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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: December 2009

4 - The Social Democratic Party Congress of 1903 and the Case of Hans Leuß

Summary

Imagine the following scenario: A fairly well-known backbencher with a sideline in journalism launches a scathing attack on a prominent colleague within his (or her) own party. Among this backbencher's misgivings is the following: the colleague in question tried to help a former antisemite find acceptance and a role within the party. In how many ways could we interpret the thrust of this critique? Admittedly, our backbencher might be making such a big deal of this issue because he (or she) is out to get the prominent colleague in question for other reasons anyway. To be sure, how the party should deal with former antisemites may be a question with more general implications. Even so, this much is surely clear: it would make no sense to criticise somebody for supporting a former antisemite unless one assumed that this former antisemite was not really a former antisemite at all and in fact still subscribed to a problematic stance on ‘the Jewish Question’. The actual accusation, then, is this: either the prominent colleague in question is profoundly lacking in sensitivity for the still problematic nature of the not so former antisemite's attitude towards ‘the Jews’ or, even worse, the colleague in question in fact sympathises with that attitude, at least in part.

Take, then, the following occurrence. The revisionist Edmund Fischer (1864–1925) represented Zittau in the Reichstag and wrote regularly for the Sozialistische Monatshefte.

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