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At the end of the book, it emerges that the critic is not dead at all, and his wife notes that 'getting himself killed would be out of character'.

Thursday May 30, 2002


German author hit by Holocaust allegation

John Hooper
in Berlin

A LEADING German newspaper yesterday announced that it had abandoned plans to serialise a new novel by one of the country's most celebrated authors, saying it had concluded that the work was an anti-semitic "document of hate". The explosive claim - vehemently denied by the author - stoked an already impassioned debate over whether, following advances by the far right elsewhere in Europe, anti-Jewish feeling was again on the rise in Germany. There have been claims that one of Germany's biggest political movements, the pro-business Free Democrat Party, is being taken over by anti-semitic far-right populists.

The latest row centres on Tod eines Kritikers (Death of a Critic), by Martin Walser, to be published in the summer. A contemporary of Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass, Mr Walser is regarded as one of the leading intellectual figures to have emerged in post-war Germany. But in an open letter to his readers, the publisher of the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the book included "the full repertoire of anti-semitic cliches".

Frank Schirrmacher said the book "toys with the fiction of finishing off what the Nazis did not accomplish".

But in a radio interview, Mr Walser said: "I would never, never, never have thought that this book would now be set in the context of the Holocaust.

David Irving comments:

YES, the literary assassination of Mr Walser, whom I remember sitting next me on the select Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) panel in Cologne, discussing the Schlock-TV mini-series Holocaust in November 1982, was inevitable ever since he publicly criticised the use of Auschwitz and the Jewish tragedy as a bludgeon to extort billions of dollars from innocent modern Germans and their supine government, to benefit greedy and wholly undeserving organisations of the international Holocaust industry.

Believe me, I would never have written it in that case." However, the author has stirred controversy in the past. He once described Auschwitz as a "moral cudgel", and earlier this month the German chancellor Gerhard Schröder challenged him to a public debate over his ideas on the rise of the Third Reich.

Mr Schirrmacher, one of the few people to have read the not-yet-published Tod eines Kritikers, said it dealt with the apparent murder of a Jewish critic. He said the victim was transparently modelled on the distinguished literary reviewer Marcel Reich-Ranicki.

At the end of the book, it emerges that the critic is not dead at all, and his wife notes that "getting himself killed would be out of character". "This is the sentence that finally rendered me speechless", said Mr Schirrmacher. "Marcel Reich-Ranicki was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.

"I cannot help but find this sentence, which turns the propensity for either surviving or 'getting oneself killed' into personality traits, nothing short of horrifying".

Related items on this website:

  Dossier on the possible origins of anti-Semitism
  Abraham Foxman ("holocaust survivor," Anti-Defamation League) admits that he and the Jews have used the Holocaust as a bludgeon to extort money
  Noted German writer's book about murder of Jewish critic labeled 'document of hate'
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