AMERICAN EDITION January 24, 2012 Dear Friends: It takes some time for the Christmas-New Year’s celebration to wear off in Germany and so little of national political interest has come to pass in the first month of 2012. It seems to me that there is as much concern about the upcoming American election as there is about their own. Of course, the German election doesn’t take place until 2013. What is on the German mind (politically) has to do much more with the future of the Euro. There is a big European pow-wow schedule for March but the parameters are already known. Only Germany can save the Euro and that means that each and every German will have to dig down deeper financially to keep it going. In the long run it’s not only the Euro that is in question but the concept of the European Union as well. If that begins to unravel there will be trouble for us as well and we can expect the rise of extreme nationalism – never a good thing for Jews. Hungary’s ruling party is already centralizing power in itself and democracy is in trouble in Romania with the President being suspended, etc. Things are always more difficult in the eastern part of Europe but given the troublesome financial situation all the ingredients are in place for a rise in, again, extreme nationalism. If the East doesn’t concern you, how about France? Their elections come up in April and according to The Guardian (UK), “The conjunction of the eurozone crisis, the loss of France's triple-A credit rating, and rampant unemployment, currently at a 12year high, has given unexpected credibility to Le Pen's anti-Europe, anti-immigration stance. The economic storm has created what political pundits and pollsters believe may be a now-or-never moment for the Front National after 40 years spent largely in the political backwaters. Poll after poll places Le Pen third with 21.5%, hovering just behind Sarkozy at 23.5%, and with the Socialist party's François Hollande well in the lead for the first round of the presidential vote in April. If the opinion polls are accurate, it is perfectly feasible, allowing for the accepted margin of error, for Le Pen to reach the secondround run-off a fortnight later. Some surveys show support for the FN candidate to be considerably higher, topping 30%. O.K.! Now that you’re anxiety ridden let’s get on with the more tranquil news from Germany….
IN THIS EDITION END OF THE LINE? – Has the Chancellor “had it” with her coalition partner? THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE: 70TH YEAR COMEMORATION – Wannsee lives on in the Jewish heart & mind. THE GERMAN PRESIDENT (CONT’D) – Holding on. A NEW JEWISH VOICE FROM GERMANY – Welcome JVG. EMU – The emu (bird) can’t fly. Will this one? EUROPE & THE U.S. ELECTION – Will the U.S. become a “socialist Europe?” SCAPEGOATS – Scapegoating is evil. Is there another factor here? U.S. MILITARY IN GERMANY – Fewer. Is that so terrible? MEIN KAMPF – Hot off the presses! In Germany? END OF THE LINE? As I have been reporting for the last few months, it looks as if Chancellor Merkel has reached the end of her tether with her coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), and is thinking seriously about going it alone in the 2013 national election. Spiegel On-Line reports, “Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have abandoned any hope that her coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party, will be able to revive its fortunes in time for the 2013 general election. She has decided to leave the floundering party to its own devices and focus on maximizing her chances of winning a third term instead. Merkel has been watching the steady decline of the FDP with mounting frustration. She would like to keep them as her partner in a center-right coalition after the 2013 general election, but the FDP's slide in support has been so dramatic that it may not even clear the 5 percent hurdle needed to win seats in parliament. She likes the youthful Rösler, 38, who replaced Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle as FDP chairman last May and who has been battling to lead the party out of the doldrums. But she regards him as a political novice who keeps on making mistakes -- and doesn't appear to be learning from them. She has lost hope that he can deliver the recovery the FDP desperately needs, and she has decided to turn her back on the FDP and focus solely on the interests of her
