While the German President, Joachim Gauck, is giving Turkey unsolicited suggestions about how to deal with the Armenian genocide, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in her speech on the 70th anniversary of the
While the German President, Joachim Gauck, is giving Turkey unsolicited suggestions about how to deal with the Armenian genocide, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in her speech on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau concentration camp excludes the remembrance of the Romani people and of the “antisocial” members of society persecuted and murdered during the Nazi regime by not mentioning these groups of victims. This demonstrates that we, in Germany, need Gauck’s suggestions as much as Turkey does, and I accept them and use the term “seizure of power” (Machtergreifung) to think about how we talk about our history.
Language usage rules and horror
It seems to me, in my unsystematic, non-representative day-to-day perceptions, that language usage rules for the past are less controversial than those for the present, although every child knows that understanding the past defines the present. An example of how both the understanding of the past and its effects on the present can correspondingly change is provided by the introduction, in 1949, of the fundamental right to asylum in Germany as a consequence of the Holocaust, and its abolition, in 1992, two years after reunification with the GDR. To be brief, I recently read a newspaper article in which the term “seizure of power”, without speech marks, was used in the same way as it had been used up until about 30 years ago. I was appalled. A search with Google revealed that the term is still common usage.