Matthias Doepfner, Chief Executive of German publisher Axel Springer AG, is one of the most vocal critics of the new political agenda that is so widely shared in German politics, the media and the public: tolerance for anti-Semitism, sympathy for anti-Americanism, skepticism towards capitalism. Our translation of his brilliant piece "Europe - Thy Name is Cowardice" was one of the all-time favorites for this blog's visitors (more than 20.000 on a single day!).
In his commentary in the Sunday paper "Welt am Sonntag" on May 8, 2005, Doepfner wonders whether Germans are truly liberated:
The sum total of what we learned from World War II is, “War? Never again!” More important lessons would have been, “Fanaticism? Never again!” and “Racism? Never again!” and “Dictatorship? Never again!” In light of this historical background, German tolerance for aggressive anti-Semitism in the parts of the Middle East is astonishing, since supporting Israel and the security of its citizens should be a given. German sympathy for anti-Americanism before and since the war in Iraq is remarkable, since friendship towards the Americans, to whom we owe Germany’s reconstruction and independence after 1945 as well as the 1990 reunification should be a tenet of common decency. But Germans’ deep-seated skepticism towards the free market, towards capitalism, is most irritating.
The docudrama “Speer and Him” has a scene, set in the basement of a brewpub, in which Hitler enthuses his unemployed and despairing listeners with one main thesis: “Materialism must naturally be overcome by idealism.” This fine-sounding promise started it all – and its power to fascinate lives to this day. Groups at the political periphery take advantage of its power. Pride in one’s nationality slips over the edge into nationalism when patriotism turns into xenophobia and social responsibility turns into socialism when seeking justice turns into mad demands for total equality. The issue of whether National Socialism is rightist or leftist is only superficial – a matter of painting it’s façade black or red.
The 8th of May was the day of Germany’s defeat, a defeat that many considered a liberation by the Allies. However, it wasn’t a real liberation. We must liberate ourselves. Only the future will tell if we’ve truly accomplished that self-liberation.
(Translation by Hartmut Lau)