own party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union, and on securing a third term as chancellor. Merkel's strategic goal is to make the CDU the strongest party by far in the 2013 election. She wants to make sure that no government could be formed without the CDU as dominant partner. And she is ready to accept a rift with the FDP if need be. What that means in practical policy terms became evident on Jan. 9 at the news conference following her meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had demanded a speedy introduction of a financial transaction tax in the euro zone. Until that Monday, the German government had insisted that Britain, as home to Europe's largest financial center, would have to adopt the tax for it to be viable. It was a position shared by the FDP, which says any such tax must be implemented by the full 27-member European Union. But she evidently changed her mind and told reporters at the post-summit news conference with Sarkozy that "we could imagine such a tax in the euro zone." She couldn't have made any clearer how little she cares about the FDP. FDP nerves had already been frayed by the collapse of the regional government of Saarland a few days earlier, on Jan. 6, when the CDU governor of the small southwestern state, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, ended the three-way coalition with the FDP and Greens, and blamed FDP in-fighting for her decision. There is no way the Chancellor can maintain her position without being in some sort of coalition. Only once in post war German history has a single party had a majority in the Bundestag by itself. It’s not about to happen again any time soon. So, if the FDP doesn’t pull itself together Fr. Merkel’s options are either to be in a “Grand Coalition” with the other major party, the Social Democrats or to pull off a great coup by joining up with the leftist Green Party. That’s highly unlikely so “Grand” seems to be the direction she’s heading. Difficult – but don’t count her out. There is, of course, more to the above story which you can read by clicking here http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,809584,00.html#ref=nlint THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE: 70TH YEAR COMEMORATION According to DW-World, “Germany has marked the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi officials planned the 'Final Solution.' Referring to a recent series of neo-Nazi crimes, President Christian Wulff vowed to fight xenophobia. Dignitaries from around the world gathered on Friday to commemorate the 70th
anniversary of the Nazi conference that planned the systematic murder of millions of Jews during World War II. Friday's ceremony was held at the villa on the Wannsee lake on the outskirts of Berlin, which is now a Holocaust memorial. It was there that 15 senior Nazi officials adopted the "Final Solution" on January 20, 1942 - a plan approving the organizational details of how to register and transport Jews from across Europe to be killed in concentration camps. President Christian Wulff referred to the plan as the "darkest chapter of German history" and called the memorial site, which opened as a museum in 1992, "a place of German shame." He assured visiting dignitaries, including Israeli minister without portfolio Yossi Peled, that modern Germany would come to the aid of Jews worldwide if they were facing persecution. Referring to the recent discovery of xenophobic crimes in Germany, Wulff promised that hatred towards foreigners would not be allowed to take root. I have been to the Wannsee Haus many times with many groups. It is a very beautiful building – but just that – a building. I am always touched by the impact this “ordinary” mansion has on people, especially Jews who visit it for the first time. There is no question that even a passing knowledge of what took place there in 1942 somehow grabs the emotions. If you are interested in more detail click here. http://www.ghwk.de/engl/wannsee_conference.htm One thing we should keep in mind. The Wannsee Conference took place only 70 years ago – not a million! It happened within the lifetime of many of us (me). It’s not ancient history. Germany is not the culprit these days but who says “Holocaust” is no longer a possibility. I think it behooves us to keep that in mind. THE GERMAN PRESIDENT (CONT’D) Since I mentioned Pres. Wulff above, I should let you know that his troubles continue. Spiegel On-Line reported, “The scandal swirling around German President Christian Wulff is several weeks old by now. But it still shows no signs of abating. Indeed, this weekend yet more details emerged pointing to Wulff's less-thanimpeccable personal finances. According to a document seen by SPIEGEL, Berlin film financier David Groenewold paid the cost of an upgrade for a Sept. 2008 luxury hotel stay for Wulff and his wife Bettina during a visit Oktoberfest in Munich. At the time, Wulff was still governor of Lower Saxony. Groenewold also took on the costs of child care for the couple's infant son during the trip to the annual beer festival, but Wulff repaid him later in cash. Wulff's lawyer
