BONN (Feb. 9)
The East German Communist regime is campaigning to end the use of the world “Holocaust” as a synonym for Nazi atrocities because, according to the official weekly Weltbuehne published in East Berlin, it originated in that sense in the capitalist West as a means of depicting Nazi crimes against Jews as a unique event, unparalleled by other war crimes.
The East German leadership and its media have long played down crimes against Jews as such while emphasizing atrocities committed by the Nazis against Communists and against the Soviet Union. The Democratic Republic refused to screen the American-made television series “Holocaust” in 1982. It was shown twice on West German television which can be seen in most parts of East Germany.
According to Weltbuehne, that series brought the word “Holocaust” into the popular lexicon, even in East Germany, though it did not penetrate East German history textbooks. The word “artificially places a language barrier between the truth about the (Nazi) past and the ability to understand it, ” the Communist weekly stated.
Opinion polls in West Germany immediately after “Holocaust” was screened indicated it had a shattering impact on German indifference towards Nazi atrocities. But a later survey showed the impact quickly wore off. When Israel invaded Lebanon in June, 1982, images were reversed and many West German commentators on the State-owned television accused the Israelis of behaving like the Nazis.