The Banality of Good pt.3 - Revising History
By Clara S and Gilad Atzmon
Clara: You are quoted as saying: “I think that Israel is far worse than Nazi Germany”.
Gilad: My comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany was limited to a discussion on collective accountability in democratic vs. authoritarian regimes. I argued that since Israel defines itself as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ its barbarian policies reflect on the Israeli society as a whole, something that can’t be said about Nazi Germany. Once democracy is abolished, collective accountability is removed!
Clara: Obviously literature dealing with the question ‘what is it in German history that has led Germans into two disasters in the 20th century?’ could fill a lot of library shelves.
For years we were taught that World War I was the Germans’ fault alone, now we know that it was more complicated. And the collective accountability of the Germans of that time and consequently the accountability of Germany as a nation for everything that happened in World War II is still presented as fact in a host of films supporting the narrative of the unique German guilt and explaining it with Hitler’s and the Germans’ dangerous ideology and madness alone.
Now you argue that this narrative is not valid because Nazi Germany was not a democracy.
Gilad: This is true.
Clara: I can see your point. While we have to accept the fact that unbelievable atrocities actually did happen and our parents were involved, we also have long discovered that Hitler was supported by a majority of the national elites. Therefore it is important to keep in mind that there were powerful interests behind the national-socialist project, not only those German people who happily cried ‘Heil Hitler’ and were indoctrinated by the Nazi education system.
Besides, Hitler kicked out the very people in his movement who took the word ‘socialist’ seriously, at an early stage of his ‘reign’.
And there’s another thing: the Germans couldn’t have sustained the war as long as they did without the help from foreign, especially US-American, bankers and industrialists. We have also found out that the western allies would have loved to see Germany destroy the Sowjetunion before being defeated herself.
Gilad: I must admit that the carefulness that I hear in your voice and the manner in which you describe an historical chapter that happened more than 70 years ago, suggests to me that instead of talking about the past, we better discuss the fear of talking about the past. What are we afraid of? What are you afraid of? Who plants this fear in us and why? What method was used to plant this carefulness? And obviously who benefits from us being afraid to look back?
Clara: Those are some really good questions to ask. Disturbing questions, too. One thing is that even though Nazi Germany was not a democracy, I wouldn’t want to let every German of the time off the hook. There is such a thing a personal responsibility. And a lot of Nazis did not take it. On the contrary – in Western Germany they were to be found in a lot of powerful positions and others went straight to the USA.
Gilad: I totally agree here. Rather than collective responsibility we are talking about personal accountability. This principle wasn’t really applied after the war, neither by West Germany, the USSR or the Americans.
Clara: But I guess the big fear is that for a lot of people questioning the narrative means justifying Hitler and the Nazis, which means that, if we go on doing that, we will soon have a ‘4th Reich’. Never trust a German. Racist exceptionalism and ‘Weltherrschaft’ are part of their DNA.
And there are that kind of right-wing Germans, I do not want to be found ‘in bed’ with, who are revising history and demanding free speech with the aim of making Germany great again by expelling foreigners and burning their homes.
Gilad: I do understand what you are saying. I am not impressed at all by many so-called ‘revisionists’ who actually happen to be as dogmatic as their foes and actually prefer to dictate their own narratives. Therefore, I am not for ‘revisionists’, I am for revisionism. For history reinstating itself as a dynamic and elastic realm as opposed to a fixed dogma. Needless to mention that I reject all forms of bigotry and violence.
Clara: Something which seems to frighten certain people. But I must admit that I felt quite offended when I was called a potential Nazi for demanding to take your ideas seriously and not just dismiss you as a dangerous ‘Holocaust denier’.
Gilad: I guess that you are referring above to Rubikon’s Jens Wernicke and Elias Davidson who worked hard to defame me yet did little but exposing themselves for what they are for real. I sadly must point out that their kind of behaviour is exactly the type of Nazi authoritarianism we were set to oppose. It is pretty amusing to find out that the so called ‘anti Nazis’ perform some of the most problematic Nazi symptoms. But it is hardly surprising. The Anti Fascists are often operating as AFF-Anti Fascist Fascists. The same can be said on anti Zionists, most often they perform the AZZ tactics. They are nothing but Anti Zionist Zionists.
