Open letter regarding the conference “Hijacking Memory”
published in German in Berliner Zeitung Online, July 6, 2022
We the invited speakers of Hijacking Memory: The Holocaust and the New Right, including both Jews and non-Jews, wish to express our gratitude to and solidarity with the conference organizers, sponsors, and hosting institution for their brave work organizing this important conference. The instrumentalization of Holocaust memory and the fight against antisemitism by right-wing actors is a grave and urgent problem, of which Putin’s claims to “de-nazify” Ukraine is only one of the latest examples. In the German context, where critical interrogations of the uses of Holocaust memory are understandably delicate, we are especially grateful to the Einstein Forum, the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung (ZfA), and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) for staging this series of varied lectures and conversations in order to confront right-wing appropriations and suggest productive paths forward. Additionally, the conference brought together a diverse audience of Germans and non-Germans, Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and Palestinians for challenging dialogue and debate, a unique event the likes of which is all too often suppressed in German contexts.
We are dismayed that the conference organizers, sponsors, and hosting institution have faced a barrage of calumnious accusations from a variety of sources, including German media and state actors. These accusations have not only distorted the conference’s actual series of lectures and discussions, which are now available on the HKW’s online video archive. They also ironically demonstrate precisely the toxic dynamic that the conference set out to understand, analyze, and counter. It is for this reason that we feel compelled to voice clearly and publicly our support for the work done by the Einstein Forum, ZfA, and HKW in producing this urgent conference and reiterate our belief that the right-wing appropriation and instrumentalization of Holocaust memory is detrimental to the struggle against antisemitism as well as the struggle against racism everywhere.