responded to the allegations, saying merely that his client had received a bill for his hotel stay. Because Wulff had also been in Munich on official business, he submitted the bill to the Lower Saxony state chancellery and the state Christian Democrats (CDU). The SPIEGEL report is the latest to emerge in the ongoing debate over the propriety of Wulff's past business dealings, including the acceptance of a €500,000 personal loan from a friend, numerous vacation stays in the luxury homes of friends, and the refinancing of the first loan with a bank for rates much more favorable than those given to the general public. But Wulff's biggest problem has become his failure to adequately clarify these questions as promised, along with news that he angrily threatened both the editor and publisher of tabloid Bild to prevent -- or delay by one day, as Wulff has claimed -- the publication of the initial story about the personal loan which set the scandal in motion. So far Pres. Wulff is toughing it out and since he is “the Chancellor’s man” Chancellor Merkel continues to support him. However, much of the electorate is disappointed and an article in Der Spiegel entitled “Why Germany Should Get Rid of the Presidency” (Rene Pfister) raised a question about the office itself. It noted, “Germany's President Christian Wulff is embroiled in a tiresome scandal over his personal finances, even as many continue to insist on maintaining a special respect for his office. But it's a meaningless and even humiliating job, and one the country should consider finally abolishing in favor of more honest governance. Read the entire article by clicking here. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,809677,00.html One thing Wulff has not done is to do what seems to have become popular in American politics and that is to ask God’s forgiveness and assume that the slate is wiped clean. Maybe that’s next. A NEW JEWISH VOICE FROM GERMANY There’s a new English language Jewish publication from Germany, The Jewish Voice from Germany (JVG) published by an old friend of mine, Rafael Seligmann. The Local reported, “A brand-new English language newspaper hopes to shed new light on Germany’s burgeoning Jewish community. Rafael Seligmann has had a long and varied career in Germany’s media industry – he’s written for Die Welt and Bild and has had a successful tenure as an editor at the Atlantic Times newspaper. But the 67-year-old’s latest project is his real labour of love. It’s called the Jewish Voice of Germany and the 30,000-circulation newspaper could give the country’s growing Jewish community a new voice.
“The Jewish community is something beautiful,” he told The Local. “It’s shouldn’t be a secret – Jews have a tremendous history in Germany.” Seligmann’s idea is simple: Through the quarterly newspaper distributed around the world – including to the United States, Israel and Britain – he hopes to challenge stereotypes and raise awareness about the growing vitality of Germany’s Jewish community. While the country’s Jewish community may be “terra incognita” to much of the world, it has a long and colourful history in the area that is today Germany, being found in historical records as far back as the 4th century. Though often oppressed and forced to move, by the 17th century Jews were great contributors to German intellectual and economic life. But they faced continued anti-Semitism over the centuries, culminating in the 20th century Holocaust. Roughly 500,000 were in Germany at the beginning of Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933. Almost none remained by 1945. But genocide is not what Seligmann wants people to imagine when they think of Judaism in Germany. Today the community has rebuilt itself to about 200,000 people and Jews of German descent have found success in politics, business and the arts. “We need to show that the Holocaust was not the end of Jews in Germany. We’ve had a renaissance here – there is a blossoming of culture happening,” he told The Local. Rafael is a great guy. A true intellectual, a writer and frequent guest on TV, he was a major part of the Atlantik Times before it ceased publication. It is conceivable that some of you who were on the AT mailing list have already received the first edition of JVG. If you were not and want to, drop a note to Rafael at firstname.lastname@example.org The publication is a quarterly and is delivered through the regular mail. It’s free. JVG is a very worthwhile enterprise. Anything that advises readers about Jewish life in Germany gets the DuBow Digest Seal of Approval. Incidentally, while Rafael and I are good friends, we may not always agree on all issues – especially the Middle East. I’ll address that some other time. In the meantime, if you’ve received JVG enjoy it. If not, send Rafael an e-mail and get on the mailing list.
