Photo: AP
Shoah memorial in Berlin
Photo: AP
The other Germans
Op-ed: Noah Klieger recounts unexpected event during Holocaust lecture in Germany

I returned from a lecture tour in Germany; 20 lectures in 11 days in nine different cities. In recent years the frequency of the invitations I receive grows, and during my lectures I dedicate much time to the despicable, sadistic behavior of most Germans during the Holocaust – the hundreds of thousands of murders of European Jewry and the tens of millions who were overjoyed by the mass extermination of the hated Jews.


I usually speak before audiences whose grandparents were those Germans. In the case of school children it may even be the great grandparents. Through my personal story I detail the crimes and basic inhumanity, and the audiences arrive in large numbers and always applaud me at length.


My last meeting in Berlin, on the eve of my return to Israel, was organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation at the German capital’s public library. It was a cold evening, -16 degrees Celsius, with snow piling up in the streets and the few cars outside having trouble making their way through it. The organizers expected a small audience, if at all, and I too didn’t expect much.


Yet reality was different. The 90-seat venue filled up within minutes, and dozens of chairs had to be brought in. Here too, the audience sat and attentively listened to my words, and again it applauded at length. As always, I proceeded to take questions. I responded to two women, and then a man stood up, in his 40s or 50s.


“You claim,” he said, and I immediately stopped him: “I’m not claiming. I’m telling facts.” The man continued to ask whether I saw gas chambers with my own eyes, yet before I had time to tell him about the reality I saw in Auschwitz and Birkenau, with the gas chambers and crematoria, several of those in attendance stood up and started yelling “raus, raus. “Out” in German. The man did not comply of course, and then several men charged at him and forcefully dragged him out while beating him up.


Readers at the library who wondered what the commotion was all about were told the man was a Holocaust denier, and everyone was happy to see him thrown out.


This is the first time I’ve seen something like this happen in the dozens or hundreds of times I appeared in Germany thus far. The response of the audience to the provocation taught me that there are indeed “other Germans.”


It is true that even today quite a few Germans are latent anti-Semites. Many are not willing to believe that their fathers or grandfathers indeed murdered Jews, and they cannot speak out only because of the law that bans Holocaust denial and religious incitement. At the same time, more and more people in Germany are starting to understand in recent years what the Germans of yore did to the Jewish people, and to the whole world.



פרסום ראשון: 12.27.10, 00:06
 new comment
See all talkbacks "The other Germans"
This will delete your current comment