The well-known German writer Rolf Peter Sieferle committed suicide late last year. He left behind two works to be published posthumously, one of which — Finis Germania — caused immense controversy. Rembrandt Clancy has translated a crucial chapter from the book, and includes an introduction and extensive end notes, as well as a translated and subtitled video from Junge Freiheit.
The Mythos of Overcoming the Past
“The eternal Nazi, as the revenant of his crime, will long adorn the trivial mythology of a post-religious world. The earth, however, will only be purged of this stain of shame when the Germans have completely disappeared; that is, when they have become abstract Menschen”.
—Rolf Peter Sieferle
by Rembrandt Clancy
Another Zeitgeist-critical book, in the genre of Thilo Sarrazin’s “Germany is Abolishing Herself “ (Deutschland schafft sich ab, 2010), has been unleashing a storm of “hysterical reaction” in Germany, “a book which is making headlines like none other” (Epoch Times, German). Finis Germania, by Rolf Peter Sieferle, was published in June of 2017 and is a historico-philosophical collection of four short essays arranged as chapters and united by the common theme of decline in a moribund late-culture. They consist of such leitmotifs as personal responsibility in a history dominated by subjectless or impersonal functionality, the illusion of conscious political control in history, collective guilt and the problem of evil in the world.
Rolf Peter Sieferle took his own life in September of 2016 at the age of 66 in Heidelberg. The author left the manuscripts of Finis Germania and The Migration Problem as a legacy to Verlag Antaios, a publishing house in Schnellroda, Saxony-Anhalt. The business is directed by Götz Kubitschek, who describes himself as a conservative intellectual, is well known in Islam-critical circles and is close to some of the main actors within the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party which performed unexpectedly well in the last federal election. He provides an alternative for authors of books on political theory and literature who may not otherwise easily find a publisher.
The most controversial of the four chapter-essays in Finis Germania, Mythos VB, is translated here. The initials “VB” stand for Vergangenheitsbewältigung. The term refers to “a nation’s confrontation with a problematical period of its recent past, in particular with National Socialism in Germany” (Duden). Vergangenheitsbewältigung is the broad ideological container within which Sieferle’s analysis of Germany’s post-war drama of collective guilt unfolds.
About the Author
The following biographical details are taken from an article by Götz Kubitschek (sezession.de). Rolf Peter Sieferle was born in 1949 in Stuttgart. He studied History, Political Science and Sociology and earned his doctoral degree in 1977 with a focus on Marx’s concept of revolution. His post-doctoral qualification as a lecturer (Habilitation) followed in 1984 in the field of Modern History. Beginning in 1991 Sieferle served as Adjunct Professor at the University of Mannheim, and since 2000 he has been full Professor of History at the University of St. Gallen. His work, “The Underground Forest” (Der unterirdische Wald, 1982) is considered the standard work on the implementation of hard coal as a source of energy and the repercussions which this event had on all domains of society.
Other works of Sieferle are considered to show a high degree of scholarship: Enemies of Progress?: Opposition to Technology and Industry from the Romantic Period to the present (1984); The Crisis of Human Nature: On the History of a Concept (1989); Epochal Change — Germans at the Threshold of the 21st Century (1994); The Conservative Revolution (1995); Retrospective on Nature: A History of Mankind and his Environment (1997); Karl Marx: An Introduction (2007) and The Migration Problem: On the Incompatibility of the Welfare State and Mass Immigration (2017).
The Title of the Book
“Finis”, in Finis Germania, may be a noun or a verb in Latin. In either case, however, “Germania” remains a noun in the vocative case, invoking the feminine personification of Germany which found frequent representation in the Romantic period. The title carries the general meaning of “The end, Germania“, “Germania, you are dying“, “You are coming to an end, Germania“ or in a more ‘Sarrazinian’ idiom, “You are Abolishing Yourself, Germania“. The vocative case also points to Germany as a country with a long and venerable heritage, for Germania is the name the Romans gave to what we know today as Deutschland. The title does not mean “The End of Germany”, which would be Finis Germaniae”.
The ‘Skandal’ of Finis Germania
In early June, Finis Germania acquired a very high degree of unexpected publicity as a result of what appeared in the end to be a miscalculation of a single Spiegel journalist, Johannes Salzwedel. The book was broadly denounced in the mainstream German feuilletons, newspaper feature sections, in this case, dealing with literature. Far-right radicalism, right-leaning conspiracy theory and other denunciatory labels including the very widespread accusation of anti-Semitism were among the condemnations. There were also ad hominem attacks on the author. But despite the almost universal negative publicity, the book reached first place on German Amazon and remained there for ten days. It also fared well on Spiegel’s best seller list until it was removed. Altogether it is reputed to have sold an enormous number of copies in a very short time. Götz Kubitschek, referred to the book’s defiant popularity as a “Streisand-Effekt”.
The prime cause of the “Skandal” was the attention Sieferle gave to what has been known for some time in Germany as the Auschwitz-mythos. Journalists widely misrepresented the meaning Sieferle attributed to the term and treated it as identical to the “Auschwitz-lie” (Auschwitzlüge), or Holocaust denial.
A Video: Finis Germania: (JF-TV Im Fokus): “The Case of Rolf Peter Sieferle”
The 13-minute video immediately below provides a brief account of the circumstances dominating the publication of Finis Germania. The political and cultural newspaper Junge Freiheit interviews two personalities close to the situation. They are Konrad Adam, a publicist and former editor with the Frankfurter Allgemeine — a mainstream media outlet at the forefront of the attacks on Finis Germania — and Andreas Lombard, himself a publisher and the individual holding the rights to the Sieferle estate. He granted the licence for the book’s publication to Kubitschek’s Verlag Antaios. Adam and Lombard provide some insight into the character of the book and what the author has achieved. They also offer interesting interpretations of the attacks on Finis Germania.
Substantiated personal biographical material on Sieferle is hard to obtain. However, the video sketches the author’s political trajectory dating from the time he was a student. The author’s wife, Regina Sieferle, gives her reaction to the personal attacks on her husband by means of quotations from an earlier interview.
The original video is on the YouTube channel of Junge Freiheit.
Context and Thematic Material
Definition of the Auschwitz-Mythos and the Auschwitz Lie (Auschwitzlüge)
While Mythos VB allows for a fairly smooth reading, its clarity depends on a few important conceptual distinctions which have been overlooked even by serious commentators, with the result that misconceptions arise. In the second paragraph, Sieferle begins with a definition of Auschwitz as a mythos, a clear understanding of which is a guide to the remainder of Mythos VB.
National Socialism, or more precisely Auschwitz, has become the last mythos of a thoroughly rationalised world. A mythos is a truth which is beyond discussion. It requires no justification; on the contrary, even the hint of doubt, which is inherent in the relativisation of the mythos, indicates a serious breach of the taboo protecting it. Has not the Auschwitz lie been punished as a kind of blasphemy? Behind the insistence on the “incomparability” of the mythos, is there not the old fear of every revealed truth that it is lost as soon as it accedes to the enlightening exercise of historical comparison and justification? “Auschwitz” has become the embodiment of a unique and irredeemable guilt. [p. 2-3]
Thus an encapsulated definition of the Auschwitz-mythos may be rendered as follows: It is a perceived, non-rational, taboo-protected truth, held to be self-evident, which embodies a “unique and irredeemable guilt”, the source of which is the historical event of “Auschwitz”.
