The Mufti and Martin Hohmann


November 5, 2003

The length of an encyclopedia article indicates roughly the significance that the editors of the encyclopedia attach to the article's subject. In every encyclopedia Britain therefore receives more space than Bahrain. If you had never heard of either, you could accurately determine that the former is considered much more important than the latter simply by counting pages.

The same practical rule holds true in Holocaust Studies, though in a convoluted form.

The four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust is a standard work in Holocaust Studies, consulted and cited by most scholars working in this rapidly expanding field. It displays an unmistakable fascination with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who receives more attention within its pages than Goebbels, Goering, Eichmann, Heydrich, and even Himmler; the article on the Mufti is over twice as long as the article on Goebbels. Among the major personalities of NS Germany, only Adolf Hitler surpasses (just barely) the Mufti. If you knew little about World War II, you could be forgiven for concluding that the Mufti was a towering figure in wartime German politics, never far from Hitler's side as they jointly plotted the innumerable nefarious schemes commonly attributed to nazi Germany: the burning of all non-Aryan books, the subjugation of the globe, the industrialized extermination of every Jew from Alaska to Zaire, and so forth.

There could be no more succinct example of how academic scholarship can be shaped to serve a contemporary political agenda. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust devotes so many pages to the Mufti not because its editors and contributors want to illuminate the life of an intriguing figure in Mideast history, nor even because they want to attack belatedly an old enemy from sixty years ago. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem receives a prominent role as a major perpetrator of the Jewish Holocaust because, in our time, Palestinian Arabs are enemies of the Jews, and the Mufti, the Palestinian religious leader Amin al-Husseini, conveniently supported Hitler.

The Mufti had escaped arrest by the British in mandatory Palestine and later arrived in Berlin seeking an alliance with the Germans, reasoning that his enemy's enemy should be his friend. He was a minor figure, at best, in NS Germany, but he has become a major figure for Jews today, his wartime activities regularly cited to suggest the ongoing nazi sympathies of modern Palestinians, and there are even fanciful tales of his gloating tours of extermination camps, where he would urge the nazis to run their gas chambers more efficiently. All of this is transparently political. If Hindus were fighting Jews today, Subhas Chandra Bose, the Indian nationalist leader who also arrived in Berlin seeking an alliance against a common enemy, would have been cast in the same sinister role that Amin al-Husseini now plays.

Jews have a powerful weapon, their Holocaust, and they want to deploy it against a current enemy, Palestinian Arabs. Jewish Holocaust scholarship has therefore been shaped to meet a specific political objective, contorting itself to make the Mufti into an important actor in the nazi state, thereby tainting Palestinian national aspirations and Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. Holocaust scholars hope to transform modern Palestinians into nazis, co-conspirators in the Jewish Holocaust, sharers in German guilt, and in terms of their political intentions Amin al-Husseini does genuinely become more significant than Eichmann and Himmler. Holocaust Studies are racially aggressive Jewish politics conducted by scholarly means: The Palestinians are now an important enemy, more so than ever before, and Holocaust scholarship has been shaped accordingly.

Which brings us to Martin Hohmann, who evidently suffers from an incomplete understanding of the political character of the Holocaust.

Hohmann is the conservative German parliamentarian who aroused Jewish rage by alluding to massive Jewish participation in Marxist crimes in the former Soviet Union, and above all by drawing a dangerous conclusion: "Jews were in large numbers at the [Bolshevik] leadership level, as well as in Cheka execution squads. So one could with some justification describe Jews as a nation of perpetrators. That may sound frightening. But it would follow the same logic by which one describes Germans as a nation of perpetrators."

If a merciful God presided over political debates, Hohmann's poorly phrased argument would have worked, since it assumed a semitically correct premise, the greatest of them all, the master premise that governs the rest: Thou shalt not blame Jews. More formally, any chain of reasoning that leads to an anti-Semitic conclusion must be false, because all such conclusions have been preemptively declared illegitimate, ruled wrong ahead of time. That's an unassailable, bedrock truth, acknowledged by all properly domesticated Gentiles, and on that solid foundation Hohmann built his argument. It would be wrong to blame Jews today for the amply documented Marxist crimes that their forefathers committed decades ago in Russia, and throughout much of Europe it would be a frightening criminal offense to do so; therefore, Hohmann reasoned, it should also be wrong to blame Germans today for crimes of the nazi era. If Germans today are guilty of crimes in Germany's past, then Jews today must likewise be guilty of crimes in their Soviet past, a conclusion which would amount to prohibited anti-Semitism, blaming Jews as a group for Judeo-Bolshevik mass murder. Hohmann, an opponent of the Berlin Holocaust memorial, was in fact saying, contrary to some press reports, that neither living Germans nor living Jews should be held guilty for crimes that dead Germans and dead Jews committed long ago. Neither Germans nor Jews should be viewed as a perpetrator people. His reasoning, though badly structured, was irrefutable, given its obligatory initial premise and its naive assumption of equality between Jews and Germans.

But of course Hohmann's argument did not work, and it has provoked outrage from Jews and even calls for a criminal investigation, chiefly because he attempted to use a semitically correct premise for an impermissible purpose, exculpating living Germans. He does not want the Jewish Holocaust to remain forever a central part of German identity, and he knows that no healthy nation would elevate a crime into the defining event of its history. He thought he had discovered a safe logical device, operating at the edges of the rules that control discussions of the Holocaust, proving that Germans should not permanently identify themselves as the world's foremost perpetrator nation. He was obviously wrong.

Although revisionists question many of the events the fall under the rubric "Holocaust," Hohmann was doing nothing of the sort. Yet his argument was, despite his apparent naivety, just as dangerous as revisionism, perhaps more so, since it challenged the Jewish Holocaust at the level of its political objectives, of which historical facts are (as we have seen) merely the malleable vehicle, subject to creative alteration whenever the need arises. Jews in Germany saw Hohmann's argument for what it was: not merely an irritating allusion to old Jewish crimes, but also an attack on the power of their Holocaust weapon. A Holocaust weapon that no longer inflicted perpetual German penance would be unholocaustal, deprived of one of its desired effects. Jews want Germans to feel weak and guilty; that's what Holocaust commemoration in Germany is really about. So Paul Spiegel, president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, quickly convinced himself that Hohmann's semitically correct argument amounted to "a reach into the lowest drawer of disgusting anti-Semitism." Such angry denunciations, and there were many, have a number of practical goals, but the most important is surely the warning that they give to others: You can't talk this way, and if you do, we'll work hard to punish you.

The Holocaust is a contrived instrument of Jewish power, and if it ceased to be an effective weapon that Jews can wield against their enemies whenever they choose, it wouldn't, from their perspective, be worth the trouble of writing all those Holocaust books and erecting all those Holocaust temples that commemorate it. The main purpose of the Jewish Holocaust is to attack enemies of the Jews in the present, and since Jews in the present still hate Germans, they will vilify and punish any German who attempts to disarm their favorite weapon, even a polite German who dutifully obeys their rules.

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Originally published on National Vanguard.


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