German Press Review: The Trouble with Hohmann | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.11.2003
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German Press Review: The Trouble with Hohmann

Editorials across Germany on Thursday continued to be fixated with the fate of Martin Hohmann, the CDU parliamentarian at the center of an anti-Semitism row.

Almost a week after the anti-Semitism scandal broke; German editorials are still preoccupied with a story that refuses to leave the pages of the nations press. The man at the center of the row, the opposition Christian Democratic parliamentarian Martin Hohmann, remains in his job despite the growing wave of condemnation for his speech in which he called the Jews a “race of perpetrators.” Support for his remarks has led to the removal of one of Germany’s top generals, the KSK special forces commander Reinhard Günzel. But Hohmann is still at large. So, the question dominating the German press on Thursday remains: What to do with Martin Hohmann?

Hohmann has been removed by his party from a committee on which he served but most of the German papers thought that wasn't enough. With this kind of half-hearted punishment, wrote the Pforzheimer Zeitung, the Christian Democrats aren't doing the country any favors. No Bundestag party should be allowed to tolerate someone in their ranks who smells of anti-Semitism, the paper stated.

The Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein Zeitung from Essen offered an explanation for that half-heartedness: a quiet sympathy, among many Christian Democrats, for Hohmann's views. Such sympathy was aired by the former General Günzel, the paper wrote, but the mistake he made was that he thought he could hide his anti-Semitism while offering support to Hohmann, support he thought he could guarantee from a large portion of a like-minded German population.

It's this public sympathy that interested the Lausitzer Rundschau. The paper commented on what it saw as a trend of anti-Semitism, particularly in the western part of Germany – that has continued even after World War II ended. The paper accused former West German states of hypocrisy, saying that many liked to lecture the East on democracy and dictatorship. The paper also criticized Hohmann's historical analysis based on a twisted representation of the Jews involvement in mass executions during the Bolshevik Revolution. The paper posed a question for Herr Hohmann: “What did the murder of millions of European Jews have to do with communism?”

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten pointed out that no matter how historically false and politically shocking Hohmann's comments were, they've now been hijacked by the warring factions to be used as ammunition in party political fighting. That's also unacceptable, the paper said.

But the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung mentioned another possible cause for Hohmann's comments: political correctness in Germany. The too-strict moral judgments of any group who had anything to do with the Holocaust breeds resentment like that shown by Hohmann and Günzel. German politics is preoccupied with what the paper called the "eternal yesterday", a cramped way of dealing with history, and a situation the paper referred to as a tragedy.