That “Auschwitz” itself is a crime which underlies the guilt is of course implicit. Note that Sieferle sometimes places “Auschwitz” in quotation marks as a pars pro toto for the Holocaust.
The “truth” of the mythos is not a truth in any ordinary sense of an affirmation subject to verification, for its parameters are “beyond discussion”. However, the last sentence in the passage identifies the content of this “truth” as a “unique and irredeemable guilt”, and not the historical event of Auschwitz itself. What also makes the distinction between historical fact and guilt clear, is the opposition expressed in the pseudo-moral dualism between the Auschwitz-mythos and the Auschwitz lie (Auschwitzlüge). To deny or relativise the historical event is also to dissolve the guilt which rests upon it, which is why the lie is punished “as a kind of blasphemy”. It is the politico-historical interpretation of this guilt, and not the crime-event itself, which Sieferle subjects to “the enlightening exercise of historical comparison and justification”. The author follows up consistently with a definition of guilt, and in the course of his analysis brings it further into focus as a heritable, collective guilt. That, in turn is further distinguished from the guilt stemming from individual or personal moral responsibility.
Sieferle discusses individual responsibility in Chapter I. In Mythos VB he starts his discussion of guilt with it, but it is more background than focus, and it certainly does not emerge as efficacious in the modern age. However, that only an individual can be responsible for a crime nevertheless remains the point of comparison against which the metapolitics of heritable, collective guilt takes on contour in this work, the more so because Sieferle recognises that the New Covenant supersedes the Old.
Was Sieferle the first to specify the Auschwitz-mythos?
“Auschwitz” as the founding mythos of Germany is not the product of Sieferle’s literary imagination, but has been under discussion for a long time. Joschka Fischer (Greens), former foreign minister in the Red-Green coalition government of Gerhard Schröder (1998-2005), is widely quoted as using the term “Gründungsmythos” to describe Auschwitz as Germany’s reason of state. An example of such a text comes from Paul Gottfried’s “The Strange Death of Marxism” (2005):
The current German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, who in 1999 announced that “Auschwitz is the founding myth and moral justification” of a continued German nation-state, had been closely associated with left-wing terrorists in the sixties and early seventies. [p. 81]
The context was the war in Kosovo.
The former Minister of Defence in the aforementioned Schröder government, Peter Struck (SPD), articulated the central idea of the Auschwitz-mythos on 29 May 2008 in the Bundestag:
With the systematic persecution and murder of the European Jews during the Nazi period, the Germans have burdened themselves with unending guilt — a guilt which never fades. (See: An Extraordinary Parliamentary Debate [German] emphasis added)
The German writer Martin Walser, in a speech he gave in 1998 (German), spoke of the political use of Auschwitz as “the instrumentalisation of our shame for today’s purposes” and was severely attacked at the time for his trouble. For more on this speech, see endnote 9.
Unique to Sieferle is his derivation of the Auschwitz-mythos from the “archetype” of Adam’s original sin, explaining therefore Germany’s focus on “Auschwitz” as a negative founding principle, hence the so-called overcoming of the past, a Vergangenheitsbewältigung (VB). VB becomes the temporal container of the negative foundational principle of the Auschwitz-mythos, guaranteeing its domination in the present and the impossibility of a future.
The Central Motif and the Problematic of ‘Mythos VB’
Sieferle identifies original sin as an archetype, and by extension the Auschwitz-mythos. In Mythos VB he calls it a “figure” [Figur], but the two terms are interchangeable (see quotation below). The problem of guilt “only becomes comprehensible when seen in the light of the older figure [Figur] of original sin”. Original sin, from which the Auschwitz-mythos is derived, is an ideologised archetypal narrative or figure; it is one of the “strategies with the help of which evil is to be overcome” (Finis Germania, p. 98), and therefore belongs to the category of “basic human situations”. The modern age, according to Sieferle, has selected
… ideological archetypes [ideologische Archetypen], which are likely to be found in their most general form everywhere, since basic human situations correspond to them. As long as it is a matter of basic situations, the emergence of truly new figures [Figuren] is hardly to be expected. Differentiated high cultures, like the Western tradition, have all ground-schemata [Grundschemata] in readiness…. [pp. 98-99]
C. G. Jung’s concept of the archetypal image is readily discernable in this passage, with its language of “ground schemata”, “basic human situations” and “figures” (forms). Today, instead of unfolding in dream narratives, ancient mythology, fairy tales and religion, the archetypes or figures representing “basic human situations” live on through ideologies. Hence the term “ideological archetype” means an archetype expressed through an ideology; and the Auschwitz-mythos, as an original sin, is one of these. Germans are among the collective actors in a drama played out on the
“projection screen of real history and become an everlasting mythos in order to atone for their guilt”.
The problematic, therefore, is that Germans identify with the archetype, and thereby act out a transpersonal (collective) drama, a guilt which is “of metaphysical dimensions”, a guilt rooted in the “transcendental man”, Adam.
A Hermeneutic of Judeo-Christian Discontinuity
Because “Auschwitz” is the new original sin for Germans, they “still live under the Old Testament severity”, even though
“[t]he guilt of Adam was superseded [aufgehoben] in an historically salvific way by the sacrificial death of Christ”.
Alternatively expressed, under the Christian dispensation, only an individual is responsible for a crime, no matter how “incomparable” it is; and its guilt, as such, is no longer heritable. But in modern Germany it is collective guilt which is now dominant; or in the more prosaic language of modern times, the Auschwitz-mythos is an ideologised expression of a Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics applied on a collective level. Given the context of what Sieferle calls “salvation history”, the Auschwitz-mythos constitutes a religious regression to a pre-Christian collectivist society, thereby carrying with it the characteristic severity of the “Old Covenant”. Some will recognise “modern” and “progressive” Socialism in such a pattern, at a time when “Christianity has become incomprehensible” to the post-war German. Such is the vacuum left for the formation of this “new” negative founding principle.
If Sieferle points to the apparent waning or practical ineffectiveness of Christianity in the modern age, he addresses the Enlightenment with as much irony and places it in a surprising context. He does not mention Kant by name, but points clearly to his concept of Enlightenment as the “emergence from self-imposed dependency” (selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit). Endnote 8 provides a short background.
There is textual evidence in Finis Germania suggesting that Sieferle’s falls partly in the wake of Oswald Spengler’s famous “Decline of the West” (Der Untergang des Abendlandes), for he does not affirm a linear, irreversible evolutionary trajectory in history, much less is there a progression when it come to morality. For Sieferle, human nature in itself is an unchanging constant.
For Spengler “all history is founded upon general biographic archetypes [Urformen]” which “possess a rigorous meaning which no one has as yet extracted” (ibid., Vol. I. New York: Knopf, 1926, p. 3). Analogously, Sieferle speaks of “Systems”, which are essentially unconscious structures underlying newly emerging social orders, and they oppose existing political arrangements and act contrary to the intentions of individual political actors. Although individuals “know” nothing of them, they can be inferred from their effects. Endnote 5 provides the documentation for this concept.
