German publisher drops Extinction Rebellion's Roger Hallam over Holocaust comments

German publisher drops Extinction Rebellion's Roger Hallam over Holocaust comments

Extinction Rebellion leader Roger Hallam has been dropped by his German publisher Ullstein following remarks he made about the Holocaust. 

Hallam sparked anger in Germany following an interview with Die Zeit, which will be published in full today (21st November) which has seen him accused of downplaying the Holocaust. In an extract from the interview Hallam described  the Holocaust as "almost a normal event" and "just another f*****y in human history" in the context of other mass killings in the last 500 years. 

He said: “The fact of the matter is, millions of people have been killed in vicious circumstances on a regular basis throughout history.”

Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas was among those to condemn Hallam’s comments, tweeting: “The Holocaust is more than millions of dead and horrific torture methods. To want to murder and exterminate Jewish women and men is uniquely inhumane. We must always be aware of that so we can be certain: never again!” 

Yesterday (Wednesday 20th November), Ullstein said it would no longer publish Hallam's book, Common Sense for the 21st Century. It was due to hit German bookshelves on 26th November. 

Extinction Rebellion in Germany has distanced itself from Hallam, tweeting: “We explicitly distant ourselves from Roger Hallam’s belittling and relativising statements about the Holocaust. In so doing he contravenes the principles of XR, which does not tolerate antisemitism, and he is no longer welcome in XR Germany.”

Extinction Rebellion UK backed the German branch and “unreservedly denounced” Hallam’s comments and said they were “made in a personal capacity in relation to the recent launch of his book”. 

Hallam's US publisher Chelsea Green Publishing Company is standing by the book. Chelsea Green president and publisher Margo Baldwin said: "Obviously, we are disappointed that Ullstein have cancelled the book in Germany. We, however, stand by the book, Common Sense for the 21st Century, and fully support Roger’s primary concern that our governments’ continued refusal to take emergency action to reduce carbon emissions condemns millions of people, primarily in the Global South, to early death and suffering. The book has just been released in North America and we will continue to do all we can to promote it and spread the word about what we can all do to help stop our climate catastrophe."

Chelsea Green acquired world rights (excluding the UK and Australia) last month after Hallam signed the book seal from his cell at Wormwood Scrubs. Hallam was arrested on 14th September over plans to fly a drone over Heathrow. In the UK, Hallam self-published the manifesto. 

In a lengthy online statement Hallam has apologised for his comments. He said: "I am very sorry for the words I used. And I wish to apologize for the hurt and offense they have caused. My intention was the exact opposite of ;downplaying the Holocaust'. It's because of the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust that in talking to the German press, I was referring to it as the way to communicate the unimaginable tragedy of what is happening now today with climate change and ecological collapse around the world."

He added: "I realise that in the interview I got sidetracked into an unnecessary debate about where the Holocaust sits in terms of horrific genocides. I see now my cultural insensitivity. I understand 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."