Date:         Fri, 12 Apr 1996 15:08:19 -0500
Reply-To:     H-NET List on German History 
Sender:       H-NET List on German History 
From:         H-GERMAN EDITOR Dan Rogers 
Subject:      Goldhagen in the German Press

Submitted by:   Daniel Wilson 

Yesterday the debate over Goldhagen's book hit Germany with the
publication of an excerpt by 'Die Zeit', which in a front-page article
announced that a new 'Historikerstreit' could be expected -- and was
already underway in the U.S. It also gave excerpts from reviews in the
U.S. by Gordon Craig, Paul Johnson and others. These excerpts and the
front-page article were basically positive toward the book's claims,
though reservations were voiced. There were also apparently dissenting
opinions at 'Die Zeit', which is not unusual there.

Today (Friday) the left-liberal 'Frankfurter Rundschau' also had a
front-page article, as well as an editorial and a page-three feature.
These were all more negative than the coverage in 'Die Zeit'. They quoted
German holocaust experts who trashed the book -- at least according to the
summary, though I find it hard to believe that they rejected it so
thoroughly as the authors report (saying that there was "nothing" of value
in the book), and of course there was no indication that these were
experts whose theses were being questioned in the book.  They also
indicated that the book had been turned down by several publishers in
Germany, and quoted the negative comments by one of the 'Lektoren', from
Fischer-Verlag. (The book will be published in September by Seider, which
is generally known for more conservative books.)

The part that I found most disturbing was the following sentence in the
'Rundschau' page-three article by Matthias Arning and Rolf Paasch (the
latter is the FR U.S. correspondent, and is thus probably responsible for
this part); in discussing the U.S. reactions to the book, they write:
"Was und wieviel daran [i.e., in the book's theses] unter
Geschichtswissenschaftlern wirklich neu ist, wird dabei in der US-Debatte
bisher nur selten gefragt, diskutieren hier doch meist juedische
Nicht-Historiker, sprich Journalisten und Kolumnisten unter sich." It's
beyond me what the Jewishness of the journalists has to do with their
judgements, unless one assumes that the authors mean 1) that the Jewish
journalists are biased, or 2) that there is some kind of Jewish control of
American media -- an idea which, of course, simply demonstrates the
persistence of the kind of ideology that Goldhagen is concerned with. At
the very least, the remark demonstrates the propensity among even some
'enlightened' Germans to think in 'racial' terms.

There was nothing in the FAZ today, though I expect there will be soon.

W. Daniel Wilson
University of California, Berkeley
(currently in Goettingen)