Finally, Sieferle uses Spengler’s concept of Fellahism, an uncultured “civilisational residue” which gathers in the great cities after the decline of a once great culture. Endnote 11 documents the background for Sieferle’s usage of this construct.
While his goal of publishing Finis Germania was to reach as many readers as possible, Götz Kubitschek also specified, as a “meta-goal”, the intention to effect a change of mind in the reader, which is consistent with what he called “a short definition of metapolitics”. The hope is that the reader
with the minimum of semantic displacement, assesses particular concepts differently… and apprehends particular lines of argumentation and enters discussions armed or equipped in a different way.
The metapolitical goal, Kubitschek says, aims at the “pre-political” sphere and “not at the level of action at which the AfD or other real political actors operate” (video interview in German, July 2017).
According to Thor von Waldstein (cf. GoV), Metapolitics refers to the established cultural or ideological support below or behind the level of active party politics. Hence it functions in much the same way as the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, which is the establishment of modified Marxist principles as a hegemonic, self-evident set of values and constructs which the population at large accepts as unquestionable and natural. The negativity of the Auschwitz-mythos renders it, practically speaking, no different from Critical Theory. Sieferle’s book, on the other hand, is itself a critique of the existing metapolitical cultural hegemony in Germany, what the author calls the “state religion”, and he shows how party politics are the consequence of it:
The new, currently emerging religion of mankind [metapolitics] — whose rational foundation has never succeeded since the time of the Enlightenment — is able to position itself on a firm foundation of historical facts [“Auschwitz”] and derive direct political consequences from it [party politics].
The mood of ‘Finis Germania’
Some observers have drawn attention to a certain “shock” that Finis Germania generates and also to its apparently unrelenting bleakness. But by this very act of making the current metapolitical infrastructure explicit, by speaking of what is forbidden, Rolf Peter Sieferle names the Rumpelstiltskin which threatens to bring about the end of Germany.
Chapter III: Mythos VB
by Rolf Peter Sieferle
Antaios Verlag, 2017
The eternal Nazi
There are still myths, and there are still taboos. Nudity and sexual practices, whatever their type, are not among them, any more so than good old-fashioned blasphemy. The Christian immortals, for instance, may be blasphemed in any way without the slightest consequence. One taboo, however, remains absolute: it is anti-Semitism. Criticism of Americans, of Russians, of the rich, of industry, of the unions, of intellectuals, of men, of politicians, indeed of Germans is cheap and can be voiced with gratuitous severity. Criticism of the Jews, on the other hand, must be packaged in the most meticulous way in the assurance that it is by no means a question of anti-Semitism. The reasons for this are ready to hand.
National Socialism, or more precisely Auschwitz, has become the last mythos of a thoroughly rationalised world. A mythos is a truth which is beyond discussion. It requires no justification; on the contrary, even the hint of doubt, which is inherent in the relativisation of the mythos, indicates a serious breach of the taboo protecting it. Has not the Auschwitz lie been punished as a kind of blasphemy? Behind the insistence on the “incomparability” of the mythos, is there not the old fear of every revealed truth that it is lost as soon as it accedes to the enlightening exercise of historical comparison and justification? “Auschwitz” has become the embodiment of a unique and irredeemable guilt.
But what does “guilt” mean? Concretely, it has to do with a provocation, in which case it concerns an impurity, a tarnishing of justice, which through purificatory rituals can be dissolved or at least alleviated. The criminal has defiled a community under the rule of law; therefore punishment is conducive to its cleansing. In the case of a very great defilement, a remedy is possible only by the complete eradication of the criminal who is given back to the elements: to the fire which incinerates him, to the water which drowns him, to the air in which he is hanged and to the earth which finally covers him. It makes for a sense of unease to inhabit the same world in which the criminal also lives. He must therefore disappear, so that mankind may be delivered from the spectacle of his depravity. His sheer existence is unbearable; hence the fanatical zeal with which old men who had participated in the great atrocities are still hunted down fifty years after their occurrence.
In addition to the individual guilt of the criminal, there is the collective guilt of the clan or community which sustains him. This collective guilt can have neither a concrete criminological significance nor an honour-hygienic one. It does not aim at attributing criminal liability or criminal status to the individual and therefore it cannot be redeemed by his elimination: on the contrary, that is not its purpose. It is much more a question of a guilt which is of metaphysical dimensions, of a guilt which only becomes comprehensible when seen in the light of the older figure [Figur] of original sin. The individual guilt of Adam, this transcendental Man, corrupted the entire human race which issues from him; in equal measure, however, the guilt was re-captured by the grace of God, whose Commandment Adam had infringed. The human race does not plunge into the bottomless abyss of depravity; on the contrary, it is precisely in the magnitude of Man’s guilt that the magnitude of the grace which maintains him is revealed. Atonement, grace and love are therefore inextricably linked; they form an imperturbable equilibrium within the salvational economy of God.
From the collective guilt of the Germans, which goes back to “Auschwitz”, there follows likewise the call to permanent atonement, but completely missing from this secularised form of original sin are the elements of grace and love. Therefore, the German does not resemble the man whose guilt through the love of God, while not revised, was nevertheless compensated; rather he is akin to the devil, the fallen angel whose guilt will never be forgiven and who will endure for all time in darkness. But even the devil has a function within the economy of God. He forms the negative foil against which the God’s goodness can stand out positively; in his negativity is concentrated all the deficiencies of creation in such a way that God Himself is unburdened from the agonising question of the justification of evil in this world.
The German, or at least the Nazi, is the secularised devil of an enlightened present age. This mature and autonomous world [Kant] needs him as precisely the negative foil against which it can justify itself. In this respect there exists a strong affinity between how the German is viewed now and how the Jew was perceived in the Christian past: the second great crime against humanity after the fall of Adam was the crucifixion of Christ. While this atrocity was immediately superseded [aufgehoben] through the resurrection and redemption, it nevertheless had at least a minimal precondition: faith. Now the Jews were the ones who had not only committed this monstrous, albeit salvation-historically necessary crime — they also refused to believe the claim that Jesus is the Christ and therefore rejected the offer of redemption. This criminal obstinacy on the part of the Jews was for Christendom an enormous irritant; of all the peoples, the very ones among whom the Son of God had appeared, refused to accept the salvific event associated with them. Furthermore, since the conversion of the Jews constituted an eschatological prerequisite for the coming of the Kingdom of God, the Jews stood for the antithesis of redemption and in this way could become the embodiment of evil in the world.
The stubborn refusal of the Jews to accept the truth of Christendom that had been revealed to them was at the same time a reminder that mankind was not yet prepared to relinquish his sinfulness. As a consequence, the heathens and heretics were tracked down so furiously and thoroughly, that less thought was given to annihilating the Jews as such, all occasional persecutions notwithstanding. The situation constituted a painful, yet tolerated thorn in the flesh of Christendom. The Jews, however, being unable to share in Christian worthiness, nested themselves in the niches of this society as usurers and traders: once again an affinity to the Germans, who went from heroes to merchants, despised by all the world and intent on their own advantage.
