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Offered Free Tickets for ‘Schindler’s List,’ Germany’s Far-Right Sees a Provocation

Category: Europe,World

BERLIN — The director Steven Spielberg cited a “renewed cycle of hate” in society behind his decision to bring “Schindler’s List” back to movie theaters around the world, hoping it would provoke discussion.

An independent movie theater in western Germany embraced that very idea when it offered free tickets to members of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, to its screening of the classic film on Jan. 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

But some members of the AfD, whose leaders have dismissed the Nazi era as a “speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history” and have referred to the country’s main Holocaust Memorial as “a monument of shame,” saw the offer from the Cinexx theater more as a provocation than an invitation.

They have called it a “tasteless instrumentalization” and a “senseless provocation.”

Members of left-leaning political parties and others in Germany have praised the offer, however. As justification, they point to the AfD’s penchant for reciting slogans like “Germany for the Germans,” for questioning the country’s post-World War II culture of atonement and for being willing to march alongside neo-Nazis during protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz.

The Cinexx theater in Hachenburg, which offered the free viewing last month when it published its January schedule, said in a statement: “We see ourselves as a meeting place; films are windows on the world and initiate discussion in society.”

“We are in no way asserting that those who vote for the AfD are Nazis — everyone has to judge for themselves whether they need clarification about history,” the theater said, adding that free tickets were regularly offered to different groups, including migrants, women and children.

Karin Leicher, who runs the movie theater, told the regional broadcaster SWR that she realized the offer was provocative, “but if someone feels the need to insult and threaten us, then they obviously feel addressed” by it.

Asked about his decision to rerelease the film, Mr. Spielberg said that he saw an increasing need for parents and educators to teach the next generation about the horrors of the Holocaust as an antidote to rising anti-Semitism.

“With this renewed cycle of hate,” Mr. Spielberg told The New York Times in December, “I thought it could open up a conversation that genocide can happen anywhere when an ordinary society goes wrong.”

Students across the United States were offered free admission to screenings when the film reopened in December.

A survey released last year found that as time passes, knowledge of the Nazis’ mass genocide is receding among adults in the United States. In Germany, where remembrance of the Holocaust and the commemoration of its victims have been the cornerstone of a post-World War II history, a recent survey indicated that less than half of people age 18 to 34 said they knew “very little” about the Holocaust.


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