Memory Laws in Germany: How Remembering National Socialism is Governed Through Law,
by Paula Rhein-Fischer and Simon Mensing
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
German memory laws, as soon becomes obvious from this report, have less to do with permanently preventing Nazism from making a comeback and more to do with legally enforcing the privileged status of the Jews’ Holocaust. This prevents the non-Jewish victims of Nazism from getting their due.
GERMAN MEMORY LAWS: A PRETENSE OF RESPECT FOR NON-JEWISH VICTIMS
German resolutions do occasionally mention other victims, including the Poles, but this is doubletalk. In no sense is the pre-eminence of the Holocaust questioned, much less challenged. Rhein-Fischer and Mensing write, “…the resolution of 11 December 2003, stating that the memory of the Holocaust was ‘part of our national identity’; the resolution of 9 October 2020, on the construction of an education and memorial site on the history of World War II in Berlin, which called the Holocaust ‘the most terrible human rights crime of National Socialism’…” (p. 85).
Here we go again. No other crime of the Third Reich can possibly be as bad as the Jews’ Holocaust. Now tell me that this is not racist.
GERMAN “REPENTANCE” FOR NAZISM IS SELECTIVE. IT IS FIRMLY IN THE THRALLS OF HOLOCAUST-CENTRIC THINKING
The authors comment, “Despite 77 years having passed since the liberation of Auschwitz, the shaping and renegotiation of German memory culture has not yet come to an end. Rather, it is increasingly being criticized by different camps that call for new or more diversified approaches or which consider the German approach to freedom of speech as being overly restrictive. The mnemonic legal framework, however, still primarily reflects the traditional approach to German memory culture with a focus on the Shoah.” (p. 8. Emphasis added).
Then Rhein-Fisher and Mensing repeat the bull. They write, “With the emphasized singularity of the Holocaust…” (p. 13). The German memory culture with its emphasis on the singularity of the Holocaust and a special moral responsibility of commemorating its victims…” (p. 116). “‘…knowing about the singularity of the Holocaust.’” (p. 85). “…the uniqueness of the Holocaust’s importance in the German, European and world-wide memory culture…” (p. 68).
Obviously, Nazi German crimes against non-Jews cannot possibly be singular or unique. Neither are they as important. Still less are they a matter of special moral responsibility for today’s Germans. Is it any surprise that Nazi German crimes against Poles have no impact on German thinking? Is it any wonder that Germany keeps paying reparations to Jews, but feels no moral urgency in paying reparations to Poles? See:
GERMAN REPARATIONS: JEWS GET PAID, AND POLES DO NOT
Let us elaborate on the foregoing. The authors realize the sobering truth, “Still, major shortcomings of a truthful memory policy remain and can only in part be repaired. This is the case, for example, in relation to the halfhearted reparation payments that, for a long time, included Israel and Western European but not Eastern European states.” (p. 6. Emphasis added). That’s just it!
GERMAN MEMORY LAWS. GERMAN REPENTANCE? NO. GERMAN VIRTUE SIGNALING
Nowadays, German conduct is spun as a model of repentance, and this “model of repentance” is politicized to blame Poland for this or that with regards to the Jews. Ironically, some German Jews see right through this “repentance”. The authors comment, “…parts of the population, especially young Jewish Germans, have voiced critique that the Holocaust commemoration has become a ‘memory theatre’ that uses Jews to confirm Germany in its self-image of having become a peaceful country, hence supporting the descendants of perpetrators in the construction of their own identity.” (p. 114).
GERMAN MEMORY LAWS: EXPANDING JUDEOCENTRIC THOUGHT CONTROL
Do laws against Holocaust denial exist because otherwise too many people will question the 6 million figure, or do they exist in order to elevate the Holocaust in the public imagination? Ironically, laws criminalizing Holocaust denial have now been embellished to encompass so-called “Holocaust trivialization” and the like. No other genocide enjoys such privileges.
The authors elaborate on this, “This principle applies not only to denial, but also to the trivialization and approval of the Holocaust. With its offence on Holocaust denial, the German legal order also aligns with the framework of the Council of Europe that calls on Member States to incriminate Holocaust denial, trivialization, justification, or praise.” (p. 88). The chilling effect on any form of Holocaust dissent is obvious.
GERMAN POLITICIANS ENFORCE A HOLOCAUST-RELATED GAG
There is no doubt that Holocaust-related discourse is subject to heavy-handed censorship. Ironically, this is done by German politicians more than by German courts. The authors point out, “The jurisprudence indicates that public authorities are generally more willing to restrict right-wing assemblies than what courts allow them to in view of the freedom of expression and assembly.” (p. 59).
GERMAN MEMORY LAWS. FREEDOM OF SPEECH? ALWAYS ERR ON THE SIDE OF HOLOCAUST ORTHODOXY
The ruling Judeocentric thought control has been criticized by some Germans, as pointed out by the authors, “This criticism claims that the ‘dogmas’ of this catechism – the tabooing of any comparison of the Holocaust to other atrocities, the mantras that the security of Israel is part of German state reason, and that antizionism equals antisemitism – have been internalized by millions of Germans like a religion, the respect of which ensures the only possible way to ‘salvation’” (p. 115. Emphasis added).
The heavy-handed enforcement of Holocaust orthodoxy has, predictably, led to internal inconsistencies in the top-down policies. For instance, bashing white nations for colonialism is now in vogue. So, is the Holocaust comparable to colonialism or is any such comparison anti-Semitic? (p. 116).
The German courts have split on the question if use of the yellow badge to protest compulsory covid vaccination is an assault on Holocaust memory, and therefore illegal. (p. 22). The PETA slogan, “Holocaust on Your Plate” is ruled to be innately offensive to Jews. (p. 95). On the other hand, the term “Babycaust” (as a protest against the abortion genocide) is currently legal. (p. 22, 96-97). [Perhaps that is part of the reason that Jews are so furious about any comparison of the killings of Jews with the killings of unborn babies.]
The Jewish-serving German memory laws have, predictably, led to double standards. Thus, possibly offending Jews is illegal, but calling a politician a “Nazi”, “closet Nazi”, or even “fascist”, are all legal. (p. 96). The defamation of religious faiths is given short shrift: In an obvious German-guilt-dilution tactic, German courts have ruled that the scurrilous notion, that Catholic Church doctrines are connected to the Holocaust, is legal. (p. 99).
THE GRUBA KRESKA: A CONVENIENT TOOL FOR GERMANS, NAZIS, AND COMMUNISTS
In 1989, as part of the Round Table Agreements in Soviet-controlled Poland, the Communist side wanted and got the Gruba Kreska (thick line), a convenient policy that exempted Communists from future prosecution for their past crimes. This prevented lustration (lustracja). It turns out that this is an old trick.
In the 1950s, the Germans had earlier resorted to the same tactic to try to escape responsibility for their crimes, as realized by the authors, “Personal guilt and collective responsibility were brushed aside as part of the widespread wish within society to ‘draw a line’ under the past (‘Schlussstrichmentalität‘)…” (p. 3).
The former East German Communists, just like their Polish counterparts, want to conveniently ‘draw a line’ (‘Schlussstrich‘) under their crimes. (p. 120). The antics of German memory laws are again at work.