Germany Revisits Big Lie Theory

It’s been said that Hitler gained support for his anti-Semitic programs by appealing to a sense of conspiracy: He suggested that Jews were so fantastically nefarious that they were obviously behind the downfall of the Kaiser’s Reich. His pronouncement on the technique can even be seen on this PBS page:

Equally important was his theory that a big lie is always better than a little one because the masses “more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie.”

In this same spirit, the current German government, through the provenance of its own PBS analog, ARD, is now promulgating the very big lie that the “Bush Family orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.” We get the goods through Davids Medienkritik.

Readers here know what I think about conspiracy theories. The German public broadcaster’s conspiracy theory is debunked all over the place, but a particularly authoritative source is to be found at Popular Mechanics, which conducts said debunking quite thoroughly and scientifically. In the editorial introduction, the editors warn:

These 9/11 conspiracy theories, long popular abroad, are gradually–though more quietly–seeping into mainstream America. Allegations of U.S. complicity in the attacks have become standard fare on talk radio and among activists on both the extreme left and the extreme right of the political spectrum.

Don’t get me wrong: Healthy skepticism is a good thing. Nobody should take everything they hear–from the government, the media or anybody else–at face value. But in a culture shaped by Oliver Stone movies and “X-Files” episodes, it is apparently getting harder for simple, hard facts to hold their own against elaborate, shadowy theorizing.

The “Greatest Generation” fought a noble war to free a continent from the boot of a dictator who employed the Big Lie to further his conspiracy theory-driven agenda. Just because Germany is no longer among the greatest powers, just because she is no military threat to anyone, doesn’t mean that the insidiousness of these invidious allegations will do no harm. It is furthermore appalling that such bald lies are being aired on government-subsidized television.

If it were just on private television, then I’d say, great, the best way to fight abuse of the freedom of speech, is to counter with better speech. But it is certainly not helpful that Germany, of all countries, should be engaging in this sort of rumor-mongering.

All the more reason not to buy overpriced German cars.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

8 thoughts on “Germany Revisits Big Lie Theory”

  1. Just a little unclear about the conspiracy here: the perpetrator is “the current German government” or “ARD” or “Germany, of all countries”?

  2. The don’t have to “dictate” Ralf, just following Gerhard’s lead.

    I guess in a way it is dictating.

  3. Yes Bruce, they are not as antagonistic to Schröder as the BBC is to Blair, but it is a good comparison.


    Schröder for all of his faults never claimed that the Bush family is resposible for 911.

  4. “One of the impressive things about paranoid (literature) is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed.”


    “The paranoid style is not confined to our own country and time; it is an international phenomenon.

    Richard Hofstadter – The Paranoid Style.. – 1964

  5. Woah.

    Thanks, demimasque, for calling our attention to this critical issue. If you can’t believe fiction, what can you believe?


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