Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Marcel Reich-Ranicki and the Knesset

The Israeli Knesset contains some who advocate boycotting the German President´s forthcoming address, should he attempt to deliver it in German.

They believe that blame for Nazi crimes somehow attaches to the language spoken by the perpetrators.

Marcel Reich-Ranicki, the German literary critic, has attacked this foolishness. He describes the claim that German was discredited by its association with the Nazi´s as "beschaemend und unbegreiflich" (disgraceful and incomprehensible) and "blanker Unsinn" (sheer nonsense).

Reich-Ranicki´s remarks should help embarrass the Knesset´s critics into silence. He is one of the few people alive who can combine ordinary common sense with the personal moral authority to speak out effectively on this issue. Why? Reich-Ranicki, as well as being a lover of the German language, is himself a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto. That shouldn´t make a difference. But, even 60 years on, it still does.

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