Holocaust as an object of fun
Werner Renz is poking fun of Hannah Arendt
Von Conrad Taler
Bremen (Weltexpresso) – What legitimacy does a man who considers the Auschwitz trial redundant have to expose Hannah Arendt’s book “Eichmann in Jerusalem” to public ridicule, as Robert Probst informs us in the January 10 feature section of the Süddeutsche Zeitung?
One still finds it hard to believe how condescendingly and entirely in the spirit of the trivializers of neo-Nazism, the man has gone on about the meaning and purpose of the trials of Nazi criminals. If one asks whether there was a need for punishment in German society with regard to the Nazi perpetrators and whether legal peace would have been endangered without the punishment of the “henchmen,” then there can only be a clear “no” to that.
Werner Renz wrote this in 2001 in the newsletter of the Frankfurt Fritz Bauer Institute, where he was head of documentation at the time. Now he calls Hannah Arendt’s book, in which the whole horror of the criminal world of Nazism comes to life, a “wonder bag.” The accused SS perpetrators had behaved impeccably as citizens of the Federal Republic and the danger of relapse into state-commanded criminal behavior had existed just as little with them as the suspicion of a lack of loyalty to the law vis-à-vis the democratic state. Obviously, the reviewer of the Süddeutsche Zeitung had no idea about all this, otherwise he would probably have refrained from remarking that Renz had done a “commendable job” with his analysis, which helped to classify the controversy of 1963. It is of particular importance, he says, because the familiar phrase about the “banality of evil” still plays a major role today.
With respect, how meritorious can the work of a man on Hannah Arendt be who did not shrink from speaking of “criminal law theater” in connection with the Auschwitz trial, as the legal philosopher Gerd Roellecke did before him, who had accused the initiator of the trial, the Hessian Attorney General Fritz Bauer, of having intentions alien to the law in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
How meritorious can be the work of a man who has repeatedly taken sides with the defendants in the Auschwitz trial? In 2012, for example, he wrote that it would be reasonable to assume in favor of the Nazi perpetrators that they had sporadically had a guilty conscience. Almost all of them had been of the opinion that they would not be held criminally responsible. In this respect, Fritz Bauer might not have been free of doubts of conscience towards them, Renz claims without proof.
All this has been known for a long time and Robert Probst could have known it. The former examining magistrate in the Auschwitz trial, Heinz Düx, discovered passages in an essay by Renz that could be seen as a dismantling and disavowal of Fritz Bauer. Now Werner Renz has pounced on a book by Holocaust survivor Hannah Ahrend and ranks it among the fun items sold at fun fairs. He calls it a ” wonder bag,” because everyone could pull out of it what suited him at the moment.
Header photo: Auschwitz ©Lasma Artmane (Unsplash)