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Saturday, November 3, 2003

German MP Apologizes for Anti-Jewish Remarks

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German member of parliament who said Jews, like Germans, could be described as a "nation of perpetrators" apologized on Saturday after an earlier insistence he had been misunderstood failed to calm a storm of criticism.

Martin Hohmann, a conservative opposition backbencher, faced calls to resign from his own Christian Democrat party for saying some Jews had committed crimes during the Russian revolution, in the same way some Germans committed crimes during the Holocaust.

Hohmann retracted his comments on Friday but pointedly refused to apologize. On Saturday he took a humbler approach in a brief statement.

"It was not my intention to deny the uniqueness of the Holocaust. It was not my intention to characterize the Jews as a nation of perpetrators," Hohmann said.

"If a different impression has arisen, I emphatically apologize and am sorry if I have hurt feelings," he continued.

In a speech to his local constituency on October 3, German Unity Day, Hohmann said it was mainly Bolsheviks of Jewish descent who had taken part in mass executions during the 1917 Russian revolution.

"Jews were active in large numbers at the leadership level and in Cheka execution squads," Hohmann, 55, said.

"So one could with some justification describe Jews as a nation of perpetrators. That may sound frightening. But it would follow the same logic by which one describes Germans as a nation of perpetrators."

His remarks, intended to show Germans should not be seen as a "nation of perpetrators" because of the Holocaust, went unnoticed until ARD television reported them on Thursday.

Hohmann said in a statement on Friday he had been misunderstood and had not intended to harm anyone's feelings, but added the statement did not represent an apology.

Criticizing Jewish people remains a taboo in Germany, still afflicted by its guilt over the Holocaust.

Hohmann long opposed a memorial in the center of Berlin to Jews killed in the Holocaust, now under construction. He also said in a controversial 1999 speech in parliament that Germany's "time of penance" for the Holocaust should come to an end.

Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said Hohmann's remarks represented "the lowest level of disgusting anti-Semitism" and urged the CDU to take action.

© Copyright Reuters 2003.


Herrn M d B Martin Hohmann
Deutscher Bundestag
11011 Berlin

Tel.: 030 / 227 74206
Fax: 030 / 227 76725

Illustration above: (FROM DAVID IRVING'S ARCHIVE): anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda placard



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