Eva Herman, defender of stay-at-home Moms, under attack in Germany.

Published by admin on Sun, 2011-10-23 01:09

October 11, 2007


Firestorm over German TV Presenter's Nazi Remarks Grows

Author and former German TV presenter Eva Herman got kicked off a major talk show this week for refusing to apologize for statements she made that allegedly glorified Nazi-era family policies. Herman is now at the center of a growing culture war.

In Germany, portraying any aspect of the Nazi era in a positive light is a great way to quickly destroy a career. Just ask Eva Herman, the controversial TV presenter and author sacked by the public television station that employed her for 19 years last month.

The commotion began in September when, at a press conference to promote her new book, Herman said that life under Hitler wasn't all that bad -- at least not every aspect. "It was a gruesome time with a totally crazy and highly dangerous leader who led the Germans into ruin as we all know," Herman said. (This is a necessary, politically correct disclaimer in Germany today, as we also know — CY) "But there was at the time also something good, and that is the values, that is the children, that is the families, that is a togetherness -- it was all abolished, there was nothing left."

The statement led to Herman's termination (more...). Rather than apologize or distance herself from her comments, though, she has fought back with missionary zeal in the past month, granting interviews and appearing on talk shows -- the latest being Johannes B. Kerner's show on German public broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday night.

When Kerner pressed her on whether she would repeat her statements today, Herman evaded the question. Instead, she said: "If one isn't allowed to discuss Nazi family values, then neither can one talk about the German autobahns, which were built during the Third Reich." She also said it had become impossible to discuss German history without endangering one's reputation.

Herman has spent the past month accusing journalists of taking her original quote out of context, saying they pulled the half that was favorable to the Nazis and eliminated the parts where she clearly distanced herself from Hitler's terror regime. Tuesday was no different. On Kerner's show, she said: "I didn't make a mistake, "I'm just sorry that people have been misinformed by the press."

Of course, Kerner's show on Tuesday wasn't completely without its agenda, either. After conducting 50 minutes of what seemed more like a show trial than an interview and only a few minutes left to go on his show, Kerner kicked Herman out, saying she had become unpalatable to him and his guests. One had to note, however, that Kerner's show was taped hours before it airs and his producers were quick to spread the news of Herman getting kicked off -- as well as photos -- so that there could be plenty of time to promote the scandal and ensure record ratings of 2.65 million viewers.

Not that that made Herman look any better -- as she continued to defend her comments and refuse in anyway to assuage her tsunami of critics. Her appearance led German mass-circulation daily Bild to ask its readers: "Is Eva Herman a brownshirt or just dumb?"

Herman is a divisive figure in Germany, ridiculed by the left as the leader of a new wave of anti-feminism that would like to see women give up their careers to become cookie-baking, stay-at-home moms. Religious conservatives, on the other hand, have embraced her family friendly message. With an average of 1.3 children per women, Germany has the lowest birth rate in Europe at a time when the country faces a looming demographic crisis. Concerns about Germany's future have assured Herman of a broad audience among conservatives. In her book the "Eva Principle," Herman argues that if German feminists don't change their ways against the backdrop of a graying population, the country will die out.

Not satisfied with the controversy generated by her best-selling tomes, Herman took things up a notch in September when she praised Nazi-era family values, provoking a firestorm of controversy.

Publisher 'Deeply Dismayed'

Even the publisher of her highly successful books has turned on her. In an interview with the Munich paper Abendzeitung, Christian Strasser said he was "deeply dismayed" by Herman's TV appearance, describing the whole episode as the "biggest disaster I have experienced in my 40 years as a publisher."

Herman, it seems, has managed to push herself to the center of a mini culture war in Germany.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has also expressed its outrage over Herman for her appearance earlier this week at the annual conference of the German Catholic Forum, a deeply conservative group, in Fulda, where she received great applause. The broad praise for the former TV host, the organization said in a statement, "is not just evidence of the incapacity of the participants, but also a slap in the face for all those who have worked during the past 60 years to help Germans come to terms with the history of Germany's Nazi dictatorship," said Central Council Vice President Dieter Graumann. (How sickly sadistic that Jews are dictating to Germans how they are allowed to see their own history. — CY) When the head of the Catholic conference describes Herman as a "martyr in the battle for marriage, family and children," this just shows "what an odd mindset the leadership of the 'German Catholic Forum' seems to have," the Central Council said in a statement.

The forum's chairman, Hubert Gindert, defended his decision to invite Herman. "We invited Eva Herman because, in our view, she says the right things about the subject of raising families," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Children, he said, need to be cared for by at least one of their parents during the first three years, "and that, of course, should be the mother." In the past, his group has also called abortion an "abhorrent crime" and homosexuality a "bad aberrance and a serious violation of God's commandments."

Conservative Catholics aren't the only camp supporting Herman, though. She's also been given the backing of the extreme-right wing DVU political party. The group is planning a protest march on Saturday in Hamburg under the motto: "Freedom of Speech for Eva Herman." Officials in the city, where Herman lives, are seeking to prevent the march from coming anywhere near City Hall.



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