AJC: Anti-Nazi protesters ‘whitewashing history’

Pro-Israel blog Lizas Welt criticizes usage of concentration camp uniforms at Magdeburg rally.

January 18, 2012 23:23
2 minute read.
anti-Nazi demonstrators

anti-Nazi demonstrators in Germnay 311. (photo credit: Antifa Westhavelland)


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BERLIN – The American Jewish Committee and a popular pro-Israel website in Germany slammed an anti-Nazi protest last week in the city of Magdeburg, claiming it had relativized the severity of the Holocaust.

The anti-Nazi demonstrators appeared in concentration camp uniforms with a large placard reading, “For the remembrance: We mourn every person who we lost to Fascism.”

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Deidre Berger, the head of the Berlin-based AJC, said on Monday that her organization was troubled by the concentration camp uniforms.

“When young Germans present themselves as victims of National Socialism, that is not an appropriate form of remembrance; rather, it is whitewashing history,” Berger said.

She said the use of the uniforms should be sharply criticized, and called on the event organizer to distance itself from the distortion of history.

Critics see many Germans as conflating all groups – including Wehrmacht soldiers and German civilians who felt the brunt of the Allied bombing campaign – into a homogenized victim group that dismisses the Holocaust as a secondary aspect.

Roughly 10,000 activists protested the presence of 1,200 Nazis in Magdeburg, the capital of the East German state Saxony-Anhalt. In photographs of the protest, 11 young demonstrators wore concentration camp uniforms.

The neo-Nazis held a march to protest the Western allied bombing of Magdeburg during World War II. Though the AJC blasted the usage of uniforms at the anti-Nazi event, it welcomed the action against neo-Nazism in Germany.

The revelation that a cell of neo-Nazis had murdered Turkish and Greek immigrants in the Federal Republic, as well as a German police officer, over a 10-year period added urgency to the protest, according to the AJC.

On Monday, the widely read pro-Israel blog Lizas Welt published a scathing critique of the “perverse” usage of concentration camp garb at the protest. Journalists Tjark Kunstreich and Joel Naber wrote on Lizas Welt that the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust had been replaced with a homage to the Nazis, because the generalized slogan of grieving for every person “lost to fascism” included Nazis.

Some German and American critics have argued that Germans continue to trivialize the Holocaust by turning themselves into victims of the Western military campaign to defeat the Hitler movement. Kunstreich and Naber termed the manipulation of concentration camp uniforms to be “obscene.”

Observers of the anti-fascist left-wing scene in Germany have long criticized the mainstream groups for their failure to confront what they term modern anti-Semitism – the loathing of the Jewish state.

The authors, who have written extensively about contemporary Jew-hatred in Germany, noted that there was no discussion from the anti-Nazi protesters in Magdeburg about “anti-Semitism and hate directed at Israel.”

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