Co-founder of climate group Extinction Rebellion Roger Hallam has offered his apologies for divisive comments about the Third Reich’s mass murder of Jews known as the Holocaust, which, as he had previously noted, was “just another f***ery in human history". Following a severe backlash, Hallam insisted that his intention was the quite opposite of “downplaying the Holocaust".
In a Facebook post, he lamented his “cultural insensitivity", elaborating on how he ended up in the public’s crosshairs:
"I realise that in the interview I got side-tracked into an unnecessary debate about where the Holocaust sits in terms of horrific genocides", he wrote, adding that he well understands that “such a debate is obscene and offensive, in particular for all those who remain haunted by memories of what occurred and for all those who lost people they loved".
He stressed he was sorry for the “crass words” he resorted to but did not feel the need to apologise for drawing attention to the “genocide that is happening now", implying the urgency with which climate issues should be sorted out.
‘Almost a Normal Occurrence’
In a recent interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit, Hallam used an obscene term to refer to the Holocaust, adding that the “fact of the matter is, millions of people have been killed in vicious circumstances on a regular basis throughout history”, which for him made it “almost a normal occurrence".
Hallam then brought up the example of the Belgians who "went to the Congo in the late 19th century and decimated it". Millions died there under Belgian colonial rule.
When discussing Germany's extensive attempts to remember and teach about the Holocaust, Hallam pointed out that “the extremity of a trauma can create a paralysis in actually learning the lessons from it".
‘In Some Cases Exclusion is Necessary’
Hallam’s colleagues instantly entered the fray, with XR Germany's Annemarie Botzk tweeting the office “distances” itself from “Roger Hallam's trivialising and relativising comments about the Holocaust". Separately, an XR spokesman stressed that Jewish people and “many others are deeply wounded by the comments".
“Internal conversations have begun with the XR Conflict team about how to manage the conflict process that will address this issue. We stand by restorative outcomes as preferable, although in some cases exclusion is necessary", the press service concluded, while German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed in response that the Nazi genocide was "uniquely inhumane".
Founded by Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook in May 2018, the UK-based socio-political movement XR has set up grand protests around the world to call on international governments to declare “a climate and ecological emergency", with Harram earlier likening global warming to the 1.1. million victims at the notorious “death factory” of Auschwitz.