EMU The emu is the world’s 2nd largest bird and, strangely, it doesn’t fly. In European terms the EMU stands for European Monetary Union. I am the first to admit that I do not understand economics very well (at all?) and I am totally lost when it comes to monetary policy. However, I do know that the economic health of Europe has great implications for us here in the U.S. In addition, I know that Germany is the strongest economic power in Europe and if the EU, unlike the emu, is to continue to fly there must be more financial integration between the Federal Republic and the other European countries. Luckily, a good friend, J.D. Bindenagel, a former U.S. Ambassador in Germany and U.S. Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust issues wrote an article in German for the Süddeutsche Zeitung which was translated into English and published in an issues piece by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University. It is entitled Germany’s Historical Euro Responsibility. The article gives the historical and political background one must have to understand anything at all about the European situation. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read it. It’s relatively short but steeped with an amazing amount of important information. Click here to read it. http://www.aicgs.org/issue/germanys-historical-euroresponsibility/ EUROPE & THE U.S. ELECTION Needless to say, the specter of the financial collapse of the Euro hangs not only over the head of all Europeans but of us as well here in the U.S. What happens in Europe has impact here. With so much of our election process focusing on the economic situation and jobs, the Republican primaries have, unhappily, raised Europe and its systems, lifestyle and economy as the “boogeyman” of the political battles over who should be the Republican candidate to oppose President Obama. In a Spiegel On-Line article by Sebastian Fischer, he reports from New Hampshire, “Europe is socialist, bloated and a threat to the global economy. That appears to be the message from the ongoing presidential campaign in the US. Republicans in particular have discovered Europe as a convenient punching bag -- and have even begun accusing each other of being too "European."
A specter is haunting the United States. That, at least, is what the Republicans seem to believe in this election season. And the specter has a name: Europe. US President Barack Obama, said leading Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the Republican debate on Saturday, wants to turn the US into a "European welfare state." At a weekend appearance in New Hampshire, site of a crucial primary vote on Tuesday, Romney said "I don't believe in Europe. I believe in America." In an election year overshadowed by the threats posed by the European economy and concerns about the break-up of the European common currency, it is a message that Romney has been delivering every chance he gets. And he's not alone. Europe-bashing has become an important stump-speech cornerstone for the entire Republican field. The message, as Romney never tires of delivering it, is clear: "I don't think Europe is working in Europe. I know it won't work here." Negative portrayals of Europe are, of course, by no means a novelty when it comes to American political campaigns. Candidates, particularly Republicans, have long blasted their opponents for being a bit too cuddly with Europe. In 2004, when George W. Bush was battling John Kerry in his re-election campaign, Europe played an outsized role, primarily because France and Germany had declined to support the US invasion of Iraq. Because Kerry spoke fluent French, he was portrayed as the "French candidate." This time around, though, with Europe deep in crisis, the Continent has become an even more prominent element of Republicans' stump speeches. With high state debt, high unemployment in several countries and a sluggish euro-zone economy, the European Union is seen as a club of losers. The US president, in other words, is merely a European in disguise. That is the message the Republicans would like to convey. Newt Gingrich, in particular, never tires of calling Obama a "socialist." Obama has a "European social democratic vision" says Romney, and claimed recently that per capita income in the US was "50 percent more" than in Europe. And Ron Paul, perhaps the most extreme of the Republican field full of extremists, advocates pulling US troops out of Europe, in part so that America is no longer in the position of subsidizing "socialist Germany." There is a lot more to the story (see link below) but I think you get the idea. For me this is not a Democrat vs. Republican matter. Perhaps if there was a Republican President that the Democrats were running against they would be saying the same things. The issue here is the mind set it produces regarding Europe which, in the long run, is important to Jewish interests. A healthy transatlantic relationship is vital to Israeli and world Jewry in terms of security. The sort of political language being used harms that and, in turn, hurts our interests. You can read the entire article by clicking here. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,808044,00.html#ref=nlint
