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Sun Jan 27, 2019, 04:58 AM

Holocaust remembrance in Germany: A changing culture

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This quote by Spanish-American philosopher and writer George Santayana can be found at Auschwitz concentration camp. Remembering the Holocaust has basically been a state effort in Germany for years — from bureaucrats to members of parliament. But public interest is still strong as well. Former concentration camps and other memorial sites are registering record visitor numbers.

And yet, Jewish organizations say they have seen an increase in anti-Semitism in Germany. "The remembrance world champion is losing the battle against today's hatred against Jews," says Meron Mendel, the director of the Frankfurt Anne Frank Educational Center.

That concern is backed by a recent survey from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in 12 European countries. It found that over the last year, Jews in Germany haven't just faced more hostility than in previous years, but also more than in other countries.

Some 41 percent of Jews in Germany said they were victims of anti-Semitic hostility, compared to an average of 28 percent in the other surveyed countries.


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Reply Holocaust remembrance in Germany: A changing culture (Original post)
Behind the Aegis Jan 2019 OP
DFW Jan 2019 #1
Hortensis Jan 2019 #2
DFW Jan 2019 #3
Hortensis Jan 2019 #4

Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2019, 05:57 AM

1. The AfD followers are disproportionately in the Eastern part of Germany

The Socialists (so-called, anyway) that ran East Germany from the end of the war to 1990 had as their official propaganda that there were no Nazis left there at all after the war, and all Nazis and neo-Nazis left were all in West Germany. They claimed, therefore, that being free of all Nazis meant they had no obligation to combat Nazi-style thinking. Never mind that even their "People's Army (NVA" ) kept the Nazi uniform (except for the helmet) and their goose-stepping march. Their inward-pointing, movement-activated machine guns on the east-west border were a typical extension of Nazi military technology. They didn't kill a lot of East Germans, but quite a few deer met their fate in the woods at the border.

Here in the west, there is a small percentage of AfD voters, unfortunately handed somewhat of a free ride by the large influx of Muslim refugees. But what little ground they have gained here seems to have stabilized.

My girls, who grew up here, went to the Anne Frank Elementary school. I never saw any school with that name in the USA. The locals chose that particular school to bear Anne Frank's name because the Nazis had used the building as their local HQ during the war, and the people of this town felt it was an appropriate gesture. Part of the school curriculum is learning about Anne Frank, how and why she became such an important historical figure.

The Jewish communities in Germany were, of course, decimated during the years 1933-1945, so going after them here is more chasing a ghost than anything else. It's as if the Trumpanzees in Arizona were to suddenly have an increase in anti-Apache propaganda. There are more Trumpanzees in Arizona than there are Apaches left in North America.

There are an estimated 120,000 Jews currently living in Germany. There are over forty times that many AfD voters. If all the Jews in Germany were to move to New York tomorrow, I doubt either place would notice. Anti-Semites here would just find someone else to hate. Haters always do.

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Response to DFW (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 27, 2019, 06:40 AM

2. Thanks for another view into Germany, DFW.

"Unfortunately" for sure for the far-right DfW. Their new foothold in government in gave me a nasty clutch all the way over here in Georgia. Dangerous populist movements, growing antisemitism, and authoritarian threats to democracies are a natural toxic brew.

I was heartened recently to hear Christiane Amanpour say that, from her observations on the ground, the danger to Europe's democracies may be diminishing. Apparently somewhat similar to the light shown on increased support of our own by the midterm elections. I'd sure like to hear more about that when watching video of angry populists on the streets, though.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 27, 2019, 07:04 AM

3. That's "AfD," not "Dfw!!"

The south of Europe (France, Italy, Croatia, Greece) seems to prefer chaos, and the east (Poland, Hungary, Balkans) seems to prefer authoritarianism on the surface while turning a blind eye to social problems, especially now that they can send their worst to the west as EU citizens, free to settle where they like.

Like parts of the American South and West, there are tiny pockets of areas here in Europe, villages inhabited by AfD types, where even I as a white guy would not care to set foot. But by and large, Europe remains a continent that has been ravaged by war someplace or other for the last 2000 years.

Today's generation has not seen that on European soil since 1945 except for the Balkan war of the 1990s, and that shocked the rest of Europe so much that they never want to see it again. My father-in-law, who was drafted off his farm into the Wehrmacht at age 17 in 1942, returned from Stalingrad minus a leg a year later. He supported his son's efforts to drug himself up so horribly for his mandatory military service that he was declared unfit for the army, and made to do civil service instead (hospital orderly, or some such). His greatest wish was that his grandchildren would all be girls, so they would never be forced to enter military service (he got his wish, by the way).

He was the "slob on a farm" that Hitler Deputy Hermann Göring was talking about: "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?" My father-in-law did NOT come back in one piece.

I wish the reports of angry populists in the streets would be counter-balanced by the huge number of people who want no part of them. But that doesn't glue people to their TV sets during the evening news, does it?

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Response to DFW (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 27, 2019, 08:10 AM

4. Whoops, sorry! Absolutely agree with the NEED to show

the large majority who want no part of the AfD and their like. True perspective on the situation would go a long way to easing the anxiety that's feeding unrest.

We had the same "if it bleeds it -- and only it -- leads" coverage of their counterparts marching in Charlotte. By far most of those who came out did so to register quiet opposition to the white supremacist types, but to the rest of the nation they were mostly invisible, behind the cameras pushed to the front and unmentioned.

The geography of these problems is fascinating, and I'd like to know more. I've read that hot climates tend to create more conservative cultures (as do other climates that challenge survival), which we also see in the southern U.S.

And that unlike Europe, where kings and church were often opposed, in Russia secular and church rule were united so that people expected to live with the same authoritarian boot on their neck in this life and on into eternity. In retrospect, no surprise that the attempt to change Russia to a democracy after the collapse of its empire in the 1990s lacked adequate support from the people. Conservatives especially longed to return to the authoritarian communism they knew. Guessing some of the same holds true for other eastern European nations?

I do remember reading that between WW1 and takeover by the National Socialists Germany had had only about 15 years' experience as a desperately troubled new republic. So by far most adults would have spent most of their lives under the authoritarian government of the kaisers and, naturally, large numbers longed to return to those better days. What today's people look back to and expect for themselves must be very different now, though, surely?

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