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Down is Up: Springtime for Nazis in Germany--Evidence of Further Decay of Scholarship & Media
Highlights incl. Nazi Denialism re/the Donbass atrocities, the (Neo-) Nazi Azov troops are 'good', according to Die Welt, and much more
Just when you think that German-language legacy media couldn’t possibly get worse, they do their utmost to prove you wrong. Below is a selection of things that caught my eye over the past couple of days. As always, all emphases are mine.
‘How anti-vaxxer radicalize’, an Interview with medical historian Prof. Malte Theißen
First up, a somewhat dated (first published: 21 Dec. 2021) interview with Professor Malte Theißen, a very frightened medical historian and director of the Institute for Westphalian Regional History (bio here). The interview itself appeared on the website of the Arolsen Archives, and you can find the full version by clicking on this link.
Q: What are your thoughts when you see so-called anti-vaxxers demonstrating on the streets or when you hear about the alleged plot to assassinate the state premier of Saxony or other similar events?
It’s frightening to see the levels of radicalization we’re experiencing right now, and it’s especially frightening because it gives me a sense of dejà vu. If you look back to the 19th or 20th centuries, you can make very similar observations about the radicalization of vaccination opponents and about how criticism of vaccination can be instrumentalized by the right. And that’s frightening because we’re living in the 21st century – shouldn’t we have put all that behind us by now?
Q: Why do about 14% of the population refuse vaccination against Covid-19?
There are all sorts of different reasons. One reason is that the vaccines are relatively new. That may be a simple reason, but it’s one that still weighs heavily in my view. We‘ve had massive vaccination programs in the Federal Republic of Germany since the 1970s for a wide range of different infectious diseases. All of them are voluntary, but we still have vaccination rates of over 90 percent. Vaccination against COVID-19 is new, and although studies have produced really excellent results, there is still an initial primal fear that results in greater hesitancy than we see with vaccinations that are more familiar to us.
However, vaccination is never just about the jab itself; vaccination is always a social and a political issue. And that’s what makes it so explosive. Vaccination is being used as a kind of ‘Trojan horse’ to stir up public opinion on a range of other issues. This phenomenon can be observed in right-wing and populist circles. But some of the questions raised are perfectly legitimate: who owns our bodies is just one of them. Should the state be allowed to make decisions about our bodies or is controlling what happens to our bodies an individual right? These are very fundamental questions about the kind of society we want to live in, and that’s why feelings run particularly high when it comes to the subject of vaccination.
Q: Are some of the conspiracy theories surrounding vaccination propagated during the Nazi era currently enjoying a comeback?
The fact that we’re seeing people embrace antisemitic conspiracy theories again nowadays is particularly frightening. They played a role right from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, before vaccination entered the equation. Even at that early stage, conspiracy theories began to emerge suggesting that the coronavirus was being spread through the groundwater in Berlin; this harked back to the stereotypical idea of old that Jews poison wells. Now we have a similar situation with vaccination; here, too, ancient antisemitic stereotypes are on the rise again. Let me give you an example: The idea that vaccination was a Jewish attempt to poison the body of the nation and that it was a form of racial defilement emerged as early as the 1870s in connection with vaccination against smallpox. So this motif can be traced back to the Nazi era and even further back to the 19th century.
Sidenote: I’m sorry to interrupt your flow here, but at that point in the interview it’s obvious that the Reductio ad Hitlerum (Godwin’s Law) has come full circle: the Arolsen Archive, one of Germany’s premier institutions of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (reckoning with one’s past), provides a platform for Mr. Theißen to conflate the crimes of the Nazi régime with the pre-existing ‘conspiracy theories surrounding vaccination’. Logic, it appears, never seems to trouble courtiers, such as Mr. Theißen, when it comes to—directly and without apparent cognitive or even semantic problems—to contradict themselves. One more snippet from the interview reveals the cognitive chasm:
Q: In your book, you write about the ‘sources of the Querdenker group’ (the group’s name literally translates as ‘lateral thinkers’) – what does this group base its thinking on?
I think it’s very important to realize that vaccination critics have a wide variety of different motives, and history can provide helpful pointers here too: There are a lot of right-wing blatherers, ‘tin foil hatters’, and antisemites among their ranks, but there are other elements too. One of the first things that comes to mind is the relatively widespread concern about side effects, for example, and a critical attitude towards pharmaceutical companies. Some hold the view that pharmaceutical companies are deliberately fueling the pandemic to make a profit, while others think they’re using vaccines to poison us or even as a ploy to implant us all with microchips. Many of these ideas tend to be rooted in left-wing, anti-capitalist thinking.
