Since the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990, Germans have debated the question of whether their country can ever be a “normal” one again. A current best-selling book—Finis Germania, by Rolf Peter Sieferle, a former left-wing intellectual who committed suicide before its publication—argues that since 1945 the German people have made scapegoats of themselves in much the same way that the Germans and other antisemites scapegoated the Jewish people. As the ancestors of contemporary Germans set the mark of ineradicable and eternal blame on the Jews for the Crucifixion, Sieferle wrote, so they have condemned themselves eternally for the holocaust and denied that they should ever be “normal” again. This thesis itself has been denounced as antisemitic and revisionist, and the newspaper Der Spiegel has removed it from its best-seller list.
This rather artificial and self-conscious crisis overlooks or ignores the fact that the Jews who gathered outside the Roman governor’s residence to urge Pontius Pilate to condemn Christ, and again at Golgotha to encourage the executioners at their work, were not “the Jews” but, relatively speaking, a very small group of Jewish persons. Similarly, the percentage of the German people directly complicit in the murder of eight million Jews by the regime was very small, though it is certainly true that antisemitism in Germany had become increasingly prevalent since the late 18th century and intensified after the Great War. There were many reasons for this, one of which was what Christian Germans perceived as the basic apartness of the Jewish people that went directly against the powerful universalist and idealistic tendencies of German thought since Kant, and a related distaste for the rationalism, materialism, and purely practical science of France and Britain. Of course the love of the Vaterland was also crucial, but the goal of German hegemony in Europe played to that sentiment, too.
As Nikolaas de Jong suggested recently at American Thinker, Angela Merkel’s ambition to import the world to Germany and for Germany to dominate Europe again is an attempt to realize former imperial ambitions by different means. So it is ironic that, in the name of protecting minorities at home, Merkel is adopting the policies that proved so perilous to them before and during the Third Reich, partly for the purpose of keeping the abnormal nation abnormal. But what could an abnormal nation possibly be? Either a nation is a nation, or it is not. A nation that dare not speak its name or call itself a nation is like a dangerously unstable chemical mixture, ready to explode at any moment. Germany deserves to be a “normal” nation again, for her own sake and possibly the future safety of the rest of Europe.