January 30, 2005


Grim Tales: Want to get scared? Ignore what you see. Believe only what you read. (Denis Boyles, 1/28/05, National Review)

Auschwitz adds to U.S.-EU friction

This headline, on a Judy Dempsey item in the International Herald Tribune, is this week's ultimate in bizarre, out-of-reality reporting. According to Dempsey, "the attendance of Vice President Dick Cheney is a bitter disappointment" to "prominent Poles" — who apparently represent the entire EU — because Cheney is not Bush. After all, writes Dempsey, "The Auschwitz ceremony will include President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Horst Köhler of Germany, President Jacques Chirac of France and President Moshe Katzav of Israel." As evidence of how "Auschwitz adds to US-EU Friction," Dempsey quotes "veteran intellectuals," including MEP Bronislaw Geremek: "I would like to see the president of the United States attend the...Auschwitz commemoration." Who wouldn't? But why? Says Geremek, a historian, "[I]t should be said that the Holocaust helped to create the European Union. It was the answer to the totalitarian ideology created on European soil, such as Auschwitz."

A digression: I admire Prof. Geremek. But it should not be said that the Holocaust helped to create the European Union. In fact, the European Union owes its provenance to Walther Funk and other architects of Hitler's New Order, not to Auschwitz. Historian Mark Mazower, in Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century, claims that the Funk plan "...bore more than a passing resemblance to the post-war Common Market. The 'New Order' beloved of the youthful technocrats at the Reich Ministry of Economics involved the economic integration of western Europe and the creation of a tariff-free zone." Eugen Weber, writing a few years ago in The Atlantic (here, if you're a subscriber), agrees: "The European Union, its attendant bureaucracy, even the euro, all appear to stem from the Berlin-Vichy collaboration." To the extent that France did more than its share to fill the concentration camps for their partners, the Germans, and that their mutual hatred of Jews brought them both closer together, Geremek may have a point.

Of course, the real story about Bush, Poland, and the EU was not to be seen in the IHT. It was in Die Zeit, where Poland's Wladyslaw Bartoszewski explained the reasons for Polish loyalty toward the US, and in Brussels, where, according to Handelsblatt, Polish representatives didn't take very kindly to leftwing British and German efforts to spare German feelings by attempting to identify Auschwitz as a "Polish camp" in the official EU resolution commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation. The issue blossomed into a Brussels-sized furor, according to the EU Observer. Schroder had to call off his MEPs, who finally agreed to admit that "Nazis" had built the camps.

Meanwhile, Davids Medienkritik has collected a bunch of clips from the German press in which the Auschwitz-Abu Ghraib connection is finally explained. A sample, from TAZ: "The torture scandal of the US army in Abu Ghraib shows that sadism has a place in civilized nations, while Guantánamo Bay proves that the principle of the concentration camp...today is upheld with pride by the leading nation of the civilized world."

Now there's an artificial reality any German can uphold with pride.

It would be worse that the EU represented a triumph of secular statism were it not for the fact that therein lie the seeds for its very rapid self-destruction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 30, 2005 8:33 PM

At some point the US is going to have to look the Old Europeans in the eye and say like Paulie Cicero in 'Goodfellas' when Henry Hill got arrested for drug dealing after Paulie expressly ordered him not to get involved,'Now, I'm going to have to turn my back on you.'

Posted by: Bart at January 30, 2005 8:47 PM