Author Defends Reputation British Newspapers Misquote German Hitler Researcher
German historian Joachim Riecker recently published a book about Hitler's hatred of Jews. British newspapers soon printed articles containing inaccurate information about the book. Now the researcher is battling to save his reputation. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Riecker expresses his frustration and demands a correction.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Riecker, you wrote a book about Hitler and the Holocaust. Your central thesis in "Hitler's November 9," is that Germany's defeat in World War I is one of the main reasons for Hitler's anti-Semitic delusion. Now the tabloid Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph newspapers claim that you wrote in your book that one of the causes of that hatred of Jews was the "harmful treatment" Hitler's mother received from a Jewish general practictioner. You were even quoted directly. Did the Daily Mail ever talk to you?
Joachim Riecker: No. The author appears to have taken the information from an obscure Austrian Web site with English-language articles that included incorrect information about my book in a review. That was the first place I read the quotations that had been attributed to me.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Anyone who reads your book with any attention to detail will not find any indication that you support the thesis of US historian Rudolph Binion, who attributes Hitler's hatred of Jews to, among other things, the treatment methods used by the Jewish doctor. You even reject his theory outright in one chapter. Nevertheless, the Daily Mail quotes you as saying that Hitler "never forgave the Jewish doctor" and became anti-Semitic for that reason.
Riecker: This claim is simply nonsense. General Practitioner Eduard Bloch, who treated Hitler's mother in 1907, still lived in Linz during the occupation of Austria by the Wehrmacht in 1938. He was placed under the protection of the Gestapo and was allowed to sell his property in a normal manner and emigrate to the USA with his wife in 1940. Historian Brigitte Hamann recently wrote a book about Eduard Bloch and even quoted Hitler as commenting that his mother's former practitioner had been a "noble Jew."
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What consequences has the Daily Mail's story had for you?
Riecker: Several newspapers around the world cited the false quotes attributed to me by the Daily Mail, including the likes of the Times of India and Haaretz, the major Israeli daily newspaper -- and each time they attributed the quotes to me. These articles can also be found on the information service of the Israeli government as well as the Web site of the Israeli Embassy to the Vatican.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Bloggers have also cited the Daily Mail's account without verification of its authenticity. Do you fear that your reputation as a serious journalist for the Märkischen Allgemeinen Zeitung, which is owned by the prestigious Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has been damaged?
Riecker: Of course. The Holocaust is a highly sensitive subject. False reports like this can quickly destroy a journalist's credibility. I don't even want to imagine what else could happen at this point.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you plan to take legal action against the Daily Mail?
Riecker: I will keep this option open. First, I expect the Daily Mail and the other newspapers to print a correction article that correctly presents the theses contained in my book. We are currently discussing this. The Telegraph and the Daily Mail have already corrected their stories. But this cannot compensate for the damage caused by the reports in other media. I find that deeply regrettable -- especially with regard to Israel.
Interview conducted by Severin Weiland