A recent Telegraph article about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stuck me. The article dialed with current accusations Erdogan made about the Dutch and the German government being comparable to the Third- Reich. The relationship between Turkey and the Netherlands has become difficult since the Turkish minister of foreign affairs was denied to participate at a pro- government rally in Rotterdam, while Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, the Turkish minister for family and social policies, was escorted out of the country only one day later. Erdogan was very emotional about this matter and stated at a convention in Istanbul the following: “I said I thought Nazism was over, but I was wrong. In fact Nazism is alive in the west.” Mr. Erdogan made a similar statement about Angela Merkel accusing her of “Nazi measures” in state television a few weeks before. source: thepressproject.ge
Calling out German authorities and politicians for being Nazis is nothing new. Even Prince Philipp (having German roots himself) used to make fun of German prime minister Helmut Kohl calling him “Reich´s Chancellor”. It is a fact that the German state due to its history has a special responsibility and certainly is an easy target for populism. At the same time, however, I don´t know any other place that has faced his history as eloquent as Germany has. If you have ever happened to visit Berlin, you will agree with me that the number of monuments, information points, commemorative plaques and simply places that deal with the nations complicated past is simply overwhelming. Although Nazi- Germany certainly has a very special place in history when it comes to crimes against humanity, we should not forget that many other countries do as well. Being part of an Austrian minority in the north of Italy, it always bothered me that there are still places in my area deriving from the fascist era under Benito Mussolini.
Italy in general has a very liberal relationship with its dictatorial past.
Many politicians openly think of Mussolini as a great political leader and his granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini, has a seat in the Italian senate. Nothing similar would be possible in Germany- just imagine someone called Elisabeth Hitler in the German Budenstag. According to a survey of 2013 less than 22.000 people in Germany can be considered of being Nazis or close to Nazi organizations- in 2008 it still were over 30.000- not more than in other European countries. And what about Turkey and its past? The Ottoman empire after all is responsible for a genocide which caused over one million victims. A “Holocoust” about which Adolf Hitler famously said “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” referring to his own plans to exterminate the European Jews. Mr. Erdogan is not responsible for these horrible actions, the same as Angela Merkel has nothing to do with six million Jews being killed 70 years ago. As representatives of their countries, they have, however, a special burden, a symbolic responsibility so to speak, which the German chancellor faces with much more dignity and professionality. Before accusing people and making populist and misleading statements, President Erdogan should take an example of German authorities and start to face his countries own controversial past.