Erinnerungskultur — Germany’s False Memory Syndrome 

On May 17, German MEP for Brandenburg Christian Ehler tweeted: “Earlier this month, the leadership of Trinity College Dublin gave in to pressure from anti-Semitic student group [sic] and committed to punishing the Jewish people for protecting themselves against the terrorists of Hamas operating out of Gaza.” It was part of a wider statement condemning student activists and Trinity for their decision to divest from Israel in response to the ongoing Gaza genocide. Mr Ehler is a member of the CDU, Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, but such opinions are not uncommon across the political spectrum. 

Green Party member and head of the German-Israeli Society Volker Beck recently forced the cancellation of an interfaith prayer between Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Munich, saying, “Not every message of peace is innocent and actually peaceful per se… if the attacked person is asked to put down his weapons as soon as he defends himself, I do not see that this prayer is a clear stance for peace.” This is from a politician who made his name in the German peace movement in the 1980s. 

German politicians now reflexively return to their rhetoric from just after the crash in 2008. Modern Germany is the inevitable conclusion of their Sonderweg, or special path, and German exceptionalism is the rational response. Countries such as Spain and Ireland are not as attuned to the harsh realities of the world and need to be educated on the horrific 20th-century history that Germany created. A German phrase inselaffe, or “island monkey” — used to refer to boisterous British tourists — now refers to insubordinate Irish, just like how German newspapers referred to countries as PIIGS or “mafia” for “coming to collect” from hardworking German taxpayers after the 2008 crisis.

The resurgence of nationalist sentiment and right-wing rhetoric within mainstream German politics, particularly among the liberals and SPD, makes the surge in support for parties like Alternative for Germany (AfD) almost moot. The internal political shifts, described as the “turning point” by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, harken back to a darker period in German history, all while the fetishisation of Israel as Germany’s Staatsräson (reason of state) grows stronger. German politics is now defined by militarization, mass deportation, nationalism, and violent suppression of dissent. 

This shift is further evidenced by the liberal media’s adoption of the loaded term “treason” in political discourse, a move harkening back to Weimar days that is directly aimed at stamping out whatever is left of the German socialist movement. However, even that effort seems a waste. The German left is rotten to the core, with its anarchist movement riddled with “anti-Deutsche” or anti-Germans, whose response to the fall of actually existing socialism in the 90s was to champion NATO intervention in Serbia, the “pax Americana” and — of course — blind fealty to Israel. 


Despite its history, Die Linke is no communist party. While there are elements within it that might seem sound on individual issues, especially in regional branches such as Berlin-Neukölln, its entire function is as a reformist bulwark of the German state. A modern Germany, we must remember, that is a continuation of the US/West German project, which involved reintroducing Nazi administrators, military leaders, business interests, and — especially — secret policemen into public life, fully rehabilitated. The same Bundesnachrichtendienst (the German security service) that is currently surveilling Palestinian activists inherited many of its founding members from its predecessor, the Gehlen Organization. Among them were the former Gestapo chief, Klaus Barbie, former head of the Secret Field Police, Wilhelm Krichbaum, former head of the “Jewish Department” of the Foreign Office, Franz Rademacher, former officer in Commando Unit 9 of Einsatzgruppe B, Konrad Fiebig, and the former head of the Moscow Advance Command of Einsatzgruppe B, Franz Alfred Six. 

Of course, this is not of concern for the “Anti-Germans” since it does not involve hatred of Arabs. 

All is this is laundered through what the Germans call Erinnerungskultur or memory culture. The worst offense you can make in Germany is to “relativise” the Holocaust. The singularity of the Holocaust as a unique and distinct historical event, with no antecedents or lessons, merely a thing that should be preserved in a museum exhibit and recalled with the solemn but empty incantation of “Never again is now” is unchallenged. Germany, Germans say, has a unique responsibility to atone to Jewish people — and to do that, they must unquestioningly support Israel. It is merely a handy coincidence that such support aligns perfectly with the imperialist interests of modern Germany. There is no such support for, as an example, the establishment of a homeland for Sinti or Roma people. Or the disabled. Or trade unionists. To do so would no doubt be relativising the Holocaust.