The world apparently needs Jews or Germans to be assured of its moral qualities. However, there is in one respect an enormous difference: the Jews themselves never shared the appraisal which fell upon them from the Christian side, whilst the Germans are the first to confess their indissoluble guilt — although this usually occurs in such a way that he who speaks of German guilt or “responsibility” purifies himself of it at once, since its very recognition is always proclaimed with an eye to the obdurate ones, which is to say, the others. The guilt of Adam was superseded in an historically salvific way by the sacrificial death of Christ. The Jews, for their part, did not acknowledge their guilt for the crucifixion of the Messiah. The Germans, who acknowledge their guilt — which is without grace — must, however, vanish from the projection screen of real history and become an everlasting mythos in order to atone for their guilt. The eternal Nazi, as the revenant of his crime, will long adorn the trivial mythology of a post-religious world. The earth, however, will only be purged of this stain of shame when the Germans have completely disappeared, that is; when they have become abstract “Menschen”. But then perhaps the world will need other Jews.
A new state religion
Periodically the experienced television viewer will witness a presentation which unfolds somewhat as follows: the President of the Federal Republic stands before the assembled parliament and delivers an historical sermon in which he conjures up the living dead and announces a truth which everyone knows and in which everyone believes. His slick and velvet words generate the required mood of mutual agreement and induce “appalment”. One notices it straight away: here the truth of a mythos is being revealed. The ritual proclamation presents no “new”, no “original” text, (its specific informational content must approach zero under pain of outrage); instead, a community of believers are gathered together for devotion. The content of the presented history remains eternally new and forever true; it cannot and must not be forgotten, but is to be narrated forever from the beginning. The endless liturgical repetition of an ever unvarying history conjures up its ineluctable importance for the immediate present. The first Commandment, however, is this: Thou shalt have no holocaust before me. The ritual of coming-to-terms-with-the-past [Vergangenheitsbewältigung] is invested with the features of a veritable state religion.
The dogma is simple and memorable: the forefathers, the Nazis, marked themselves with the gravest and most incomparable guilt on earth and have therefore barred themselves, together with their descendants, from the paradise of historical normalcy. Their unspeakable, albeit freely retold crimes constituted a rebellion against the dictates of progress and humanitarianism; either they were a “relapse into barbarity” or, much more serious still, they were historically unique, having the quality of the fall of Adam. This original sin [Ursünde] is now passed on from one generation to the next; it becomes the inherited sin [Erbsünde] which cannot and must not be forgotten or repressed [verdrängt]. In this way, the nation of the Nazis [Volk der Nazis] became a negatively chosen people. The magnitude of the guilt attached to their patriarchs has forever lifted them out of the normal course of history. They are unique in their culpability amongst peoples, since their crimes were of unique magnitude.
This degenerate people still live under the Old Covenant with history; nor has a Messiah arisen for them who could grant redemption from their unforgivable guilt. The drama remains, therefore, one of Old Testament severity. Adam Hitler will not be superseded [augehoben] by any Jesus; also such a Jesus would in all likelihood be crucified at once. The guilt remains therefore total with no grace to compensate it.
This people, bowed down by sin, forever unable to shed their guilt and “not allowed to dispose of their past”, now fall, as is to be expected, into the hands of the priests whose function it is to admonish, remember and keep the mythos alive. Out of their dogma arises a single mandate, a mission: the complete, ethical, self-serving adulation and conversion of the world which, while it does not efface the sin, can nevertheless alleviate the burden. By the combination of remorse and benignity a new depoliticised type can be forged.
The new state religion reigns practically unchallenged. Its followers and preachers are found in all political and social camps, from the centre-Right through the centre-Left to anti-Fascist terrorism. This ubiquity is a sign of its enormous vitality. And yet, even in these circumstances, there are supposedly underground freethinkers. These are the deniers, the suppressors, and the relativists; namely, the ones who, in the unholy tradition of a process which once meant “Enlightenment”, claw at the mythos. But do they really exist? Or are heretics in the final analysis not merely an invention of orthodoxy?
Sackcloth and Ashes Solicited!
One day in the month of November, which has been tried and tested for penitential acts of all kinds, heresy raised its head to heights unforeseen. A president incarnate of the Bundestag [Philipp Jenninger] was unmasked as a free thinker and forced to resign from his office [in 1998] because he had confounded two different types of text: in lieu of a sermon he had delivered an academic lecture. It was as if the pastor of a congregation of mourners had presented a critical psychological profile of the deceased instead of a eulogy. He had not been true to the solemnity of the situation and had misconstrued his office. In remembrance of this aberration, the Day of Prayer and Repentance should therefore be abolished and in its place the 9th of November made into a holiday.
Perhaps it should be designated a “National Day of Mourning”, a day which would simultaneously commemorate the curious conceptual confusion which substitutes “atonement”, “remorse” or “contrition” — which follow upon guilt — for mourning, an emotion customarily applied to the pain of parting. That does not mean, of course, that the nation of perpetrators [Volk der Täter] should “mourn” the loss of the Jews — that remains reserved for their own family members and ethnic peoples; — rather, it is their extermination which is to be “repented”. Nonetheless, the concept of mourning has frequently been kitsched even into “a psychic working-through of grief”; spread, probably out of sheer thoughtlessness and because people parrot the famous title of an unread book. The adoption of a “National Day of Mourning” for the 9th of November, however, would have interesting implications, because on this date a pluralistic diversity of mourning opportunities would become available. The nationalist could mourn the loss of World War I, the incorrigible Right could mourn the failure of the Hitler putsch and the incorrigible Left could mourn the end of the GDR.
At any rate, the Jenninger affair throws a glaring light on the political rituals of the late years of the old Federal Republic. Let us consider once more all the characters of the comedy: the stammering politician who presented to a public, tailored to receive the usual content-free appalment-phrases, a text which was of undue complexity and therefore invited (intended or unintended) misunderstanding; then the audience who, through lack of education or demagogic calculation, actually misunderstood the text; and finally, the domestic and foreign commentators who were straightaway intent on detecting in the text something “dangerous” or “something [in the past] which had not been overcome” — they set in motion the entire well-practised machinery of suspicion, accusation, denunciation, knowledgeable cocksureness and hypocrisy. They built up a pressure to conform which reached far into the minutest tributaries of the public consciousness and which rendered every deviation a high-risk operation. They impressed upon all sceptics and mockers once again not to forget the required kowtowing to the rites of the state religion, as philosophy has been advising from time immemorial.
In the face of such campaigns the inveterate conspiracy theorist immediately raises the question of who is pulling the strings or even about cui bono. He refrains from any thoughts on Jewish-Israeli interests. But were there not perhaps domestic consciousness managers — Communists for instance? Once the traditional Antifa positions had lost their real adversaries, was it then necessary to invent new adversaries in order to maintain moral rectitude? Or was the entire [Jenninger] uproar an expression of the fact that the real opportunities of moralising are disappearing, that the Systems are growing and can be co-opted less frequently? In that case, the whole affair would have been merely a totalitarian rear guard action, a final political simulation before those who pull the strings become aware that they themselves are hardly attached to their own threads any longer, much less are they anything of importance.
