As an Orthodox Jew living in Israel, as a second-generation Holocaust survivor whose four grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz, I have a several things to say about and to the Gentiles in Germany. I would like to cover a little bit of the past, a lot more about the present, and no so little about the future.
It was Bad
Everybody knows that Germany caused WWII and the Holocaust. Six million Jews were murdered in cold blood. Many others were persecuted and murdered too. A total of some 50 million people died in that war.
Reclaiming Pride and Innocence
A sizable minority in Germany is still virulently antisemitic and enthusiastic about Nazi philosophies and racism. But, ever since WW II, the German majority and politics and church leaders have made sure that such voices will never return to power on its soil — not even a little — exemplary to all.
The German People as a whole has understood that true innocence and pride can’t stem from a denial of evil in the past but only from rejecting it.
When Muslim immigrants carried their native antisemitism (a tad less murderous than the Christian variety, since the latter believed in inferior DNA, the former would be pacified when a Jew would become Muslim.), you made clear to them that that’s a no-no in Germany. (Other European countries often racistically blame Muslim immigrants for their antisemitic part while that only can flourish because the Christian and secularized-Christian majority’s antisemitism doesn’t stop it.) Yet, now more and more Muslim-majority countries start friendly relationships with Israel, some of their populations just stap over their Jew-hatred, but others stay openly and virulently antisemitic. On both things, you can help. Some are not so anti-Jewish, to begin with, and maybe, you should team up with them first.
Germans were not forced by any outsider to make this change. On its own, it decided to mend its ways. And doing this, ironically, it has become more Jewish than any other country in the world, besides the Jewish State:
● It has supportive, ongoing, warm relationships with Israel.
● It promotes learning about the Holocaust and outlawed its denial.
● Many Gentiles, (grand)children of leading Nazis too, became Jewish.
● Jewish communities are flourishing again in Germany.
● Fighting and blocking any evil has become central to its way of thinking.
Stop Overdoing it
Maybe it takes a friend to say from the outside: don’t overdo it.
● When May comes around, or any other WW II historic date, don’t make commemorations so heavy that it could become off-putting. Stress taking responsibility for a better future over regret over a bad past. Add some jolliness to German custom which it hasn’t had enough for a long time.
● You did a wonderful job opposing and disempowering rightwing and leftwing antisemites and racists. Now try to win them over to join you. Tell them: “Your offensives berate your defensiveness which gives away your desperate but losing struggle for pride and innocence. It doesn’t work for you. Come, step into the light of progress and follow us.”
● Sometimes your government patronizes Israel with warnings and regrets about how it acts. Israel isn’t perfect. Yet, a bit more trust in the goodness of its people could be helpful. I don’t write against Germany anymore, no matter how atrocious what may happen. I trust you guys to oppose and stop evil, and improve over time. One must know whom to trust.
One Step Further
The world needs your leadership. You have become humble and committed to goodness. Those are good qualities to work with. Your ancestor’s intuition about a global potential for the German People may have been misguided, but with the right humility, your leadership might play out very well for everyone. We’ve come full circle when especially Germans can lead the world to more peace, less hatred, and especially less Jew-hatred. Two major problems could use your input:
● The Western democracies wrestle with stopping evil. They get confused between being totalitarian and stopping undemocratic forces. They are afraid to stop books from being printed, to limit Free Speech, to reject non-democrats from standing in elections, etc. Please tell them: “Freedom is not a stand-alone good. It is part of democracy, which means that everyone counts, is important, is equal before the law. Therefore, it is to save democracy, to strengthen freedom for all, to stop preachers of hate.”
● The Muslim world hasn’t had its defeat from any world war. So, their antisemitism is still largely unchallenged. Though widely different from country to country, with many differences often from region to region inside a country, for world peace and self-dignity of Islam, this must stop. No one is in a better position than Germans to travel the Muslim world and teach love for Jews. It will help them to combine democracy and Islam better in general.
One More Thing
Meanwhile, don’t forget that Germany is, like all Western democracies, still steeped in the exploitation of all oppressed groups. Most women work most of the time for free or much too little. Most workers don’t even have their basic needs comfortably covered, no matter how hard they work. People from rural areas and working-class families still feel intimidated. Many people live in fear, despair, powerlessness, for no fault of their own.
This all needs work too. Setting the word straight must include the home.