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German History in Documents and Images
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Writer Martin Walser in Front of a Portrait of Ignatz Bubis (May 17, 2007)
This photo shows author Martin Walser in front of a portrait of the former chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Ignatz Bubis (1927-1999). A bitter controversy had erupted between the two after Walser had expressed his disconcertment with ritualized public displays of remorse regarding the Holocaust and had insisted on the personal character of conscience. Walser had made these statements in a controversial speech delivered upon his acceptance of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in October 1998. Afterwards, Bubis heaped criticism on the author and accused him of “intellectual arson.” To Bubis, Walser’s words were a relativization of the Holocaust, and he wanted to warn against a “mentality of considering the Holocaust dealt with.” Even though both finally engaged in a frank discussion of their views, their dispute sparked a new public debate on dealing with the Holocaust. This photo was taken in Frankfurt’s Jewish Museum, which hosted a commemorative exhibit on Ignatz Bubis’ lifetime achievements in 2007. Photo: Arne Dedert.