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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2016

1 - Introduction

Summary

If there were an unwritten eleventh commandment of West German history after the Holocaust, it would be that no German government or political group should kill or harm any more Jews or lend assistance to anyone else who was killing or harming Jews. Nor should a German government attack the state of Israel or aid its enemies. It was the moral minimum associated with West Germany's policy of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or “coming to terms with the Nazi past,” above all with the crimes of Nazi Germany's mass murder of six million Jews in Europe. It was a tradition more known for financial restitution than timely justice. Yet the basic moral principle of doing no more harm to the Jews animated the decisions of successive West German chancellors, including Konrad Adenauer's determination in 1952 to offer financial restitution to survivors of the Holocaust and to the state of Israel, and Ludwig Erhard's policy of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel in 1965. The tradition persisted after German unification; in 2008, German chancellor Angela Merkel declared in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, that Israel's survival was a matter of Germany's reason of state.

From its founding in 1949 until its collapse in 1989, the government of the Communist regime in East Germany adopted a very different view, one that entailed hostility to Zionism as an idea and Israel as a reality. Especially beginning in June 1967 during and after the Six-Day War, the West German radical Left also turned against Israel and produced small groups of terrorists who collaborated with Palestinian organizations in the 1970s and 1980s. This book is a history of the anti-Israeli policies and activities of the East German state and the West German radical leftist organizations. It examines the translation of anti-Zionist, at times anti-Semitic ideology into policies of support for war and terrorism aimed at the state and the citizens of the state of Israel, that is, policies that indeed caused more harm to Jews. It focuses on the years from 1967 to 1989 and especially on the early 1980s. It was then that antagonism reached its most virulent level and when both East Germany and the West German Left supported Arab state and Palestinian organization efforts to destroy the state of Israel by force of arms.

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