Rebuilding of ‘evil’ church sparks row
Destroyed by the Royal Air Force in 1945 and then obliterated in 1968 by officials in communist East Germany, Potsdam’s Garrison Church (Garnisonkirche) is set to rise again … re-igniting memories of Germany’s Nazi past.
The BBC reports that plans to rebuild the church in which Hitler was “legitimised” have divided the country and sparked a row about how the nation deals with its past. (The picture above shows Hitler outside the church).
The Garnisonkirche was the Baroque Protestant parish and regimental church of the Prussian royal family. Bach played the organ there and the kings of Prussia, including Frederick the Great, were buried there.
On 23 March 1933, the Nazis used the church as part of an organised propaganda drive which transformed Hitler from someone the elite saw “as a vulgar little man into someone they respected”. The Day of Potsdam, as it became known, opened the way for him to take all power.
Says Maximilian Dalichow who was brought up in Potsdam and opposes the building work:
For me, this church is a symbol of evil. It’s the place where the Third Reich was born. It’s where it came into being.
On the Day of Potsdam in 1933, Hitler, the leader of the biggest party in the newly-elected German parliament, bowed, apparently humbly, to the president of the country, Paul von Hindenburg. The Nazi leader, dressed in a civilian tail coat rather than a military uniform, shook Hindenburg’s hand in a grand gesture of false humility which was filmed for mass distribution.
Meanwhile, we learn that a Catholic priest in Slovakia is at the centre of row after claiming that Jews were responsible for the hatred against them that untimately led to the Holocaust, and that Slovakia enjoyed a “freedom period” whilst it was an ally of Nazi Germany.
Fr Emil Floris was officiating for Mass commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Slovak national uprising against Nazi Germany in Slovakia when he blamed the Jews for the hatred against them during the Holocaust. He warned that the same thing could happen again to the Roma (Gypsies).
In a televised sermon Floris said:
From all over Europe, they took the Jews to concentration camps. And do you know why? Because there was hatred toward them, but those who are hated often do it to themselves. Now there is a risk for some Roma …
The priest added that the period Slovakia was an ally of Nazi Germany was a “freedom period.” And he contended that Slovakian fascists during the Holocaust didn’t know what was going on behind the barbed wire. They said they were just obeying orders, and the president at the time, Jozef Tiso, a Roman Catholic Priest, was unable to do anything to help.
The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism in Europe explains that recent election of neo-Nazi leaders in Slovakia has combined with a movement to rehabilitate the reputation of the war-time regime of Tiso, who led the country as a satellite of Nazi Germany and helped them commit atrocities against the Jews. He was hanged for his war crimes in 1947, but not very effectively. He died of suffocation rather than a broken neck.
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia’s spokesman Lucia Kollárová said the priest’s comments were
In direct conflict with the official memorandums of the Catholic Church.
The part of the Floris speech relating to the Holocaust and Jews
Contains false and anti-Semitic cliches, relativises the suffering of the Jewish population at the time of the Slovak State, and insults and belittles the memory of the victims.
Hat tip: Antony Niall (Slovakian report).