AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION
August 30, 2010
Before anything else let me wish you a wonderful, prosperous and especially
healthy New Year. (5771).
The summer seems to be over in Germany. The Foreign Minister is in Bosnia,
the national discussion about whether the German military should be all
volunteer (see below) is getting more heated and, most important, the soccer
season is underway. Foreign Minister Westerwelle’s Freed Democratic Party has
sunk to an all time low in popularity and that has caused great trouble in overall
popularity of the governing coalition. Some people want the F.M. to step out of
his party role and focus only on international affairs.
Even with all the above, the German economy seems to be doing well. I don’t
enough about economics to know if what David Brooks in the NY Times is
correct but he has written an interesting column on the subject. You can read it
by clicking here. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/opinion/27brooks.html?hp
Let’s move on to the news…
IN THIS EDITION
THE CHANCELLOR’S STYLE – It ain’t her pants suits.
AN ALL VOLUNTEER ARMY? – Probably!
GERMANS & THE HOLOCAUST: NICELY SAID – A Jewish professional’s first
visit to Germany
THREE CHEERS FOR REGENSBURG’S WAITERS – I’ll give you a tip. They’re
an unlikely group of heroes.
BACK INTO THE COLD – Like a fish to water, an alleged spy goes back to
where he’s most comfortable.
NEO-NAZIS, THE INTERNET & THE KIDS - A fertile vehicle for spreading hate.
THE (ACTUAL) NUREMBERG LAWS – How did the two American copies wind
up in….(Read the story)
THE CHANCELLOR’S STYLE
A discussion of Chancellor Merkel’s style has nothing to do with the fact that she
frequently wears pant suits. A recent Spiegel Online article noted, “On vacation
in the Dolomites, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had an epiphany: To get her
government back on track, she has decided to develop a more resolute style of
leadership. But with controversial issues looming, it may prove hard to abandon
her habitual hesitancy.
Chancellor Angela Merkel prefers watching and waiting, she has frequently been
accused of dilly-dallying, of equivocating. Prior to becoming Germany's
president, Christian Wulff said, in defense of Merkel's leadership style, "a good
shepherd leads the herd from behind."
That only works, however, if the herd shows a proclivity for sticking together. Ten
months into Merkel's second term, however, her coalition government -- made up
of her conservatives paired with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party
(FDP) -- has been anything but united. From her vantage point at the back of the
herd, Merkel has watched as her government bickered and fought its way
through the winter and the spring with public support dropping all the while. Now,
following a bit of hiking in the Dolomites, she has resolved to change her
leadership style, people close to the chancellor have told SPIEGEL.
”…if Merkel plans to make her new resolution a reality, she will have some work
to do. The temptation to slide back into her habit of waiting for the dust to settle
before making a decision might be difficult to resist.”
The Spiegel Online article which you can read in its entirety by clicking here
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,712331,00.html spells out all the
troubles the Chancellor has with her coalition partners and the issues that
confront her. I’m no judge of Madame Merkel’s leadership abilities. However,
when trying to size up someone I look at the record. Here is a woman from the
former East Germany who has reached the political top spot in her country in a
span of only about 12 years after the Wall fell. Maybe Spiegel Online is right
about “style” but the facts are the facts and what she’s done and how far she’s
gone speak a lot louder than some perceived negative view of her style. ‘Nuff
AN ALL VOLUNTEER ARMY?
German Defense Minister Guttenberg favors a plan to reform the army by
halving the number of ground troops and battle tanks, SPIEGEL has learned. His
ministry is due to present a reform plan in autumn in a bid to cut costs and boost
the army's effectiveness.
Germany's ground forces would be almost halved under a reform plan favored by
Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, SPIEGEL has learned.
An internal paper suggests cutting the army from 95,000 soldiers to 54,558. The
number of battle tanks would also be reduced by almost half. The strength of the
infantry would remain almost unchanged at around 10,000 troops.
Critics say the reform plan won't improve the situation of German infantry
soldiers on foreign missions, who are being worn down by the high frequency of
missions and insufficient rest and recuperation time. Germany is currently the
third-biggest international troop provider in Afghanistan with more than 4,000
soldiers stationed there.
Why should we, or anybody else, worry about Germany going to an all volunteer,
smaller army? Aren’t the days of German militarism over? Even if not, how much
could any army of 54,558 do to destabilize or harm anyone? The answer to the
first question has more to do with socio-political matters than military ones. There
is strong feeling in some elements of the society that see “… conscription as a
valuable tool to anchor the army in society.” The draft “mixes the bodies” of its
young people and is a help in integrating them into the larger society. In addition,
it gives the society a greater stake in the future of the military.
As far as “German militarism” is concerned, I think that kind of threat is at a very
(very!) low level. The various leaders I have spoken to are enormously pleased to
be in NATO and to be shoulder to shoulder with soldiers from the U.S.and other
Western countries. Those that want a smaller, all volunteer service want their
army to be more effective, efficient and professional – professional in the best
sense of the term. So, I’m putting my worry beads away.