Clara: I don’t think that anti-Semitism is part of my DNA. I would like to understand what really made the Nazis great and investigate whether it is true that we are on the way to a new fascist regime and especially new pogroms against Jews, as some people seem to fear when they watch the rise of right-wing populist parties. I have the impression that, if there is a group of people in contemporary Germany, it is not the Jews but the Muslims. And this enemy has been systematically established in the media since 9/11.
Gilad: That is exactly part of my ‘affair’ with the Holocaust and with the past in general. I insist that history is the attempt to narrate the past as we move along. History is a revisionist adventure, and at the core ethical thinking for revising the past offers an opportunity to envisage a better future. In the open I am against all history laws. I oppose the Holocaust or any other chapter in the past becoming a religion, a dogma. Living in Europe for more than two decades I am really upset by the emergence of such history laws.
Clara: You are talking about a Holocaust religion or dogma. What do you mean by that?
Gilad: It is a fixed narrative like that lost all elastic and dynamic qualities. It is there to sustain the primacy of Jewish suffering and European guilt. However, the problem is that this primacy has matured into a pretext for global conflicts with no end. Look at Palestine. Look at the Neocon wars: Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran. Once again we do not think in ethical terms. We dismiss the universal appeal. My point is clear and simple. If the Holocaust is the new religion, then let me be an atheist.
Clara: So would you argue that the ‘Holocaust religion’ is the origin of Israeli Pre TSD you talked about at the beginning of our conversation?
Gilad: … not at all. Pre TSD is embedded in the Jewish thinking. Here is an old Jewish joke for you:
A Jewish telegram: ‘Begin worrying, details will follow …’. And it is far from being a Jews only affair. Anglo America post 9/11 politics is similarly sustained by self inflicting terror - We are tormented by phantasmaic prophecies and work hard to make these prophecies being fulfilled.
Clara: We are walking on extremely thin ice here. Anyone who dares to touch the official Holocaust narrative is easily accused of being a Holocaust-denier, which is against the law not only in Germany. You obviously do not deny the Holocaust; as you have explained, you reject its function as justification of current policies and politics. Everyone who really reads your books or listens to your interviews can easily find that out. Besides, you have not been found guilty of such a crime by a German court.
Gilad: Not only I wasn’t found guilty, I have never been questioned by a single law enforcement authority worldwide about anything I have ever said or written. My activity is well within the boundaries of the law, in your country and every other country. My books are available world-wide including in Germany and Israel. However, I better mention it once again. I am not fearful of the past, including my own past being questioned or revised.
Clara: Still, you are accused of ‘Holocaust denial’, a reproach which has been used to discredit journalists, i.e. KenFm, or a whole movement, i.e. ‘Friedenswinter’ (a German peace initiative started in 2014) and everyone who is in contact with those accused.
I think there are very powerful interests behind this. Promoting peaceful relationships with Russia, criticizing the wars Germany is supporting world-wide and from our territory, i.e. by allowing the US to operate their drones from the airbase Ramstein, provokes quite heavy negative reactions from those in power. There is a strong connection between revising the Holocaust history and questioning current German politics. Unfortunately those who try to split the critical movement have been quite successful.
Gilad: If they were successful, they wouldn’t react in panic as they do. They are in the wrong side of history and they know it. An adequate study of WWII within the historical context of English Speaking empire will reveal that those who burned Hamburg, flattened Dresden and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki have continued doing the same thing in Korea and Vietnam. They kept supporting Israel’s expansionist program, they brought total destruction on Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Iran seems to be next. An appropriate historical discussion will detect an institutional negligence of human life at the core of Anglo American politics. The Holocaust together with German guilt are there to prevent us from witnessing the crimes that are committed in our names in front of our eyes. For the Americans and Brits it is much easier to build Holocaust museums instead of looking back at slavery or the crimes of the empire, especially because these crimes are far from being resolved yet.
If they want to burn it, you want to read it ...