By Stefania Fusero, January 28th, 2024
An illustrious German citizen, a Polish Jew by birth, wrote at the beginning of 1917: What did you mean by speaking of the particular sufferings of the Jews? I feel equally close to the exploited people of the rubber plantations in Putumayo or the blacks of Africa with whose corpses the Europeans play ball. Have you perhaps forgotten the words of the Chief of Staff about Trotha’s expedition to the Kalahari? “And the death rattle of the dying, the mad cry of the thirsty echoeing in the sublime silence of the infinite.” Here, this ‘sublime silence of the infinite’, in which so many cries echo without being heard, resonates in me so strongly that not even a little corner exclusively reserved for the ghetto remains in my heart. […] Rosa Luxemburg in a letter to Mathilde Wurm, 16 February 1917
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Germany participated with other European countries in the brutal partition of Africa, colonising the lands we now call Togo, Cameroon, Burundi, Rwanda, mainland Tanzania and Namibia. The campaign was particularly heinous in Namibia, where in August 1904 General von Trotha developed a new battle plan to suppress the Herero revolt. At the Battle of Waterberg he ordered to encircle the Herero on three sides, so that the only escape route was towards the arid Omaheke steppe, the western offshoot of the Kalahari Desert. The Herero fled into the desert, and von Trotha ordered his troops to poison the few water wells, erect guard posts along a 150-mile line, and shoot each and every Herero on sight, whether man, woman or child. Many died of dehydration and starvation.
Months later, German officers rounded up the survivors in camps, compelled them into forced labor and subjected them to gruesome medical experiments; hundreds of skulls and preserved heads were sent to Germany for racial studies to confirm the theory that blacks are inferior to whites.
Rosa Luxemburg was referring to this crime of extermination in that letter.
They were the times of the Second – not Third – Reich and Adolf Hitler, fifteen years old at the time, was still attending the Realschule.
Just over a century later, at the beginning of the year 2024, during the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, a differently sensitive German citizen, Annalena Baerbock, currently Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, spoke in these terms about the genocidal onslaught on the Palestinians.
What is needed is a “sustainable ceasefire,” she declared. This is, of course, code for “no ceasefire.” Her preference is that the fighting – in fact, the massacres – continue, because, as she put it, ceasefires “don’t fall from the sky”. Many have wondered how much obtuse cynicism is needed to select the phrase “falling from the sky”, just as we are explaining to the whole world why a genocide committed largely through aerial bombings (let alone obviously the hunger, thirst, promotion of illnesses, dislocations…) must not stop.
Tarik Cyril Amar, paraphrasing Hannah Arendt, identifies in Baerbock’s performance “a crudeness that can only emerge when great moral failure meets massive intellectual deficiency..” From Eichmann’s banality of evil to Baerbock’s disability of evil.
The German government has taken a stance of unconditional support for the State of Israel, intensifying arms sales during the ongoing genocide; it harshly repressed and denounced as “anti-Semitism” any criticism of Israel and resistance against its crimes; finally it intervened alongside Israel in the proceedings of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, for which Namibia, victim of a colonial German genocide, firmly and rightly condemned Berlin.
Germany has rejected the accusation of genocide against Israel, calling it a “political manipulation” of the United Nations Genocide Convention, while underlining its commitment to the convention precisely because of its historical responsibility resulting from the extermination of the Jews.
After WW2, Germany came to terms with the heavy historical legacy of Nazism, by denouncing the crime of the Shoah and correctly tracing it back to the fanatical anti-Semitism which inspired the Third Reich. Today German law severely punishes any expression of anti-Semitism, which has been conducive to such grotesque cases as one that occurred on May 17, 2023, when the co-founder of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, who is certainly not suspectable of being a Nazi apologist, was investigated for wearing a Nazi-style uniform on stage at a concert in Berlin, by which he intended to denounce fascism, injustice and bigotry.
At the same time, however, Germany, like other EU countries, the USA and their Anglo-Saxon satellites, has been displaying staggering tolerance when those same Nazi symbols are openly and proudly displayed by the Ukrainian military, which the West supports by sending funds and weapons.
It is curious that the current German ruling class explicitly bases its unconditional support for Israel’s extermination policies on its sense of guilt for the genocide carried out by Third Reich Germany against the Jews. Can acknowledging one’s responsibility as a country for a genocide committed in the past possibly justify supporting a new one that is being perpetrated in plain sight? A loud genocide whose soundtrack is an overtly racist and dehumanising rhetoric that unfolds from the highest Zionist echelons throughout all levels of Israeli society leading to the perfect alignment of language and action. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on October 9, “We are fighting human animals and we will behave accordingly,” stressing that he had ordered a ‘complete siege’ of the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians will be deprived of food, electricity and fuel. This type of rhetoric, as Ramzy Baroud underlines, is not at all new, indeed it underlies the Zionist project from its origins, suffice it to quote Golda Meir’s “There was no such thing as Palestinians” (1969), Menachem Begin’s Palestinians are “beasts walking on two legs” (1982), Eli Ben Dahan’s “Palestinians are like animals, they aren’t human” (2013).
It is also bewildering that Germany’s sense of guilt does not extend beyond the Jewish victims of the Third Reich.
What about the over 12 million Russian civilians (including one million Jews) who perished during the Nazi occupation of the USSR?
What about the approximately 3.3 million Soviet prisoners of war who died in German custody, out of a total of 5.7 million captured, from malnutrition, mistreatment, summary executions, denied assistance? This figure represents approximately 57% of deaths out of the total, thus approaching the death rate of Jews in Nazi custody (equal to over 60%) and stands out in comparison with the deaths in captivity of only 8,300 British and Americans out of a total of approximately 231,000, with a mortality rate of 3.6%.