Finally, as far as many politicians are concerned, a smaller army would much
reduce costs. No small matter.
So, how will it come out? My advice? Follow the money!
GERMANS & THE HOLOCAUST: NICELY SAID
Brian Siegal is director of American Jewish Committee (AJC) Greater Miami and
Broward County Regional Office. He is one of those young guys who has chosen
a career in Jewish communal service and luckily (for AJC and Brian himself)
found his way into a perfect job for himself. I consider him one of the best field
directors AJC has on its staff.
Until recently Brian, who has run programs on the Holocaust, had never visited
Germany. It’s a trip that every Jewish professional should make in order to have
a complete vision of the totality of modern Jewish history.
A couple of months ago the German Consul General in Miami invited Brian to be
a member of a group going on a “familiarity trip”, something the German
government and a number of German agencies do for people they think are
important in German – American relations and especially American Jewish –
Upon his return Brian wrote a piece for the AJC website. The most important part
has to do with Germans and the Holocaust. In part, Brian wrote, “Clearly,
constant vigilance will be required now more than ever, as the last generation of
survivors passes on and first-hand accounts grow fewer, to preserve the
Holocaust's memory. Present-day Germany provides one of the best models on
how to do this. Such was my impression after spending a week in Berlin as the
guest of the German Foreign Ministry.
The German government, individual foundations and a number of religious
institutions all play a part in preserving the memory of the victims who lie hidden
behind the anonymous numbers and ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust
are learned for the future. Rather than denying or disavowing their past,
Germans for the most part seem to confront it while looking ahead toward a
more promising future.
This was most apparent to me when I visited an elementary school in Berlin. The
students were tasked with a project: Identify someone from their neighborhood
who was killed in the Holocaust and find at least one thing in common with that
person. Each student then created a brick to commemorate him/her, along with a
brief description about who they were. The bricks are then joined together to
form a ``wall of remembrance.'' It is through exercises like this done in schools
around the country that memory is passed on to the next generation.
But beyond physical reminders and remembrances, Germany is also heeding
lessons of the Holocaust by combating intolerance, group hatred and Holocaust
denial. It is one of over 80 countries that participate on the Task Force for
International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and
Research, which recently signed an agreement to promote the remembrance of
the Holocaust through education, research and upkeep of memorial sites.
We must confront the denial and misuse of the Holocaust. What I saw in
Germany provides examples of why and how this should be done. Germany's
progress in confronting the past, fighting anti-Semitism, and speaking out against
Holocaust denial gives hope that even though this work is difficult, it can be
Over the years I have been asked many times about what Germany is doing
about the Holocaust and what sort of Holocaust education is being taught in the
German schools. I, like Brian, have experienced positive attempts to do “the right
thing”. Could it be better? Of course! Could there be more? Of course! However,
to be honest I’m more worried about American schools than I am about the ones
in Germany. What do our own schools do point out the evils of Nazism? Do our
own kids, especially the ones who are not Jewish, know anything about the
horrors of 1933-1945? Frankly, I don’t like to ask the question as I’m afraid I
know the answer.
To read the entirety of Brian’s article click here.
THREE CHEERS FOR REGENSBURG’S WAITERS
According to The Local, “Dozens of restaurants and bars in the Bavarian city of
Regensburg have joined forces to begin a new initiative to refuse service to neo-
Nazis after a violent right-wing attack on one of their own, the group said this
Effective immediately, 85 hospitality staff from establishments in the picturesque
medieval city’s centre will no longer serve food or alcohol to right-wing
extremists, the group told daily Donau Post on Tuesday.
“Nazis and other racists have no place in our establishments,” the group told the
paper, adding that Regensburg is an enlightened city where people of different
backgrounds live peacefully.
The initiative, called Keine Bedienung für Nazis, or “No service for Nazis,” began
in support of a young barkeep attacked by a gang of neo-Nazis when he tried to
protect a dark-skinned woman and her child from their insults a few weeks ago,
according to the Mittelbayerische Zeitung.
The 85 servers who have signed on to the initiative are hopefully just the
beginning of a wider movement, the group said, adding that they hope to see
their stickers in the windows of every establishment in town someday.
Maybe it will spread throughout the rest of Germany. I’d like to see the same
thing happen in parts of Idaho and the Northwest where the America’s neo-Nazis
BACK INTO THE COLD
You will remember the alleged Israeli spy (Mossad agent) Uri Brodsky who was
allegedly (everything is “alleged”) part of the Israeli “hit” team in Dubai that
assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official involved in Iranian
arms smuggling. Brodsky was arrested in Poland on a German warrant alleging
that he obtained or passed along a forged passport. When we last left Brodsky
the Polish authorities were about to deport him to Germany where, unless I am
very wrong, the Germans wanted to receive this hot potato about as much as an
overdose of weak beer or overly mild currywurst.
