One of the most important elements of the climate group German Letzten Generation, or Last Generation, has gone on an indefinite strike against the leadership of the organisation, with the so-called Awareness Team demanding a “credible distancing from anti-Semitism”.
This dispute arose following an investigation by the media outlet Apollo News that revealed members of Last Generation making “Holocaust-relativising” statements. The statements were issued after a discussion over remarks made by Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam, who is seen as something of a spiritual leader of the broader extreme-environmentalist movement.
In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit in 2019, Hallam described the Holocaust as an “almost normal event” in human history.
“It is a fact that in our history millions of people have been regularly killed in appalling conditions,” he said. The Shoah, as the Holocaust catastrophe is also called, is “just another piece of shit in human history”, he insisted.
On the other hand, he described climate change as a crime “far worse” than the Holocaust.
Last Generation did eventually distance itself from those comments but in a manner many felt was not strong enough, leading to an internal conflict. According to the Awareness Team, which was tasked with mediating the conflict, the move to address the issue was half-hearted at best.
Even worse, it said, internally, the Last Generation leadership seemed to take a soft approach regarding Hallam’s comments. Sonja Manderbach, a high-ranking member of the organisation and erstwhile candidate for the hard-Left Die Linke party, said the way he expressed himself was “unfortunate”, adding: “To consider the man-made climate catastrophe [less serious] than the Holocaust, however, is to trivialise it [climate catastrophe]. It just hasn’t happened yet.”
Exklusiv: Die Letzte Generation steht vor der Spaltung.
Nach unserer Recherche gestern zum Antisemitismus bei der Gruppe, brennt intern die Luft. In einer internen Krisensitzung droht jeder vierte Teilnehmer mit Austritt und der Führung wird vorgeworfen, selbst antisemitisch zu… pic.twitter.com/Or80ouJzGe
— Apollo News (@apollo_news_de) August 10, 2023
These and other remarks deemed anti-Semitic caused a large number of Last Generation members to threaten to abandon the organisation.
Now the leadership is facing an internal crisis. The core group (the non-elected leadership) of the Last Generation was strongly urged to distance itself from Hallam on August 11, which it failed to do.
To exacerbate the fall-out, in a subsequent statement it expressed understanding for the equating of the Holocaust with the “climate catastrophe”. According to the core group: “An unleashed climate catastrophe will cost billions of human lives.”
The Awareness Team is reportedly now staging an open revolt against the organisation’s leadership, according to Apollo News. The explanation from the core team appears “unfortunately hypocritical to us”, the Awareness Team wrote.
Because of that, the team is collectively going on strike, pointing out it has much support among Last Generation members. “For over two months, we have desperately fought for your concerns to be taken seriously,” it said. “Dozens of you have already reached out to us directly. We stand behind you! Without you, there is no Last Generation!”
Simultaneously, another accusation is being levelled against the organisation’s leadership: “We are now even being pressured to reveal your names, which we will by no means do!” the Awareness Team said.
In the past, the leadership of the Last Generation has responded to criticism by excluding members who voiced such. This seems to be the leaders’ plan once again by allegedly demanding the names of dissenters, presumably to take action against them.
Away from the Last Generation controversy, French Greens are grappling with a similar issue. In France, the environmentalist party invited the rapper Medina to one of its summer events, despite him having earlier addressed artist and essayist Rachel Kahn, granddaughter of deported Jews, in a particularly offensive manner on Twitter, now X.
Medina engaged in word play regarding her name, calling her resKHANpea, referring to the French word rescapés, meaning people who were deported and who survived the Holocaust. He further described her as: “A person who has been cast aside by the Hip Hop scene, drifting towards social traitors, and literally dining at the far-right table.”
The offer to the rapper to attend the summer function did not sit well with many in the Greens party. One Greens MEP said she “could not support nor approve the invitation of Medina”.
Je suis une écologiste et une femme de gauche, viscéralement attachée au respect des gens, à la liberté, l'égalité, la solidarité & la laïcité.
Dès lors, je ne peux soutenir & encore moins cautionner, l’invitation de Médine.
— Karima Delli (@KarimaDelli) August 18, 2023