Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
German Movie 'Our Mothers, Our Fathers':
Israelis Are Also Responisble for the War Crimes of their Leaders
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 3, 2014
Uri Avnery, as usual, subtly warns the Israelis
not to succumb to the propaganda of the Zionist, Apartheid state. He's
warning them of the consequences of their brutality, war crimes, and crimes
against humanity, which they have been inflicting on the Palestinian people
and other peoples since 1948.
Their Mothers, Their Fathers
the summer of 1941. Five youngsters – three young men and two young women
– meet in a bar and spend a happy evening, flirting with each other,
getting drunk, dancing forbidden foreign dances. They have grown up
together in the same neighborhood of Berlin.
It is a happy time.
The war started by Adolf Hitler a year and a half before has progressed
incredibly well. In this short time Germany has conquered Poland, Denmark,
Norway, Holland, Belgium and France. The Wehrmacht is invincible. The
Führer is a genius, “the greatest military strategist of all times”.
So starts the film that is running now in our cinemas – a unique
historical document. It goes on for five breathless hours, and continues
to occupy the thoughts and emotions of its viewers for days and weeks.
Basically it is a film made by Germans for Germans.
The German title says it all: “Our Mothers, Our
Fathers”. The purpose is to answer the questions troubling many of
the young Germans of today: Who were our parents and grandparents? What
did they do during the terrible war? What did they feel? What was their
part in the horrible crimes committed by the Nazis?
questions are not asked in the film explicitly. But every German viewer is
compelled to ask them. There are no clear answers. The film does not probe
the depths. Rather, it shows a broad panorama of the German people in
wartime, the various sections of society, the different types, from the
war criminals, through the passive onlookers, to the victims.
Holocaust is not the center of events, but it is there all the time, not
as a separate event but woven into the fabric of reality.
FILM starts in 1941, and therefore cannot answer the question which, to my
mind, is the most important one: How could a
civilized nation, perhaps the most cultured in the world, elect a
government whose program was blatantly criminal?
Hitler was never elected by an absolute majority in free elections. But he
came very close to it. And he easily found political partners who were
ready to help him form a government.
Some said at the time that
it was a uniquely German phenomenon, the expression of the particular
German mentality, formed during centuries of history. That theory has been
discredited by now. But if so, can it happen in any other country?
Can it happen in our own country?
Can it happen today?
What are the circumstances that make it
The film does not answer these question. It leaves
the answers to the viewer.
The young heroes of the film do not ask.
They were ten years old when the Nazis came to power, and for them the
“Thousand-Year Reich” (as the Nazis called it) was the only reality they
knew. It was the natural state of things. That’s where the plot starts.
TWO OF the youngsters were soldiers. One had already seen war and was
wearing a medal for valor. His brother had just been called up. The third
young man was a Jew. Like the two girls, they are full of youthful
exuberance. Everything was looking fine.
The war? Well, it can’t
last much longer, can it? The Führer himself has promised that by Christmas
the Final Victory will be won. The five young people promise each other to
meet again at Christmas. No one has the slightest premonition of the
terrible experiences in store for each of them.
the scene, I could not help thinking about my former class. A few weeks
after the Nazis’ assumption of power, I became a pupil in the first class of
high school in Hanover. My schoolmates were the same age as the heroes of
the film. They would have been called up in 1941, and because it was an
elitist school, all of them would probably have become officers.
Half way through the first year in high schooI, my family took me to
Palestine. I never met any of my schoolmates again, except one (Rudolf
Augstein, the founder of the magazine Der Spiegel, whom I met years after
the war and who became my friend again.) What happened to all the others?
How many survived the war? How many were maimed? How many had become war
In the summer of 1941 they were probably as happy as the
youngsters in the film, hoping to be home by Christmas.
brothers were sent to the Russian front, an unimaginable hell. The film
succeeds in showing the realities of war, easily recognizable by anyone who
has been a soldier in combat. Only that this combat was a hundredfold worse,
and the film shows it brilliantly.
The older brother, a lieutenant,
tries to shield the younger one. The bloodbath that goes on for four more
years, day after day, hour after hour, changes their character. They become
brutalized. Death is all around them, they see horrible war crimes, they are
commanded to shoot prisoners, they see Jewish children butchered. In the
beginning they still dare to protest feebly, then they keep their doubts to
themselves, then they take part in the crimes as a matter of course.