Brodsky was, indeed, deported and arrived rather secretly in Germany where he
appeared before a German judge in a closed hearing. Bail was set and he was
immediately released. A small hue and cry emerged that the national government
had intervened on Brodsky’s behalf. This was immediately denied. According to
Haaretz, “A foreign office spokesman said the decision to release Uri Brodsky on
bail was purely judicial .”That is why the federal government had no influence on
the decision and is not commenting on it either," the spokesman said. He might
have added, “If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be
interested in buying”.
It is rumored that we have seen the last of Mr. Brodsky (at least under that
name).He will probably not appear at whatever sort of trial there will be and the
bail money will take care of the fine that will be assessed. Allegedly that’s the end
of the story.
Mr. Brodsky (or whoever he is) can now, like Alec Leamas, the John LeCarre
character in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, can go back into the cold. I
hope he suffers a better fate than Mr. Leamas.
NEO-NAZIS, THE INTERNET & THE KIDS
According to The Local.de “German right-wing extremists are increasingly
targeting children online, luring minors to websites by disguising their hate-filled
German youth protection authorities Jugendschutz presented a report this week
detailing the burgeoning neo-Nazi web offerings, including the use of social
networks and video platforms.
The online offensive is part of the strategy right-wing extremists are using to
disguise their propaganda and lure younger recruits, according to Jugendschutz
“This example showcases how right-wing extremists are abusing Web 2.0,” said
Stefan Glaser from jugendschutz.net. “Their activities are increasingly found
there because they can reach more young people.”
Extremists are also disseminating materials meant to look harmless, such as a
CD of children’s songs and lullabies for tots between the ages of three to eight
purportedly sponsored by Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, the songs
actually contain anti-Semitic lyrics and encourage racist violence and Holocaust
denial, daily Die Welt reported on Wednesday.
According to research done in partnership with the Federal Agency for Civic
Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung), Glaser said that since 2007,
the amount of neo-Nazi activity found on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube
and Twitter has exploded.
Recently state intelligence experts have warned that the neo-Nazi NPD party
had increased their focus on online German social networks such as SchülerVZ,
StudiVZ and beyond.
Experts say the danger is that many young people are unable to recognise
propaganda and attempts at indoctrination from these groups at first glance.
Instead of blatant symbols such as swastikas, many are using graffiti and other
less-recognisable imagery from youth culture.
The abuse is rampant, and Jugendschutz.net counts an additional 10,000 active
users of neo-Nazi blogs and download portals per day, Glaser said. The number
of these radical internet sites has reached an all-time high, from 1,635 in 2007 to
“The internet is the propaganda medium of choice for right-wing extremists to
spread hateful content in order to net young people to talk with,” he told the
Why should we be surprised? The Internet is an “open” form of communication
and the neo-Nazis are as smart as anyone else in utilizing it. The worrisome
things are the target audience and the attempt to hide their propaganda “using
graffiti and other less-recognisable imagery from youth culture”. There is a
positive side however. Both Jugendschutz and the Bundeszentrale für Politische
Bildung, the federal agency dealing with “political education”, are on top of the
problem and airing it in public. In the final analysis the responsibility for
countering this stuff – or denying it to children – rests with the individual families.
I hope they’re aware and understand the dangers and risks that neo-Nazi
propaganda has for them and their children.
THE (ACTUAL) NUREMBERG LAWS
In 1935 Hitler and other Nazi officials signed four copies of the “Laws for the
Safeguard of German Blood and German Honor,” one of three documents
collectively known as the Nuremberg Laws. After the War two copies wound up
in the United States. Surely they were in Washington or some Jewish archive in
New York. Wrong! They were in Los Angeles.
If you’re young and not familiar with the Nuremberg laws – you should be.
According to Wikipedia, “After Hitler came to power in 1933, there was a rapid
growth in German legislation directed at Jews, however the existence of many
secular and atheistic Germans of Jewish origin and the adherence of the Nazis
to racial definitions created a need for a clear legal method of defining who was
Jewish. The Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) of 1935 were
antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany which were introduced at the annual
Nuremberg rally. The laws classified people with four German grandparents as
"German or kindred blood", while people were classified as Jews if they
descended from three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two
Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of "mixed blood” The
Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of German citizenship and prohibited marriage
between Jews and other Germans.
The existence of laws identifying who was Jewish made it easier for the Nazis to
introduce legislation restricting Jewish rights, the laws themselves included a ban
on sexual intercourse between (people defined as) "Jews" and (non-Jewish)
Germans, and preventing "Jews" from participating in German civic life.
From the laws grew the Holocaust and the murder of 6 million Jews.
After World War II Gen. George Patton brought the two copies of the laws that
somehow wound up in his hands to Los Angeles. Instead of depositing them (as
he should have done) in the National Achieves, he gave them to the Huntington
Library in L.A. Now, 65 years later, after being on loan to the Skirball Museum
since 1999, they are being given to the National Archives where they belong.
Why they originally came to L.A. and what is behind the decision to locate them
in Washington, D.C. is an interesting story. You can read it by clicking here.
See you again in mid-September.
DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be contacted
Both the American and Germany editions are also posted on line at