Op-Ed: My Name is Horst?
Prof. Steven PlautSteven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of "The Scout" (available from Gefen Publishing House). More of his writings can be seen on the New Plaut Blog, as well as in numerous electronic and print newspapers.
Since the parents of Rachel Corrie are in the process of suing Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces for the suicide death of their clueless daughter, it occurred to me that Rachel Corrie’s real role in history is not appreciated by most people. It is to serve as the Horst Wessel of the anti-Israel Left.
Let me explain.
Horst Wessel was an idealistic young German active in the Bismarck Youth organization, a nationalist youth group
Their “martyrdom” was in fact a pathetic death due in large part to their own stupidity.
in post-WWI Weimar Germany. That group was too tame for him and so he decided to join the National Socialist German Workers' Party, better known as the Nazi Party, in 1926, when he was 19 years old. Like Rachel, he wrote poems and music, and he played the oboe. One of his poems was called “Raise High the Flag.”
In 1930 when he was 23, he got into a dispute with his landlady, whose husband was a communist party leader. Probably in response, on January 14,1930, Wessel was shot in the face by Albrecht Höhler, an active member of the local Communist Party. Wessel died in hospital on 23 February. The murderer was sentenced to six years imprisonment and was later himself murdered by the Gestapo. The communist party denied it was involved in Wessel’s death and insisted Wessel was killed only because of the rent dispute.
The Nazi Party however decided that Wessel would make a brilliant martyr figure, and his tragic death could be exploited as political ammunition to promote the agenda of the party. Goebbals and Goering organized a giant show funeral for him. Wessel was commemorated in memorials, books and films. Nazi newspapers compared him with Jesus. The German navy named one of its training ships for him. The “Horst Wessel Song,” based on Wessel’s “Raise High the Flag,” became the official marching song of the Nazi Party. It was sang and played also for party recruitment purposes. Nazi youth made pilgrimages to Wessel’s grave site. [For more on the song see this: http://www.george-broderick.de/ns_docs/ns-horst_wessel_lied.doc ] The British fascists changed the words slightly and used the melody as their own marching song.
Horst Wessel was obviously the Rachel Corrie of the anti-Jewish movement almost 80 years before Rachel Corrie played a similar role. In both cases, their “martyrdom” was in fact a pathetic death due in large part to their own stupidity. In both cases the death of a naive young person involved in extremist politics was exploited by the pro-terrorism groups to which they belonged. In both cases the “martyrs” were beatified by those seeking the murder and annihilation of Jews.
The only appropriate response to the staging of the anti-Semitic propaganda play, “My Name is Rachel,” in theaters around the world would be now to stage a new play: one entitled “My Name is Horst.”