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February 19th, 2020

'The German problem': Genocide, Libya, poison gas, Sigmar Gabriel and German peace

topic:Peace and Reconciliation
by:Thomas Osten-Sacken

One particularly popular hobby of leftist-liberals in Germany is making fun of American ignorance. Only 28 percent of US citizens can correctly locate Iran on a map? Oh, man… these Americans are so stupid. And then they wage war again.

All of this takes place in a country in which a former foreign minister proudly shares the following on his Twitter account:

“In a world full of tough politics of interest, those without interest can sometimes be more successful. We have something stronger than weapons & money: legitimacy! We did not participate in the war in Libya and were never a colonizing state. It is a good thing that Germany does not leave Libya to the autocrats. #PeaceforLibya”

This German legitimacy does probably not derive from the first genocide of the 20th century, committed by Germans against Herero and “Hottentotten” in German South-West Africa, which was a colony of the Reich back then. Thanks to its possessions in Africa and the Pacific, the Reich was the fourth-largest colonial power. Moreover, if Sigmar Gabriel were a little better acquainted with the history of his party – which he so skillfully helped to bring down to below 20 percent – he might know that it was a few upright socialists who at that time strongly criticized the bloody actions in both German South-West and East Africa (today’s Tanzania).

Of all colonial powers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the German Reich may be considered one of the most brutal ones, together with the Belgian king who owned Congo back then.

But, Gabriel, apparently, like so many other Germans, has never dealt with this dark chapter of the past. And why should he? After all, he was only the boss of the ministry responsible for this and which failed to live up to its responsibilities:

“Around 70,000* Herero and Nama were driven into the desert or sent to concentration camps at that time. Many died of thirst, others were killed – on German orders. It was the first genocide of the 20th century. For years, people in Namibia have been waiting for compensation. But it does not come.”

Instead of paying compensation for crimes committed, German Social Democrats apparently prefer to play the role of supreme moralists and shamelessly advertise their “lack of interest” in Libya.

The fact that an autocrat, namely Gaddafi (who, if it were up to German foreign policy, would still be firmly in the saddle today, as would Saddam Hussein in Iraq) set up one of the largest poison gas programs in the region in the 1980s with German help, does not seem to bother the former foreign minister either. When it became known that German companies had supplied not only Saddam Hussein, but also the Libyan dictator – who, like Saddam, had repeatedly called for the annihilation of the Jewish state – with the necessary materials, an article by William Safire appeared in the New York Times. Its title was: “The German Problem”.

In it, Safire writes:

“One might think that this generation of Germans, aware of the guilt of their fathers in the gassing of millions of innocents not so long ago, would be particularly sensitive to the prospect of complicity in the murder by gas of civilians by a terrorist state today. But apparently too many ''good Germans'' just don't want to know about it. (…)

Does export-loving Foreign Minister Genscher approve of the way West German missile experts are providing third world nations with the technical means to build delivery systems for gas bombs? Does Mr. Kohl consider it legal and moral for Bonn to permit certain of its well-connected nationals to help terrorize the world?”

The “good Germans” William Safire is talking about are still around. They are so good that they can now shout their own amnesia out into the world as loudly as Sigmar Gabriel. They only want peace and have no interests at all. And that makes them just as dangerous as those who, for the sake of profit, once supplied Saddam and Gaddafi or exterminated half the population of South-West Africa.

But in fact, Gabriel is wrong: They had and have weapons, money and a very clear conscience. After all, they do not act out of pure self-interest, but out of noble and higher goals, most of all peace – of course.

This article originally appeared in Jungle World.

Image: Bogdanovskaya via Flickr.

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