Certainly that did not happen by chance.
Historians have highlighted the great difference of the war on the Western Front compared to that on the Eastern Front: while in the first case it was a war for hegemony, in the second it was an ideological, extermination and racial war.
During WW2, Hitler spoke incessantly about ideological conflicts and the war on the Eastern Front was an “ideological” war. Ideological imperatives defined not only his attitude towards the “non-human and verminous” Jews, but also towards the “subhumans” of Eastern Europe; mostly Slavs, Russians in the first place.
Hitler’s Weltanschauung, relatively simple, was based on some constants, such as the racial foundation of the State, the superiority of the white Aryan race over the others, the anti-Jewish fixation. Another fundamental constant is that the German conquest of “living space” (Lebensraum) in Eastern Europe was necessary and legitimate; it was based on the belief in the racial superiority of the Germans and the racial inferiority of the Slavs.
Hitler imagined a German empire beyond the Volga and the Urals with the Crimea and the Caucasus – a sort of ‘German India’ on the model of the British Empire – populated by Russians, Ukrainians but also Poles and Czechs, inferior races that were to become ‘ slaves’, ‘white negroes’, or ‘Indians’ in his great Reich.
Negative portrayals of Slavs has a long tradition in Germanic countries, beginning with the frequent equating of the concepts Slave (Slav) and Sklave (slave), based on a pseudo-etymological principle.
In the eyes of many German theoreticians, the Russia of Nicholas I – a state of slaves ruled by a narrow ruling class… of German descent – somehow seemed to confirm that thesis. Apart from the Russians, no Slavic nation had ruled its own state up until the 1870s. This only confirmed the belief that Slavs are born serfs and not masters. That became fixed in German stereotypes… Already in the nineteenth century Russians were described as half Asian and half barbarians… and in mid-September 1941 Hitler declared: “The Slavs are a mass of born slaves, who feel the need of a master.” (Borejsza)
In 2017, the Polish historian Jerzy W. Borejsza wrote in the afterword to his essay A Ridiculous Hundred Million Slavs: “Anti-Slavism is passed over since the phenomenon has vanished in Europe – let us hope forever. Along with the departure of the Cold War it has vanished in the German lands. And it has little chance of becoming revived in the form of anti-Slavic racism…in the omnipresent European Union…”
Unfortunately Borejsza was wrong: anti-Slavic racism, in the form of anti-Russian racism justified by an unconditional support for Ukraine, has risen again in Europe and in general in the Western world, as demonstrated by declarations of ethnic pride and alleged racial superiority by various Ukrainian personalities comparing themselves to Russian ‘orcs’, the blatant display of Nazi symbols, the attacks on Russian culture in all its forms and expressions, a rewriting of the history of the twentieth century which negates the role of the Red Army in the liberation from Nazi-fascism, up to the rehabilitation and glorification of Nazi collaborators guilty of blatant heinous massacres.
We all remember, I think, that “360-degree turn” that Putin ought to have made to become a different man, as demanded by the geometric genius of Annalena Baerbock. Well, unfortunately today we can say that in fact it is Europe that has made that 360-degree turn through its blind support of Ukraine. We are back to the drawing board, suffice to quote a statement by Sarah Ashton Cirillo, then spokesperson for the forces of Ukrainian territorial defences, in September 2023:
“Russians are not Europeans… Russians are Asian, and ultimately, they do come from the Mongols. They do come from a grouping of people who want to be slaves and want to be led, just as it was from the days of Genghis Khan. I wish the rest of Europe and the Western world understood that Europe ends at Ukraine. We are protecting European values and Western values the same way those did hundreds and thousands of years ago when the Mongols came in… Every Russian that supports Vladimir Putin’s decisions are not human. These people are not human. They are enemies of humanity, in fact… we’ve been asking the Western world… to make certain they understood the threat of these non-humans.”
We are back to the conceptual category of Untermensch, which by the way, far from being invented by the German Nazis, was mediated by them from the English term ‘under-man’, created by the American Lothrop Stoddard.
If Cirillo is right, if these are the Western values that we have been supporting in Ukraine and Israel, it is no surprise that we have lost all moral legitimacy towards the rest of humanity, from whom we are increasingly isolating ourselves. Who can take us seriously if while paying lip service to human values and rights, we actively deny them to those we portray as inferior?
Luxemburg, Dappertutto è la felicità – lettere di gioia e barricate, L’Orma 2023
Jerzy W. Borejsza, A Ridiculous Hundred Million Slavs, Tadeusz Manteuffel Intitute of History-Polish Academy of Sciences
Tarik Cyril Amar in Brave New Europe, Germany’s Annalena Baerbock – The Debility of Evil? 18 gennaio 2024
Anne Van Mourik, A Stroll into Germany’s Conflicted Postcolonial Memory, in JusticeInfo.net, 18 settembre 2023
Dan Glaun, Germany’s Laws on Hate Speech, Nazi Propaganda & Holocaust Denial: An Explainer, in PBS, 1 luglio 2021
Roger Waters says Nazi outfit at Berlin concert was anti-fascist, Reuters 27 maggio 2023
Namibia Criticizes Germany’s support to Israel in Genocide Case, in NourNews, 14 gennaio 2024
Matteo Ermacora, I crimini della Wehrmacht sul Fronte Orientale, in DEP
Ramzy Baroud, Human animals:The sordid language behind Israel’s genocide in Gaza, in Jordan Times 24 ottobre 2023
@KanekoaTheGreat, Ukraine’s former spokesperson, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, was fooled by Russian pranksters, making several controversial statements, 27 settembre 2023
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