Sidenote 2: at that point, I think it’s fair to call Mr. Theißen someone who’s taken leave of his senses. I just wonder, you know, why on God’s green earth would ‘normal people’ have ‘widespread concern [sic] about side effects’ or ‘a critical attitude towards’ Big Pharma? I wonder just how and why that might have happened… (/sarcasm). And, to top it off, Mr. Theißen really brought up the microchips: he appears a bit older than me, judging from his picture, but that means that he should remember the uproar when, less than 20 years ago, so-called bio-metric passports where introduced; now we have ‘Covid Passports’, which is a very odd way of calling them ‘digital Covid certificate’. And I don’t think we’d need to bring out Mr. Gates and his absurd phantasies about micro-chipping injection recipients, do we? I honestly wonder where people such as Mr. Theißen get their information from…
As I said before, there’s more to this interview, and Mr. Theißen then goes on to further intellectually wet himself. Unperturbed by the fact that ‘anti-vaccination’ sentiment predates WWI, he then discusses the (self-) victimisation of mandate protesters and those Covid-19 injection refuseniks via historical analogies to the Third Reich. If you’re interested in this car accident of an interview, feel free to click on this link.
Die Welt Engages in Nazi Agit-Prop
My daily reading list certainly includes the website Anti-Spiegel.ru, run by independent German-born journalist Thomas Röper, who’s one of the few ‘westerners’ who actually lives in Russia, and whose mission is to point out the many lies of (c)ommission in German legacy media.
On 23 April, Mr. Röper briefly discussed a piece that appeared in Die Welt a day earlier. Entitled ‘The Lie of the “Neo-Nazi” Battalion and the Sin of the West’, the piece was written by on Anton Shekhovstsov, and it looked like this:
You never guess what happened since Mr. Röper’s piece went live on 23 April at 00:41 a.m., i.e., in the middle of the night? When you click on this link to the same article now, you get to see the following:
If you don’t believe me, please do the following:
go to Mr. Röper’s piece
click on the original link he embedded (highlighted above), which was https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/plus238277929/Asow-Regiment-Die-Luege-vom-faschistischen-Bataillon-und-die-Schuld-des-Westens.html
if you do so, you’ll be re-directed to a slightly ‘amended’ version of the same article, incl. a revamped URL, which is now https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/plus238277929/Das-heutige-Asow-Regiment-hat-nichts-mehr-mit-dem-neonazistischen-Bataillon-zu-tun.html
For documentation of these changes, I refer you to the Wayback Machine over at the internet archive:
Curiously enough, here’s the reason why that unnoted change was carried out by Die Welt on 24 April 2022, courtesy of Mr. Röper’s above-linked piece:
There are a number of symbols used by or during the Nazi era, including
The so-called Wolfsangel, a kind of double-hook or crampon, that was traditionally used in wolf traps and appears on a number of heraldic signs, but, according to (even) Wikipedia, it was extensively used by numerous Wehrmacht and Waffen SS formations. It’s use is still banned in Germany, apparently only kind of, perhaps depending on circumstances, what do I know?
(Personally, I find it almost hilarious that the Anti-Defamation League considers it a ‘hate symbol’ and a ‘neo-nazi symbol’, but, hey, these are our good Nazis, right?).
The other symbols highlighted by Mr. Röper are the Black Sun, another Nazi symbol, which, according to Wikipedia, the Azov Battalion uses:
It suffices to mention that Mr. Shekhovstsov’s piece is full of crap about Ukraine and the current mess. Highlights of his (paywalled) piece include:
When President Viktor Yanukovych fled in 2014 after his regime killed more than 100 protesters, Russia took advantage of the political unrest in Ukraine and the hesitation of Western leaders. Moscow annexed Crimea in violation of international law and invaded eastern Ukraine.
If you think that this is a weird way of describing the events in 2013/14, you’re correct, but facts and fiction are really hard to tell apart for Die Welt and Mr. Shekhovstsov.
Here’s what’s really happened in the Donbass, though, as posted on 26 Feb. 2022:
And lest you call me a conspiracy-monger, I get this kind of information from the OSCE, for example this official thematic report entitled ‘Civilian Casualties in the Conflict-Affected Regions of Eastern Ukraine’. Published on 9 Nov. 2020, the report covers the period from 1 Jan. 2017 through 15 Sept. 2020, holds (p. 4, emphasis mine):
Out of the total 946 civilian casualties confirmed by the Mission, shelling and fire from small arms and light weapons (SALW) accounted for 625 casualties (77 killed and 548 injured). More than 85 per cent of these casualties occurred in Donetsk region. Four hotspots that straddle both government- and non-government-controlled areas of the contact line, three in Donetsk and one in Luhansk region, accounted for nearly 75 percent of civilian casualties due to shelling and SALW-fire.
