Race of perpetrators / Tätervolk

Yesterday Martin Hohmann, a member of the CDU, was expelled from the party for remarks he made in a speech on October 3rd, which are seen as anti-Semitic. I don’t intend to discuss the speech itself, which I have skimmed. Its main point was that Germans ought not permanently to be seen as beyond the pale, and that other nations could get away with things Germans couldn’t. The comparison that most struck me was a reference to the way Napoleon is remembered in France, with an implied comparison to Hitler – but surely Napoleon’s legacy and Hitler’s were somewhat different?

Anyway, Hohmann said the Jews could just as much be considered a Tätervolk (race of perpetrators) as the Germans. I wondered if there were varying translations – the word Täter can be a problem, but perpetrator seemed the right choice. The Independent had race of perpetrators. The BBC didn’t mention the term. The Guardian had nation of perpetrators. The New York Times wrote:

bq. As an example of those other people, Mr. Hohmann singled out the Jews, whom he called Tätervolk, a German term that has been widely translated as “race of perpetrators” but is probably more accurately translated as “nation of perpetrators.”

It also called Hohmann a legislator, which was a new term to me in this context.

I found nothing in the Telegraph online, but there was an article about the poor quality of German pop music:

bq. So dire has the situation become that some German chart toppers pretend they are foreigners. The red-haired Kelly Family pretend to be Irish, while the singer Sascha hints that he is Canadian….
Predictably, American and British acts are hogging the current top ten, while only three are German. But who has heard of Alexander, Jeanette or Sarah Connor?

14 thoughts on “Race of perpetrators / Tätervolk

  1. Yes, I did notice that and checked them up, and at a cursory Google I found that they are American (I can’t be certain of this, of course). This was on their website, bios. The parents came from the USA to the south of Spain, and the kids grew up in Europe. I don’t know whether that makes them Irish to you. They certainly don’t appear to be German, and for Americans they would be Irish because of their (presumably) Irish ancestry.

    P.S. I didn’t translate this, I just quoted it.

  2. Oh, good, thank you. I am far too paranoid and thought you might view me as a member of the enemy race (very appropriate to the topic).

    This is a lesson, though: before I posted that bit from the Telegraph (which has gone downhill since the last change of editor), I did check that bit on the Kelly Family and I knew it was probably wrong, so I should have said so. The piece just caught my interest.

    I too thought they were travellers, but perhaps they just became travellers. Does that mean they aren’t real travellers, but false travellers? And I wonder how many years they’ve spent in Germany. I was surprised to read about the USA.

  3. > Oh, good, thank you. I am far too paranoid and thought you might view
    > me as a member of the enemy race (very appropriate to the topic).

    I wonder would I be chucked out of the CDU if I referred to the
    English as a “Tätervolk”?!

    Well, I meant Irish travellers as in the gypsy-type people, you know?

    The younger ones of the Kellys certainly speak fluent German,
    and were almost certainly born here; the American link I’d never
    heard of. But, I have consulted She Who Must Be Obeyed, and she
    says she remembers when the Kellys came over here in the 70s,
    and that they definitely came from Ireland.

    The Torygraph: I used to read it myself, you might be surprised
    to learn. I think it started going downhill when it was acquired
    by Mr. Black, though.

  4. Well, what I read was that the parents came from the USA to the south of Spain in 1966, and the children began singing and dancing. Perhaps they then returned to Ireland to polish up their roots, having noticed that Irish music is good advertising. http://www.kellyfamily.de/index.php
    I read somewhere else that they want to distance themselves from the von Trapp family, because the Kellys can each play an instrument.
    I didn’t read the Telegraph much in paper form, but it had a good reputation for keeping facts and opinion separate, and I remember going to see the paper put to bed and hearing it was respected by the unions (this was when the papers were around Fleet Street). But the Electronic Telegraph was wonderful. When I was teaching British background studies and students were writing essays on current politics, and every story they published had some excellent links to the archive and the rest of the Web. They do still have some links, but I don’t need them now. I notice the reliability seems to have suffered.

  5. Interesting exchange.

    Coming back to Hohmann – the name paradoxically could be Jewish – I suspect the only reason he wasn’t arrested is that he wasn’t a Holocaust ‘denier’.

    More popular than Hohmann in Austria are Michael Schuhmacher look-alike Alexander – crooning one song in a motor racetrack video, plus Jeannette and Sarah Connor, all of whom receive regular air-time.

    On a trivial nationality point, Beethoven may been born German, but lived all his working life in Vienna and died in Baden just outside, so is considered an ‘adopted’ Austrian.

    By the same token, German musicologists foolishly argue that Mozart is supposed to have considered himself ‘German’ and been born in Salzburg when it was part of German Bavaria.

  6. I sure did see Alexander hilariously winning and also follow the UK and German Fame Academy sagas on cable TV.

    Mozart showing up in the greatest 100 Germans grated somewhat in Austria and came in for howls of mass media and public protest.

  7. Tere!
    Leidsin ühe artikli, kus on juttu Sinu onu huvitavast terminist.
    Ehk läheb pilt selgemaks.
    Tervitab Karina

  8. Soso, Mozart und Beethoven sind also “Österreicher” und keine Deutschen gewesen?

    Das ist lächerlich. Nicht wegen ephemerer biographischer Details, sondern wegen der historischen Bedingtheit der Kategorien. Vor der Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts wären wenige, und im 18. Jahrhundert niemand, auf den Gedanken gekommen, Deutschösterreicher – ich verwende meinerseits wohl einen modernen Begriff – nicht für Deutsche zu halten. Die Österreicher waren damals (und sind es, seien wir ehrlich, auch heute noch) ein deutscher Stamm. Mozart ist selbstverständlich als Österreicher Deutscher gewesen. Für diese Zeit eine Unterscheidung zwischen “Deutschen” und “Österreichern” anzunehmen ist ahistorisch.

    “Prinz Eugenius ritt auf und nieder,
    halt euch brav, ihr deutschen Brüder,
    Greift den Feind nur mutig an.”

    Aber Pardon, das war natürlich ein Savoyarde…

    Angelsachsen haben da auf anscheinend oft ein bißchen Schwierigkeiten durchzublicken; ist halt ein bißchen abseits der okzidentalen Zivilisation auf diesen Inseln.

  9. @ Motax: Danke für die zusätzlichen Informationen. – Es geht darum, dass viele Österreicher anscheinend empört waren und Ihre Meinung wahrscheinlich nicht teilen. Ich glaube, mit dem ZDF, dass man bei den sich ändernden politischen Verhältnissen über die Jahrhunderte die Sache nicht so eng sehen sollte. Sigmund Freud war allerdings auch auf der Liste.

  10. Rather than “race of perpetrators”, may I propose a translation for “Tätervolk” that, while not literal, is far simpler and I think captures the intended meaning exactly: “troublemakers”.

  11. @kaarin: I’m a bit mystified that someone would comment on this blog in Estonian rather than English or German. Perhaps you could give a translation.
    Eine Übersetzung ins Deutsche oder Englische wäre nützlich.

    (There is a reference to ‘Your uncle’ that suggests kaarin maybe thought she was writing an email to someone else).

    @John: Hmm, that’s very mild in comparison to ‘Täter’ in view of the deeds being referred to. A matter of opinion, no doubt!

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