One of the young women volunteers for a frontline military
hospital, witnesses the awful agonies of the wounded, denounces a Jewish
fellow nurse and immediately feels remorse, and in the end is raped by
Soviet soldiers near Berlin, as were almost all German women in the areas
conquered by the revenge-thirsty Soviet army.
might be more interested in the fate of the Jewish boy, who took part in the
happy feast at the beginning. His father is a proud German, who cannot
imagine Germans doing the bad things threatened by Hitler. He does not dream
of leaving his beloved fatherland. But he warns his son about having sexual
relations with his Aryan girlfriend. “It’s against the law!”
the son tries to flee abroad, “aided” by a treacherous Gestapo officer, he
is caught, sent to the death camps, succeeds in escaping on the way, joins
the Polish partisans (who hate the Jews more than the Nazis) and in the end
Perhaps the most tragic figure is the second girl, a
frivolous, carefree singer who sleeps with a senior SS officer to further
her career, is sent with her troupe to entertain the troops at the front,
sees what is really happening, speaks out about the war, is sent to prison
and executed in the last hours of the war.
BUT THE fate of the
heroes is only the skeleton of the film. More important are the little
moments, the daily life, the portrayal of the various characters of German
For example, when a friend visits the apartment where the
Jewish family had been living, the blond Aryan woman who was allotted the
place complains about the state of the apartment from which the Jews had
been fetched and sent to their death: “They didn’t even clean up before they
left! That’s how the Jews are, dirty people!”
Everyone lives in
constant fear of being denounced. It is a pervading terror, which nobody can
escape. Even at the front, with death staring at them in the face, a hint of
doubt about the Final Victory uttered by a soldier is immediately silenced
by his comrades. “Are you crazy?”
Even worse is the deadening atmosphere of
universal agreement. From the highest officer to the lowliest maid,
everybody is repeating endlessly the propaganda slogans of the regime. Not
out of fear, but because they believe every word of the all-pervading
propaganda machine. They hear nothing else.
It is immensely
important to understand this. In the totalitarian
state, fascist or
communist or whatever (racist-Zionist
- added by the Editor), only the very few free spirits can withstand the
endlessly repeated slogans of the government. Everything else sounds unreal,
abnormal, crazy. When the Soviet army was already fighting its way through
Poland and nearing Berlin, people were unwavering in their belief in the
Final Victory. After all, the Führer says so, and the Führer is never wrong.
The very idea is preposterous.
It is this element of the
situation that is difficult for many people to grasp. A citizen under a
criminal totalitarian regime becomes a child. Propaganda becomes for him
reality, the only reality he knows. It is more effective than even the
THIS IS the answer to the question we cannot abstain from
asking again and again: How was the Holocaust possible? It was planned by a
few, but it was implemented by hundreds of thousands of Germans, from the
engine driver of the train to the officials who shuffled the papers. How
could they do it?
They could, because it was the natural thing to
do. After all, the Jews were out to destroy Germany. The communist hordes
were threatening the life of every true Aryan. Germany needed more living
space. The Führer has said so.
the film is so important, not only for the Germans, but for every people,
including our own.
carelessly play with ultra-nationalist, fascist, racist, or other
anti-democratic ideas don’t realize that they are
playing with fire. They cannot even imagine what it means to live in a
country that tramples on human rights, that despises democracy, that
oppresses another people, that demonizes minorities. The film shows
what it is like: hell.
FILM does not hide that the Jews were the main victims of the Nazi Reich,
and nothing comes near their sufferings. But the second victim was the
German people, victims of themselves.
Many people insist that after
this trauma, Jews cannot behave like a normal people, and that therefore
Israel cannot be judged by the standards of normal states. They are
This is true for the German people, too. The very need
to produce this unusual film proves that the Nazi specter is still haunting
the Germans, that they are still traumatized by their past.
Angela Merkel came this week to see Binyamin Netanyahu, the whole world
laughed at the photo of our Prime Minister’s finger inadvertently painting a
moustache on the Kanzlerin’s face.
But the relationship between our
two traumatized peoples is far from a joke.