Friday, August 1, 2014

The German-Iran Alliance & The Myth Of Shared Aryan Ancestry

Special Relationship

Matthias Küntzel and his book, Die Deutschen und der Iran. Geschichte und Gegenwart einer verhängnisvollen Freundschaft (The Germans and Iran: The History and Present of a Fateful Friendship).
Credit & Source: Gatestone

An article, by Amir Taheri, in the Gatestone Institute discusses and brings to light some of the important aspects of the more than 100-year relationship between Germany and Iran. In doing so, Taheri reviews a book by Matthias Küntzel, Die Deutschen und der Iran. Geschichte und Gegenwart einer verhängnisvollen Freundschaft (The Germans and Iran: The History and Present of a Fateful Friendship). “Küntzel is a German author and a political scientist. He is a research associate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,” Wikipedia notes.

This special relationship between the two nations might help explain why in nuclear talks, Germany's position is closer to Russia than it is to Great Britain, France and the United States; Taheri, an Iranian author and journalist, writes:
As the 5+1 group ends another round of negotiations with Iran, commentators assume that the four Western powers involved—the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany—are united in their determination to curtail Iranian nuclear ambitions. However, in this fascinating book, German scholar Matthias Küntzel argues that Germany's position on this issue may be closer to that of Russia rather than the United States—with Germany acting as "a shield for Iran against America," as Germany's former Foreign Minister Joshcka Fischer described his country.
The reason, according to Küntzel, is the "special relationship" that Iran and Germany have built since 1871, when Germany emerged as a nation-state. Two years after Germany was put on the map as a new country, Nassereddin Shah of Iran arrived in Berlin for a state visit of unprecedented pomp.
It is not hard to see why the two sides warmed up to each other. For over a century Iran had looked for a European power capable of counter-balancing the Russian and British empires that had nibbled at the edges of Iranian territory in pursuit of their colonial ambitions. In 1871, Germany looked like a good ally. As for Germans, they saw Iran as their sole potential ally in a Middle East dominated by Britain and Russia. The friendship was put to the test in the First World War, when Iran refused to join the anti-German axis and suffered as a consequence. With the advent of the Nazi regime, Küntzel shows, a new dimension was added to the Irano-German relationship: the myth of shared Aryan ancestry. In World War II Iran again declared its neutrality, but was invaded by Britain and Russia after refusing to sever relations with Germany.

Iranians had always regarded themselves as heirs to an Aryan identity, asserted in bas reliefs dating back to more than 2500 years ago. The Achaemenid King of Kings, Darius, describes himself as "Aryan son of an Aryan". The very name of the country, Iran, means "the land of Aryans." The idea of Germans as Aryans, however, dates back to the 19th century and the rise of nationalism in Europe. Then, writers such as Herder and Schlegel claimed that Germans were descendants of original Aryan tribes somewhere in Asia, splitting into several groups moving into India, Iran and Europe. (Much later, the Irish also claimed they were Aryans and named their newly-created republic Eire, which means land of Aryans.)

In the 1930s, Alfred Rosenberg, one of Hitler's philosophers, published "The Myth of the Twentieth Century", a book in which he claimed that the torch of Aryanism had passed from Iranians to Germans. The reason was that Iranians had been "corrupted" by Islam and mixed with "inferior races" such as Arabs, Turks, and Mongols. Thus, in 1936, when the Third Reich wanted to publish its official list of "superior" and "inferior" races, there was some debate regarding the place to be assigned to Iranians. In the end raison d'etat prevailed and Iran was declared an "Aryan nation".
This article points out that while Germany considered race as the defining factor for Aryanism, Iran considered culture, namely, that any Iranian could be considered an Aryan. These differences allowed Iran, to its credit, to issue visas to save hundreds of German and French Jews.

Germany, like all powerful economic nations, has other reasons to set itself apart from the U.S. There is also the lingering resentment among some in the political and economic class that Germany was soundly defeated in the Second World War—no doubt a humiliation that most of its citizens no longer remember, or care to discuss. It is noteworthy that most Germans do not have a favourable view of the United States or Israel, Taheri writes: “Küntzel cites a number of opinion polls that show a majority of Germans regard the US and Israel, rather than Iran, as the biggest threat to world peace.”

Power politics, perhaps? But the special political and economic bond between the two nations might also have more practical, if not emotional, reasons: Iran had never considered Germany a pariah nation because of the Nazi war crimes committed during the Second World War; for many Iranians, however, the Holocaust never happened, because they know so little about it. This is the opposite of the situation in Germany.

For more, go to [Gatestone].

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