German cinema offers free Schindler's List screenings

January, 2019

A German cinema has found itself at the centre of a political row after offering free tickets to members of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party to see the Holocaust film Schindler's List.

The management of the Cinexx cinema in the western town of Hachenburg told the SWR regional public broadcaster that they only wanted to "start a discussion about the Holocaust with a party that has trivialised it" at a special showing of Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic scheduled for 27 January - International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The AfD has not taken the offer well, with party members complaining that it is insulting to associate them with the Holocaust. The party group in the local Rhineland-Palatinate State told SWR "it is unforgivable to link the AfD to the industrial mass extermination of people of the Jewish faith that was the Holocaust," and the AfD deputy leader in the state parliament, Joachim Paul, said what he was keen to discuss was "what part of our programme justifies the view that we would play down Nazi crimes".

The AfD has an anti-migration and anti-Islam agenda, and emerged as the official opposition in parliament after elections in 2017 - largely in reaction to Germany's mass migrant influx. But leading members have also made the headlines with comments that appear to play down the Holocaust.

The Hachenburg cinema issued a statement highlighting the messages of supportit has received about its reach-out initiative - as well as criticism and some threats. "We don't understand why so many people feel that offended, as it was not our intention. We are not saying that AfD voters are Nazis. Whether you need historical enlightenment or not is up to you. It's just that we think the AfD manifesto strongly suggests a trivialisation of the events of that time," the statement said.

The free-ticket offer won the support of the centre-left Social Democrats, whose Hendrik Hering is chairman of the state parliament. He thinks it is a good idea to "challenge a party whose members question or scorn the culture of remembrance". On the other hand, Hachenburg's centre-right mayor, Stefan Leukel, is worried about "bringing AfD members into a discussion without defining the terms of debate".

Source: BBC