From Victim Hierarchies to Memorial Networks,
by Nadine Blumer.
2011. University of Toronto PhD Thesis
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
This thesis describes, in considerable detail, how Germany’s increasingly influential Gypsy community tried for years, ultimately unsuccessfully, to get their genocide co-remembered with the Jews’ Holocaust in a single monument in Berlin. The Jews vetoed it. The Gypsies vs Jews saga continued. The Gypsies then tried at least to get their separate monument to be located on the same shared site as the Jews’ monument to the Holocaust. (p. 10, 148). Once again, the impudent Jews rebuffed the Gypsies, and got their way.
In the end, the Gypsies finally got their own tiny monument some distance away from the one to the Jews’ Holocaust. (Of course, the Jews didn’t mind the arrangement, as they knew all along that, in this ostensibly “separate but equal” setup, they would get the lion’s share of the visitors, while the non-Jewish victims of the Nazis would remain marginalized.)
Author Blumer puts a positive spin on all this (so-called “memory networks”: p. 174), citing the trivial fact that the monuments (including the one to the gays) form a geographic triangle, have a few structural elements in common, and are under a common administration. Crumbs–if that.
WHY THE GERMAN POLICY ON MEMORIALS IS CRUCIAL
What’s the big deal about whether there is one Jewish-centered memorial (and a few “separate but equal” others) or if there is just one universal memorial to all the Nazi German victims? Plenty! Blumer candidly writes, “Memorial sites, for example, are not only places where the powerful elites of society seek to write (or, re-write) the nation’s history, but also where grassroots activists or traditionally marginalized groups can exert resistance and thereby offer alternative versions of the past.” (p. 32).
Since the Jews control the deployment of monuments, they also control the narrative about WWII genocidal suffering.
GYPSIES VS JEWS. THE “JEWISH CEMETERY” SUBTERFUGE COMES IN HANDY ONCE AGAIN
By way of introduction, during the Auschwitz Carmelite Convent controversy, the Jews bullied the Poles into removing the Convent on the basis of the pretense that Auschwitz is a giant Jewish cemetery. They used the same trick when they prevented a proper forensic investigation from being done at Jedwabne. Never mind the fact that the remains of murdered Jews have been exhumed at other places and times without as much as a peep from the Jews.
Enter the Berlin monument controversy. As soon as the Gypsies proposed that a monument to the Gypsy Holocaust be placed on the same site as the monument to the Jews’ Holocaust, the Jews again played the “Jewish cemetery” victim card. Here is how:
SO THE BERLIN HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL IS A JEWISH CEMETERY. NOW I HAVE HEARD EVERYTHING!
Nadine Blumer explains the farcical state of affairs, “Since the central Holocaust memorial would symbolize, among other things, a graveyard for the victims, [Ignatz] Bubis referred to Jewish religious law, which prohibits the sharing of cemetery space with non-Jews (Wippermann 2005:110). In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, [Ignatz] Bubis justified this stance by explaining that, ‘if we were to share the memorial with the Gypsies, then no Rabbi would be able to say Kaddish [prayer for the dead] there’”. (p. 149).
How convenient. You can’t make this stuff up!
The spin about the monument being a Jewish cemetery is made-up baloney, designed to exclude everyone else, as admitted by Blumer, “There was in fact little consensus regarding designation of the memorial site as a symbolic cemetery. For example, Paul Spiegel, president of the Jewish Central Council from 2000-2006, has openly stated that the memorial site is in no way a cemetery for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust (Spiegel-Online 2005). Although it could be argued that the memorial, in its completed form, does indeed resemble a graveyard, architect Peter Eisenmann has repeatedly denied that this was in any way his intention (see for example, interview in Maak, FAZ 2003). Notable however is that Bubis’ statement was nonetheless taken seriously by German politicians. [I don’t wonder why.] For a more theoretical discussion about German Holocaust memorials as symbolic graveyards, see Karen Remmler (1998:45).” (p. 149. Emphasis added).
The facts do not matter. What matters is that Jews can put their spin on something and thereby get what they want.
The Berlin Holocaust Memorial Jewish cemetery farce is a tiresome repetition of the earlier Jewish-serving cemetery farces at Auschwitz and at Jedwabne. Will we ever learn?
NOT JUST GYPSIES VS JEWS: GERMAN “REPENTANCE” POLICIES CATER TO THE JEWS
Blumer drives the Jewish serving point home, “By placing memory of Jewish victimization at the center of Germany’s self-understanding as a nation – and literally, in the geographic center of the new federal capital – supporters of an exclusive central Holocaust memorial were reinforcing the dominant position of Jewish victims over ‘other’ victim groups in Germany’s symbolic and geographic spaces of commemoration. By extension this also reinforced the privileged status of the Jewish minority in the broader context of German national identity.” (p. 160. Emphasis added). No excrement, Sherlock!
STATING THE OBVIOUS: JEWS RULE GERMAN MEMORY POLITICS
The author writes, “In late 1993, Chancellor Kohl indeed spoke out officially against the idea of a shared memorial, insisting instead on ‘distinct sites of remembrance.’ Not only did this sanction an earlier decision by Berlin politicians to situate the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in the previously designated location south of the Brandenburg Gate, but it also affirmed the dominance of Jewish memory in state politics.” (p. 151. Emphasis added). I thank Jewish author Blumer for her childlike frankness.
This issue goes far beyond Gypsies vs Jews. Polish victims count for very little in German thinking. Is it any wonder that Germans sense a constant obligation to keep paying the Jews but feel not the slightest moral duty to pay restitution to the Poles?
DIVIDING THE DEAD: IRONICALLY, GERMAN JEWISH SERVING POLICIES IMITATE THOSE OF THE NAZIS!
There were a few Germans who unsuccessfully opposed Holocaust supremacy, and who saw right through its racist core. Blumer comments, “Romani Rose’s allegation of a victim hierarchy was frequently quoted in the press along with phrases claiming that an exclusive Jewish memorial would result in “a classification of the dead into first and second class [citizens]” (cited in Spiegel 1991), ‘a reenactment of the Nazi selection process‘ (Freudenberg in Spiegel 1991), and ‘a subsequent triumph of the National Socialists for today victim groups are being divided and counted up against one another [as they once were in the past]‘ (Wolfsohn in Plewina, Focus, 1994)…Gerhard Schoenberner, founding director of the museum House of the Wannsee Conference, criticized the idea of an exclusive Jewish memorial, arguing that…’it is horrible to think that the dead have been posthumously ranked.’ (cited in Kugler, TAZ, 1992).’ (p. 161. Emphasis added).
She adds, “Condemningly, and with marked symbolic import, Reinhart Koselleck (1997) wrote that, ‘the variously colored triangles worn by concentration camp inmates are returning after fifty years, recreated in memorials.’” (Spiegel). (p. 162). That’s for sure.
It is not just about Gypsies vs Jews. Racism is racism, whether Jewish or Nazi German. Will we ever learn?