Jörg Friedrich

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Jörg Friedrich (born August 17, 1944 in Kitzbühel ) is a German publicist and author of non-fiction books on historical topics. His work focuses on the time of National Socialism and the Second World War and how they came to terms with them in the post-war period. He has also covered state and government crime in numerous media publications .

Friedrich was born in Kitzbühel, grew up in Essen and initially became an actor after graduating from high school . He was also a screenwriter and assistant director to Helmut Käutner . Later he mainly worked for the radio . During the APO period, Friedrich was politically active in the Trotskyist group International Marxists , whose organization in West Berlin he also headed.


Jörg Friedrich first became known with the books Acquittal for the Nazi Justice and The Cold Amnesty , which highlighted the unsuccessful denazification of the legal elites in Germany and criticized the criminal prosecution of National Socialist crimes in the Federal Republic (e.g. in the Majdanek trial ) as inadequate. Before that he had worked on the German first edition of Raul Hilberg's Die Vernichtung der Europäische Juden (The Destruction of European Jews) at Verlag Olle & Wolter and made several radio programs about and with Hilberg.

"The Law of War"

In 1993 Friedrich's book Das Gesetz des Krieg ( The Law of War) was published , in which he deals with the responsibility of the German Wehrmacht during the German-Soviet war on the basis of the trial files of the proceedings against the Wehrmacht High Command . He shows that the leadership of the Wehrmacht was both informed about the mass murders of Jews in the Soviet Union and involved in them in many ways, not only because of the cowardice or ideological blindness of individual generals, but systematically via "chain of command": The Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD were logistically connected to the Wehrmacht and routinely reported to it on their activities. However, Friedrich is less concerned with proof than such, but with the question of why the Wehrmacht leadership tolerated and supported these murders and why generals who were known to be Nazi haters did not behave better than those who professed them Nazis were. His answer is: It is not true that the military, out of sheer racial madness, had put military benefits aside, but that they found the murder of the Jews useful - beyond their personal ideology. Friedrich's reflections on the genesis and motivation of war crimes point beyond the Wehrmacht and beyond the Second World War and show, among other things, the fundamental dilemmas that can be found in attempts to subordinate war to law. The work was criticized in reviews for inaccuracies in content, methodological weaknesses, and linguistic and intellectual peculiarities. For this book, Friedrich received an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam and the 1995 annual prize from the Genocide Foundation PIOOM at the University of Leiden for research into genocide .

"The fire" and "fire sites"

His next book Der Brand. Germany in the bombing war 1940–1945 , published in 2002 by Propylaeen Verlag in Munich, dealt with the Allied bombing war against Germany. In Friedrich's opinion, the bombing raids on German cities since 1944 at the latest had no military meaning. First and foremost, they followed an inhuman military doctrine. In October 2003 he published the illustrated book Brandstätten. The sight of the bombing war .

The appearance of Der Brand sparked an extensive debate. Among other things, Jörg Friedrich was accused of not considering the Allied bombing raids in the context of the war started by Germany. Although he describes the details of the bombing attacks very clearly and can describe complicated technical aspects such as target selection or targeting concisely and clearly. But some things are exaggerated and sloppy, which makes reliability suffer. The book also contains errors and ambiguities. In addition, the considerations underlying the bombing war are not analyzed, which the Americans and initially also the British were by no means primarily aimed at killing civilians.

He is also accused of having taken his knowledge from other publications without identifying and citing them. In particular, he puts the air strikes on Germany linguistically on the same level as the Holocaust . Dan Diner classifies the book as "a tendency to dehistoricize in favor of an anthropologization of suffering", so that the causes that first led to suffering would be suppressed. The British air war historian Richard Overy , on the other hand, said in an interview with Junge Freiheit that “if you use the theses on the Holocaust as a yardstick that see this genocide from the point of view of modernity, that is, emphasize the abstraction of killing, the bureaucratization of extermination, that Administrative planning and execution of the murders, the behavior of the perpetrators behind their office desks, that is, the distance between perpetrator and victim, all of this can also be found as a characteristic of the bombing war ”. Friedrich's book has its merits, but "occasionally sacrifices the historical accuracy on the altar of its message". Hans-Ulrich Wehler speaks of the “urge to ultimately tiresome repetition”, of “uncertainty of historical judgment”, of “unscrupulous tendency to emotionalize” and “undisciplined language”.

"Yalu. On the banks of the Third World War "(2007)

Friedrich's work from 2007 is dedicated to the significance of the Korean War (1950–1953) as the threshold to the Third World War in a way of treating history that is very unique to him .

