Co-founder of the radical environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) Roger Hallam has apologized for commenting on the Holocaust. "I am very sorry, which words I used," wrote the activist on Facebook. "And I apologize for the injury and the insult they have caused."
Hallam had triggered outrage with phrases that he had said of "time." He described the Holocaust as an "almost normal event" in human history: "The fact is that in our history, millions of people have been regularly killed under dire circumstances." For him, the Holocaust is "just another shit in human history."
In his statement, Hallam now writes that he did not want to play down the Holocaust, but intended exactly the opposite. He wanted to point out the "unimaginable horror" caused by climate change. The Europeans had sworn "never again" after the Holocaust, but now nothing was done to turn whole world regions into zones of death.
The apology Hallams comes at a remarkable time: Even in the current conversation with the SPIEGEL he draws parallels between the climate crisis and the genocide of European Jews in the Second World War. Climate change is "just the pipe through which gas flows into the gas chamber, it's just the mechanism by which one generation kills another." (Read the SPIEGEL interview here.)
Hallam's SPIEGEL interview
In response to Hallam's statements in Die Zeit, German book publisher Ullstein withdrew Wednesday's November 26 publication of his book Common Sense – The Nonviolent Rebellion Against Disaster and Human Survival.
"The Ullstein publishing house distanced itself in all form from current remarks Roger Hallams", it was said in a publishing statement. For this reason, his book "Common Sense" will not appear: "The delivery of the book was stopped with immediate effect."
"Trivializing and relativizing utterances"
Hallam's comments also caused harsh criticism in politics. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reacted indignantly: "The Holocaust is more than a million dead and cruel methods of torture: to assassinate and destroy Jews industrially is uniquely inhumane, and we must always be aware of this, so that we can ensure: never again!" Wrote he on Twitter.
Extinction rebellion Germany distanced itself from Hallam and spoke of "trivializing and relativizing remarks on the Holocaust". His statement was "in diction as content for XR Germany not sustainable". Hallam was not a spokesman for XR Germany and did not coordinate with the German organization. He was no longer welcome to the movement in Germany.
Despite this debate Hallam had authorized the conversation with SPIEGEL including further remarks on the Holocaust on Wednesday evening (read the whole interview here). Hours later, on Thursday afternoon, he then apologized on Facebook for his comments.