Commentary Magazine


From Mr. Muhlen

To the Editor:

I suppose that most readers of my account of “The Return of Goebbels’ Film-Makers” will agree with Dr. Schöningh, the distinguished editor of the Catholic magazine Hochland and co-editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung, that there is a distinct difference between the responsibilities of Werner Krauss, an aged actor, and Veit Harlan, the co-author and director of Jud Süss. Undoubtedly, Harlan’s guilt is much greater than Krauss’s, and his return to public attention is for that reason much more objectionable.

Dr. Schöningh is also right in pointing to the inadequacy of the denazification law as one cause of the present dilemma in which true Nazi collaborators appear in the same legal categories of guilt and innocence as the more harmless joiners-under-pressure. Yet since today it is too late to change or correct the law, and since the law did not create a legal basis for an interdiction of Harlan’s public reappearance (nor did the more comprehensive German law against inhumanity), the only way left to deal with men like Harlan is to oppose them by spontaneous, democratic action “of the people.” Whether such action will be more effective and appropriate if it openly calls for boycott, as Erich Lueth has done, or if the mass media cease to mention Harlan altogether (which would be a boycott at the sources of public opinion), as Dr. Schöningh advocates, seems to be a question of technique rather than principle. I myself doubt that a free and competitive press would be able to maintain silence, and I wonder whether the responsibility of the press is not rather to report, and editorially discuss, all current events, including public scandals.

Readers of COMMENTARY might be interested to know that, since my report was published, Erich Lueth has lost his appeal against the court judgment that forbade him to continue calling for a boycott of Harlan’s new film. In protest against this new decision, a committee was formed in Hamburg to support Mr. Lueth’s right to express his views. The manifesto of the committee was signed by the leaders of the three great West German parties—the Christian Democratic Union, the Social-Democratic party, and the Free Democratic party—as well as by the leading stage, radio, and press personalities of Hamburg. The committee proclaimed that the case of Harlan vs. Lueth has now developed into a “test of convictions,” that the judgment in favor of Harlan is “a victory of anti-humanity,” and that “we must do something—now, at once—to eradicate the decision against Lueth.” The committee appealed to the general population for funds in defense of Mr. Lueth.

According to information I have received from Mr. Lueth, “countless donations” were immediately sent to the committee, among them many from unemployed persons and from destitute refugees from the Soviet Zone. Mr. Lueth informed me also that threatening and insulting letters he received in connection with the Harlan case were outbalanced by letters of congratulation and solidarity at a ratio of one to ten. I am also told that, in view of this response of German public opinion to the appeal to boycott Goebbels’ foremost filmmaker, Veit Harlan has been unable to find a film company to finance his next movie.

Norbert Muhlen
New York City

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A Correction

To the Editor:

In the article on “New Trends in Biblical Criticism” by H. L. Ginsberg, in the September issue of COMMENTARY, it is stated that only the two last parts of Yehezkel Kaufmann’s History of Israelite Religion were published by the Bialik Foundation, while the previous parts of the book were published by the author himself. The fact is that all seven parts of the book were published by the Bialik Foundation and the Dvir Publishing Company, and these organizations will also publish the additional two parts of this book which the author is expected to transmit to them in the near future.

E. Hamenachem
Bialik Foundation
Jerusalem

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