A Holocaust education center in Frankfurt, Germany, rebuffed criticism this week after appearing to compare Berlin’s plan to revoke the citizenship of fighters for terror groups to the actions of the Nazi regime against Jews.
The Anne Frank Educational Center, not to be confused with the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in the US, said its series of tweets on the issue was only intended to put the matter “in its historical context” and has denied equating the issues.
Earlier this month, German officials said the government plans to introduce legislation that will enable authorities to strip Germans with dual nationality of their German citizenship if they fight for a terror group abroad. The new rules will only apply to future cases.
Commenting on the case in a series of tweets on March 6, The Anne Frank Educational Center in Frankfurt tweeted that the proposed law “provides that captured German [Islamic State] fighters are stripped of nationality — provided they are of legal age and do not become stateless as a result.
“A lot of protest has broken out against this — including with reference to the Third Reich. In fact, the Nazis made generous use of the means of expatriation. In several waves, a total of over 39,000 people were expatriated — especially Jews.
“As of November 1941, these automatically lost their citizenship when they crossed beyond the Reich’s borders — regardless of whether they ’emigrated’ or were deported ‘voluntarily,'” it said. “Among other things, Albert Einstein was affected on the grounds that he had violated ‘the duty to be faithful to the Reich and the people.'”
The center added: “In democracies, deprivation of citizenship is a means that deprives the sovereign, the citizen, of the opportunity to participate. That is why lawyers plead for a restrained approach to this means.”
The posts were met with outrage, with commentators accusing the center of equating Jewish victims of Nazism with jihadists who willingly join terrorist groups.
Retired British army officer Colonel Richard Justin Kemp CBE, who writes about defense issues, tweeted, “A terrible insult by [Anne Frank center]. They should delete this disgraceful tweet.”
— Rɪᴄʜᴀʀᴅ Kᴇᴍᴘ ⋁ (@COLRICHARDKEMP) March 9, 2019
The center defended its comments, tweeting to Kemp, “No, we did not compare or equate Jewish holocaust victims to IS terrorists. And we made that very clear after some misinterpreted our tweet in that way. In no way did we defend jihadists. This is simply not true.”
On Saturday the center tweeted “In no way did we make parallels between Jews and Islamic terrorists. We did not write that at all.
“And for everybody who read that into our tweet: We made our position absolutely clear. No, we do not defend IS. No, we do not equate Shoah victims in any way with terrorists,” the center wrote, using the Hebrew name for the Holocaust.
Again: In no way did we make paralells between Jews and Islamic terrorists. We did not write that at all. And for everybody who read that into our tweet: we made our position absolutely clear. No, we do not defend IS. No, we do not equate shoah victims in any way with terrorists.
— Bildungsstätte Anne Frank (@BS_AnneFrank) March 9, 2019
It further clarified that “we put the means of withdrawing citizenship in its historical context.”
“In the Basic Law, the protection against expatriation is of great importance, especially because of the experiences of National Socialism. Some users have understood the connection as equation of Jewish victims of National Socialism and German members of the IS terrorist militia. We very much regret that our text template allowed this room for interpretation. Such equation was, of course, not our intention.”
The center is run by Israeli-born Dr. Meron Mendel. It is supported by the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, set up by Frank’s father, Otto, after the war. It is one of several educational centers around the world dedicated to telling Frank’s story.