June 25, 2012

Do you like this?

As one German critic wrote: “not the kind of book you’d want to be seen reading on the U-Bahn”. Alone the title and subtitle of the veteran firebrand of German journalism’s latest book contain multiple provocations: Vergesst Auschwitz: Der deutsche Erinnerungswahn und die Endlösung der Israel-Frage (Forget Auschwitz: The German Remembrance Mania and the Final Solution to the Israel Question).

Born in 1946 as the son of Jewish Holocaust survivors, Henryk Broder conjectures that Germans’ unresolved Holocaust guilt and the official culture of remembrance have resulted in a new, often subconscious anti-Semitism disguised as left-wing criticism of Israel. Characteristically – he’s a commentator for the conservative Springer Verlag after all – Broder takes a swipe at his usual enemies: lefty do-gooders “who hate Israel but tolerate Islamic extremism in Germany” – and those who compare Israeli policies towards the Palestinians to the Nazi Holocaust.

While it might be worth looking into (left-wing) anti-Semitism – pages and pages of anti-Semitic emails Broder has received make up the most interesting, shocking part of the book – most of Vergesst Auschwitz reads like an unstructured blog packed with half-baked ideas.

On a side note, Broder holds the dubious honour of being quoted in Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik’s “manifesto” on how, if he were younger, he would leave Europe for a country not threatened by creeping Islamisation. Ranters like Broder are not particularly easy to interview: impatient, accusatory and intolerant, he abruptly hung up the phone 10 minutes into our talk.

Why did you write this book?

The remembrance of Auschwitz has deteriorated into a trite ritual, which is about saving the dead Jews. And this ritual of saving the dead Jews is used as a moral alibi. The remembrance of the Holocaust is an excuse to not have to deal with a potential second Holocaust in the Middle East. Not only that: I am absolutely convinced that a portion of the Germans – consciously or not – would like to see a second Holocaust so that the previous one disappears into the fog of history.

What’s the evidence of this? How many do you believe harbour these feelings?

I didn’t do a body count. I just read what’s in the newspaper. I read the hundreds of thousands of posts on websites. I read the comparisons made between Israel and Nazi Germany, between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto, and I see that the Germans are trying to overcome their own history on the backs of the Israelis. But you ask about evidence. It’s not a mathematical formula. The Germans’ absolute obsession with Israel shows that they have a problem with themselves, which they try to solve at the expense of the Jews.

But doesn’t the German government actually support Israel?

I’m not talking about the German government. The German government isn’t mentioned once in the book.

But still, what about Germany’s ‘special relationship’ to Israel, the diplomatic support, the weapons?

The ‘special relationship’ to Israel is based on the fact that Germany murdered six million Jews and nothing else. If the Germans had killed six million North Koreans, then they would certainly have a special relationship to North Korea today. You’re saying exactly what I criticise in my book. The mass murder of Jews gave the Germans the right to worry about the moral misconduct of the Jews, right? You are the prototype of what I describe in the book.

And I’m an anti-Semite because I said that?

No, I’m not saying that you’re an anti-Semite. I’m just saying you have the same problem. You say you can criticise befriended countries. Germany is also friends with other countries. With Russia for example, and has never criticised Russia’s actions in the Chechen War, where more people died than in all wars in the Middle East together.

You say criticism of Israel is often simply a disguise for a deeper anti-Semitism. Doesn’t a German citizen – let’s take an intellectual like Günter Grass – have a right to criticise his country’s support of Israel?

Grass has every right to criticise and I have every right to call him what he is: an anti-Semite. Since Grass’ poem [“What Must be Said”] appeared, North Korea threatened to annihilate South Korea, Moscow threatened NATO with a first strike in case NATO built up its missile defence system. On neither topic has Grass offered his opinion. He is just as obsessed with Israel as most other Germans.

The subtitle of the book contains the provocative phrase, “the final solution forthe Israel question”…

In Germany there is often discussion about the ‘one-state solution’ for Israel. A part of the German left which is always against interfering with the affairs of other states always feels called to solve the Middle East problem, and the ‘one-state solution’ is the ‘final solution’ for the question of Israel, because it’s clear that if there is one state, there’s no Israel any more. The ‘one-state solution’ is a euphemism, a friendly rewriting of the ‘final solution of the Israel question’. Seriously minded people meet at conferences to discuss how this can be solved. They probably see it as a sign of friendship, but for me it’s a sign of a will to exterminate.

You give many examples of what you describe as “left-wing anti-Israeli anti- Semites”: the guy who’s been camped outside of Cologne cathedral for years, Die Linke… this isn’t really the mainstream of German society. It’s the left-wing fringe.

