German journalist Christoph Hörstel, a zealous supporter of Iran’s regime and Hezbollah and an alleged denier of the Holocaust, was invited to an event at the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp to commemorate the July 20, 1944, attempt to assassinate Hitler by German officers.
German author Tilman Tarach reported on Friday about the slated event on the website of the Berlin-based Jungle World weekly, causing organizers of the Sachsenhausen memorial to cancel Hörstel’s appearance the same day.
The planned participation of Hörstel showed that Germany’s remembrance culture had “gone to the dogs,” Tarach said. Organizers turned victims into perpetrators with the “planned event of a Holocaust- denier or relativist,” he wrote.
According to telephone information from Sachsenhausen conveyed to Tarach, Hörstel’s appearance was planned as a side event and was not intended as participation in the July 20 commemoration.
According to the Sachsenhausen website, the event was a tour covering those imprisoned after the assassination attempt.
A number of the participants in the 1944 attack on Hitler were incarcerated at Sachsenhausen.
More than 200,000 people were imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp between 1936 and 1945, which is located just north of Berlin, in Brandenburg state.
Hörstel was slated to accompany author Astrid Ley during the event on an educational tour. It is unclear whether Ley knew of Hörstel’s background.
Tarach recounted an example of Hörstel’s playing down, or possibly denying, the Holocaust, on his Facebook page.
When someone asked about revising the Holocaust, Hörstel replied, “All in good time.”
Hörstel has said that Germany “has in no way responsibility for the security of Israel or for its right to exist.” He has spoken at the annual Al-Quds Day March in Berlin, which attracts more than 1,000 supporters of Hezbollah and Iran, and calls for the elimination of Israel.
He caused embarrassment to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office when a senior German official invited him to a meeting at the Chancellery on January 29, with four Natorei Karta extremists. Hörstel (who is not Jewish) wrote an article about the meeting with Merkel’s government in the socialist daily Neues Deutschland titled, “We Jews should not establish a state.” Merkel’s office said the invitation was a mistake as the senior official did not know the background of Natorei Karta. Neues Deutschland later deleted Hörstel’s article from its website.
German-Jewish commentator and satirical polemicist Henryk M. Broder sarcastically wrote on The Axis of Good website that Germany’s remembrance culture is functioning “super.” He recalled a comment from the late writer Eike Geisel who said that Germany’s remembrance culture represents “the highest form of forget ting.”
Sachsenhausen’s invitation to Hörstel together with his appearance at the Chancellery and Ley’s alleged ignorance of Hörstel’s writings and activities are proof positive that Geisel was right, Broder said.
“The memory of the crimes of the Nazis in the meantime serves to prepare as propaganda for the next final solution of the Jews in the Middle East,” Broder wrote in connection with the Sachsenhausen controversy.
The row is a reminder of other recent controversies.
The Dachau concentration camp memorial faced criticism in February from Bloomberg columnist Jeffery Goldberg as he noted that the memorial’s bookstore sells biographies of Philip Roth and Woody Allen, labeling it “ridiculousness.”
Israeli-born author Tuvia Tenenbom called for the dismissal of Dr. Volkhard Knigge, the head of the Buchenwald concentration camp memorial, after alleging that Knigge told him that Jews should have settled in Uganda instead of establishing the State of Israel. Daniel Gaede, an educator at Buchenwald, faced criticism from Tenenbom for his participation in anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activities.
“This man [Gaede] spends his free time demonstrating against Israel and in support of Gaza’s Palestinians,” Tenenbom wrote.
Knigge wrote to The Jerusalem Post at the time that “Mr. Tenenbom reproduces the conversations he held with me and the head of the memorial education department in distorted form. I never at any time said that Jews should have been settled in Uganda.”