It was in Jerusalem on March 18th in 2008 when our german chancellor Angela Merkel stated in front of the Knesset: „Especially in this place, I emphasize: Every German government and every chancellor before me was committed to the special responsibility Germany has for Israel’s security. This historic responsibility is part of my country’s fundamental policy. It means that for me, as a German chancellor, Israel’s security is nonnegotiable.“
Quote from here: http://www.haaretz.com/speaking-in-german-merkel-gets-standing-ovation-in-knesset-1.241816
Does the term „historical responsibility“ make sense?
I am a german who is very well educated on behalf of our history and I have also a lot of knowledge about the public and private opinion of my fellow german citizens. 71 years after the end of WWII, the third generation living in Germany today, doesn’t feel any connection to the war and crimes their country committed. This is a fact that I know from my daily experience. I don’t know anyone in the 3rd generation after the Holocaust, who today feels any kind of historical responsibility for what their forefathers did.
In my pro Israel activities I often tried to explain to my fellow people, that because of our history, we have a special connection to the Jewish people and their state, Israel. But after a while I realized, that this argument doesn’t help nor lead to anywhere. The reality simply is, that the vast majority of Germans will condemn the Holocaust if asked about it, but do not feel any responsibility to a state of Israel which is far away and has no relevance in our daily life.
We may or may not like the fact, that people today in Germany don’t feel a historical responsibility for Israel, however we have no choice but to accept the facts and learn what to do in order to get the german public support for Israel and the Jewish people.
So, if no one feels a historical responsibility towards Israel in Germany today, it doesn’t make sense to repeat this statement again and again. It simply is not based on reality and therefore we will not get anywhere with that.
Another reason, why I personally gave up the concept of historical responsibility, is the fact that it implies, that other countries or nations have no responsibility for what happens today to Israel and Jews.
Question: How many years is the „historical responsibility“ valid? What will be after 100 years? Is Germany then „free“ from this responsibility? When did the romans „historical responsibility“ for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish country end? Well, it never actually existed – and the same is to say about Germany and Israel. The „historical responsibility“ for Germany only existed on some political papers and in political speeches. But it never was part of the public opinion. I asked many people if they ever asked their Grandparents about their role in the Holocaust – I could not find one yet who spoke about it with their grandparents. Of course I read about few who did so – but they are not the majority. Only few had the courage to ask their grandfather what his role was in the time of the holocaust.
We have a MORAL RESPONSIBILITY for Israel and humanity
In the years of my activity for Israel on social media and in daily life, I found out, that the most effective way to connect people in Germany and Israel is to point out our common values and our common moral standards.
People identify themselves with other people if they see something that they have in common.
The 3rd german generation after the holocaust, has a moral responsibility to stand with Israel. We, Germans and Israelis, value life and love to live it to the fullest. Every human being has the has a historical responsibility to do the right thing in our time – not because of the past – but because today we determine what will be history tomorrow.
Today I don’t give much about the phrase „historical responsibility“ – because as I pointed it out, it is an empty phrase. No one feels this responsibility in daily life, because today’s generation doesn’t feel in anyway connected to the Holocaust. I believe it is much more efficient and much more wise to focus on our responsibility as human beings. Everyone is responsible to defend human rights. Everyone is responsible to defend his fellow human no matter of his nationality.
We are responsible to defend each other for the sake of humanity. If we can manage to convince people that we have a responsibility to stand with Israel because we share the same values it will be much easier to find support. If people will be able to identify themselves with the people in Israel based on common interests and lifestyle, they will deliberately stand up for Israel.
I think that it is important to teach and remember the holocaust in public and schools. But we should also focus on teaching and remembering that Jews and Germans (and other western countries) have the same moral values. These common moral values should bind us together, they unite us in the fight against those who denie people their human rights.
I am a german activist for human rights and that’s why I stand with Israel – it’s the only country in the middle east that respects human rights!