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Germany’s Most Annoying Jew

Satirist and media gadfly Henryk Broder attacks his countrymen’s attitudes toward Israel and Jews

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Henryk Broder in Berlin. (Timur Emek/AP)
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In May 2012, Germany and Israel together celebrated the 100th birthday of the media mogul Axel Springer. Springer, who died in 1985, was Germany’s William Randolph Hearst: He built a huge media empire that exerted enormous sway over German public opinion. And nothing was more important to Springer than the defense of Israel. At the ceremony honoring Springer, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Springer “made it possible to build Israeli confidence in Germany”; and Avigdor Lieberman praised Springer as a voice of “freedom, truth, and justice.”

But not everyone in Germany loved Axel Springer. He was an ardent anti-communist who hounded the leftists of the 1960s in the pages of his many newspapers and magazines. When Rudi Dutschke, a leading student radical, was shot in 1968 by a right-wing extremist, leftists blamed the deed on Springer, whose newspapers had attacked Dutschke relentlessly. (In a towering irony, the Springer company’s skyscraper now stands at the corner of Axel Springer Street and Rudi Dutschke Street in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood.)

Enter Henryk Broder. The 66-year-old German Jew and author, most recently, of Forget Auschwitz! Before It’s Too Late (subtitled, with bitter wit, “The German Memory Craziness and the Final Solution of the Israel Question”), is one of Germany’s most celebrated journalists; he writes an influential column for a Springer newspaper, Die Welt.

Broder’s perspective was forged in the no-holds-barred battle between Springer and his radical New Left enemies. He grew up in Köln, the child of survivors from Poland; Broder later joked, in his typically barbed and double-edged manner, “There’s a hierarchy of Jewish suffering, and I’m lucky to be at the very top: My mother was in Auschwitz.” As a teenage leftist, Broder demonstrated against the Vietnam War—and Axel Springer. At 20, he lost his virginity to a woman named Christiane, “a Trotskyist from a good home.” But Broder came to realize that the German left harbored an unmistakable anti-Semitic prejudice. In the ’60s, German leftists adopted a radical anti-Israel stance that rarely stopped short of anti-Semitism. The Israelis, the left hotly proclaimed, were the new Nazis, and Springer’s newspapers proved it, since they defended both Israel and German society (which was still pervaded by old Nazis). During the Six Day War, most Germans, whether from guilt or other motives, took the side of Israel rather than the Arabs—with the exception of the leftists, who cheered on Nasser’s promise to push the Jews into the sea.

The Entebbe raid of 1976, Broder wrote, was his “private awakening.” At Entebbe, the Palestinian terrorists and their European comrades made a selection: They spared non-Jewish passengers while they continued to hold the Jewish ones as hostages. The Palestinians couldn’t tell on the basis of last names whether passengers were Jewish or not, so one of their German collaborators, Wilfried Böse, helped them out. When a Jewish passenger showed Böse his death camp tattoo, Böse is supposed to have responded that he was no Nazi, but rather an “idealist.” U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, whose Nazi past later came under scrutiny, condemned the Israeli action as a violation of Ugandan sovereignty, and the German “anti-imperialist” left agreed with Waldheim. In the aftermath of the Israeli raid, German Maoists expressed their solidarity with “his excellency Idi Amin.”

Broder, in disgust, turned away from the radical left. In the German leftist imagination, he later argued, Gaza became the Warsaw Ghetto, and Palestinians became Jews. “Never again” came to mean “don’t let our victims do what we did”; Germans, Broder said, loved to reiterate “the eternal German worry about whether the Israelis have learned the lesson of history.” “The Israelis are responsible for anti-Semitism” is now, Broder declared, the most prevalent form of anti-Semitism, in Germany as elsewhere.

The Jüdische Allgemeine, the newspaper of the German Jewish community, called Broder the Christopher Hitchens of Germany. It’s not a bad analogy: Like the late Hitchens, Broder is a heckler, a tummler. The Jüdische Allgemeine went on to describe Broder as a “raging clown” who carries a heavy burden: being the funny, rebarbative Jew who tells Germans the truth about themselves. Broder particularly relishes attacking Germans for what he sees as their sanctimonious, proprietary commemorations of the Shoah. “Auschwitz [is] a symbol of how you can commit crimes without limit and then reap the rewards of repentance, also without limit,” Broder charged in Forget Auschwitz! For his popular TV program Entweder Broder, he appeared clad as a stele, like the ones that make up what he calls the “ridiculous” Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin: “I’m so happy that my parents were able to contribute to this,” Broder crowed as he posed with his head poking through a black monolith. “Is there a proper way of relating to the Shoah?” he once noted. “No, it’s something so insane, there can’t be a proper relation to it.” In an interview, he praised the survivor who danced with his grandchildren to “I Will Survive!” in front of the gates of Auschwitz in 2010. “That’s the Jewish middle finger!” Broder exulted. “I’m alive, and you’re dead. I have grandchildren, and I’m having fun. That’s the right relationship to have [to the Shoah]—if there is one. But in Germany something like that would come in for a discussion: … Is it allowed?”


