Disbelief And Different Views: Germany’s Perception Of 9/11

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This story was reported by Anne Allmeling.

BOSTON — Sept. 11 was one of the rare moments when the entire European Union was united in shock and agreed to support the United States in its war against terror. People all over Europe went to the streets to express their sympathy with the U.S. Ten years later, however, Europe's support of the United States has dwindled, especially in Germany, where the majority of the population mistrusts the official account of 9/11.

Karl Kaiser, professor for political science at Harvard University, remembers how Germans in Berlin came out in support of America after 9/11.

"There was an immediate, spontaneous demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate the next day with hundreds of thousands of people," Kaiser said.

The empathy for the United States' experience with 9/11 faded after the U.S. launched its attack on Iraq.

"The soldierization was total, the chancellor the next day in the German Bundestag, the very chancellor who later on totally disagreed with George Bush’s policy on Iraq, declared complete solidarity with the United States, and that reflected very much the feeling all over Germany."

In 2001, the great majority of the German population approved of the way the U.S. administration reacted to the terror attacks immediately after they happened. This empathy for the United States faded, though, after the U.S. launched its attack on Iraq. Germany –- as opposed to Britain, for example -– declined to join the military operations.

Germany and the United States started to drift apart. Melinda Crane, a U.S. journalist from Boston, has worked in Germany for the past 20 years. She argues that the reason Germans became disillusioned with the Bush administration was their assertion that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq. This distortion of facts hit a sour note for a country like Germany, which has had a troubled experience with manipulative governments.

"I would say that in a country which on the basis of its history is very, very sensitive on all questions of the use of military power, they have developed a tremendous opposition to the U.S. attempt to manipulate fact, to manipulate all of these things to go into Iraq and wage a war with a very weak justification that there had been contacts between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein which, of course, proved to be unfounded," Crane said.

Part of this skepticism can be seen in a World Opinion Poll that was conducted in 2008. It indicates that one-fifth of the German population believes the U.S. was behind the 9/11 attacks.

One of those believers is Mathias Bröcker. The German journalist and author from Berlin has just published his third book on 9/11.


"It’s quite clear that a lot of secret services, not only in the U.S., were involved in this and were very close to these hijackers. And this alone should be an urgent reason to re-investigate the whole case," Bröcker said.

Many of his critics call Bröcker a conspiracy theorist. But even so, many in Germany still doubt the official 9/11 account.

Other polls indicate that almost 90 percent of the population believe that the U.S. government has not told the truth about 9/11. Despite this skepticism, however, the majority of Germans do believe that al-Qaida is behind the 9/11 attacks, and has a much more favorable view of the Obama administration than of his predecessor’s.

This program aired on September 9, 2011.


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