The German right-wing party NPD and other right-wing organizations speak of the bombing of Dresden and other German cities during World War II as “Bombenholocaust”, meaning Holocaust by bombs. This is meant to equate those bombings with the Shoah in order to diminish the singularity of this crime against humanity and absolve the perpetrators of it.
Equating The Bombing Of German Cities With The Holocaust
Secondary antisemitism is the hatred of Jews not despite but because of Auschwitz. The motivation is to propose an alternative memorial culture that focuses on German victims instead of German crimes during World War II because the memory of the Shoah is seen as negative for a revival of German nationalism. This relativization of the Holocaust is therefore part of an antisemitic narrative that purports Jewish power over German memorial culture.
The fight against antisemitism includes the memorial of the Shoah as well as German responsibility for this crime. While there is a controversy among historians about the legal and moral issues concerning the bombing of civilian areas during World War II, to equate it with the Holocaust is clearly meant to diminish the severity of the latter and work on a reversal of victims and perpetrators. The aim is to strengthen nationalistic attitudes and act against supposed Jewish influences on German memorial culture.
A Germany that would equate the victims of the Allied bombings with the victims of the Holocaust would become a very inhospitable place for Jewish individuals and communities.
Some Germans are weary of the memory of the Shoah. Its memory, however, is fundamental, not only as the reverence to the victims, but also as a means to defend liberal principles such as equality in front of the law and the respect of human dignity as the basis for all state actions. The narrative that focuses on German victims to diminish Jewish victims in memorial culture is part of an ethno-nationalist project directed against minorities, democratic institutions and the rule of law.
An honest debate about the British and American bombings of Dresden and other German cities should include the fact that this happened after the Nazis had already attacked civilian centers such as London and Coventry with their aircraft during “the Blitz”. The number of victims, especially those of the Dresden bombings, had been inflated by Nazi-propaganda and was later used in GDR’s anti-American propaganda.
Sekundärer Antisemitismus (article by Philipp Gessler about “secondary antisemitism”, featuring the NPD’s usage of the term “Bombenholocaust”, published on Novembar 21, 2006, on the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung website)
Lexikon: Holocaustrelativierung (explanation of the term “Holocaustrelativierung” – relativization of the Holocaust, posted on the website of a German NGO that fights against antisemitism, racism and xenophobia )