Hajo Meyer

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Hajo Meyer
Born(1924-08-12)12 August 1924
Died23 August 2014(2014-08-23) (aged 90)
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physicist
Short movie My good fortune in Auschwitz

Hajo Meyer (Hans Joachim Gustav Meyer) (12 August 1924 – 23 August 2014) was a German-Dutch physicist, Holocaust survivor and anti-Zionist political activist.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Meyer's father was a German notary, who had fought in the First World War. Born in Bielefeld, Meyer, aged 14, was sent by his parents from Nazi Germany to the Netherlands on 4 January 1939 as part of a Kindertransport convoy, and settled in Holland on his own. Their decision was made after Hajo was no longer permitted to attend school in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, His parents' maxim was: 'We do not dote to death on children' (bei uns gibt es keine Affenliebe).[3][4] He went into hiding in 1943, but was arrested after a year and spent ten months in Auschwitz. With the assistance of a security guard, he managed to escape, and swore he would never speak German again. He broke the rule at a scientific conference in Amsterdam after the war, when he happened to be speaking on a similar topic to that discussed by Hermann Haken.[5]

His parents had originally been deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, and after his father succumbed to an illness on 15 May 1944, it was decided that there was no more reason to allow his widow Therese to stay on, and that she should be deported to Auschwitz. She had hidden a cyanide capsule in a piece of bread and chose suicide, knowing that the chances of survival there were non-existent.[6]


After the war, Meyer returned to the Netherlands, and studied theoretical physics. He eventually became director of the Phillips Physics Laboratory (NatLab). After his retirement he took courses in woodwork and constructed violins and violas.[7]

Later career[edit]

In his later years, Meyer became politically active, including as director of A Different Jewish Voice. He wrote Het einde van het Jodendom (The End of Judaism) in 2003,.[a][8] which accuses Israel of abusing the Holocaust to justify crimes against the Palestinians. In the book he is reported to have used phrases such as the "Israeli Wehrmacht," and the "Jewish SS." [9] In lectures he argued that "what is happening to the Palestinians every day under the occupation" was "almost identical" with "what was done to the German Jews even before the 'Final Solution,'" and also maintained that Israel's demeanour is the main cause of the post-war re-emergence of anti-Semitism.'[10]

He was a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. He participated in the 2011 "Never Again – For Anyone" tour. Meyer argued there are different interpretations of Judaism, and that Jews ought to return to the principles of the Book of Leviticus and the rabbinical principles of figures like Hillel, and avoid the 'doomsday Judaism' he identifies in the Book of Joshua and the positions of Abraham Isaac Kook which have in his view underwritten Zionism.[11]

Meyer has repeatedly argued that there are parallels between the Nazi treatment of Jews leading to (but not including) the Holocaust, and Israel's dehumanization of Palestinians.[12] At one talk, organized and hosted by leader of the UK's Labour Party in 2010, Meyer was later reported to have repeatedly likened Israel's actions against the people of the Gaza Strip to the mass killing of Jews in the Holocaust and likened the government of Israel to that of Nazi Germany.[13] [14] During the talk, Meyer said that "Judaism in Israel has been substituted by the Holocaust religion, whose high priest is Elie Wiesel."[13] Amid public outcry over an ongoing Labour Party antisemitism scandal, Corbyn apologized for being present and sharing a platform with Meyer, as well as for having organizing the event to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day.[14]

Meyer claimed Zionism predates fascism, that Zionists and fascists had a history of cooperation charging, among other things, that Israel wants to foment anti-Semitism in the world to encourage more Jews to migrate to Israel.[15]

Meyer spoke in favor of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.[16] In his last recorded interview, coinciding with the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict, Meyer lambasted Zionists as Nazi criminals, asserted that German hatred of Jews was less deeply grounded than Israeli-Jewish hatred of Palestinians, and denounced PM Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks that demonstrations against the war were evidence of hatred of Israel.[17] He was first signatory of a statement by 250 Holocaust and descendants of Holocaust survivors protesting that war.[18]

His correspondence with his parents while in exile during the war were published in. His elder brother Alfred's autobiography also dwells on their experiences during the war.[19]

Theory of "sequential traumatizing" of Jews[edit]

Meyer developed a theory based on the work of Hans Keilson regarding "sequential traumatizing," according to which Jewish collective remembering in a ritual setting of numerous past traumatic events befalling the community. Meyer argues that the current government of Israel has used this re-traumatization of Jews with regard to the Holocaust, in order to indoctrinate and inculcate loyalty to Israel against its enemies. He applied this to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arguing that Israel dehumanizes Palestinians the same way that Nazi Germany dehumanized Jews.[12][20] He expanded on this sense of an analogy in the following terms:

'I cannot help but hear echoes of the Nazi mythos of "blood and soil" in the rhetoric of settler fundamentalism which claims a sacred right to all the lands of biblical Judea and Samaria. The various forms of collective punishment visited upon the Palestinian people — coerced ghettoization behind a "security wall"; the bulldozing of homes and destruction of fields; the bombing of schools, mosques, and government buildings; an economic blockade that deprives people of the water, food, medicine, education and the basic necessities for dignified survival — force me to recall the deprivations and humiliations that I experienced in my youth.'[21]

Accusation of Antisemitism[edit]

Henryk Broder was sentenced in 2006 to a term in prison by a German court after he had publicly accused anti-Zionists like Meyer and Abraham Melzer [de] for their putative "capacities for applied Judeophobia" (Kapazitäten für angewandte Judäophobie) because they had compared the Israeli occupation policy to measures taken by the Nazis.[22][23] On appeal, a court mostly cleared Broder, stating that there was such a thing of "Jewish anti-Semitism." [24]


On 23 August 2014, Meyer died in his sleep in Heiloo, Netherlands at the age of 90.[17]


  1. ^ German edition Das Ende des Judentums. Der Verfall der israelischen Gesellschaft, Melzer Verlag,Neu Isenburg 2005


  1. ^ "Jews sans frontieres: In Memoriam: Dr Hajo Meyer". Jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  2. ^ Verhey, Elma. "Interview – Hajo Meyer". Tribune, Socialist Party (Netherlands). Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  3. ^ Hajo G. Meyer, Briefe eines Flüchtlings 1939–1945: Ein jüdischer Junge im holländischen Exil, Frank & Timme GmbH, 2014 p.9.
  4. ^ Murray, Grahame; Watt, Chris (24 January 2010). "Auschwitz survivor: 'Israel acts like Nazis'". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  5. ^ Bernd Kröger, Hermann Haken: From the Laser to Synergetics: A Scientific Biography of the Early Years, Springer, 2014 p.39 n.149.
  6. ^ Briefe, 2014 p.16.
  7. ^ Henry Zeffman, 'Hajo Meyer profile: Physicist who survived Auschwitz,' The Times 1 August 2018.
  8. ^ Pallade, 2009 p.57, n.60
  9. ^ Yves Pallade ' "New" Anti-Semitism in contemporary German academic,' p.45.
  10. ^ Yves Pallade p.49
  11. ^ Moises F. Salinas, Hazza Abu Rabi, Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Perspectives on the Peace Process, Cambria Books, 2009 p.136
  12. ^ a b David Whitten Smith, Elizabeth Geraldine Burr, Understanding World Religions: A Road Map for Justice and Peace, Rowman & Littlefield 2014 p.101-102.
  13. ^ a b Zeffman, Henry (1 August 2018). "Jeremy Corbyn hosted event likening Israel to Nazis". The Times. Retrieved 1 August 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
  14. ^ a b Sarah Marsh, 'Corbyn apologises over event where Israel was compared to Nazis,' The Guardian 1 August 2018
  15. ^ M Ghazali Khan, 'Muslims, Jews and Christians Join Together to Condemn Zionism,' Indian Muslims org. 2 July 2006.
  16. ^ Kerrison, Mark (29 January 2010). "Auschwitz survivor supports campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel". Demotix.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  17. ^ a b Adri Nieuwhof, 'In last interview, Auschwitz survivor urged Palestinians “not to give up their fight”,' Electronic Intifada 25 August 2014.
  18. ^ Suzanne Weiss, 'Holocaust survivor condemns Gaza massacre,' Green Left Weekly Issue 1021 17 August 2014.
  19. ^ Alfred G.Meyer, My Life as a Fish: A Memoir, Ann Arbor 2000 p,28.
  20. ^ Lawrence Swaim, The Death of Judeo-Christianity: Religious Aggression and Systemic Evil in the Modern World, John Hunt Publishing, 2012 p.18.
  21. ^ Hajo Meyer, 'An Ethical Tradition Betrayed,' Huffington Post 25 May 2010
  22. ^ Hannes Stein, 'Wer ist Antisemit? Henryk M. Broder und Hajo Meyer vor Gericht,' Die Welt 10 January.2006
  23. ^ 'Broder darf Verleger keine Judenfeindlichkeit unterstellen,' Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27 January 2006.
  24. ^ Yves Pallade, ' "New" Anti-Semitism in contemporary German academic,' Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 21, No. 1/2 (Spring 2009), pp. 33-62 op.39


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