Fellow journalist Maxim Biller once remarked that the relationship between Broder and Germany is a sado-masochistic one, the only question being who’s on the top and who’s on the bottom. Broder spent the 1980s in Israel. (His book The Crazies of Zion, a big hit in Germany, took a quietly appalled look at extremists on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.) “Israel is really the only country,” he said in an interview, “where it’s not a big deal that you’re a Jew. That is so relaxing … and there, the Shoah isn’t so important.” When he left for Israel, Broder penned a farewell letter to Germany full of furious accusations: “You are still the children of your parents, you’ve inherited their racism and their pathological good conscience,” he wrote, and then, finally, “I’m finished with my raving.” After 10 years in Israel, Broder returned, as if inevitably, to Germany, ready to resume his role as the country’s prickly, merciless antagonist. Broder, who thrives on opposition, avidly publishes his abundant hate mail on (He runs another site as well, Die Achse des Guten, “the Axis of Good,” or, for short, “Ach Gut”—“Oh well”— Like all Springer journalists, Broder had to sign a contract, designed by Axel Springer himself, committing him to work for “the reconciliation of Germany and Israel.” “There’s no reconciliation,” he commented, “but I signed it anyway. … I can write what I want and I’m well-paid.”

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Great articles, but a bit of knowledge of people position would be great! You write: “German President Angela Merkel’s” that is totally incorrect she the head of the government and not the State.

Absolutely right, Camilo. Fixed.

Habbgun says:

Its always the same. It is easily proved the Left is no friend of the Jews but the Jews love the Left. Not all Jews, by far the majority could care less about the Left and its causes but enough Jews do for it to be pretty depressing.

I believe that it was the Portuguese writer and Nobel laureate José Saramago who popularized the idea that Jews/Israelis were Nazis:
“Saramago was part of an international group of writers who traveled to Ramallah to observe the Israeli siege of Yasser Arafat’s compound. [...] The situation at Ramallah, in Saramago’s estimation, was “a crime comparable to Auschwitz.” To the Israeli journalist who asked where the gas chambers were, Saramago gave his much-quoted reply, “Not yet here.”

He smeared the Bible, the Jews, the Israel etc.

Great piece.

fred capio says:

No one is right all the time, but Broder is right most of the time. And if he is wrong, why not let the Goyim criticize him? Why are so many Jewish journalists so eager to criticize fellow Jews? so that the anti-Semites can say: “look, even the Jews disagree with him”? It is nothing but hypocrisy masqueraded as objectivity.

Where do these “Jewish Jew haters” come from? Many Jews are “universalists” (which I suppose is left of center). However, these way, way, lefty Jews who hate Jews and Israel are really sick mentally. I dont even think its “self Hate” ..its just that they hate the Jewish womb that they came from. The crazy part is like Chomsky, and Finkelstein, and this drek of man Broder are considered “intellectuals”! Sad, they do as much harm to the Jewish people as the Czar, Hitler , and Ahmadjihad do! These fools contribute to the Pogrom mentality of Anti-Semites!

arktikwolf says:

Seems like the Germans will never forgive the Jews for the Shoah.

demonkoryu says:

You can lie down when you get hit, or you can hit back. Broder’s made his choice.

A catchy phrase, but that doesn’t make it actually meaningful.

Broder has since (ie., after the SWC backtracked) apologized for several of his comments on Augstein, in particular the Gestapo one and the comparison to Streicher (Die Welt, 11.01.13, “Das war nicht hilfreich. Ich entschuldige mich”), and called them “not helpful”.

He’s more or less viewed as grumpy old man nowadays, and people often tune out once his name comes up. For instance, his claim that Claudia Roth, chairwoman of the Greens, would have (after she visited Iran in 2010 and suggested a cultural exchange program) been delighted by Theresienstadt’s camp theater was rather received with incredulity.

In other words, many just don’t take him seriously anymore, so I wouldn’t really describe him as “Most Annoying”.

arktikwolf says:

You remind me of Wagner’s widow, who said: “It never happened; besides, it was only 2 million.”

Brian Zumhagen says:

Another problem. The association of Jewish communities is called the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, not the “Jüdisches Zentralrat,” as the article states.

Well, an affinity for random and silly generalizations is frequently accompanied by wanton imagination.

arktikwolf says:

I prefer miso to wanton, myself.

I’m not sure why you decided to link this piece of crap. Gilad Atzmon? He proves there’s economic gain for being an anti-Semitic Jew. And he doesn’t have to be particularly smart or insightful. He simply needs to say bad things about Jews and he gains fame and adulation.

Now, why you linked, I don’t know. Do you happen to agree with this worthless POS?

arktikwolf says:

My error, good sir. It was Winifred Wagner, widow of W’a son Siegfried.

oaklandj says:

The Left in Europe is very different from the Left in the US. Curious you have no interest in noticing any differences. Party above truth, right?

Steinman2 says:

Although Germany does not census its minorities unlike the US or Britain, most recent estimates place Jewish residents — including recent influx of Israelis — as high as a quarter of a million. So much about the part part in the article stating that Germany doesn’t have a significant Jewish population…

Habbgun says:

How so? And which would you categorize as better? Certainly so-called Progressivism is an American version of Euro politics.

berlinboy says:

you are wrong in all terms. and i see you did not understand his “apologize” on augstein.

Oh really. This is the ending of his article:

“I have also written about Jakob Augstein that he is ‘the little Streicher next door…, who merely due to late birth missed the chance to build a career in the Reichssicherheitshauptamt… [Gestapo]‘

That was totally amiss. ‘Not helpful’, is what the chancellor would say. Jakob Augstein is neither a small nor a big Streicher, he publishes not the ‘Stürmer’, but the ‘Freitag’, he is responsible for that which he does today, and not for that what he might or might not have done in a previous life.

A chicken coop is no KZ, the Muslims are not the Jews of today. I have always criticized such dramatizations by others. And now I have fallen into the same trap.

For that I apologize. And only for that.”

But please, go on with talking big.

Natan79 says:

That’s 0.3% of its population.


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Germany’s Most Annoying Jew

Satirist and media gadfly Henryk Broder attacks his countrymen’s attitudes toward Israel and Jews