But who is still a conspiracy theorist today? The more enlightened contemporary no longer believes in a Machiavellian pursuit of cultural hegemony, but rather is convinced that a subjectless functionality [subjektlosen Funktionalität] lies behind all decisive proceedings. The various waves of indignation directed at the past then appear as nothing but the expression of a primary spiritual innocence which had thrived in the German ‘climate of safe development provided for children’ [Schonraum]. This is the nursery with its complaint-oriented oversensitivity to the slightest discomfort; where a child, watched over and cared for by good and powerful parents, can inflict arbitrary claims and demands on the world. The overarching moralism can thus be deciphered as the result of an absence of political weatherproofing. It has less to do with cultural Machiavellianism than with moral infantilism; that is, it is more the result of a widespread intellectual pacification-by-soother [Verschnullerung] for the sake of a way out of self-imposed dependency [Kant]
When the Germany of today has disappeared as an historical Great and is reduced to nothing but an historico-geographical term, her dreadful name will nevertheless survive in the memory of her people, quite independently of what actually happened in this country. Just as the Holocaust did not befall a profane, but a chosen people, so too have the nation of perpetrators likewise been translated out of profane history and elevated to the status of immortality. Christendom has honoured its murdered God in every city by building cathedrals, which even today, long after the faith has become incomprehensible, arouse amazement in those who gape at them as tourists. The Jews, whose God had Himself assured them of immortality, today build memorials all over the world to their murdered Volk-comrades [Volksgenossen], where not only the power of moral superiority is ascribed to the victims, but also the power of eternal depravity is ascribed to the perpetrators and their symbols. After the real Germany has fallen, she will survive as a mythos. The Fellaheen, however, who precisely because they go about their business in the ruins of their cities, could be transposed into the very historylessness which is the basis of their pragmatic success. Given this circumstance, the insensibility engendered by the permanent confrontation with a mythos pays off: the people living in Germany have become just as accustomed to dealing with anti-Germanism as Jews in having to learn to cope with anti-Semitism.
Learning from Auschwitz
Of what might the lesson of Auschwitz actually consist? That man, as soon as the opportunity arises, is capable of the ultimate extreme? The one who needs Auschwitz for this purpose may well take that from it. Or might the lesson be, that in the technical modern age, modern technology is employed for mass murder? Those who are surprised by this may well discover it in Auschwitz. Or is the lesson contained in the sheer number of victims, the ominous six million? Hence something for the Guinness Book of Records? But beware: records are set to be broken.
Or does the real educational value of Auschwitz consist in the manifest collapse of faith in progress, thus the realisation that such a thing could happen “even in the twentieth century”? Therefore, is the ultimate sobering-up not irrevocable in the wake of the First World War and the Gulag; namely, that “the project of the modern age” has failed once and for all? What has been happening from time immemorial will continue to happen. There is no irreversible evolution of morality, only an eternal waxing and waning. The only real legacy of the Enlightenment is technology, which is setting about extracting itself from its basis in nature. The history of the projects of the 18th and 19th centuries is one of a complete failure which became apparent in the 20th century: morally, from the World War to Auschwitz; techno-economically in the environmental crisis of the outgoing century.
A salient point may lie solely in the fact that for “Auschwitz” (in contrast to the environmental crisis) a “perpetrator” can be identified who is not identical with “humanity” itself: the German. His apprehension helps, therefore, toward a real coming-to-terms with this horrendous experience. One requires only post festum to be a good anti-Fascist, and already half of the 20th century is morally exorcised.
On the logic of anti-Fascism
Every historical construction is the work of a Present, by virtue of which it pursues specific ideological goals, seeks meaning or inclines to establish concrete friend-enemy relations. In the case of the currently popular Auschwitz-complex, such a construction by all appearances seeks to install within a completely relativistic world a negative absolute from which new certainties can emerge. “Auschwitz” constitutes a mythos, in that it concerns a truth which must be eliminated from all discussion. This mythos, however, has an essentially negative character, since the one thing which must not happen is to be fixated as uniqueness. Therefore the political movement which bases itself on this complex bears a negative name: anti-Fascism.
At one time, anti-Fascism was a simple, minimal programme, a label under which a multitude of political sympathies could be subsumed: revolutionaries and reactionaries, Stalinists and Trotskyites, pacifists and imperialists, plutocrats and Socialists, Zionists and anti-colonialists, democrats and monarchists, Christians and atheists, Liberals and totalitarians — all could assemble under a common banner, which contentwise, apart from the definition of the “fascistic” opponent, had of necessity to be completely indeterminate. For the most consistent anti-Fascists, the Communists, anti-Fascism was only a kind of transparent window dressing, a deceptive manoeuvre which allowed them to hitch useful idiots to their own cart. But this was only possible, because beyond anti-fascism, they believed in substantially more vigorous, more precise truths, as “scientific Socialism” taught them.
These truths have disappeared today. Of the plethora of vigorous ideologies which had dominated the 20th century and mobilised it, only the threadbare banner of anti-Fascism remains. All the more vehemently do people cling to it and attempt to make it a state religion. At the same time, however, a new programmatic meaning accruing to anti-Fascism appears to be emerging, one which possesses a particular paradoxical structure.
Within its ideological figure [Figur], “Auschwitz” or “the Nazis” stand for a total negation of “humanity” which had become at one time an historical reality. The secularised devil and his personnel from hell appeared incarnate on earth in Hitler and his extras. This devil consummated a unique crime, the mass extermination of the Jews, to which the following significance is ascribed: It concerned nothing less than the practical negation of humanitarian universalism. Certainly it was not that Hitler exterminated “Man” as such, but rather the opposite of this generality, the “Jews”; that is, an exceptionality [Besonderung]. Precisely this attempt at the extermination of one (ethno-racial) exceptionality in the name of another (ethno-racial) exceptionality constitutes the most extreme denial of humanitarian universalism, or more precisely, the idea of Man and his inalienable rights. With Fascism, the anti-Man [Anti-Mensch] has therefore appeared, so that anti-Fascism can become a religion of Man which discovers its symbols precisely in the negation of Man.
The foregoing framework explains the zeal with which every “historicisation”, “relativisation”, and “comparability” of Auschwitz must be combated. Who relativises “Auschwitz” relativises total inhumanity and therefore the integrity of Man. Were that to happen, however, the single absolute which could take possession of a modern society consumed by every type of relativism and perspectivism would likewise be relativised. The codification of the Auschwitz-mythos can therefore be understood as the attempt to give certainties back to a sceptical world. However, these latest certainties themselves are now of a merely historical character, meaning they are of a factual, and not of a rational or spiritual nature. They are based on what the courts declare as “manifest facts”, as truths therefore, which are no longer in need of proof. This is a sensational watershed in the European history of ideas: three hundred years of epistemological criticism are denied by means of an historical revelation.
