The denunciation of the Russian Revolution in Germany
11 November 2017
In Germany’s criminal code there is a paragraph declaring the slandering of the memory of the dead to be a criminal offence. Punishment for such a crime ranges from a fine to two years imprisonment. Yet this appears not to apply to historic figures. If one reviews the articles, contributions on radio and television, and films to mark the centenary of the October Revolution in Russia, the principal rule that applies is: “anything goes.”
There was of course hysterical anti-communism during the Cold War. But even then a distinction existed between right-wing propaganda and scholarly work. Even if they were not socialists, serious historians understood that one of the greatest transformations in world history, which influenced the 20th century more than any other event, could not be dismissed with a tirade of insults against Lenin and the Bolsheviks, but required a serious study of its social and political driving forces.
For example, the American historian Alexander Rabinowitch, who grew up in an anti-Bolshevik milieu of Russian exiles, came to the conclusion in 1976, on the basis of a careful examination of sources in his book Soviet Power: The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, that the Bolsheviks’ goals enjoyed widespread support in the population in October 1917. By contrast, all other parties had largely lost their credibility.
One searches in vain for such a well-researched analysis today. Even the most grotesque falsifications are accepted in academic forums and renowned media outlets, without any objection being raised.
Typical of this trend is the article “The utopia of mass murder,” which appeared in the Frankfurter Rundschau on the anniversary of the revolution. The…