Just about a year ago the ADL released a study of European Attitudes Toward Jews
which to paraphrase Sally Field, showed they hate us–they REALLY hate us. European countries believe the old stereotypes that Jews control the banks, talk too much about the Shoah and we are more loyal to Israel about our own countries (of course Time Magazine “reporter” Joe Klein believes that one also).
- half of those surveyed in the six countries believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, with a majority of respondents in Austria, Belgium, Hungary and the United Kingdom saying they believe that this statement is “probably true.”
- Many of those surveyed across Europe still believe in the traditional anti-Jewish canard that “Jews have too much power in the business world.” Overall, nearly 35% of all respondents believe this stereotype to be true; in Hungary it is 60%. Europeans still adhere to the notion that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets.” Overall, 35% of those surveyed cling to the traditional stereotype, in Hungary it is 61%.
- Large portions of the European public continue to believe that Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. Overall, 44% of those surveyed believe it is “probably true.” A majority of respondents in Austria, and Hungary believe it to be true.
- Overall, 20% of those surveyed continue to blame Jews for the death of Jesus.
Perhaps there is no greater place to see Jew hatred in Europe is at a Football Game, where fans can combine some beer, rowdiness, and the anonymity that comes with the crowd mentality. For example “in Polish matches fans routinely call each other ‘Jews’ as a term of abuse. One example detailed occurred in May 2006 during a Polish cup tie between Stal and Resovia Rzeszow, where “fans of Stal exhibited a huge flag with the motto: “H5N1 – not only one Jew will die” and a banner with a Celtic cross – a racist symbol of white power.” Another occurred in Krakow in March 2007, when fans of Legia Warsaw chanted “Jews, Jews, Jews, [the] whole of Poland is ashamed of you.” In her piece Is Europe Repainting Its Nazi Past? Janet Levy gives us two more recent examples
In recent years, soccer crowds have gone so far as to simulate the hissing of Nazi gas chambers, pairing the sound with Nazi salutes. In Belgium, Muslim fans at a soccer match between Israel and Belgium shouted “Jews to the gas chambers” and “strangle the Jews,” while waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags. Freed from the restraints of acceptable behavior, with inhibitions loosened by alcohol consumption and the intense camaraderie of team spirit, soccer fans freely unleash anti-Semitic slurs with abandon and without fear of retribution.
…On June 16 during the televised, Euro 2008 soccer match between Germany and Austria. The words to the old Nazi national anthem, outlawed since the fall of the Third Reich, were displayed in subtitles on Swiss television.
The lyrics of the anthem were written by a commander in the Nazi militia in 1929 and became the official song for the Nazi party the following year. From 1933-1945, the anthem was sung at party functions and during parades. In 1934, a regulation was enacted that required the Hitler salute during the singing of two of the stanzas of the song. When the Nazi regime fell in 1945, the music and lyrics were outlawed in both Germany and Austria and remain so today.
Responding to the controversy generated by the broadcast, SRG, the Swiss company that televised the offensive lyrics, claimed that the editors who were responsible for subtitling for the match made an innocent mistake as a result of stress and poor research. The national coordinator for subtitling, Gion Linder apologetically stated, “We are going to hold a special history lesson for all German-speaking staff to explain the issues surrounding the national anthem.”
With its direct references to storm troopers, brown battalions and Hitler-flags, it’s difficult to imagine how the editors didn’t view the lyrics below as a glorification of the Nazi era and a salvo for the triumph of Hitler. Although limited news coverage has made it difficult to determine what parts of the offensive stanza were broadcast over television, historic context, overall meaning and tone was clear enough to result in the banning of the anthem for the past 60 years.
Germany, Germany above everything,
Above everything in the world,
When it always for protection and defense,
Brotherly sticks together.
From the Meuse to the Neman
From the Adige to the Belt.
Flag high, ranks closed,
The S.A. marches with silent solid steps.
Comrades shot by the red front and reaction
march in spirit with us in our ranks.The street free for the brown battalions,
The street free for the Storm Troopers.