But what follows from this? The current, newly emerging religion of Man — whose rational basis since the time of the Enlightenment has never succeeded — is able to stand on a firm foundation of historical facts and derive direct political consequences therefrom. An important programmatic imperative aims at the “multicultural society”. This concept, however, is itself ambivalent. It can be easily shown that multiculturalism may be understood in accordance with the mutually exclusive figures of universalism and relativism/particularism respectively:
|1.||From a universalistic standpoint, multiculturalism denotes the reduction of concrete Man to abstract “individuals”, who are then to be enculturated and assimilated in accordance with the progressive, techno-scientific, civilisational programmes. The goal of the project, in which one can recognize an extrapolation of the former “projects of the modern age”, is the cultural and material homogenisation of mankind.|
|2.||From a relativistic standpoint, multiculturalism signifies the protection of ethno-cultural [völkisch-kultureller] distinctiveness, in which now, however, individual ethnic groups are spatially nested amongst one another and are required to live side by side within the narrowest of spaces. Since this process is tied to real mass immigration into the prosperous industrial regions, this imperative aims (paradoxically) at one cultural formation, namely the indigenous peoples, being required to relinquish their specific identity to the benefit of other ethnic groups.
In both cases, it is the indigenous people of the industrial countries who are the opponents of the multiculturalist project; their resistance against immigration and foreign inundation is meant to be broken by a programme identifying them with fascism, racism and right-wing radicalism. Hitler’s attempt, in the name of one ethno-racial particularity [völkisch-rassischen Partikularität], to exterminate another particularity becomes the fixed point of reference of all attempts to claim particularity — this applies especially when these come from the indigenous people of the industrial countries. Other particularities, however, do not fall under this verdict: the anti-European xenophobia of liberation movements is not condemned; also specific peoples, such as the Kurds or the Jews, may insist on their own ethnic particularity without this being the cause of reproach.
Here is where a curious asymmetry of this concept becomes explicit: anti-Fascism to a great extent is anti-Germanism. However, this actually contradicts its universal self-understanding and reveals a völkisch kernel, the consequences of which have not yet been fully foreseen, but explains itself by its origin.
Hitler exterminated the Jews in the name of the Germans, meaning that out of an abstract, undifferentiated “mankind” he singled out two peoples who differ from the profane rest of mankind by virtue of their possessing the character of absolutes in a complementary way: they are absolute perpetrator and absolute victim. This distinction gains ultimate importance for the universalist programme of manufacturing a standardised humanity, for this humanity, to be precise, still contains the two main foreign bodies of exceptionality: a negatively chosen people, the Germans; and a positively chosen people, the Jews. Hitler has in this way succeeded in what he may not have expected: he assigned, for all time, to the Germans and the Jews a complementary special role which will not fade from the memory of Man for as long as there are still Germans and Jews. This, however, has one final, paradoxical consequence. The project of a homogeneous mankind will not be realised as long as it fails to likewise assimilate and thereby eliminate the two stubborn remnants of völkisch exceptionality. What stands in the way of this assimilation of Germans and Jews, their dissolution into mere “human individuals”, however, is the historical structure of the Auschwitz-mythos, at the heart of which is precisely the rebellion of the particular against the general.
|1.||Mythos VB: See the introduction.|
|2.||“The individual guilt of Adam, this transcendental Man, corrupted the entire human race which issues from him; in equal measure, however, the guilt was re-captured by the grace of God, whose Commandment Adam had infringed.”:
For Sieferle, Adam is both individual and transcendental. He is transcendental, however, not as an individual human being beyond time, but by the effects of his transgression being transmitted to all mankind throughout all time. Note the discussion of this concept in the introduction in the context of the Auschwitz-mythos, with its class guilt, as an “ideological archetype”.
This reference to grace anticipates the salvific act of Christ’s death on the cross, which Sieferle addresses more directly later in the text. Grace is of course not efficacious immediately following Adam’s sin or at any time under the Old Covenant.
|3.||“a minimal precondition: faith”: Sola fide. Any particular theological view of grace implied by Sieferle’s analysis should not affect his main point.|
|4.||Volk der Täter: “nation of perpetrators”: The common equivalent of this phrase is the compound “Tätervolk”. It is a controversial term referring to the collective guilt of Germans for National Socialism and the Holocaust. The Association for the German Language (Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache) declared it the unword of the year in 2003 (See Duden, German).|
|5.||The Jenninger affair: “a text which was of undue complexity and therefore invited (intended or unintended) misunderstanding”.
Sieferle describes only the formal properties of Jenninger’s speech and not the content. Some might well argue that Jenninger’s speech contains a faithful representation of the Auschwitz-mythos as a radical expression of German collective guilt:
Jenninger’s quotation of Renate Harpprecht — aside from its obvious quality of ressentiment — is a precise expression of what Sieferle refers to as “absolute perpetrator and absolute victim”.
For Jenninger, the Vergangenheitsbewältigung and the mythos are even liberating in a Freudian sense, for he goes on to say that “self-liberation in the confrontation with the horror is less agonising than its repression”. He adds that
A full English translation of the 1998 speech can be found on the Internet: “Jenninger’s Commemoration of Kristallnacht”.
|6.||“Systems are growing” …. “a final political simulation before those who pull the strings become aware that they themselves are hardly attached to their own threads any longer, much less are they anything of importance.”
The main point of this paragraph is that individuals, Machiavellians and those behind putative conspiracies, are not in charge of the direction of history.
System (also used in the plural) is the most difficult concept in Finis Germania. It is first discussed in Chapter II, “Paradoxes of Time” (Paradoxien der Zeit). There it is introduced under the subheading of “Politics and System” (p. 40-42). Sieferle introduces it this way:
Thus the author describes the concept less in terms of what it is and more according to its effects, or privatively as to what it is not. The reason for the apparent vagueness is that Systems “are not guided and are barely comprehensible theoretically”. The West, according to Sieferle, is aware that Systems operate, but there is no control over their unfolding because of an unconsciousness of their source:
Again, Systems are observable only by their effects, some of which are described in privative terms: “Systems organise themselves without focus, without values, goals and programmes”.
Sieferle opposes politics to System as its counterpole. If System represents a newly emerging order, politics represents the old order. Included under politics are the “crystallised” ideologies such as Liberalism and Communism, with all their values and goals to which individuals are subordinate.
