July 01, 2002
I'm a news item in Germany

After translating/blogging German news stories into English for only six weeks, I have already made the news in Germany. My other blog, "The Moellemann File", which tracks the bizarre story of Jew-baiting German politician Juergen Moellemann, got a brief but significant write-up in the current version of Der Spiegel, the country's leading newsweekly. The item, which is on a "Personality" page that also spotlights Halle Barry, Queen Elizabeth II, Lionel Jospin and others, says this:

Jürgen Möllemann, 56, Vice-Chairman of the Free Democratic Party is finally world-famous. Since the end of May there is a web-site www.moellemann.com exclusively devoted to the man from Muenster. The domain was registered by a software developer from San Francisco, Stefan Sharkansky, who was concerned that the Möllemann affair was barely getting coverage in the U.S. press. Sharkansky, born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1963, learned German at the Goethe-Institut in San Francisco. He is interested in current events in Germany, so he clicks onto SPIEGEL ONLINE everyday: "I simply want to understand what's going on in Germany". His main intent was to share his findings with other Americans, but most of the visitors to the website come from Germany. "Many of the emails start with Dear Mr. Möllemann! and end with Don't let yourself get discouraged. Keep it up! Sharkansky now plans to put some of these fan-letters online, both in the original German as well as in translation, "so Americans can see for themselves". So far, Möllemann has not taken any action against the use of his name by the website.
There's a lot to say about the odd case of Juergen Moellemann, the first ostensibly mainstream German politician of the post-war era to intentionally provoke a fight with the Jewish community. In a nutshell, he made a number of provocative statements designed to appeal to Germans who are less than sympathetic to Jews and Israel. For example, he blamed Michel Friedman, a German Jewish community leader and television talkshow host, for fueling anti-Semitism. (See the Moellemann File website for more details). Fortunately, he was widely condemned by other mainstream politicians across the spectrum, including the other leaders of his own party. As a result, he has discredited himself, and is unlikely to attain his goal of a ministerial appointment in the next government.

Unfortunately, there also seems to be a disconnect between the political and media classes, which seem to feel that Germany has a historical responsibility toward Jews and Israel, and many ordinary Germans of the post-war generations who don't feel responsible for the Holocaust, are not sympathetic toward Israel, and who feel no special sensitivity toward Jews.

Indeed, the essence of the Moellemann affair is that a German politician (in the middle of an election campaign, where serious economic issues are waiting to be addressed) goes out of his way to criticize Jews, for no reason other than that lots of Germans are in the mood to criticize Jews, mainly because they have felt for a long time that they were forbidden from criticizing Jews.

What is this really about? Some German commentators argue that it partly stems from a desire of many to absolve themselves from the historical guilt for the Holocaust. The images of Israeli soldiers acting with force against the Palestinians creates an opportunity for today's Germans to draw comparisons (however off the mark) with their grandfathers' crimes, and therefore diminishing the weight of the Holocaust.

In any event, although Moellemann himself is (temporarily, at least) making less noise now, many Germans hold certain resentments that will eventually express themselves. I have translated and posted a number of very candid e-mails that German visitors sent to my website, apparently thinking they were sending the emails directly to Moellemann in support of his efforts. (I removed any information that identifies the correspondents). Read these letters for a fascinating, if uncomfortable glimpse at post-war German attitudes toward Jews and Israel.

Also, for a broader context on the reflowering of anti-Semitism in Germany, see Seth Gitell's very good article, "Heil Hate", in the latest Boston Phoenix. Gitell visited Germany last month and spoke with prominent journalists and politicians.

UPDATE Sept. 23, 2002 In yesterday's federal election, Moellemann's party (FDP) got only 7.4% of the vote, falling far short of its expectations, blamed in large part on Moellemann's use of anti-Semitism in the campaign. Due to this poor showing, Moellemann was forced to resign his post as vice-chair of the federal FDP. He will retain his positions as head of the state party in Nordrhein Westfallen.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 01, 2002 07:00 AM

seems my email to the "moellemann-file" did not appear there.

which ones get sorted out?

those that come from germany and state to be critical of moellemann and want him out of the party he is a member of?

doesnt fit into the picture thats to be painted?


nice site, btw:)

Posted by: what about emails? on October 9, 2002 04:12 AM

Dear Stefan: What can be noted about the world of today? Convincing the Jews to change their ways(which cause them to be hated wherever they've been)is like persuading the fleas on the family pet to cease their activity, depart, and take up vegetable farming. The flea is a parasite. He knows it. We know it. And he will do or say literally ANYTHING to sustain this mode of existence. It's evolutionary. But now it's not just the "bad old (and young)" Germans who aren't listening to your lies, it's a rainbow of peoples pissed about everything from bought local politicians to pollution to globalization and Andy Fastow. Oy vay! Could it be that the stuff in the bible about "the nations" marching against Israel is just a self-fullfilling prophecy? That the Jews knew beforehand that their destructive actions in the bodies of other nations would eventually catch them up?

Posted by: Bolt Upright on June 6, 2003 12:21 PM

Which option did you choose and what was the ened result?

Would you rate Abu Dhabi worse than Al Jazeera?

Didn't David Duke speak in the Middle East? Was he a guest of the Zayed Centre as well? I think he went to Quatar to speak though?

The ironic thing is people asked them if they understood Duke's racist background. The ironic thing is people think the Arabs are not racist just like Duke, if not worse.

Posted by: Mike on June 25, 2003 02:14 AM

Love your Moellemann thing. Die Zeit being probably the least anti-Israel of all the major papers in Germany, I'm a regular reader of the online edition but since you were only a news item in the print edition, I missed the story at the time. I see the moellemann.com is no longer up - what happened to it?
Of course, now Moellemann has (presumably) killed himself, the anti-semites now have their very own martyr... driven to suicide by the zionist conspiracy, just what people want to hear.
I guess you've heard of Hohmann and the Tätervolk as well. Pretty disgusting stuff. What bothers me though, is that there seems to be more of a fuss made about people like Moellemann and Hohmann making anti-semitic remarks than about lesser-known people actually vandalising Jewish cemetaries, attacking Jews, non-whites etc. IMHO this is just playing into the hands of the growing number of people saying "see? can't say what you think anymore - media is controlled by zionists". Surely actions matter more than words?
Well-intentioned people are still pretending to nip racism in the bud ("wehret den anfängen") when it's actually already in full bloom. Makes one wonder whether that's (a) ignorance, (b) deliberately diverting attention from the serious stuff, or (c) a result of the, IMHO, mistaken belief that actions are always the result of one's convictions (I think it's more often the other way round). Either way, in practice the message to the public is clear: verbal attacks may get you in trouble, but if you get caught committing physical violence, don't worry too much about it, the judges will be lenient - and they usually are.
Sadly it seems there's very little coverage of actual (non-verbal) violence except perhaps on www.hagalil.com and some far-left publications (which I tend to dislike for other reasons but still, credit where credit is due).

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Posted by: eric on February 25, 2004 05:32 PM
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