Der Spiegel removes ‘antisemitic’ book from bestseller list

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Finis Germania by Rolf Peter Sieferle Was withdrawn from Powerful list over right-wing extremist content

The powerful German news magazine Der Spiegel has deleted from its bestseller list a novel that among its editors had pushed up the ranks, after it was proven to be antisemitic and historically revisionist.

Finis Germania, or The End of Germany, collects the thoughts of the late historian Rolf Peter Sieferle on the position of Germany, including how it deals with the Holocaust. The book is currently at the top of Amazon.des bestseller graph and this month it entered Der Spiegels bestseller list, which most bookshops use as a basis for promotional displays, in sixth place.

Finis Germania is missing from the list in this weeks issue of the magazine. Most bookshops have followed suit and aren’t displaying the name.

Susanne Beyer, Der Spiegels deputy editor, stated Finis Germania was omitted because the magazine considered the book posthumously published by a small house, Antaios, famous for its far-right leanings to become rightwing extremist, antisemitic and historically revisionist.

Since Der Spiegel knew itself as a medium of enlightenment even on historic topics, Beyer lasted, the magazine had decided not to help advance the sales of such a book.

Beyer confessed that, in June, Finis Germania had made it on to a prestigious list of nonfiction books of the month, after her colleague Johannes Saltzwedel recommended the name.

Saltzwedel, among those jury members to the non-sales-based recommendations record printed by the broadcaster NDR and the Sddeutsche Zeitung paper, had utilized all his available 20 votes to nominate Sieferles set of brief essays. Usually, jury members divide their votes among many books.

Finis Germania, as it appears on the Antaios website. Photograph:

Saltzwedel, who has since resigned from the prosecution, stated he had consciously tried to bring an extremely provocative book of contemporary and historical translation to the debate.

Jo Glanville, manager of the freedom of speech group English PEN, criticised Der Spiegels decision. This can be an embarrassing move for Der Spiegel. The book of the standing of bestselling titles is certainly a statement of fact, she explained. This omission risks undermining the actors ability and reputation. Censorship can not be a successful tool for handling the far right.

Der Spiegels editor, Klaus Brinkbumer, stated: Our decision was welcomed by a great deal of readers and criticised by some (and criticised by a few other media and digital newsletters).

I know the criticism because a bestseller lists goal needs to be to be objective and data-based, needless to say. Inside this very singular instance, and with the cases history, the Spiegel standing would have been regarded as another recommendation. It’s an antisemitic book, so we felt a responsibility.

Critics have likened Finis Germania into the writings of deeply reactionary German ethnic declinists of their early 20th century, such as Oswald Spengler or Ernst Jnger.

The political scientist Herfried Mnkler stated the book was deeply impregnated with antisemitic ideas, while Die Zeit known as it obnoxious.

Others, for example, philosopher Rdiger Safranski, have defended Sieferles book as a work in the night genre pursued by poets such as Edward Young or Heinrich Heine, describing it as very pessimistic, very melancholy, but also brilliantly phrased.

Sieferle, who printed historic works with a lot of Germanys most respected publishing houses and informed the government on environmental policy, took his life in September 2016. Finis Germania paints a doom-laden picture of his homelands future.

The writer mounts Germany in several tragic peoples that also comprises the Russians and the Jews cultural groups that, since he writes, are more sharply marked by the paradoxes of historic processes than the Anglo-Saxons, who are resistant to history such as a well-greased boot into water.

At the first half the 104-page booklet, Sieferle rejects the Sonderweg concept of German history which argues that Germany discovered a route from aristocracy to democracy just like any other in world history since entente propaganda.

In the second half, Finis Germania takes a more cynical turn. Sieferle in effect frees the Jewish people of devoting their very own historic guilt the German people after the Holocaust. He writes: The Jews guilt for the crucifixion of the messiah was never recognized by them. The Germans, who reevaluate their merciless guilt, have to disappear from the surface of real history.

Sieferle goes on to explain Auschwitz as the last myth in a thoroughly rationalised world. This is an extremely controversial passage in a country where Holocaust denial remains punishable by law, even if the book then proceeds to define a fantasy as a truth beyond discussion rather than an untruth.

The historian Gustav Seibt, a book critic for Sddeutsche Zeitung, told German radio : I can discover little else [from the book] besides the age-old antisemitic topos of Jewish vengefulness and mercilessness. And not a new idea it is not a meaningful provocation, but a denigration in a really old and sinister method.

On its website, Antaios stated the scandal surrounding the book has proven that none of those claqueurs has ever read the book at all.

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