The opposition between System and politics suggests the influence of Oswald Spengler. Spengler opposed Destiny and Causality, corresponding to which is Sieferle’s System and politics. In each case the former is fateful and the latter is conscious understanding; the first is unlearned and the latter is learnable and acquirable (op. cit., Vol. II. New York: Knopf. p. 117).
|7.||“a subjectless functionality lies behind all decisive proceedings”: This is of course a continuation of the theme of impersonal “systems”, which act contrary to the conscious intentions of historical actors (see note 5).|
|8.||“it is more the result of a widespread intellectual pacification-by-soother in the name of a way out of self-imposed dependency [selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit: Kant, also often translated as ‘self-inflicted immaturity’].“:
This phrase is a reference to the famous beginning of Kant’s “An Answer to the Question: “What is Enlightenment?”:
For Sieferle, the effects of Enlightenment have not changed man’s nature fundamentally. Later on Sieferle speaks ironically of the effects of the “enlightened present age” when he finds Kant’s “mature and autonomous” man “within” the “ideological figure” neo-Fascism:
|9.||“The Jews … today build memorials all over the world to their murdered Volk-comrades” [Volksgenossen]:
One such memorial, which Sieferle may have had in mind, is the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
Martin Walser, who is mentioned in the introduction, gave an acceptance speech on the occasion of receiving a literary prize in 1998. In it he addressed the theme of the difficulty of living with German guilt and included the following assessment of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin:
Björn Höcke, the nationally popular AfD representative in the Thuringian legislature, delivered a controversial speech in Dresden in January of 2017 in which he later expressed his awareness that he was using a slightly modified version of Walser’s “monumentalisation of shame” in reference to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial:
That in all three of these cases, enormous pressure was forthcoming from the opinion makers is a sign that the non-conformists had struck close to the heart of the contemporary metapolitical cultural hegemony and its basis of control. In Björn Höcke’s case there was pressure within the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) for Höcke to be removed from the party, showing a rift just months before the federal election.
For the meaning of Volksgenossen see endnote 10.
|10.||“The Jews … today build memorials all over the world to their murdered Volk-comrades [Volksgenossen]”:
The term Volksgenosse is no longer in general use. Prior to the National Socialist period, it was a neutral term with a meaning close to something like “countryman”. Today it carries overlapping meanings difficult to render into English. Our translation is literal.
Duden lists Volksgenosse as a “National Socialist” “usage” with the meaning of a “member of the so called German Volksgemeinschaft”. Volksgemeinschaft in turn is listed as “particularly National Socialist” in usage and refers to “an identifiable community of the people (Volk) with a strong consciousness of a common bond”. Volksgemeinschaft also antedates the National Socialist period.
|11.||“The Fellaheen, however, who precisely because they go about their business in the ruins of their cities, could be cast into the historylessness which is the basis of their pragmatic success.”
The term “Fellaheen” (Arabic: sing., Fellah), used in this context, comes from Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the West” (Der Untergang des Abendlandes).
Understanding what is meant by fellahism is helpful in appreciating the full impact of the sentence which immediately follows. Oswald Spengler suggests that “[t]he religion of Jewry” has been a “fellah-religion” since the 11th century, because by that time “the entire dogmatic material of Judaism” became “fixed and complete” (Spengler. Vol II, New York: Knopf 1922, p. 315).
Fellahism, for Spengler, is a post-civilisational phase of the people of a former culture. The trajectory of a culture is plant-like, hence not progressive, but cyclic, moving inexorably from birth to death.
Thus Spengler distinguishes among “peoples before, within, and after a Culture“; or, among primitive peoples, “Culture-peoples” and Fellaheen respectively (ibid. p. 169).
Sieferle is speaking of German Fellaheen in the cities. Likewise Spengler describes the movement toward Fellahism in connection with the late “megalopolitan” cities:
|12.||“(ethno-racial)” or “völkisch-rassisch”: The adjective, “völkisch”, carries a National Socialist connotation. The entry for it in the Duden dictionary reads as follows:
The term is used five times in Mythos VB.
Finis Germania: (JF-TV Im Fokus): The Case of Rolf Peter Sieferle
21 June 2017
Junge Freiheit Narrator: Once again a non-conformist book is causing a sensation in Germany: Finis Germania, a book about the end of Germany as we know her. Not only is the title reminiscent of Thilo Sarrazin’s best seller, Germany is Abolishing Herself, but so too are the hysterical reactions from the left-dominated cultural elite in the feuilletons of the leading media. “Right-leaning”, “radically right-wing”, “extreme right-wing” and “even anti-Semitic” are the terms given to the book, whose author, Rolf Peter Sieferle, took his own life at the end of 2016, and can therefore no longer defend himself against the attacks. At the same time, it is precisely these attacks which unwittingly bear witness to the author’s correctness, but they prove the very spiritual and intellectual decline which underlies the self-abolition of Germany.
Junge Freiheit TV im Fokus with Konrad Adam and Andreas Lombard. Finis Germania.
We are in Hessian Oberursel. Here we are meeting with Dr. Konrad Adam, a long-time feuilletonist with the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung [FAZ], who has attentively followed the debate over the book, Finis Germania.
Dr. Konrad Adam: I have, of course, become acquainted with the standard sources. Then I read how the recommendation [of the book] came from my long-standing colleague, Johannes Salzwedel, who is still well-known and whom I very much respect. And then I naturally asked myself why such a storm of outrage is now being unleashed. The explanation was not very long in coming.
JF Narrator: And it was this: the book is “right-leaning”, “radically right-wing”, “extreme right-wing” and even “anti-Semitic”. The Spiegel author, Johannes Salzwedel, had placed the book on North German Radio’s recommended list for non-fiction books and therewith unleashed a storm of indignation in the German feuilletons. Very much at the forefront was Adam’s former employer, the Frankfurter Allgemeine.
Dr. Konrad Adam: I have always considered the FAZ as my newspaper and for that reason I am surprised about much of what is being expressed there. When it comes to the reaction of the feuilletons, I think the feuilleton did itself no favour by publishing the aforementioned commentary accusing Herr Sieferle of anti-Semitism. For anyone who read the quotation would have noticed at once, of course, that it could mean anything; perhaps exaggeration, perhaps polemics; one can talk about those things; but anti-Semitic — as Herr Hintermeier mentioned in the quotation — it most certainly was not.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: Who is this Rolf Peter Sieferle? And is this rushed judgement about his person correct? In Berlin we are meeting Andreas Lombard, former head of the publishing house, Manuscriptum. He holds the rights to Sieferle’s estate and granted the licence for the publication of Finis Germania to the publisher Antaios.
Andreas Lombard: I first heard Sieferle’s name through the publisher, Thomas Hoof, in the context of my work for the publisher Manuscriptum. And it was there that Sieferle was recommended to me as an author of outstanding books on natural history and the history of energy, and as a universal historian with brilliant style, who, for example, was well-known for the book, The Underground Forest, which was about the exploitation of hard coal, and who then in 1994 published the book Epochal Change, in which one could determine for the first time that he would no longer follow the Zeitgeist — or let us say — the humanitarian universalism of the Zeitgeist.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: Rolf Peter Sieferle: in his early years he was a member of the Socialist German Student League and later a celebrated author of the leftist intellectual scene, as well as of the environmental movement; and at the end of his life, a right-wing radical?
Andreas Lombard: Well, to characterise Sieferle as a right-wing radical is quite perverse. I can understand it in view of the motives of those who do that, for Sieferle showed in Finis Germania that he offers no Zeitgeist-conforming reflections at all; however, regarding the history of ideology in particular; namely, in his reflections on the history of progress, the modern age and bourgeois society, he showed that he considers the whole of it from a very distanced perspective, and critically; and he showed that he chafes at many things which the mainstream media hold to be self-evident.