Yep, 3/4 of all civilian casualties occurred on the eastern side of the line of contact (see the above-linked OSCE report, p. 9, for a map, or click on my earlier piece), which is to say that the Ukrainian troops, including the Azov formation, is responsible.
Note that my above-linked piece also includes further information about the Neo Nazis in Ukraine. If you haven’t seen enough about Neo Nazis in Ukraine, I also refer you to my piece from 4 March, in which I discuss this issue at some length.
All these things don’t trouble Die Welt and Mr. Shekhovstsov, with the latter further ‘explaining’ the current conflict as follows:
Ukraine could hardly defend itself against—the corrupt pro-Russian leadership under Yanukovych had almost completely destroyed the armed forces. Moreover, many members of the Ukrainian military were psychologically unwilling to offer an armed response to their neighbours. Malicious Russian leaders were aware of these weaknesses in Ukrainian society and exploited them to the maximum.
I’m not going to comment on this cheap agit-prop any further (as I’ve done so repeatedly before, i.e., please click on my post dated 4 March 2022). Instead, I’ll let Mr. Yanokovych have the (penultimate) word on this matter:
At this point, let’s turn to the Kyiv Post (‘Ukraine’s Global Voice’) to hear from Mr. Yanukovych about the momentous decision of the Ukrainian government not to sign the EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement in late November 2013; the above-linked post was published on 26 Nov. 2021, and I’d encourage you to read it entirely (my emphases):
President Viktor Yanukovych reaffirmed on Nov. 26 his refusal to sign a political association and free trade pact with the European Union until he gets a better deal… Reuters quoted him as saying the EU offer was humiliating: ‘We don’t have to be humiliated like this. We are a serious country. A European one.’…
Yanukovych made clear he wasn’t going to reverse the government’s decision:
‘Do we have to go blindfolded and run anywhere? We already were running very fast. We overcame in a short period a very big distance. We may get problems’, he said in the televised interviews. ‘As soon as we reach a level that is comfortable for us, when it meets our interests, when we agree on normal terms, then we will talk about signing’, Yanukovych said, adding that he doesn’t know when it will happen.
Bottom Line: Die Welt and Mr. Shekhovstsov appearently like Nazis so much that they falsify their own website to make sure no-one notices. This is perhaps a telling sign of the times: like teens caught masturbating, they try—very much pathetically—to pretend that it never happened.
What might happen next? Nothing too good, I’d presume, but maybe Mr. Zelensky will receive accolades from his Nazi-loving pals in the West? Oh, wait…
Weimer Media Group Honours Mr. Zelensky with its ‘Freedom Award’ (you cannot make this up)
Here’s Wolfgang Weimer, writing in Focus Online, about the ‘Freedom Award’ (Freiheitspreis der Medien), awarded to none other than Mr. Zelensky and company (my emphasis):
For this reason, our publishing house (WEIMER MEDIA GROUP) also honours Marina Owsjannikowa with the ‘Freedom Award of the Media’. This year it goes to the freedom fighters in Eastern Europe as a whole. To the great Volodymyr Zelensky and the brave Ukrainians who sacrifice their lives for freedom and democracy. Who thus also show us democracy-weary Western Europeans what should be sacred to us. The prize also draws attention to Belarus, where a people is also brutally oppressed by post-Soviet dictatorship. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Belarusian civil rights activist and opposition leader living in exile, shouted at the award ceremony: ‘Freedom will prevail.’
Who is Wolfram Weimer, you’d might ask?
Well, according to the above website, here goes:
Born in 1964 in Gelnhausen, publicist Wolfgang Weimer spent his childhood in Portugal. He studied history, German language and literature, political science and economics in Frankfurt and Washington. He was editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Die Welt and Berliner Morgenpost as well as the magazine Focus. In 2004, Weimer founded a publishing house and the magazine Cicero. His publishing house publishes the newspaper Wirtschaftskurier, the magazines Börse am Sonntag and Anlagetrends as well as the satire portal Pardon. Since 2015, Wolfram Weimer has also been the publisher of The European.
See, there is some circularity to be seen here: Mr. Weimer once served as editor-in-chief of Die Welt and Focus, and now, having founded a large-scale media conglomerate in 2012, he now gets to write ‘guest contributions’ in, well, Focus Online, announcing that his own media group awards Mr. Zelensky a ‘Freedom Award’.
It’s funny, because it’s true.
Also: what may be next for Mr. Zelensky? The Sakharov Price (what a prank that would be) or the Nobel Peace Prize (which would be awesome, for he’d join other psychopaths and war criminals, such as Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama)? The sky is the limit, it appears.