History and the new GermanyGerman unification stirs deep...

the Forum

October 05, 1990

History and the new Germany

German unification stirs deep emotions in the Jewish people who lost 6 million members as a direct consequence of the Nazi "Final Solution" -- the attempted extermination of the entire Jewish people.

While hailing the crumbling of the discredited communist system no less than people everywhere, and applauding the East German yearning for freedom, Jews wonder whether the end of Germany's division augers also the end of historical memory about the Nazi era's wreaking of incalculable tragedy and destruction. West German leaders offer assurances that history will be remembered in the new Germany. Surely that is a welcome gesture.

Unification does provide an important opportunity. Based on the successful model of West Germany over the past four decades, all of Germany now can become a fully democratic nation committed to the rule of law and responsible international behavior. After all, East Germany's earlier record was severely marred by rejection of responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi era, refusal to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, assistance to Middle East terrorist groups and support of the infamous United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism. This sorry record will now change.

Unified Germany needs to understand Jewish apprehensions and treat them with sensitivity. The new Germany must recognize the importance of memory as central to Jewish consciousness. With continued appropriate public statements and public support of efforts to remember the past, a warning will be sounded against recurrence of extremism or hatred directed toward Jews -- or any other minority. In this way, the new Germany can maintain the special relationship with Israel characterized in West German/Israeli ties.

We hope the new Germany will follow the strong democratic tradition established over four decades by the Federal Republic and will continue active participation in NATO, the European Community and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. With all this, lingering anxieties will be eased.

Stephen L. Hecht

The writer is chairman of the Baltimore chapter of the American Jewish Committee.

Unequal standards

Your response to A. M. Rosenthal's column, "What Mandela said" (Sept. 26), was way off base. You not only managed to ignore the upshot of Rosenthal's anecdote, but you went on to imply that Rosenthal believes the Israeli sale of arms to South Africa to be the moral equivalent of the Arab sale of oil to South Africa. Your attempt to make a point by taking a fellow journalist's words out of context was most unprofessional.

Rosenthal made no excuses for the Israeli sale of arms and specifically stated that he opposes said sale. Rosenthal simply beseeched Mandela to publicly acknowledge the wrongdoing of the Arab world in its violation of sanctions against the South African government, as he had been so eager to do in response to Israeli violations.

Your editorial rebuttal dismissed this point but surely did not dismiss another opportunity to attack Israel. Perhaps your journalistic ethics would be best served by holding the Arab nations to the same standards you set for Israel.

Jon D. Falck



Patrick Buchanan's anti-Semitism is so boiling that he has difficulties keeping it in his closet. Only an anti-Semite perfects a craft of determining who is a Jew and who is a gentile. Only an anti-Semite is concerned with the proportional representation of the Jews in any given group of people. Only an anti-Semite sees a Zionist plot when those suspected of being Jewish are disproportionally represented in that group.

ADuring the U.S.-Soviet summit in May I took part in the rally for Lithuanian independence on Capitol Hill. A half dozen of mob-style middle-aged men held huge identical banners -- "Pat Buchanan for President in '92."

"Why should I vote for Pat Buchanan?" I asked one of them. "Because he will rid us of the Jewish yoke. You are Lithuanian; you should understand that. Who needs Israel with its stinky tomatoes and oranges. We need Arabs with their oil, that's what we need . . . "

America has become pathologically race-conscious. But this race-consciousness is lopsided. Can you imagine someone speaking out against the Afro-American community? But Jews will take any punch; especially if you replace the word "Jews" with "Zionists" or "Israelis."

Sad, very sad. For men and states alike, I hope to see the day when principles of liberty and justice for all would no longer give way to less noble principles, particularly those of hate and

personal gain.

Vytautas Monstvyla


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