Germans urged to counter Nazis

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Announcing the formation of the German Holocaust Museum Foundation, Hans-Juergen Haessler, founder of the private initiative, said the country needed a central documentation centre that examined all aspects of Hitler’s Nazi regime.

“In our view we still lack an overview of all aspects (of the Holocaust). At the camp memorials you find out particular crimes are documented but not the background,” he said.

“It was not just the SS, there were lots of groups in society who were involved. It should all be presented somewhere,” he said. “No one talks about all these lower levels (of participation), or only in isolated cases.”

Survivors of Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover in northern Germany, held private ceremonies to mark their liberation by British troops on April 15, 1945, ahead of official events there and at two other camps, in Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck, north of Berlin, on Sunday.

Menachem Rosenhaft, whose parents met at Bergen-Belsen and inaugurated a Jewish memorial there on the first anniversary of its liberation in 1946, said in a telephone interview the camps were of “critical importance” in making sure events were not forgotten.

But Mr Haessler said the focus at the camp memorials on crimes committed in particular locations did little to educate younger generations about how Hitler’s ideology spread through German society in the 1930s.

Mr Haessler, a former museum curator in Hanover, said even a Holocaust memorial due to open in Berlin in May would not fill the education gap, and with far-right parties again gaining ground in Germany there was an urgent need to act.

“Given that far right extremism is more gaining ground than losing it, despite the intense efforts of the camp memorials, efforts aimed at raising awareness need to be widened and strengthened,” he said.

He said the initiative believed an attempt had to be made to try to tell the Holocaust in a rational manner, but he added this was a controversial suggestion and was contested by some.

The initiative, whose supporters include, according to a news release, members of Germany’s parliament and Austria’s first female Rabbi, Eveline Goodmann-Thau, has so far been refused public money and is now seeking to raise private funds.

Mr Haessler said most of those involved, like him, were now in their 60s and added he feared no documentation centre will be built if it is not done before his generation dies.

A spokeswoman for Germany’s Jewish Council said she was not aware of the initiative.

Comments are closed.