The 75th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany should serve as a reminder to all that the Holocaust was carried out using a tightly controlled, unchallenged narrative, filmmaker Werner Herzog told RT.
Having grown up in the ruins of post-war Germany, the acclaimed director, screenwriter and producer spoke with Sophie Co. host Sophie Shevardnadze about lessons that can be gleaned from one of the darkest episodes in human history.
The atrocities carried out by the Nazis were the result of a lockstep narrative of “demonization” which replaced facts, Herzog observed. He argued that scapegoating people and entire nations – “Jewish people, the French, the Russians,” and so on – can still be seen “very clearly” today.
It is not so much what is factually happening, it’s who owns the narrative. And we have to be very, very careful and watchful about looking at the media. What are the media doing? Is there some sort of almost collective brainwashing going on or not? … [W]e have to be quite vigilant and we should think on our own.
The “industrialized mass murder” of the Holocaust – a mechanized system of death not seen before in human history – required manufactured consent, he stressed.
But questioning prevailing narratives might not be enough. Should fascism re-emerge, Herzog vowed that he would sacrifice his life to stop it. The filmmaker said he would “take up arms” and “defend democracy” if there’s another Holocaust.
As long as there’s breath in me, it’s not going to happen, because I will fight back actively. I will arm myself and I will fight back. And you will see me dead, and only then it may happen.
The tragedies and triumphs of World War II may seem distant and foreign to current generations, but he argued that similar sacrifice and cooperation can be seen in the current fight against Covid-19. He urged people to show “discipline” in order to overcome the pandemic, stressing that the virus must be “starved.”
For Herzog, the heroes of our times are those who have selflessly volunteered as test subjects as the world rushes to develop a vaccine for coronavirus.
The worldwide health crisis will likely alter our “collective behavior,” he observed – a change that will hopefully be for the better. As Herzog pointed out, Germany once waged a catastrophic war against the Soviet Union, but now he is “happily married” to a Russian.