MP ousted over anti-Semitic speech
14 November 2003, BERLIN - In a dramatic vote, Germany's opposition Christian Democrats on Friday expelled a member of parliament over remarks widely condemned as being anti-Semitic.
14 November 2003
BERLIN - In a dramatic vote, Germany's opposition Christian Democrats on Friday expelled a member of parliament over remarks widely condemned as being anti-Semitic.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voted to strip Martin Hohmann of membership of the party faction of the Bundestag, party leaders announced. The move came after Hohmann alleged that Jews had special responsibility for killings during the Russian revolution.
A total of 195 CDU members voted in favour of kicking Hohmann out, while 28 voted against, 16 abstained and 4 votes were invalid. At least two-thirds of CDU Bundestag faction of 248 members had to vote in favour for the expulsion to be valid.
"The result is clear but it shows that many party colleagues found this step difficult," said CDU leader Angela Merkel who appeared both relieved but also drained by tension surrounding the vote.
A failure to remove Hohmann - the first time the CDU has has taken such a move in the post-war era - would have seriously damaged Merkel's standing.
But as Phoenix news TV said in a commentary, the vote is still a "heavy setback" for Merkel given the high number of no votes and members who abstained.
"It was a tough day for us all," said Merkel who declined to answer further questions.
CDU Secretary General Laurenz Meyer said some members had trouble voting against Hohmann because they liked him as a person despite his views. "This was not against (Merkel)," he insisted.
Deputy CDU faction leader Wolfgang Bosbach was blunter and accused Hohmann of making "absurd political comparisons" which had no place in the CDU.
Hohmann's expulsion came despite a revolt against the move by the party's small nationalist wing.
In a last-ditch bid to win back his party, Hohmann sent an email to all CDU members begging to be forgiven and a large ad backing Hohmann was published by CDU members in the influential Frankfurther Allgemeine newspaper.
But even though Hohmann has been kicked off the CDU faction he will remain in parliament as an independent member until his term expires in 2006. This deeply worries some CDU members who fear he will become even more outspoken when removed from party discipline.
The Hohmann debacle comes just as the CDU has been celebrating soaring opinion poll ratings of around 50 percent, compared with a grim standing of about 25 percent for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD).
The crisis began after a little noticed 3 October German Unity Day speech by Hohmann was picked up by the German media earlier this month.
Hohmann referred to Jews in the speech as "a perpetrator nation" for their role in the Russian Revolution while arguing that neither Germans nor Jews could be saddled with collective guilt for events such as World War II or the revolution.
"We can, with certain justification, view the millions of dead in the (Russian) revolution's first phase and ask about the guilt of the Jews," he said.
A former policeman and army major, Hohmann said it was clear a large number of Jews were active at the command level for the execution squads of the dreaded Soviet secret police, the Cheka.
"For this reason one could speak of the Jews with a certain justification as a perpetrator nation. This may sound horrible but it follows the same logic as those who describe the Germans as a perpetrator nation," he added.
Hohmann went on to note that Bolshevik Jews had cut their ties to their faith just as Nazis later severed links with Christianity.
He concluded his speech by arguing that in the final analysis it was not fair to describe either Jews or Germans as a perpetrator nation but rather those without religious beliefs.
"Those without God with their godless ideologies were the real perpetrators of the last, bloody century," said Hohmann.
Waves caused by the Hohmann affair have already ended the career last week of the commander of Germany's KSK elite special operations forces, General Reinhard Guenzel.
Guenzel sent Hohmann a letter praising the speech which became public. This led Defence Minister Peter Struck to immediately fire the general who he described as "confused".
Subject: German news