I had never heard of the political historian Konrad Löw until I read about a recent decision by the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) that the professor emeritus of Bayreuth University had been wrongly maligned by the state-sponsored Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (Federal Office for Political Education) in connection with an article he published in the jounal of contemporary German history - Deutschland Archiv.The article entitled Deutsche Identität in Verfassung und Geschichte ("German Identity in the Constitution and History) originally appeared in 2004. It can be accessed here.
The article is a radical rewriting of German history - especially the history of the Third Reich. I strongly recommend reading Konrad Löw's essay because it is an excellent example of the historical revisionism now being propogated by the Neue Rechte in Germany. In Löw's upside-down reading of history, Germany was a paradise of assimilation for Jews. Any animosity towards Jews after the First World War was the result of their own making, as Jews led the hated 1918 revolution and "Soviet" in Munich ("die von Juden angeführte Räterepublik in Bayern gaben dem Antisemitismus auftrieb.") Also, the rise of Hitler had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, fomenting hatred towards Jews played a "minor role" ("Hitlers Antisemitismus spielte eine untergeordnete Rolle."). which will come as a shock to anyone who has read Mein Kampf. And most Germans were secretly appalled at the violence towards Jews during the Third Reich. What is Konrad Löw's evidence? He cites Werner Klemperer's diary where Klemperer mentions that a couple of citizens in Dresden whispered sympathetic words when the professor was forced to shovel snow wearing the yellow Star of David. In fact, for Konrad Löw the really "victims" (Opfer) of the NS-period were the German people, who suffered under the criminal policies of a handful of evil Nazis:
Würde man ganz konkret auf die Schicksale der Einzelnen eingehen, würde man wohl zu der Einsicht gelangen, daß sie weit mehr Opfer als Täter waren.
Thus the Jews and the German people were united in suffering, they suffered the same fate (Deutsch-jüdische Symbiose). And finally, in a most grotesque interpretation of the FInal Solution, Konrad Löw highlights the role that Jews themselves played in the Holocaust:
Aber Goldhagen hat doch bewiesen, daß Hitler schier zahllose Helfer bei der Umsetzung seiner Endlösungspläne fand: Deutsche, Ukrainer, Letten usw. Was nicht in sein Bild paßt, sind Juden. Doch auch von ihnen leisteten einige einen beachtlichen Beitrag als Judenräte, als Häscher, als Polizisten, in den Gaskammern
(But Goldhagen has proved that Hitler had many helpers in implementing his plans for the Final Solution: Germans, Ukrainians, Letts, etc. What doesn't fit his view are Jews. But they also made significant contribution as Jewish Councils, as henchmen, as police, in the gas chambers.)
That Konrad Löw's perverse claims - absolving the German people from the Holocaust and blaming Jews for their own terrible fate - would appear in a reputable journal such as Deutschland Archiv was indeed a scandal. The publishers realized only too late what they had printed and immediately pulped all of the journals that hadn't been mailed. They sent a letter out to all subscribers distancing themselves from Konrad Löw and issuing the following apology:
Wir bitten alle Leserinnen und Leser der Zeitschrift sowie diejenigen, welche sich durch den Beitrag von Löw verunglimpft fühlen, um Entschuldigung.“
(We apologize to all readers as well as to all of those who feel denigrated by Löw's piece)
Konrad Löw complained that his reputation was irreparably damaged by the actions of the publisher (Bertelsmann) and the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung. Now the Constitutional Court - six years after the fact - has ruled in favor of Professor Löw, finding that his "personal rights" (Persönlichkeitsrecht) had been violated. What the remedy will be, and whether the Deutschland Archiv will be forced to reprint Konrad Löw's essay, is yet to be determined.
I am not a laywer, much less a scholar of German constitutional law, but the court ruling strikes me as stupid. Konrad Löw should,of course ,have the right to write and publish any nonsense he wishes, but Bertelsmann should also have the right not to publish Löw's work. And the academic community has the right - indeed the duty - to condemn and ridicule Löw for his pathetic attempt to rewrite history.