According to Friedrich's assessment, North Korea can be understood as an advanced battlefield for a "China-America War" in the true sense of the word. The United States Air Force already had a fleet of nuclear- armed aircraft by the early 1950s . In order to achieve success in the Korean War, the federal government of the United States was ready to atomically destroy a large number of targets on the coastline of the People's Republic of China . The Soviet Union already had a nuclear weapon at this time, but did not yet have comprehensive support systems for a counter-attack and direct attack on North America. The chances of a ground war of the United Nations , under the leadership of the United States were to win against a 500,000-strong Chinese army, were hopeless in the Korean War. To force the Soviet Union and the PR China to make concessions, North Korea was almost completely devastated by the US Air Force in a year-long air war , killing around 10% of the population. The concrete plans for the nationwide bombing of China with nuclear weapons under the direction of US General Douglas MacArthur were thwarted by the massive diplomatic intervention of the Europeans for fear of a military counter-attack by Josef Stalin .

"14/18. The Road to Versailles "(2014)

To commemorate the outbreak of the First World War , Jörg Friedrich joins the list of historians who are discussing a controversial new view of war guilt, the purpose of the war and the outcome of the war. In addition to the precise description of the irrational chain reaction of all parties that led to the war, Friedrich provokes, among other things, with theses that the Germans, compared to their opponents, are only particularly clumsy in massacres and war crimes, for example in Belgium or in submarines. War, employed, but acted just as morally reprehensible and greedy. As a result, Germany assumed the role of a pariah for the international community , with whom it was no longer possible to negotiate a mutual agreement. Germany's military successes are also interpreted in what-if scenarios that extend to potential war profits that Germany has gambled away several times through its own stupidity.


Fonts (selection)


  • Ralf Blank : Jörg Friedrich. The fire. Germany in the bombing war. A critical discussion. In: Military History Journal 63, 2004, no. 1, pp. 175–186.
  • Ralf Blank: Review by: Jörg Friedrich: Der Brand. Germany in the bombing war 1940–1945, Berlin / Munich: Propylaea 2002 , in: sehepunkte 2 (2002), No. 12 [15. December 2002], online .
  • Wolfgang Schneider: The guilt of the happy. The Berlin historian Jörg Friedrich . In: Börsenblatt. Weekly magazine for the German book trade , issue 47, 2007, pp. 24–26.
  • Ralf Steckert: Exciting suffering. On the media staging of the “brand” and its historical and political impact in the run-up to the Second Iraq War . In: Th. Köhler, L. Hieber (Hrsg.): Culture - Education - Society . Volume 3, ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-89821-910-5 .
  • Daniel Fulda: Farewell to the central perspective. The not only literary history discourse in post-reunification Germany as a dispositive for Jörg Friedrichs Brand. In: Wilfried Wilms, William Rasch (Ed.): Bombs Away! Representing the Air War over Europe and Japan (= Amsterdam contributions to recent German studies . Volume 60). Rodopi, Amsterdam / New Yorka 2006, pp. 45–64.

Web links


to "The Brand" :

to "fire sites" :

to “Yalu. On the banks of the third world war " :

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff: Jörg Friedrich provokes thinking. Die Welt , August 17, 2014, accessed August 4, 2016 .
  2. Jörg Friedrich in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  3. Jörg Friedrich. www.buchinformationen.de, archived from the original on May 1, 2010 ; Retrieved May 10, 2011 .
  4. Review notes on Der Brand. Germany in the bombing war 1940-1945 at perlentaucher.de
  5. Review on faz.net , February 1, 2003. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  6. Anthropologization of Suffering. Interview with the historian Dan Diner ( Memento of September 29, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). In: Phase 2 09/2003. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  7. ^ Moritz Schwarz: View into the death zone . Interview with Richard Overy, in: Junge Freiheit , April 20, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  8. Lothar Kettensacker: A people of victims? The new debate about the bombing war . Berlin 2003, pp. 140-144.
  9. Shortly before the Third World War. The Korean War as the focus of history. Interview with Jörg Friedrich in DeutschlandRadio Kultur's Radiofeuielleton about the publication of Yalu. On the banks of the Third World War , November 22, 2007.
  10. ^ Andreas Kilb: First World War - The attack of the subjunctive . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , May 3, 2014. Accessed July 29, 2014.
  11. ^ Kronauer Prize for Jörg Friedrich. Main-Post , February 19, 2010, accessed on November 19, 2014 .