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German Protestors Marked 9/11 by Denouncing "Inside Job," "Reichstag Fire"

"Trutherism" is alive and well in Europe.

3:40 PM, Sep 21, 2010 • By JOHN ROSENTHAL
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The abundance of truther-themed signs is particularly striking, given that the demonstration had nothing to do, per se, with the attacks on the United States nine years earlier. Its ostensible purpose was to protest against alleged “excessive surveillance” on the part of “governments and businesses.” (An English-language “Call for Action” is consultable here.) But the fact that the organizers would choose to hold their rally on precisely September 11 – as if to negate or “challenge” the significance generally attached to this date – is perhaps no coincidence. After all, if 9/11 was an “inside job” and not the work of the “external” Islamic extremists typically held responsible, then all the more reason to reject “government surveillance.” Perhaps the protestors believe that the terror attacks of Bali, Madrid, London, Mumbai and so on were all “inside jobs” as well.

Most of the signs depicted are in English and require no explanation. It is as if the young German protestors have re-imported the old European conspiracy theories with the new American branding. But one sign is typically German. It reads “9/11 = Reichstagsbrand.

“9/11 = Reichstag Fire”: Berlin, September 11, 2010: Photo Credit: Gnurpsnewoel“9/11 = Reichstag Fire”: Berlin, September 11, 2010: Photo Credit: Gnurpsnewoel

The reference is to the February 1933 Reichstag fire, which was famously exploited by the Nazi regime to consolidate its power and persecute its political opponents. It has frequently been suggested that the Nazis themselves were responsible for setting the fire. The “9/11 = the Reichstag fire” equation has long been a preferred trope of Germany’s homegrown brand of “trutherism” – or what might better be called, in light of historical precedents, “9/11 revisionism.”

There is a certain irony in the fact that such 9/11 revisionism would abound at Berlin’s “Freedom Not Fear” demonstration. As German-language publicity materials make clear, the principal practical objective of the sponsoring organizations is to combat so-called data-retention laws. In March, Germany’s Constitutional Court overturned a German law implementing minimum data retention requirements laid out in a 2006 European Union directive.

As I have discussed here and here, the directive in question and the European laws implementing it have nothing to do with “surveillance.” They merely require telecommunications firms to save for a given time basic client data that they automatically generate as a matter of course anyway: the sort of data that helped American investigators to reconstruct the 9/11 plot and, among other things, its many connections to Germany.

John Rosenthal writes regularly on European politics for both old and new media. More of his work can be found at

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