The deputy premier of Bavaria, Hubert Aiwanger, has had to answer questions about an antisemitic leaflet that has just recently been revealed, and that he appears to have written many years ago. Instead of owning up to its authorship, and insisting that he is now horrified at his earlier views, Aiwanger has chosen to deny everything, claiming that he “never was an antisemite” and that he did not write the leaflet in question. More on this scandal can be found here: “‘I Was Never An Antisemite:’ German Leader Protests His Innocence as Scandal Over Holocaust Leaflet Intensifies,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, August 31, 2023:
…In a brief media appearance in Munich, Hubert Aiwanger — the 52-year-old deputy prime minister whose conservative Free Voters (Freie Wähler) Party is the junior partner in the Bavarian coalition government with the right-wing Christian Social Union (CSU) — apologized to the victims of the Nazis and their descendants but added pointedly, “I was never an antisemite, I was never a misanthrope.”
“I never was an antisemite.” Really? But what then possessed Hubert Aiwanger, in his last year at the gymnasium (high school), to type out with his opposable thumbs a leaflet mocking the Holocaust — great stuff, positively thigh-slapping, zany laff-riot — that he then left in the lavatory at his school for the amusement of others?
Last Saturday, the Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) news outlet reported that Aiwanger was behind a typewritten leaflet mocking the Holocaust that was discovered in the lavatory of the Burkhart Gymnasium in the town of Mallersdorf-Pfaffenberg in 1987, when he was 17. According to the SZ, members of staff and former students at the school confirmed that Aiwanger had been summoned before a school disciplinary committee over the leaflet and was sanctioned as a result.
At the time there was no doubt in the minds of school authorities: Aiwanger had been the onlie begetter of the noxious leaflet. At the time, Aiwanger did not deny that he had been its author, and uncomplainingly accepted the “sanction” — unspecified — handed down by his school’s disciplinary committee.
The leaflet parodied national history competitions through demeaning references to the Holocaust. For example, the “prize” for the best answer to the question “Who is the greatest traitor to the fatherland?” was “a complimentary flight through the chimney at Auschwitz.
Similar “prizes” were offered for answers to other questions, among them a “lifelong stay in a mass grave,” “a free shot in the back of the neck,” “a ticket … to the entertainment quarter Auschwitz,” and a “night’s stay in the Gestapo cellar, then a trip to Dachau.”
A swiftly-released statement from Aiwanger denying authorship of the leaflet was followed by a confession from his brother, Helmut, claiming that he was in fact responsible….
No doubt Aiwanger persuaded his brother Helmut to take the fall for him, and to claim that he had been the real author of the leaflet; unlike Hubert Aiwanger, Helmut is neither a politician nor a government official who stands to lose his position for having written that antisemitic leaflet. But had Helmut been the real author of the leaflet, why was that not made clear at the time, when Hubert Aiwanger was hauled before his school’s disciplinary committee? Why only now?
In the interim, German media outlets have eagerly pursued the story, resulting in fresh revelations from Aiwanger’s former classmates. In an interview with broadcaster ARD, Mario Bauer, who spent two years in the same class as the deputy premier, recalled that the young Aiwanger was prone to making Nazi salutes when entering a classroom as well as imitating Hitler’s speeches. And in a separate interview with Bavarian broadcaster BR24, another classmate who chose to remain anonymous remembered Aiwanger cracking antisemitic jokes following a school visit to a concentration camp memorial.
The testimonies of three former classmates of Aiwanger are damning. According to one of them, Mario Bauer, the man who now declares “I am not an antisemite” used to make the heil-hitler salute when entering classrooms, and imitated — what fun! — Hitler’s speeches in order to amuse his fellows. Not all, apparently, were amused.
A second classmate recalled that after returning from a school visit to a concentration camp memorial, instead of being shaken or chastened by the experience, Aiwanger instead rattled off a series of antisemitic jokes.
“One evening, I was very upset when he made a joke about Jews that I remember as very repulsive,” he [the second classmate] said. “I can also remember a joke about children in Africa going hungry. It seemed to me that Hubert found this kind of humor rather delicious.”
A separate report in the SZ on Wednesday quoted a third former classmate who claimed that Aiwanger had frequently carried a copy of Hitler’s screed, “Mein Kampf,” while at school.