For example, he chafes at universal humanitarianism, which he considers simply unrealistic; to this chafing belongs what he characterises as the Auschwitz-mythos, by which he does not mean the fact of Auschwitz, but rather its historical-political interpretation, which we have seen develop in the last decades; to this chafing belongs much more which is not in fashion right at the moment and he observes and applies himself through factual corroboration and in a critical way.
And he does this in a very rational way; therefore, one wonders at the severity of the condemnation, which bears no relationship to his theses. And I think the motive might rather consist in the fact that Sieferle, as also Frank Böckelmann says, is someone who built bridges; that is, while he made no secret of his criticism of mass migration, he did not make a virtue out of ressentiment, but just simply and poignantly ascertained that the welfare state and mass immigration realistically exclude each other; and it appeared to be precisely this rationality of his argumentation, and also the superiority of his intellectual agility, which makes his critics’ blood boil; and this renders them basically defenceless, so that they then reach for the sharpest weapons they can find, but they shoot completely wide of the mark.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: And what is the sharpest weapon to be found in Germany today? It is the reproach of being to the Right, the pigeon-hole for everything which is not acceptable to the opinion-leading Left, similar to Thilo Sarrazin and the debate about his book Germany is Abolishing Herself.
Dr. Konrad Adam: Oh yes, in Sarrazin’s case, it was a bit different. There you will still remember the remarkable statement of our Federal Chancellor, in which she declared that she could censor, actually negatively censor books which she had not read at all. I do not wish to implicate in this those who disagree with Herr Sieferle. Probably, hopefully, they have read what they are condemning. But precisely then is the question even more urgent: do you really think — I mean the critics — that those opinions, which contradict your own, ought not to be published? If that is what you want, then you should say that; you should admit that you are not critics but censors.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: Censors against the deceased author who can not even put up a defence.
Dr. Konrad Adam: That, of course, makes the matter unpleasant and it is also my main objection. In criticism, in literary criticism, the scathing review certainly has a place, and what my former colleague, [Jan] Grossarth, wrote in the FAZ was a scathing review. In principle, there is nothing to be said against it. Only the scathing review must also meet minimal standards. And I certainly reproach him for decidedly falling short of these minimal standards; above all for bringing the personal, tragic life situation of Herr Sieferle into the content of his critique. One does not do such a thing. That is deeply objectionable, and to also use the fashionable vocabulary here, — that is inhuman.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: To this, the widow of Rolf Peter Sieferle might perhaps agree. She speaks to this in an interview for the current edition of Junge Freiheit, and levels severe reproaches against that very same FAZ author, Jan Grossarth. She is incensed and indignant over the picture that Jan Grossarth drew of her husband, because
“My husband did not suffer from skin cancer nor did he lose his sight because of it. Grossarth’s psycho-diagnosis, according to which he was embittered by illness, which thereby explains his alleged extremism — is simply preposterous. Grossarth represents the problem of the formerly ‘good’, ‘green’ Sieferle which the leftist mainstream must preserve. Ultimately they profited from him: having published jointly, their university careers were advanced. On the other hand, he was compelled to destroy the recent, allegedly ‘poisonous’ and ‘right-wing radical’ Sieferle”.
Mrs. Regina Sieferle: Formerly a good leftist, later an evil rightist: so goes the blatantly crass representation in the German feuilletons. To be sure it may appear at first glance as if Sieferle underwent a political change in the course of his work.
Andreas Lombard: But this is a question that must be asked about these people (similarly with Panajotis Kondylis, a Heidelberg colleague of Sieferle so to speak, although he was a philosopher). These leftists now depict them as supposed renegades or as traitors to their thought tradition, although in general they remained materialists to the end. That is also true of Sieferle. He did not really change fundamentally; rather, he continued to develop his initial approach based on a consciousness of resources, which simply viewed the world in a very realistic way, working on the premise that not everything is possible.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: Or in other words, it is not about Left and Right here, but about idealism and realism. The realist, Sieferle, celebrated in the early days for his critical spirit, by this very same critical spirit he now becomes a problem in the eyes of those idealists, whose ideal no longer has so much to do with reality, especially when it comes to a theme like mass immigration. Such is to be observed by way of example on this poster which recently appeared in the context of the ARD Themenwoche [TV-radio theme programme]. On view is a woman with a headscarf, together with the slogan: “I believe in equal rights”; it is a poster which unwittingly gives expression to the collective loss of the sense of reality of German media representatives. “Not the good leftists, but the loony leftists are at work here”: that is how Junge Freiheit author, Karlheinz Weißmann, fittingly evaluated it in the context of the debate over Finis Germania.
Dr. Konrad Adam: In fact, for a long time now there have been loony leftists, and that is perhaps the secret revenge of the development. Beginning in ’68 the Left achieved a grand victory in the war of public opinion. But they paid a price for it. For the first time there is — in fact massively all-encompassing as it were — the loony Left; the Left, who no longer come up with ideas, who believe that by parroting some kind of dim-witted vocabulary they can attract attention. I can only hope that that is the revenge of history or the “cunning of Reason” as Hegel said.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: And that is likely the real quintessence in the case of Rolf Peter Sieferle. His evidence, that Germany has been abolishing herself through mass immigration since 2015 at the latest, is as demonstrable as it is blatant, but obviously it must not be called by its name, and it is precisely that which unwittingly admits that Sieferle is right.
Andreas Lombard: Sieferle himself wrote in one of his posthumous Aphorisms, that eventually everything to the right of the professional revolutionary, Dzerzhinsky, would qualify as fascist. And basically, what is now happening proves the correctness of this thesis; that is, Sieferle, as the victim of this campaign, would be the last to be surprised at what is currently taking place. He saw it perfectly clearly, analysed it and also described it. And moreover, it is just a moment which lends an explanation to this aggressivity in my view. One wishes not to call a matter of this kind plainly by its name. And it was simply held against Sieferle, above all because — and this is why he is quoted — he reflected back the ideology with his opponents in a completely precise way; and exactly for that reason he is being accused, despite there being nothing in it which is at all false or reprehensible.
Dr. Konrad Adam: But I ask myself: what has actually happened in Germany that a person’s sorrow or despair over the disappearance of the contours of a country is viewed as a provocation, — and I too love Germany — that these contours are gradually fading and becoming indistinct? That something like that is viewed as a provocation shows what has happened in Germany. And what does Claudia Roth or the other Greens do, who run behind the slogan Deutschland verrecke [Snuff it Germany]? I am supposed to perceive them as enlightened German citizens and Herr Sieferle as a provocateur. I won’t have any part of such rubbish.
Junge Freiheit Narrator: The final judgement of this “rubbish” belongs to the widow of the late Rolf Peter Sieferle; once again from the interview with Junge Freiheit.
Mrs. Regina Sieferle: “The Gleichschaltung of our media is frightening! [NS term for standardised ideologically-aimed press-levelling] Likewise is the audacity with which lies and falsehoods are propagated — and on a downright abject level.
“Finis Germania! Verily!”
Junge Freiheit Narrator: Or in keeping with the times: “Germany, you are done”! A judgment which has applied to the German feuilletons for a long time. Let us hope that this decline does not become the prototype for the rest of the land.