A number of anti-Zionist rabbis attended the conferenceImage: AP
Hardy Graupner (ncy)
December 13, 2006
German lawmakers have protested against an Iranian conference on the Holocaust. The meeting was widely considered a platform for revisionists who deny the Holocaust and the existence of gas chambers under the Nazis.
A spokesman for the German foreign ministry, Jens Ploetner, said in Berlin that nothing of scientific value would come out of the Tehran conference, which ended Tuesday.
"The German government condemns all attempts to deny the Holocaust and question Israel's right to independent statehood," he said. "For us, living in the country where the mass murder of Jews was planned and carried out, we feel a special responsibility to commemorate the victims of Nazi terror. It's in this context that we condemn any attempt to provide a forum for revisionists who are out to rewrite history in an unacceptable manner."
Iran's leadership has defended the decision to hold the conference, styling it as a scientific forum that would seek answers to unresolved issues around the Holocaust. It turned out to be a gathering of revisionists whose main claim to fame has been the doubts they've frequently expressed about whether the mass murder of six million Jews took place at all.
Bundestag President Norbert Lammert was among the strongest critics of the conference. In a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he said he condemned any attempt to promote anti-Semitic feelings under the guise of scientific freedom and objectivity.
The secretary general of Germany's Social Democratic Party, Hubertus Heil, said that anyone who denies the Holocaust is the enemy of modern day Germany.
Gert Weisskirchen, the Social Democrats' foreign policy spokesman in parliament, said the conference was a direct confrontation with Israel.
"You only have to look at how serious current attempts are by Iran and others to deny Israel's right to statehood and wipe it off the map completely," Weisskirchen said. "You just have to consider the mood in Syria and among Hezbollah fighters to realize how real the threat is. For us Germans, there can be no other option than to stand firmly at the side of Israel and defend it against any sort of military threat or anti-Semitic propaganda."
Germany's largest-selling newspaper, Bild, wrote on Tuesday that awareness of the killing of six million European Jews united the civilized world and made it unbearable that Iran's president put on the "so-called Holocaust conference.
"It is a forum for the vilest haters of Jews on earth," the paper wrote. "One must be deeply ashamed that six Germans also made it to this disgusting event. And the Iranian leadership shows its real face."
German historian Rene Wildnagel said the Holocaust conference served the purpose of strengthening a decades-old line of argument in many Arab nations.
"The Holocaust issue is always debated in the Arab world in line with one political pattern," Wildnagel said. "The Iranian president's Holocaust denial is just one example of this. Even those who accept that the Holocaust did take place would immediately ask why the Arabs should suffer from something that happened in Europe and emanated from Germany. Ahmadinejad himself once suggested that justice would be done by creating a Jewish state on German territory."
On Monday, Germany hosted a separate international conference on Holocaust studies. Attended by some of the world's leading Shoah researchers, the meeting provided the general public with the latest findings about the scope of the Holocaust after the opening of eastern European archives in the 1990s.