When a Nation Chooses Collective Amnesia

On 17. of October, Roger Cohen wrote an article with the title of „Daydreaming in Germany“ for The New York Times, which immediately caught my attention.

In the article, he mentioned the stolpersteine, „square brass bricks inlaid in sidewalks that recall a single Jewish life curtailed“, as was well-described by him. There are enough such stones in Vienna, quietly recalling the inhuman era of the last century.

„What a beautiful name they have! You do stumble. You catch your breath, reminded of the everyday reach of the Nazi dragnet, of what diligence it took to decompose the German-Jewish world,“ Cohen wrote in the article.

While the long-disappeared souls of those Jews are still hanging around in the midair, our age is seemingly beginning to show the readiness of treading upon more innocent lives.

Mr. Cohen went to a synagogue in Berlin, listening to the ancient lilt of Hebrew prayer. Closing his eyes, he wrote, his mind turned to the poet Paul Celan’s phrase, “the thousand darknesses of murderous speech,” and to the complications

for a postwar German Jew, or indeed any German, of having a mother tongue that was also the murder tongue.

Back to today, Cohen pointed out in his article the fear growing in both Europe and the USA. The general election in Austria on 15. of October obviously stirred his feelings: „An autocratic, nativist, xenophobic, nationalist reaction is now in full swing on both sides of the Atlantic — as the election in Austria demonstrates again.“

Austria, a country which enjoys the world fame of high-brow culture, tried to deny the fact of its willing collaboration with Nazi Germany after World War II. Right now, it is showing the other side of its lovely face, probably its true color.

After long-struggle with the present red-colored coalition partner SPÖ, the black-colored ÖVP is turning turquoise to kiss up to FPÖ. The question is, if its 31-year-old handsome leader Sebastian Kurz was only using FPÖ to realize his dream of power? His propaganda has been the ambition of changing Austria for a better future. But what better future?

Thinking back, FPÖ was already flirting with SPÖ and ÖVP in the 60s last century in order to disintegrate the big coalition between ÖVP and SPÖ. Without success, though. The success came in 2002 with Schüssel as the boss of ÖVP. The coalition between ÖVP and FPÖ ended in a pile of scandals.

Kurz told the public recently that his intended government with FPÖ will be pro-EU. Besides, the functioning policies by the present government will continue in the new

government. He will only improve those which are out-dated in the 21st century, for example, business taxation.

But FPÖ is eying the Austrian Interior Ministry. As a matter of fact, this has become a pre-condition for FPÖ to continue the coalition talk with ÖVP. ÖVP has up to now shown little rejection concerning this hot topic. Once FPÖ is in charge of the Interior Ministry, the whole security system in Austria will probably see some dramatic change.

We might not see again millions of Jews going to the gas. But we might see refugees and those who seek political asylum being sent to peril.

„Few things are more dangerous than amnesia. But of course the things you remember best are things lived. What’s the Cold War or the Berlin Wall to a 30-year-old today?“ Cohen asked in his article. True. Worse than that: Sometimes, the whole nation could choose a collective amnesia. And how short-termed the human memory is!


Be the first to comment on "When a Nation Chooses Collective Amnesia"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


65 − 59 =