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Is Germany Duty-Bound To Bail Out Europe Because Of The Holocaust?

Holocaust Museum, Berlin
Holocaust Museum, Berlin
Alan Posener


BERLIN - In a recent appearance on German TV, former chancellor Helmut Schmidt repeated something he had already said earlier about Germans bearing more responsibility for Europe than other nations because of the “”industrial” killing of "six million Jewish fellow citizens."

Bulls**t. And on three counts. First of all, the overwhelming majority of Holocaust victims were not German “fellow citizens” but citizens of other countries. According to census figures, barely 500,000 Jews lived in Germany in 1933 – but that was a few too many for their “fellow Christian” citizens. Over 300,000 Jews emigrated, leaving about 200,000 in Germany on the eve of World War II, and when deportations began in 1941 there were only 163,000.

Secondly, Jews weren’t just killed “industrially.” This concept serves to mitigate blame – also for Schmidt, an officer in the armed forces of the Third Reich – by suggesting that it was just a question of pulling a few levers to set the conveyor belt of death in motion. In reality, millions of Jews were also shot, beaten to death, buried alive, or died as a result of slave labor, hunger, cold, sickness, torture, and forced marches.

And thirdly: if because of this historic guilt we as Germans bear more responsibility today than others then it’s not towards Europe – which manifested faint if any opposition to the murders – that we should feel responsible, but to the state of Israel.

That’s what Chancellor Angela Merkel meant when, addressing the Knesset in 2008, she said that Israel’s security is “part of Germany’sraison d’être.”

Granted, Schmidt holds a different view – as early as 1978 he stated on another German TV show that Germany couldn’t maintain special relations with Israel permanently. In 1980, Schmidt said that Saudi Arabia was Germany’s "most important partner," after Europe and the United States, also because the Arabs were not burdened with all the "historical and moral baggage." To which cynics might add: and because they have lots and lots of oil.

But let’s erase that from the board, it’s all in the past. What is important now is that Germany actually does have a lot of excellent reasons for commitment to Europe – but the Holocaust is not one of them. And those like Schmidt who sprang to the defense of the unspeakable Günter Grass when he criticized Germany’s delivery of submarines to an allegedly war-mongering Israel should be a whole lot more careful in using that six million figure.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner Group 2.0: Why Russia's Mercenary System Is Here To Stay

Many had predicted that the death last month of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin meant the demise of the mercenary outfit. Yet signs in recent days say the private military outfit is active again in Ukraine, a reminder of the Kremlin's interest in continuing a private fighting formula that has worked all around the world.

Photograph of a Wagner soldier in the city of Artyomovsk, holding a rifle.

Ukraine, Donetsk Region - March 24, 2023: A Wagner Group soldier guards an area in the city of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut).

Cameron Manley


“Let’s not forget that there is no Wagner Group anymore,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had declared. “Such an organization, in our eyes, does not exist.”

The August 25 statement from came less than two days after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the infamous Russian mercenary outfit, as questions swirled about Wagner's fate after its crucial role in the war in Ukraine and other Russian military missions around the world.

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How could an independent military outfit survive after its charismatic founder's death? It seemed highly unlikely that President Vladimir Putin would allow the survival of a group after had launched a short-lived coup attempt in late June that most outside observers believe led to Prigozhin's private airplane being shot down by Russian forces on August 23.

"Wagner is over,” said the Kremlin critic and Russian political commentator Maksim Katz. “The group can’t keep going. There’s the possibility that they could continue in parts or with Defense Ministry contracts, but the group only worked with an unofficial agreement between Putin and Prigozhin.”

Yet barely a month later, and there are already multiple signs that the Wagner phoenix is rising from the ashes.

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