You know, I’m not in the mood for this talk. When you talk about “mainstream”, all I can say is: the Nazis weren’t mainstream either. Only a third of Germans voted for them… I don’t feel like answering your stupid questions any more!


June 25, 2012

Comments (7)

Comment Feed

When Memory fades.

With regards to Broder´s work with "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" and antisemitism (old and secondary), he deserves a respect of galactic format. There´s a lack of historical awareness of some people today, that makes his very, very profound concern of the "matter" probably inunderstandable, as if the era of the Third Reich took place in the Bronze Age or elsewhere in archaic times. I have no difficulty at all to empathize with him and his cause with regards to many ugly undercurrents of antisemitism, seen in the mirror of History. Those fluent in German are well advised to read his books about "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" and antisemitism.
Besides, it is quite stunning how Mr Broder masters the German language given the fact that it is not his mother tongue. He might be a Joseph Roth of our time. There´s something special about Galicia ... .
With this, I depart from the ongoing discussion.

N.O. more than 1 years ago

No Stupid Questions

I disagree about no stupid questions. The use of language can be leading, implying the use of words in a particular way, to have a particular meaning and context. Yes, the exact same words, placed in a different context. OK, maybe people don't know they are programmed, but that is their problem; when someone who knows hears them talk, they think, "Oh no, this person is so programmed and ignorant -- in the stupid-ass way -- that i'm never going to get through to them." They have the right to give up. Maybe they should recommend a book and then say, let's talk later, my friend.

a. b. c 1905 more than 1 years ago


I think that Mr Broder is a very good observer of certain fenomena in the society. He has the guts (and too understandable reasons) to for instance highlight some projection mechanisms because of the German and Austrian history.
For those proficient in German, Broder´s master piece "Der ewige Antsemit" is really well worth reading. It´s a marvellous unraveling of different psychological mechanisms, whose manifestations for instance can be seen in the contanst Israel-bashing, whereas the terrible events in places like Kongo-Kinhasa, and elsewhere are given much, much less attention. The question is of course: why is that, why this tremendous lack of balance?
I think it is all justified to entrench the entire Jewish state in criticism, verbal bashing, boycott, IF directly afterwards I can get the question answered: why don´t the critics say anything about some trauma-ridden places elsewhere in the world?
It seems to be a recurring idea that the enormous man-hunts by thousands of urban civil antisemites, or the pogroms in the East, the concentration camps and the extermination camps should have imposed a certain high level of social and emotional harmony and nobility in the surviving victims and their off-spring. That maybe explains the high interest in Israeli misdeeds, and the quite small one in the terrible events taking place in other violent regions of the world.

Herr Broder hat recht behalten. more than 1 years ago

To treat people the way one wants to be treated

I feel appaled by Henryk Broder's last statement. It hurts me for the journalist to read this. Why is he allowed to shoot at people like that? There are no stupid questions, but only stupid answers. If he didn't feel in the mood to do this interview, he should have simply said,sorry I can't do that. Why is every criticism against someone who is Jewish Anti-semitism? The way Henryk Broder treated this journalist is offensive and I would feel that way, regardless of his cultural or religious background. And that is the truth...I'm not an Anti-semitist, but an anti-"aggressivist".

Anonymous more than 1 years ago

forget hollocaust

Eduardo Mamcasz more than 1 years ago

About Gays, Gipssies and Jews

I have spent, for the fourth time, or more, 45 days and nights, from April, 25-2012, only im my lovely Berlim. The capital of the Kaiser, Comunism, Nazism, Hipism and so. This theme about Holocaust, in fact, remains a taboo. Why not talk about Palestinians? If you want, visit my blog about this trip.

Eduardo Mamcasz more than 1 years ago

"Forget Auschwitz": Henryk Broder

Germany's friendship pf Israel repeats the mistakes of the past albeit in a more benign form.
After the Holocaust,what the World should have concluded is that every human soul has an equal value Jew, Gypsy, Gay, Straight, Palestinian.
What Europe did was to do was to dump it's guilt, it's Holocaust on an innocent third world colonial territory. It would have been fair to establish Israel in Bavaria, it was unjust to dispossess the Palestinians. to assuage our guilt, our responsibilities.
If Germany and Germans really understood the Holocaust, then they would offer asylum to dispossessed Palestinians in Lebanon.
Uncritical support for Israel is just too easy, it makes Germany feel better about itself while costing absolutely nothing.

David Hawkins more than 1 years ago

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