all Poles’ dignity and national pride. I express deep remorse for my unacceptably hateful rhetoric with respect to the Polish nation with which I violated Natalia Nitek-Płażyńska’s personal rights. I am aware that the fate of our nations are based on difficult history and for this reason, Polish-German relations require an appropriate delicacy and a sense of responsibility. For the reason stated, I wish to apologise to Natalia Nitek-Płażyńska while reassuring that the words I spoke do not reflect my genuine convictions.”

Once the judgment has become final, meaning that none of the parties decides to bring the case to a higher tier court, the statement is to be sent by letter to the plaintiff, posted in a visible place in Hans G.’s company HQ, published during February 11-17 in Poland’s “Gazeta Polska” daily and read out loud on air at TV Republika.

The judge stressed that having acquainted himself with the evidence he was unable to identify Hans G.’s words “as unambiguously Hitlerite and fascist.” “As proven by the evidence, Mr Hans G.’s views are a mix of racial prejudice,” the judge said, recalling the entrepreneur using words such as “niggers, gooks, Turks, idiots and of course Poles.” According to the judge, these words were “an expression of the old-school, 19th-century-style German nationalism and of anti-Polish prejudice.”

Defendant to appeal against the sentence

Hans G. was not present during the ruling’s hearing and his attorney told the media that he will appeal against the sentence. Moreover, Hans G. has filed a counterclaim against Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska, arguing that she violated his personal rights by publishing private content and recordings of manipulated conversations. The court turned down this claim, stating that the recordings were made in a workplace, which is a public space.

After the ruling was announced, Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska said that “despite the fact that the case lasted two years, it was worth it… because we, the Poles, who enjoy a sense of dignity… we who remember what happened over 70 years ago… we who know… that we must fight for our dignity and react when a German… disparages us and calls for the killing of Poles.”

I hate Poles… I am a Nazi! I would kill all Poles: Hans G.

In March 2016, private TV broadcaster Telewizja Republika aired a programme in which Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska presented recorded footage in which several heavy insults could be heard. The German entrepreneur said, among others, "I hate Poles, not only I do not like them, I hate them! They are all idiots. It's better in Africa. You're shit. Yes, I am! I am a Nazi! It is the fault of this country (Poland) that I am like that," the businessman said. "I would kill all Poles, I would not have a problem with it", one can also hear on the recording. Hans G. also offended the Warsaw Rising insurgents and expressed his joy at the Smoleńsk plane crash.

Before the court ruling was announced, Hans G. confirmed that the recordings are genuine, saying: “now, I am aware of how my words are perceived by Poles, but then I did not have such awareness. I spoke in anger, it was not my intention to insult the Poles, and I regret what I said then,” he stated.

Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska claimed that Hans G. made gestures to her and other employees, as if he wanted to shoot them. “He told me that if war broke out, I would be the first to be killed, because I’m a Polish patriot,” she said.