Of modern Germany’s many talents, one sticks out: the tendency to make believe. In a world of hurt feelings and emotions, one thing apparently trumps all reason: muhfeelz. When it feels right, it surely must me right, so there. Except when it’s too good to be true.
Modern Germans pride themselves of cooking the most Italian pasta and dishing up the most Brazilian guacamole. They know more about the soils of the Bordeaux region than many French wine growers and they know all about the subtleties of adding milk first and pouring tea later, of course. At least they’d like to think so. It’s a world gone mad in the pursuit of “authenticity” and it’s all the more amusing because it’s being perpetrated by people warning others of the assumed perils of “cultural appropriation” while they’re the ones eagerly aping the natives from Africa to Asia to South America and back again, and of any far-flung corner of their feverish imaginings that could be turned into a profitable fad du jour by clever marketing.
This talent – and we’re not even talking of the crème of the German car industry creatively fitting the facts about their diesel emissions to the fiction of “eco-friendly” automobility – turned almost literary yields too. In the last century, or the one before, a chap called Karl May managed to write proficiently about the “Wild West”, the frontier of civilisation moving forward first across the Great Plains and then the Rocky Mountains of the North American continent before it became incorporated as states of the union.
It sounded just as real as the real thing when May wrote about the dramatic interaction of trappers, prospectors, gold diggers, sheriffs, cattle farmers and red skins (or, as May called them throughout his oeuvre: Rothäute). He also described landscape in great but often tedious detail, had trappers talking shop in elaborate dialogue that filled page after page. And of course, his dramatis personae and his plot lines were all cast against historic events everyone knew had taken place to smoothly round it off into the bigger picture. If it felt right, it had to be right? Wrong.
Lacking any discernible first-hand impression of life beyond the narrow confines of his native town in the depths of Krautland, Karl May really had no idea what the actual fuck he was writing about. A trait he shared with most of his readers. And if May had been honest, he’d have had to admit it. But too much honesty clearly could have stood in the way of both the artistic licence and the economic viability of his franchise.
Yet again, this stuff is for beginners. Once you grow tired of tapas and salsa, or Karl May, and once you finally must admit to yourself that you’ll never be able to tango like an Argentinian, you either give up the spiel. Or you search for something even more sophisticated and aspiring. And in a world where everyone can be anything he or she chooses, where men can be women and vice-versa at a whim’s notice, where 30-year old “children” can sit their GCSEs together with teenagers, where you can cash in on the compo on stumped up grounds for claiming to be a “survivor” of some tragedy or other (Windrush, Grenfell or next year’s equivalent mischief), you surely can become whatever you like. If only you self-identity hard enough, if it feels right for you, people not only ought to believe you, they’ve got to accept you and your outlandish claim unthinkingly and reinforce your “life choices”. Right?
Well, wrong again. At least in a world where truth is not an outdated concept. Where facts are not supposed to fit the fiction even if they hurt feelings. Interestingly, rules against cultural appropriation – one could also call it: identity theft – seem to apply only to “the little people”. If you’re doing the appropriating and thieving for the right reasons, you can get away with it Scott free – at least in Leftyland, and isn’t that all that matters?
If your story feels right, it will sell. The enduring legacy of Karl May is proof of that. Though it could perhaps be argued that it’s one thing writing escapist literature and another thing altogether inventing a new biography for yourself by claiming to be someone who you are not. This isn’t only blurring the lines between facts and fiction, it’s also exploiting the natural benevolence of others and abusing the benefit of the doubt civilised people tend to give to each other. It means turning yourself into a notorious liar living a lie. A lie which must be protected against the continuous and increasing assault of reality by all means necessary. And the means necessary are only bound to become more extreme in due course, and over time.
All this is perfectly self-evident for a decent human being. It apparently is not, alas, when you’re a Lefty. As an actual case from Germany shows. For some 15 years, the liberal Jewish community in Pinneberg, a market town on the outskirts of Hamburg, was headed by a man who apparently ticked all the boxes, and then some. His grandmother survived Auschwitz. His grandfather fought with the Spanish anarchists against Franco. They were militant left-wingers for all their life – and proud of it. He fought with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He organised Antifa demos in Hamburg. He studied sociology with Adorno. He was a doctor of something, wrote books, gave interviews in all the right-on, left-leaning media. He was a regular at the dumb witted state broadcasters and the regional broadsheets. He was the go-to source when you needed a quote that wasn’t too “critical” of Israel per se, but only of Netanyahu in particular. And of course, he could make very acerbic comments about orthodox Jewry and get away with it without being accused of antisemitism because he was a Jew (but more on that later). The Left couldn’t believe their luck: he was one of them! A “Jew” to fit their bill. And it all sounded so good and so right when he said it. Only one problem: it was not true, was it?
