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What Has Hitler Taught Germany? By: Myles Kantor
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 02, 2006

The reality of Nazism faces everybody else with an alternative: They must smash Nazism or renounce their self‑determination, i.e., their freedom and their very existence as human beings…If they do not acquiesce in such a state of affairs, they must fight desperately until the Nazi power is completely broken.”

--Ludwig von Mises, “Nazism as a World Problem,” in Omnipotent Government[1]


What are the lessons of genocide?  More precisely, what are the lessons for a country that has committed genocide?


“It is our obligation to make sure that nothing like this will ever happen again,” German president Horst Köhler said in January 2005 at a ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.[2] Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder remarked on the occasion, “The overwhelming majority of Germans living today do not bear guilt for the Holocaust.  But they do bear a special responsibility.”[3]


Likewise, this January Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described the Holocaust as creating a “perpetual obligation for the future.”  Parliament president Norbert Lammert said, “We must, want and will continue to be ready to draw lessons from our history…It is our common responsibility that Auschwitz never be repeated.”[4]


These statements suggest the National Socialist despotism of 1933-1945 has taught Germany that genocidal evil must be confronted and crushed.  To permit genocide after Hitler would be an ahistorical abandonment of conscience. 


Assertion of obligation and fulfillment of obligation are different, however.


In May I visited Germany with other journalists through the Atlantik-Brücke, a Berlin-based organization that promotes German-American friendship.  We met with German officials to discuss foreign policy and other matters.


A recurring subject during our meetings was the genocide by Sudan’s National Islamic Front regime[5] with Arab Janjaweed forces against non-Arab tribes in Darfur.  The Janjaweed refer to these tribes as zurga (“blacks”).  


The NIF-Janjaweed alliance has yielded diabolic dividends with over 400,000 Darfuris dead.[6]  Here is an example of the Janjaweed’s methods to make Darfur Zurgarein:


For Suad Abdalaziz, prospects are bleak. A Zaghawa from the Tawilla area of Northern Darfur, Suad was raped repeatedly by three Janjaweed militiamen in February 2004. The Janjaweed were ferociously active that month in the Tawilla region; in a single assault, led by the notorious Musa Hilal [leader of the Janjaweed],[7] they burned to the ground more than 30 villages, killing more than 200 people and raping more than 200 girls and women--some by up to 14 assailants and in front of their fathers, who were later killed. The men who raped Suad told her, "We want to change the color of your children."[8]


It may not the industrial murder of a Vernichtungslager, but the Nazis’ butchery is being repeated in Darfur.  And what has been Germany’s response to this African holocaust?   


Former Foreign Affairs Minister Kerstin Müller remarked in July 2004, ”The man-made crisis in the Darfur region of the Sudan is a human rights disaster.”  She added that “the Janjaweed militia must be disarmed” and “Germany will do whatever is in its power to stop the violations of human rights in Sudan and to solve the humanitarian crisis…”[9]


Almost two years after these robust remarks, here is what Germany will not do: deploy forces or seek the deployment of forces necessary for disarmament of the Janjaweed.  That is, Germany will not initiate or encourage the single requirement for ending the genocide.  (Resolutions didn’t liberate Auschwitz.) 


“A country like us, Germany, we can’t go to war with Sudan,” parliament member Hans-Ulrich Klose of the Social Democrats told us.[10] He mentioned German efforts to work with Sudan to improve conditions in Darfur, a peculiar approach given the regime’s instrumental complicity in the genocide.[11] Social Democrat Hannelore Kraft of North Rhine-Westphalia’s state parliament similarly said regarding intervention in Darfur, “We in Germany cannot make these kinds of decisions on our own.”[12]


But Germany can decide to send soldiers to another African country.


The day after our meeting with Hannelore Kraft, Germany’s cabinet voted to send almost 800 soldiers to Congo to secure elections there. “We have an interest in Congo endorsing peaceful, democratic development,” said Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung.[13]


Endorsing democratic development, ending genocide—the former obviously takes priority.


Parliament member Werner Hoyer of the Free Democrats highlighted the bizarre moral calculus of the Congo deployment:  “[Chancellor] Merkel has never fully explained Germany's interests in Congo, let alone explained why Germany will send troops to Congo and not to Darfur, Sudan where there is a shocking humanitarian crisis.”[14]


Note the references to Darfur as a disaster and crisis but not a genocide.  This evasive usage insulates Germany from the duties entailed by genuine recognition. 

Germany has Holocaust memorials and ceremonies of remembrance.  It speaks of perpetual obligations and special responsibilities to prevent future genocide. 

And Hitler’s spawn slaughter more innocents in Darfur.


[1] An Austrian economist of Jewish heritage who anticipated Nazism in his country, Mises moved to Switzerland in 1934.  He fled Switzerland for New York in 1940 due to Nazi pursuit.  Israel Kirzner, who was a doctoral student of Mises at New York University, notes, “…on the very night in 1938 when the Germans marched into Vienna, they entered the apartment where Mises had lived with his mother and drove away with his library, writings, and documents in thirty-eight cases.”  Israel M. Kirzner, Ludwig von Mises (Wilmington: ISI Books, 2001), p. 12.  Mises’ papers ended up in KGB control after the war.  See Richard M. Ebeling, “The Discovery of the Lost Papers of Ludwig von Mises,” The Future of Freedom Foundation, March 1997, http://www.fff.org/comment/ed0397e.asp.


[2] Roland Nelles and Gabor Steingart, “Rise of German Right-Wing Party Evokes Ghosts of the Past,” Der Spiegel, January 31, 2005, http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,339604,00.html.


[3] “Schroeder deplores Auschwitz evil,” BBC News, January 25, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4204465.stm.


[5] Sudanese “president” Omar Hassan al-Bashir previously led the annihilation of Sudanese Christians and animists.  See Nina Shea, “General Bashir’s Genocide Again,” National Review Online, June 30, 2004, http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/shea200406300855.asp.


[6] On the number of dead, see Eric Reeves, “Darfur 101,” The New Republic Online, May 5, 2006.  Janjaweed have also recently perpetrated massacres in neighboring Chad.  See Human Rights Watch, “Chad: Sudanese Militia Massacre Chadian Civilians,” May 26, 2006, http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/05/24/chad13444.htm and Daniel Flynn, “Chadians flee Janjaweed raids in droves,” May 18, 2006, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L18440574.htm.


[7] For a discussion of Hilal, see Samantha Power, “Dying in Darfur,” The New Yorker, August 30, 2004, http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?040830fa_fact1.


[8] Eric Reeves, “Next Casualty,” The New Republic, May 15, 2006. 


[10] Meeting on May 8, 2006.


[11] Human Rights Watch notes: “Hundreds of eyewitnesses and victims of attacks have testified to the close coordination between government forces and their militia partners in the conflict. Militia leaders and members have been supplied with arms, communications equipment, salaries and uniforms by government officials and have participated in joint ground attacks on civilians with government troops, often with aerial bombing and reconnaissance support from government aircraft.”  Human Rights Watch, “Darfur Documents Confirm Government Policy of Militia Support,” July 20, 2004, http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/07/19/darfur9096_txt.htm.


[12] Meeting on May 16, 2006.


[13] “German Cabinet Agrees to Send Soldiers to DR Congo,” Deutsche Welle, May 17, 2006, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2023963,00.html.


[14] Judy Dempsey, “Questions for Merkel on Congo,” International Herald Tribune, May 18, 2006, http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/05/18/news/berlin.php.


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Myles Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and editor-at-large for Pureplay Press, which publishes books about Cuban history and culture. His e-mail address is myles.kantor@gmail.com.

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