That’s three classmates, each with similar memories of Hubert Aiwanger’s fascination with, Nazism — demonstrated by his making the Hitler salute whenever he entered a class, imitating Hitler’s speeches, and carrying around as his sinister vademecum a copy of Mein Kampf, which he had no doubt read with great interest. And the jokes, the good-humored jokes about the Holocaust — what kind of solemn spoilsport and agelast could object to Hubert’s hilarity?
I could. You could. Voters in Bavaria could.
At his Thursday press conference, Aiwanger stressed that his “sincere apologies go first and foremost to all the victims of the Nazi regime, their families and everyone involved in the valuable work of commemoration.”
But if Aiwanger never made the Nazi salute — despite the testimony of his classmate Mario Bauer, who claims he did so every time he entered a classroom — and if he never made those jokes about the Holocaust, and if it was not he but his brother Helmut who wrote that antisemitic leaflet, why does Aiwanger need to make “sincere apologies”? Shouldn’t he be calling on his brother Helmut to make those “sincere apologies,” which are always so much better than the other kind — “insincere apologies”?
The rest of Aiwanger’s encounter with the press was devoted to his claims of innocence and his assertion that he and his party had been smeared, however. “These allegations are from 36 years ago,” he said. “I emphasize again: I did not write the pamphlet. I dissociate myself in every way from the disgusting content. I was never an antisemite, I was never a misanthrope…I can’t remember ever making a Hitler salute. I didn’t rehearse any Hitler speeches in front of the mirror. From my memory, I can neither completely deny nor confirm other allegations such as misanthropic jokes. If this happened, I sincerely apologize.”
He can’t “remember ever making a Hitler salute,” but his classmate remembers him making it every time he entered a classroom — possibly hundreds of times. Ah, the vagaries of memory!
Aiwanger doesn’t want to be caught in an outright lie, so he says that “I can neither completely deny nor confirm allegations such as misanthropic jokes.” No one is accusing him of “misanthropic jokes.” They are accusing him of antisemitic jokes; he is deliberately trying to confuse the issue.
On the question as to whether he distributed the leaflet, Aiwanger would only admit that copies had been discovered in his school bag. “I made mistakes when I was young, too,” he said. “I deeply regret if I have hurt feelings through my response to the leaflet in question or other allegations against me from my youth.”
So Aiwanger claims he didn’t write the scurrilous antisemitic leaflet. He’s allowing his brother Helmut to be the fall guy. He says nothing about whether he distributed copies of that leaflet which, he admits, were found in his schoolbag. And then he claims that whatever he did that was unacceptable — and he can’t be sure what that was, it’s all a fog — should be attributed to his youth, and therefore, he calculates, should not be held against him decades later.
Media coverage of the scandal was “now being used in a political campaign against me and my party,” he continued. “I have the impression that I am to be finished off politically and personally. A negative picture of me has been drawn in the last few days. That’s not me, that’s not Hubert Aiwanger.”
Aiwanger, a moral cretin, has decided to pretend it is only his political enemies who have come up with this story to “finish him off politically.” No one else could possibly be concerned with his antics so very long ago. He was young, he didn’t know what he was doing, and anyway, he didn’t do it, it was all his brother Helmut’s doing, and he, Hubert not Helmut, doesn’t remember ever making Hitler salutes or imitating Der Führer’s manic speeches. And if I — Hubert not Helmut — ever made some jokes about the Holocaust, I certainly didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, terribly sorry about my youthful high spirits, apparently not to everyone’s taste, and besides, as I keep saying, “I’m not a misanthrope.” Why are people so thin-skinned? Why can’t a nice fellow like Hubert Aiwanger be given a break?
Opinion polls over the last few days may offer Aiwanger some comfort, suggesting that the majority of German voters do not believe he should resign over the scandal. A survey published by the Augsburger Allgemeine revealed that 53 percent of voters supported Aiwanger remaining in his post — a figure that rose to 62 percent among respondents in Bavaria.
How much of Aiwanger’s nonsense and lies will the German public accept? Sad to say, these polls show, quite a bit. The worst part of this story is not Aiwanger’s transparent lies about his odious past, but the public’s support for him despite those lies about his unspeakable antisemitic hilarity, as set down in that leaflet and expressed in his behavior at school. After such knowledge, what forgiveness? In Germany, sad to say, much too much.