In its brighter periods, even the Left knew that crime is the effect of social circumstances. If you allow criminality, people will make use of this licence. And according to what the Spiegel claims to have found out, and published two weeks ago, Wolfgang Seibert had form: in 1978, his relaxed relationship with the truth apparently ended with him posing as David Spielmann (Jewish connotation fully intended, I suppose) and “borrowing” books and records for 1,568 Mark from a bookshop in Frankfurt, his native town. According to the Spiegel, this resulted in Seibert being convicted for fraud and embezzlement. While in jail, he apparently claimed to be a “gypsy” (as Roma were then called) and wrote identity lyrics that sounded perhaps a bit heavy handed but went some way in currying favour with the prison director and winning Seibert a literature prize. Seibert made good use of his newfound identity and later organised concerts for his fictional peer group too, but it all went nowhere. In the 1980s, and according to the Spiegel again, he got done for embezzlement for the second time: this time, his bill is said to have run into the low 50,000s, mainly from the Christian Boy Scouts and the Green Party. As the Spiegel claims, Seibert was sentenced to 15 months in prison but released on probation, which may be a bit of an oddity for him allegedly being a recurring offender.
But it was Seibert’s claim to Jewish ancestry that really got the ball rolling. In the late 90s, after the Long March through the institutions had ended with the wannabe Commie dictators of the 1970s becoming the left-leaning establishment of the new Krautland, this self-identifying “elite” realised that there was something auspicious by its absence in the social kleptocratic utopia they had created: fifty years after the Holocaust, there still was not enough Jewish life in Germany, or not the right kind of it anyway. German Jews were too religious, too pusillanimous, too gloomy and frankly a bit too dull and awkward to hang out with for many on the political Left. Not entertaining enough. Not someone you could invite over for dinner and tell the jokes your grandpa told you after a few Schnapps.
Upon realising this predicament, the government in Berlin got some wheels spinning and in a vainglorious effort to fill up the ranks imported a few hundred thousand Jews from the former USSR. They wanted their Jewish life back in Germany and they wanted it now, so it simply had to be whatever they could lay their hands on. But not only was the gap in the political market filled with Jewish imports from the East, there was also the garden variety of homegrown, converted Jews – mostly of a lefty persuasion for what better way of virtue signalling your way through life as a Kraut than becoming a Jew. That’s the ultimate Jerry done good, surely? And this must be why during almost 4,000 years, Jewry produced at least a few fake Messiahs, while modern Krautry only produced a few fake Jews.
For Seibert, it all went swimmingly from there: The Land Schleswig-Holstein got its share of Russian Jews to make up for historic losses and to pretend to themselves (but maybe more importantly: to others) that everything was alright and Bob’s your uncle. Somehow turned Jewish, Seibert became the President of a new-founded liberal Jewish community in Pinneberg, which received a nice little pay-check of 200,000 Euro per annum. And the Land didn’t even want to see any receipts, ever. Everybody must have been happy, so very, very happy, at this point. Now, they could tell themselves that really, everything was alright again. Happy days were here again – weren’t they? The new Germany of a more reformed and refined, left-leaning persuasion had finally made up for the Holocaust, right? Well, I’m not the one to blame them for trying. But as the saying goes: if it can go wrong, it probably will.
So, a few years into the show, some people get suspicious. A chap called Moritz Gerlach gets on the job. And unlike the current crap, er: crop of many self-identifying hacks and journos, he was the one to leave no stone unturned and he published the results of his investigations in a five-page story. Which the Spiegel obviously published in a bout of investigative journalism gone wild. Doing a thing like this has become a rarity for them these days. What Gerlach claims to have come up with are not only the above quoted alleged prior criminal convictions of Mr S from P, but also the birth registry entries for him, his parents and grandparents. None of them Jewish, by the way, all staunchly Protestant (Lutheran) by the look of it. His grandfather and father seem to have served in the Wehrmacht, which would have been a bit unlikely if they really had been Jewish. All these supposed facts would of course be terribly awkward when you’re trying to make people believe your mum only survived the Holocaust because of the benevolent intervention of some “do-gooder” SS-Mann who rescued her from the gas chambers and later brought her to Frankfurt. Oh, and that your dad only just made it out of Nazi-Germany on the Kindertransport. Which Seibert obviously did claim.
