Jews Should Have Settled in Uganda - Says German Official - The Jewish Voice
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Jews Should Have Settled in Uganda – Says German Official

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After alleging that the head of the Buchenwald concentration camp memorial in Weimar, Germany told him that Jews should have settled in Uganda instead of establishing the State of Israel, Israeli-born author and scholar on modern anti-Semitism, Tuvia Tenenbom has called for the dismissal of Volkhard Knigge.

A scholar in his own right, Knigge is a professor at the Freidrich-Shiller University in Germany, and the director of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation which oversees the administration of the memorial, permanent exhibition and museum of the remains of the Buchenwald camp.

Tenenbom, the director of the Jewish Theater of New York is also the author of a 2011 book entitled, “I Sleep in Hitler’s Room: An American Jew Visits Germany” in which he observes the shifts in modern anti-Semitism in Germany. As he recalls his experiences with varied manifestations of anti-Semitism in today’s Germany, Tenenbom includes an interview with Knigge and Daniel Gaede, an educator at Buchenwald. In a recent interview with the German regional daily paper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, Tenenbom described Knigge’s anti-Israel remarks.

“Volkhard goes on and on… He even recommends a bar in Jerusalem, one he really likes: Uganda. Free-minded people are there, he tells me. Uganda? Why Uganda? That’s an allusion to that old idea. He refers to the idea that Jews should have settled in Uganda instead of Palestine. Uganda, the bar, made a name for itself as a place that sympathizes with the Palestinian plight,” Tenenbom recalled.

“Why the director of the Buchenwald memorial gets his hands wet in the Israeli-Palestinian mess is beyond my understanding,” Tenenbom wrote.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post, Knigge sent an e-mail response to Tenenbom’s charges in which he wrote, “”Mr. Tenenbom’s description of the work carried out by the Buchenwald memorial is absurd and devoid of all reality. Mr. Tenenbom reproduces the conversations he held with me and the head of the memorial education department in distorted form. I never at any time said that Jews should have been settled in Uganda. Nor is the T-shirt from the Uganda Bar in Jerusalem a propaganda T-shirt.”

Knigge continued by saying, “The Uganda Bar is an establishment which presents artistic events and is very popular among young Israelis. I enjoyed going to that bar with my Israeli wife of many years, who is herself an artist. The bar is near her mother’s flat; they serve good humous there and play interesting music.”

Last Tuesday, Dr. Clemens Heni, a leading German academic expert on contemporary anti-Semitism in the Federal Republic wrote in an e-mail to the Post that, “It is a scandal that the head of the Buchenwald concentration camp memorial and a recipient of the Heinz-Galinski award supports the Uganda Bar in Jerusalem. This bar believes the idea is better that Jews should settle in Uganda than in the State of Israel. Knigge embodies the view of many Germans who mourn dead Jews but attack living Jews.”

Tenenbom also castigated Daniel Gaede, an educator at the Buchenwald memorial camp, describing him as being “no better” than Knigge. Tenenbom’s criticism of Gaede came as a result of his participation in anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activities.

“This man ,Gaede, spends his free time demonstrating against Israel and in support of Gaza¹s Palestinians,” wrote Tenenbom.

Of Gaede, Tenenbom wrote:”Yes, he too has the right to think whatever he wishes, and if Hamas is to his liking, so be it. But, as the book states: The story of Israel and Gaza is quite complicated, having many sides to it. But the fact, known to anybody who speaks or reads Arabic, remains this: Gaza has the world’s highest concentration of people who believe in driving the Jews into the sea. Why would anybody from Buchenwald join them?” Tenenbom addied that Gaede does not want his interview to be made public.

In response to the accusations hurled at him by Tenenbom,, Gaede wrote in response: “On account of the random and distorting depiction and interpretation of the conversation, I can’t give my consent to printing it.”

In an interview with the German media, Knigge said that” Buchenwald was not an extermination camp. There were no gas chambers here.” He told the Jerusalem Post that, “According to the international present state of research, the Buchenwald concentration camp was not among the extermination camps like the camps of the Reinhard Operation [the codename for the Nazis” extermination plan] or the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Likewise, according to the international present state of research, there were no gas chambers at the Buchenwald concentration camp or its sub-camps, and no killings were carried out with the aid of gas at the Buchenwald concentration camp, as Mr. Tenenbom claims in his book. It goes without saying that these facts do not imply that no mass murders and other atrocities took place at the Buchenwald concentration camp.”

Knigge added that “neither racists nor anti-Semites work at the Buchenwald memorial.” and Gaede did not offer a response concerning his alleged participation in pro-Palestinian activities, including those that may have involved Hamas.

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