Historian on Nazi ancestors: “Robert Habeck is transparent about family history” | EUROtoday

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Nazi previous
The minister and his Nazi ancestors: “Habeck is transparent about his family history”

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) on his delegation trip to Beijing

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) on his delegation journey to Beijing

© Sebastian Christoph Gollnow / DPA

Late, however at the least: After Green Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck spoke for the primary time about his Nazi ancestors, a historian is asking for extra honesty within the debate concerning the previous.

The “Bunte” newspaper described it as a “dark family secret”, which Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck informed in an interview: His ancestors have been main National Socialists, his great-grandfather was thought of a good friend of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. After the publication, there was criticism: Habeck ought to have spoken about his ancestors earlier. We spoke about this with Jens-Christian Wagner, the director of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau Dora Memorials Foundation.

Mr Wagner, Robert Habeck lately revealed that his great-grandfather and grandfather have been main Nazis. Surprised?
Why? He apparently introduced it up in an interview of his personal accord. If some individuals are actually speaking a few scandal, I feel that’s utterly exaggerated. Robert Habeck is clear about his household historical past – and, in my view, has drawn the proper conclusions from it. Otherwise, you possibly can't maintain anybody liable for the actions of their ancestors. But you possibly can maintain everybody liable for how they react to it.

The accusations are primarily aimed toward the truth that Habeck has solely now spoken out. Isn't there one thing to that?
I can perceive this a part of the criticism. From the skin, one would possibly assume that he ought to have made his ancestors a subject earlier. But such a choice is a really private course of that’s completely different for everybody. For instance, I’ve talked about the truth that each of my grandfathers have been Nazis in passing at conferences and haven’t introduced it up brazenly.

After all, you stated it. And you aren’t the Vice Chancellor.
But I run a Nazi memorial. Ultimately, we’re all known as upon to critically look at German historical past – and our family historical past as effectively. For me, the joy a few Vice Chancellor having ancestors with Nazi ties exhibits one factor above all: there’s a skew in our tradition of remembrance.

What imbalance?
The majority of individuals now not deny the Nazi crimes. But they nonetheless imagine that their very own households have been primarily victims and never perpetrators. This distorted self-image has been confirmed by many research.

Jens-Christian Wagner, professor of history at Jena University, has been director of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation since October 2020

Jens-Christian Wagner, professor of historical past at Jena University, has been director of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation since October 2020

© Markus Schreiber / AP

But the bulk doesn’t have an SS brigade chief as a great-grandfather like Habeck.
That's proper. Walter Granzow, that was the identify of his great-grandfather, was positively a high-ranking Nazi official as a brigade chief of the SS, NSDAP Prime Minister in Mecklenburg-Schwerin and member of the Reichstag…

… and was a good friend of Goebbels to Hitler’s internal circle of management?
I can’t choose that. His friendship with Goebbels, which was evidently additionally based mostly on household ties, is definitely outstanding. And Habeck's grandfather Kurt Granzow, as a Obersturmführer within the SA, was definitely not only a follower.

Do you assume that the controversy about Nazi previous receives a brand new increase one yr earlier than the eightieth anniversary of the top of the conflict?
I wish to see this, particularly with regard to the politically charged query of what the Nazi period has to do with us. The former AfD chairman Alexander Gauland described the Nazi crimes as “bird shit” in 1,000 years of German historical past. And the EU's high candidate Maximilian Krah launched a video final summer season wherein he stated one thing like: Find out what nice issues grandma, grandpa, great-grandma and great-grandpa did, as a result of they weren't criminals…

Which is true should you don’t outline membership within the SS as one thing legal.
Correct. As is well-known, Krah doesn’t routinely think about each SS man a legal. This bare historic revisionism of the AfD, which relativizes Nazi crimes: that is still the true scandal.