SCAPEGOATS Since I’m on the subject of scapegoats (Europe as a scapegoat) I came across an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune by Sarah Wildman, a journalist who is a regular contributor to the New York Times and Slate. She won the 2010 Peter R Weitz prize, awarded by the German Marshall Fund annually for excellence in reporting on Europe. In the article entitled The New Scapegoats, Ms. Wildman notes, “the U.S. ambassador to Belgium mentioned the beating [of a Jewish girl in Belgium] in a speech about the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. Howard Gutman, himself a Jew, saw [the girl’s] plight as symptomatic of a larger problem: Jews and Muslims in Europe are caught in a proxy war that mirrors events in the Middle East, especially between Israel and the Palestinians. “[E]very new settlement announced in Israel, every rocket shot over a border or suicide bomber on a bus, and every retaliatory military strike exacerbates the problem and provides a setback here in Europe for those fighting hatred and bigotry,” Gutman said. He’s right: Politics in the Middle East refract into tensions between Jews and Muslims in Europe. Violence against Jews on the Continent tends to increase when violence rises between Israelis and Palestinians, for example. The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights counted 815 acts of anti-Semitic violence in France in 2009, compared with 459 the year before, and found that the uptick was a response to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s bloody incursion into Gaza in early 2009. But while incidents in the Middle East are relevant, the root cause of the problem between Jews and Muslims in Europe isn’t simply the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it is primarily the failure of European states to integrate immigrants, Muslims in particular. Governments throughout Europe have struggled for the last half-century to expand their notion of citizenship. Muslims who came from North Africa and Turkey as workers in the 1960s and early 1970s were expected to go home eventually. But they stayed and built families in Europe. Today, their children and grandchildren are still defined as second- and third-generation immigrants rather than as Belgian, French or German. This is partly because many Europeans cannot quite imagine how Islam and a secular European identity might co-exist. It is also because the once-marginal antiMuslim ideas of the far right have become more mainstream; Muslims have replaced Jews as the scapegoats of Europe. If Muslims in Europe so thoroughly
identify with the Palestinian cause today — posters at rallies for the right to wear the hijab often call for a free Palestine — it is partly because a weak Palestine subs in for their own maligned population. And so while Gutman’s diagnosis of the problem rings true, his fix for it is misguided. In that speech in late November, he said that the solution to tensions between Jews and Muslims in Europe “is in the hands of Israel, the Palestinians and Arab neighbors in the Middle East.” In fact, the real answer lies much closer to home: according to a position-paper by the Brookings Institution, if Muslim communities in Europe felt less marginalization and had more economic opportunities, they would resort less to misdirected violence. Although attacks on Jews are scary and hard to explain away, there is no broad and systematic anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe, neither among Muslims nor among the rest of the population. This is not 1936. I decided to include the article above not so much because what I think Ms. Wildman says is correct or not but what it does not say. I don’t think there is any question that Muslims in Europe (and that certainly includes Germany) are considered “the other” and are, therefore, poorly integrated and economically discriminated against. She has a point. However, I do believe that the Palestinian – Israeli conflict is a larger issue than Ms. Wildman makes out. If Muslims in Europe were more integrated into the general society would there be less anti-Semitism? I personally doubt it. What Ms. Wildman does not mention is the fact that at least some of the antiSemitism coming from Muslims is religious. I want to be careful in not indicting Islam as an ant-Jewish religion. I do not believe it is. However, the severe and long standing dispute over what is seen as “holy land” unquestionably seeped into religious belief and certainly the language of the preachers. Therefore, the fixing of the economic situation might help but the more basic, internal feeling about Jews is certainly much more critical if anti-Semitism is be dealt with among those people of Islamic faith that now reside in Europe. U.S. MILITARY IN GERMANY Be honest! How many of you know that there are still large contingents of American soldiers in Germany? Don’t feel bad. You’re in the majority. I myself did not realize that it is still in the thousands. We are now 66 years after World War II, 62 years after Germany became a “nation” once again, and more than 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was reunified.