Millions, full of hope, look up at the swastika;
The day breaks for freedom and for bread.For the last time the call will now be blown;
For the struggle now we all stand ready.
Soon will fly Hitler-flags over every street;
Slavery will last only a short time longer.Flag high, ranks closed,
The S.A. marches with silent solid steps.
Comrades shot by the red front and reaction
march in spirit with us in our ranks.
Also at the Euro 2008, the No. 4 designee on the list of most-wanted Nazi war criminals and on Interpol’s Most Wanted list cheered the team from his native Croatia at the European Championship in southern Austria. Milivoj Asner, the 95-year-old former police chief and Gestapo agent who sent hundreds of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies to their deaths, lives openly in Klagenfurt, Austria, under an assumed name, although his real identity and his Nazi-affiliated past is known and in some cases, admired by locals.
Former Austrian Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider, whose party was accused of supporting an anti-Semitic platform, refers to Asner as a “treasured” neighbor and told Der Standard, the Austrian daily newspaper, “He’s lived peacefully among us for years, and he should be able to live out the twilight of his life with us.”
Shielding Asner from justice, the Austrian government has resisted efforts to prosecute him. When Croatia demanded his extradition in 2005, Austria initially claimed that Asner was an Austrian citizen and was thereby exempt from extradition proceedings. Later admitting that he lacked Austrian citizenship, the authorities insisted that Asner was too ill to stand trial. Recently, the Austrian government informed a group of Jewish Nazi hunters that Asner was “not capable enough to be questioned or go before a court.” Yet, a fit, confident Asner was recently filmed on a three-hour outing, strolling about town, attending a soccer match and visiting local cafes.
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Jerusalem-based, Simon Wiesenthal Center, which hunts Nazis and war criminals worldwide, exclaimed,
“Austria has long had a reputation as a paradise for war criminals and now they’ve been caught in the act. It is time for them to do what is right and help bring Nazi war criminals to justice. If this man is well enough to walk around town unaided and drink wine in bars, he’s well enough to answer for his past.”
Zuroff added, “This is clearly a reflection of the political atmosphere which exists in Austria and which in certain circles is extremely sympathetic to suspected Nazi war criminals.”
Ironically, in March, Austria assumed the chairmanship of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Clearly, by allowing a leading Nazi war crimes suspect to live freely in its midst, Austria demonstrates a poor commitment to Holocaust remembrance and derides the importance of seeking justice for its victims.
These two incidents, the posting of the lyrics to the Nazi anthem and the indifference to the presence of a wanted Nazi war criminal, indicate that Europeans may be beginning to rethink their Nazi past and view it in a more acceptable light. To nonchalantly dismiss the seriousness of the “mistaken” subtitles as job stress and ignorance and to shield a former member of the Gestapo from prosecution, indicates fading memories of the Nazi-era atrocities and, more seriously, a refusal to admit Europe’s complicity in the greatest crime against humanity in modern times.
These incidents are not isolated. They occurred against a background of steadily increasing anti-Semitism in Europe since 1990, according to multiple country surveys conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In 2002, the ADL found that 1 in 5 Europeans harbor strong anti-Semitic views and that 49% of those surveyed believe that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust.
In Europe, comparisons are often made between Israelis and Israeli soldiers and Nazis and the SS. These simplistic comparisons ignore the basic reality that that Israelis are fighting suicide bombers and rocket barrages in a defensive war against annihilation and the Holocaust was a premeditated genocide against an entire religious group. The insistence that Israel’s current struggle to survive is on a par with the inhumanity of the Holocaust is a blatant distortion. It is fueled by an undercurrent of Jew hatred.
It has also become commonplace in Europe to hear the Holocaust downplayed as an atrocity and equated instead with current racist attitudes. This, in effect, softens the immensity and horror of the Holocaust. It becomes recast as merely a social gaffe that only occasionally is carried to extremes by small groups, rather than its reality as a systematic, mass extermination. Such soft-pedaling of the Holocaust helps engender and legitimize anti-Semitism and should be a grave cause for concern for the future of European Jewry.