#34 Democracy and the Dresden Holocaust
Originally published on JANUARY 26, 2005
DEMOCRACY AND THE DRESDEN HOLOCAUST
Deputies of the German National Democratic Party (NPD) created a scandal when they walked out during the moment of silence at the UN when they were supposed to hang around to memorialize the deaths of Jews and others at Auschwitz.
This was the latest “publicity stunt” by Holger Apfel, who leads the 12-strong NPD group in the Saxon parliament. Apfel appears to believe that Jews and others have been memorialized sufficiently over the past 60 years, while the extermination of innocent Germans has not been memorialized at all. This point of view is one reason that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government believes that the NPD resembles Hitler’s Nazi party.
NPD deputy leader Holger Apfel, 34, frequently criticizes Germany’s atonement for the Holocaust. He notes that, “We’re constantly building new sites of atonement [to the Jewish Holocaust], but here in Dresden they refuse to build a memorial to the allied bombing terror on Dresden.”
Another spokesman for the NPD called the Dresden firebombing a “bombing Holocaust” and a “cold-blooded industrial mass murder of the civilian population.” If we consider the matter reasonably, Apfel and his NPD people appear to have a reasonable point of view about the facts of the matter.
The Saxon State Parliament had earlier rejected a motion brought by the NPD asking that the minute’s silence memorializing the victims of Auschwitz be restricted to commemorate the victims of the Allied terror bombing of Dresden in February 1945. In my view, this was a tactical error on the part of the NPD. I would have advised the NPD to petition the Parliament, not to restrict their planned commemoration of Jews, but to sacrifice one more minute of its precious time to commemorate German victims of the Dresden Holocaust. I don’t suppose they would have listened to me.
“It is extremely important to fight these people politically, and clearly demonstrate the dangers they pose for peace here and Germany’s image abroad,” Chancellor Gerhardt Schröder said at a news conference. “It is the clear duty of every democrat.”
A government spokesman, Hans-Herman Langguth, said: “All of us democrats must rise up, and particularly at this moment, because this week the entire world is commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.”
Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, called Apfel’s comments “a disgrace for our country and an attack on our democracy”.
There’s an awful lot of bla bla in Germany about “democracy.” Is there no sense of irony among the German leadership? It was the leading “democracy-spouting” States that intentionally burned alive tens of thousands of German civilians in intricately planned mass terror bombings. Intentionally. Babies and all.
Holger Apfel and the folk in the NPD believe that those mass terror killings were a pretty tacky business, and that it would be a good idea to have Germans pay a little attention (for a change) to the crimes that were committed against Germans. Their point of view is that Germans burn, that Germans blow apart, and that Germans grieve for the families the same way that Jews do. It may sound kind of crazy for Germans to think that way, but they appear to be sincere.
The NPD people observe that Jews have focused for sixty years on crimes committed against Jews, and that it’s worked very well for them. Apfel and his folk may very well have that in mind. What works for Jews, they appear to think, might very well work for Germans. In the long haul, I think it might very well work. It’s at least a possibility.
“They [the NPD people] have the same evil, amoral intelligence as Goebbels,” Hitler’s propaganda chief, said Cornelius Weiss, state assembly leader of Mr. Schroeder’s Social Democrats who share power in Saxony with the conservatives. “Sometimes I just want to beat them all up.” That’s the sort of thing some people say when someone in Germany wants to commemorate Germans rather than Jews.
It is reported that “one” NPD member was heard to say about Weiss: “He’s just an old Jew.” That is the sort of thing that some Germans are tempted to say when someone in Germany wants to beat up a German.
As an aside here, a thought that came in out of the blue but is relatively relevant, I was pleased to note that during President Bush’s inaugural speech he used the words “freedom” and “liberty” almost to the exclusion of “democracy.” I believe it would almost always be the right thing to do.
I understand the special significance and good will that the concept of “democracy” has. At the same time, it has become clear that there is nothing that fascists or socialists are willing to do to promote their programs that democrats are not willing to do. It doesn’t appear to be what the specific program is so much as it is the men who have, somehow, gained the authority to fulfill it. I think Benjamin Franklin said that. He probably said it better.
True to the tradition of the German State beginning with the Hitlerian administration, Germans attempted to ban the NPD in 2002 for its political statements. Germany’s Supreme Court rejected the case because some of the NPD members accused by the government of stoking racism turned out to be “informants for the government intelligence service.” Ho, hum.
Gerhard Schröder has stressed that Germans born after the war, “while not guilty themselves, still [bear] a responsibility towards the victims of these [German] crimes.” Rings a bell for me. Isn’t that what Americans are told with regard to the descendants of those who enslaved Africans? Somehow, I don’t feel responsible for that one, just as the NDP folk do not appear to feel responsible for the victims of an administration that exited the real world sixty years ago.
Now the NPD people are thought to be organizing an official commemoration of the destruction of Dresden with a demonstration in the rebuilt center of that ancient city. I hope they do. Anti-fascists, that is, “democrats,” are planning a counter-rally. It does not occur to the anti-fascists” to rally against the “democracies” that destroyed their city and the tens of thousands of innocents who were in it.
To plan a rally against the German-killers would be a “fascist” exercise.