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One in five Germans think the Holocaust gets too much attention

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TOBY AXELROD

The surveys, released on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, come amid warnings. Reflecting on the Nazi’s crimes was a priority in post-war West Germany, but “this consensus is crumbling”, Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said on Sunday on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“If we don’t take countermeasures now, our democracy could be seriously endangered,” Schuster said, urging greater commitment to Holocaust education.

Germans mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – as well as other significant dates in Holocaust history throughout the year – with a wide range of programmes, both official and private.

And this is appropriate, said 45% of the 2 052 Germans surveyed by the Yougov Institute on January 22-23 for the German news agency dpa. But while this survey found that 24% of respondents thought the topic should get more attention, 22% felt the opposite.

A full 56% of those who identified with the far-right, anti-immigrant party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), agreed that Holocaust remembrance is given too much weight. In recent years, prominent AfD politicians have decried Berlin’s Holocaust memorial as “a monument of shame”, and called the Third Reich “a mere bird-sh** in more than 1 000 years of successful German history.”

AfD has become a challenger to Germany’s mainstream political parties since it was founded in 2013.

Even more stark results came in a survey, released on Friday, of 1 018 people by the polling institute Infratest for the Deutsche Welle news agency, which found that 72% of AfD supporters agreed that Germans had done their remembrance duty, and should stop obsessing over Nazi crimes. Supporters of the Green Party were the least likely to support that view, at 13%.

Thirty-seven percent of all respondents said it was time to cease browbeating, representing a steady rise from 26% in 2018 to 33% in 2019.

On the other hand, 55% said they were fine with the current culture of remembrance, while 17% found that greater efforts should be made. Seventy five percent said a visit to a concentration camp memorial should be required by all schools.

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