According to Gerlach and the Spiegel, none of the biographical detail turned out to be true. Of course it would be in extremely poor taste to exploit the Holocaust in this manner and quite an insult to the real survivors. But Seibert might have had a lot to gain from it: his story made him the star witness of the new Krautland’s self-proclaimed “elite” – that echo chamber stretching all the way from the Protestant state church to the left-of-centre parties and from the state broadcaster to some far-left “free radio” station where Seibert indulged in whipping up the proletarian masses and mobilising for some Antifa demo or other (*yawn). Claiming Jewish ancestry obviously came in handy. It also must have been very easy because Seibert succeeded in pulling the wool over almost anybody’s eyes by mumbling a bit about Auschwitz here and screeching a lot about the Neo-Nazis there. It was exactly what his audience wanted to hear and he played them well. So, he must have had some talent after all even if he really had to put some time and effort into it.
As for the consequences so far: officially none. No questions asked, no lessons learned. No investigation where the money went. Lots of flapping from the usual suspects though: Gerlach received death threats for daring to shatter another fool’s paradise, Antifa are up in arms because they feel threatened by the truth, the Protestant church is in full damage control mode and assuming their ostrich positions, the left-leaning media are in full-on denial and most of their readers still don’t want to understand what the problem is. They’re busy doing nothing while wishing for the hick-up to go away and the story to get buried.
At least primarily, the problem is not whether Mr Seibert is Jewish or not. That’s neither here nor there, I think. In a world where anything goes and where anyone can self-identify as whatever he or she chooses, Mr Seibert can claim to be a pink squirrel spangled with green stars and I probably couldn’t care less. I’m also not too hot and bothered about him being a convicted criminal, as the Spiegel claims he is. I think if that’s true, he ought not be trusted with vast sums of money, but that’s only my opinion and I’m not the one to make these decisions at the Schleswig-Holstein government anyway.
The problem is that in this case, someone might have been – cunningly and over the years – not only successful in getting away with less than the truth, but also in exploiting the memory of the Holocaust for his own ends. Mr Seibert must have turned a pretty penny through book deals and interviews, he’s amassed honours and public standing on the back of what looks like a lie. And not just any old lie: if you’re ready to exploit the Holocaust for your own means, then there’s no stopping you from a lot of things, perhaps even from repeating history – only this time for the “right” reasons. That, dear lefties, is the problem I’m having with your protecting Mr Seibert to keep your show on the road.
Mr Seibert has by now resigned from his post. It is of course not an admission of guilt, as is being publicly stated by his lawyer. But one must assume that being 72 years of age this August, Mr Seibert wanted to resign from his post anyway. He has also backtracked from some biographical claims he’s made: he now claims having been raised by Jewish foster parents. Sorry, but I must laugh because people are still giving him the benefit of the doubt. A very noble thing to do, I’m sure, but it’s all a bit Asterix in my eyes, the episode where the soothsayer comes to the village and gives the villagers just enough rope to hang themselves in their frenzy to believe anything that’s making them feel good about themselves.
It’s easy to fool some of the people all the time, and the Left over here are no exception to this rule. After all, if they woke up to reality, they’d not only have to admit they’re not as smart as they pretend to be. But they’d also have to face their own reflection in the mirror smirking back at them. Because with their vainglorious, self-serving “make me feel good” do-gooding they have created a monster. And Seibert? Well, as far as I’m concerned, a person of that name stopped existing fifty years ago. The real Wolfgang Seibert got buried under an avalanche of pseudo-political pretensions a long time ago when he first set out claiming his mistaken identity. What survived is a chimera standing on hollow ground, propped up by some gullible and easily fooled peoples’ suspension of disbelief. The sleep of reason gives birth to monsters, and the Seibert show is one of them.
© The Temple Cat of Abydos 2018