The reinterpretation of some classic concepts — in Orwellian fashion — is taking place at an accelerating pace in Germany. We have already reported on the content enrichment of the term Nazi. Recently, the concept of Nazi-related racism has been not only broadened but also given a completely new perspective by German cultural elites.
This was done at a symposium at the House of Culture in Berlin entitled „Hijacking memory – the Holocaust and the new right,” the main message of which was that Holocaust remembrance is indeed a symptom and breeding ground for racism and right-wing radicalism. The debate, which has now been taken to a public level — the House of Cultures is a tax-funded public institution — started about a year ago, when
Dirk Moses, a supporter of the BDS movement and a self-proclaimed historian, called for an end to Shoah commemorations as a legitimization of Israel’s colonialist policies.
This is the idea that the symposium that has just taken place sought to deepen.
The House of Culture is one of the supporters of a petition by artists and cultural activists protesting against the German parliament’s condemnation of the BDS movement in 2019. The initiative for the symposium dates back to the petition, and more specifically to the American Jewish antisemite Susan Neiman, director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, which is also funded by taxes.
Neiman was an advisor to Obama and has already been a vocal critic of German support for Israel and German commemorative culture. The event was organized with the help of the Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Berlin Institute of Technology (also courtesy of taxpayers).
So it was a completely public event.
The participants in the program wanted to investigate how Holocaust commemorations benefit the political right — that this is the case was taken for granted.
All criticism of the event was dismissed by Neiman as mere slander, just as only slanderers dared to accuse the forthcoming Documenta exhibition of antisemitism.
Neiman’s thesis is that since 1945, a cult of victimhood has taken root in Germany, which has logically led to the political right using the Holocaust as a tool for their own ends.
What is certainly true of this ridiculous explanation is that the German New Left, especially the representatives of the ’68 movement, continued the pre-war leftist tradition of supporting oppressed peoples under the pretext of being passionately pro-Arab and did not hide its antisemitic Israel-hating tendencies.
They could certainly count on the support of the Soviet Union and the communist camp. Many members of the notorious terrorist Bader-Meinhof group were trained in Arab terrorist training camps for their domestic activities. And it is also certainly true that if there was any remorse [over the holocaust] in Germany, it was most prevalent among those of a conservative, Christian persuasion.
According to Neiman and the conference participants, the remembrance of the Shoa is an elite project aimed at covering up German colonial policies, which is why the culture of remembrance is also a tool of racist oppression.
Zionism is understood as a fascist movement with only one goal: the oppression of „Palestinians” and the left. Therefore, the anti-fascist creeds of the right must not be taken seriously, and indeed the right’s support for Israel is a smokescreen for genuine right-wing antisemitism. In any case, it is worth mentioning that the revolutionary of ’68, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, also of Jewish origin, attended the conference without contradicting this disgusting theory.
The conference was deliberately linked to the conflict over the Documenta exhibition opening in Kassel on June 18 and the accusations of antisemitism voiced by many against it. Documenta is one of the biggest international showcases of contemporary art, and this year, it is under the artistic direction of an Indonesian group of predominantly Muslims close to the anti-Israel boycott movement.
This “artistic leadership,” together with the German authorities, has ensured that Israeli artists are kept out of the event, a tradition in the history of Documenta. Meanwhile, those invited include well-known Arab and Muslim antisemites, as well as supporters of Arab terrorism and the BDS movement.
From the very beginning, the German managers of the exhibition, which is financed exclusively by taxes (€3.5 million from the federal cultural fund alone went to Documenta), blocked all criticism, which initially came mainly from Jewish organizations, although soon many liberal intellectuals joined them. A planned public debate was canceled by the management on the grounds that they should see the exhibition before protesting — which, of course, did not change the banning of Israeli artists.
This was also the argument of Christian Geselle, mayor of Kassel and chairman of the Documenta board, who said, „let’s first see what the 15th Documenta is about and then judge, and not let the debate in the media create problems and fears.”
In other words, the concerns raised by Jewish organizations are only „fears,” which is why it is completely unnecessary to take them seriously or to give them a public forum.
The mayor said that antisemitism is part of „artistic freedom” and then, with barely comprehensible confusion, stated that the views expressed at Documenta „may be difficult to follow or intolerable given our German identity,” but that all this should be tolerated in the spirit of diversity.
In the so-called „quality media,” there is an almost unanimous view that the problem is exclusively the hysteria of Jewish organizations. This was the view expressed in the Süddeutsche Zeitung by the Social Democrat Hans Eichel, who began his career as mayor of Kassel and went on to become finance minister, and whose opinion still carries much weight today.
Few have come forth with statements similar to that of the renowned Berlin gallery owner Aeneas Bastian:
„Documenta’s aberration proves that those with antisemitic views will try to exploit any forum. There are limits to artistic freedom, and they were breached long ago in Kassel.”
It is clear which side of this conflict the left-green participants in the conference quoted at the beginning are on. It is also clear why they feel the need to identify the Shoah commemoration with right-wing racism: This interpretation best corresponds to the current German reality.