Martin Hohmann (born February 4, 1948 in Fulda, Hessen) is a German lawyer and politician (currently AfD). He was a member of the German Parliament ("Bundestag") for the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), from 1998 until 2005.
Speech on German Unity Day 2003
He attracted public attention with a speech on German Unity Day on October 3, 2003. He set out to repudiate the supposed accusation that during the Holocaust, the Germans were considered a "nation of perpetrators" (German: Tätervolk, a term which was later named German Un-Word of the Year by a jury of linguistic scholars). To his end, he elaborated at length on the involvement of Jews in the violent 1917 Russian Revolution.
Hohmann starts from noting a strong sense of self-contempt among Germans and quotes Hans-Olaf Henkel, the vice president of the Federation of German Industry, who has stated that "Our original sin paralyzes the country". Hohmann thinks that an undue occupation with Germany's past - which he distinguishes from a necessary admission and remembrance of German crimes - lies behind discrimination against fellow-countrymen. Among examples, he mentions the refusal of German government officials to consider demanding compensations by Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic on behalf of forced German labourers in World War II, in the same way as Germany pays compensation for those they forced to labor camps.
He notes that, while the notion of collective guilt is usually denied, it is very much applied to Germans. Other nations tend to white-wash their history, like the French who hail the bloody French revolution as some kind of emancipation and the imperialist dictator Napoleon as a benevolent father of the people. The Germans, on the other hand are depicted in black and white as perpetrators and their enemies as innocent lambs. He vehemently denies the thesis of Daniel Goldhagen about a general German complicity in Hitler's politics.
To illustrate his point, that this treatment of Germans is absurd, he draws a parallel with Jews, who, he argues with painstaking submission of evidence, have, to a remarkable extent taken part in communist activities, such as the Russian revolution. Hohmann states: "Thus one could describe Jews with some justification as a nation of perpetrators...Judged by these facts, it would feel justified to call the Jews a people of 'perpetrators'." His conclusion is: "That may sound terrible. But it would still follow the same logic, as the one used to call the Germans a people of perpetrators." To make it clear that the judgement follows only if you accept the premises he is out for demolishing, he explains that "neither the Germans nor the Jews can be termed a nation of perpetrators".
Hohmann goes on to note that the Jews who participated in revolutionary activities where such who had been alienated from their religion and heritage - a trait, he observes, they shared with national socialists. The target of his speech, hence, is secularisation. "Because of that neither 'Germans', nor 'Jews' are a people of perpetrators. It can be said with every justification, though, that: The Godless, with their godless ideologies were the perpetrators of this last, bloody, Century."
The speech was delivered to 120 people in his constituency on October 3. It attracted no attention until it was later found on the internet. This led to a lively debate in public and in the CDU, and after Hohmann refused to retract the speech, he was expelled from the parliamentary group of the CDU in the Bundestag in 2003 and from the party itself in 2004. The former decision, however, came only after almost two weeks, on November 15, raising some concerns that the party did not share the zeal of his critics. CDU MPs voted 195 to 28 (16 abstained) to eject him from the party group, that is 81 percent favored ejection. According to The Independent, support for free speech was far higher than expected. Hohmann appealed the party decision in court, but his expulsion was upheld. The Kammergericht Berlin ruled that the accusation that Hohmann "supported antisemitic tendencies as his own or in any case facilitated them in parts of the audience by providing facts for such appraisal" was in line with the core statements of the speech.
While most of the German elite was unanimous in condemning Hohmann, the public was much less convinced - polls indicated that equally many opposed the expulsion as those who approved of it (a little over 40 percent in each camp). Although party spokesmen were quick to condemn the speech, some party leaders said in private conversations that Hohmann did not deserve to be expelled. BBC explained the sentiment in Germany by observing that "any criticism of Jewish people is still a taboo in Germany, which makes this incident extremely embarrassing for Mr Hohmann's party". The decision to expel him met severe criticism from party rank-and-files. CDU officials in the Ruhr town of Recklinghausen joined the protests by displaying a banner from the local party office. It read: "Nobody in Germany is allowed to tell the truth any more".
He kept his seat as an independent member of parliament until the next Bundestag election of 2005. There, Hohmann ran unsuccessfully for a seat as an independent candidate. He received 21.5% of the votes, an exceptionally high number for an independent candidate.
- Spiegel Online: Ein Jahr, ein (Un-)Wort! (in German).
- "Raus" Economist 15 November 2003.
- Tony Paterson: German politician expelled in storm over Jewish speechThe Independent November 15, 2003.
- Decision 3 U 47/05, KG Berlin 3. Zivilsenat, 27.10.2006 (German)
- Richard Bernstein: German Legislator Is Ousted for Slur on Jews New York Times November 15, 2003.
- German MP defends Jewish remarks BBC October 31, 2003. Last Updated: Friday, 31 October 2003