In the new U.S. Defense Dept.’s announced cutbacks, the somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers that are stationed there (plus, probably, twice that number of dependents) will be cut down to a number not yet decided on. In large part they will be replaced with rotating military personnel who, I assume, will not have their dependents living with them. I guess it’s a good move financially as well as militarily. After all, who were they going to fight against? The East Germans are now part of the West Germans and the Russians are not much of a threat – to anyone. What was not said is that the U.S., in all likelihood, will continue to have some Special Forces on the ground to deal with the sort of wars that are stylish these days. I also assume that the important Ramstein Air Base will continue in operation. Ramstein Air Base, Germany, serves as headquarters for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and is also a North Atlantic Treaty Organization installation. If that is the case the cutback is probably sensible. MEIN KAMPF How many of you have actually read Hitler’s tome? Probably not many (I haven’t either). Well, if you’re interested you can go into Amazon.com and there are about 15 different editions ranging from about $30 all the way down to $15. There’s even a Kindle edition for $12.97. The point is that it’s pretty easy to buy almost anywhere – except in the Federal Republic of Germany. In the FRG it’s outlawed. It’s illegal to sell it – at least, until now. Before we get to the possible change, how many people know what’s in it? Again, probably not many. So, a little lesson before we go on. According to the Amazon.com website, “The angry ranting of an obscure, small-party politician, the first volume of Mein Kampf was virtually ignored when it was originally published in 1925. Likewise the second volume, which appeared in 1926. The book details Hitler's childhood, the "betrayal" of Germany in World War I, the desire for revenge against France, the need for lebensraum for the German people, and the means by which the National Socialist party can gain power. It also includes Hitler's racist agenda and his glorification of the "Aryan" race. The few outside the Nazi party who read it dismissed it as nonsense, not believing that anyone could--or would--carry out its radical, terrorist programs. As Hitler and the Nazis gained power, first party members and then the general public were pressured to buy the book. By the time Hitler became chancellor of the Third Reich in 1933, the book stood atop the German bestseller lists. Had the book been taken seriously when it was first published, perhaps the 20th century would have been very different. Beyond the anger, hatred, bigotry, and self-aggrandizing, Mein Kampf is saddled
with tortured prose, meandering narrative, and tangled metaphors (one person was described as "a thorn in the eyes of venal officials"). That said, it is an incredibly important book. It is foolish to think that the Holocaust could not happen again, especially if World War II and its horrors are forgotten. As an Amazon.com reader has pointed out, "If you want to learn about why the Holocaust happened, you can't avoid reading the words of the man who was most responsible for it happening." Mein Kampf, therefore, must be read as a reminder that evil can all too easily grow. --Sunny Delaney -"For years, Mein Kampf stood as proof of the blindness and complacency of the world. In its pages Hitler announced--long before he came to power--a program of blood and terror in a self-revelation of such overwhelming frankness that few had the courage to believe it...That such a man could go so far toward realizing his ambitions--that is a phenomenon the world will ponder for centuries to come." -Konrad Heiden, author of Der Fuhrer: Hitler's Rise to Power Getting back to today, The Local.de recently reported, “British publisher Peter McGee says he plans to publish excerpts from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and sell them in Germany. It is about time that the broader public is given the opportunity to deal with the original text,” he told Der Spiegel newsweekly. McGee says he will publish critical commentaries alongside the excerpts from Mein Kampf, which will go on sale in Germany the week after next. He plans to print three 15-page editions, with a print run of 100,000 each. The British publisher caused controversy back in 2009 when he published Zeitungszeugen (“Newspaper Witness”), which included annotated facsimiles of Nazi newspapers like Der Angriff and the Völkische Beobachter. The authorities in the state of Bavaria, which owns the copyright to Nazi publications, including Mein Kampf, confiscated more than 3,000 copies of Zeitungszeugen and pressed charges against McGee for publishing the texts. However, a Munich court ruled in 2009 that although the publication of Nazi propaganda is illegal, McGee was not breaking the law because his intention was not whip up racial hatred. The judges also ruled that printing Nazi swastikas from the original mastheads, which are generally outlawed in Germany, was legal in an educational context. McGee is, therefore, unlikely to face any legal hurdles over the publication of the extracts from Hitler’s book, which the future dictator wrote while serving time in prison in Munich for attempting to seize power in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, greeted
McGee’s plans, saying he hoped that it would “go some way to demystifying” the book. I guess I come out at the same place as Dieter Graumann. If the Jewish Community of Germany is not opposed, why should I be? However, I do have a question about the royalties. Luckily, Hitler is long dead so he’s not due for an author’s fee. It seems to me that, perhaps, the State of Bavaria may be in for a payday. If so, I wonder what they will do with received funds. If I find out I’ll let you know. P.S. If you want further information about the contents click here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mein_Kampf ****************************************************************************************** See you again in February DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted by clicking here Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com Click here to connect