NATIONAL OPINION

An open letter to El Mercurio newspaper

Chile’s El Mercurio newspaper has celebrated Nazi criminal Hermann Göring with a piece in its Society section. Ignoring Göring’s crimes, it contained details about his romantic adventures and career. While the resulting outrage has certainly turned the publication into a marketing success, it savaged the victims of Nazism and offended common decency.

Hermann Göring, part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle and head of the Gestapo, has been awarded a puff piece in a major Chilean publication. El Mercurio, the organ of the local oligarchy’s reactionary wing and among the most incendiary newspapers, celebrated the high-profile Nazi on the anniversary of his death.

As an excuse, the newspaper wrote that it never intended to offend the victims of the Holocaust and the Jewish community. “It is a mistake of our responsibility that we deeply regret” if someone reads the piece that way. In May, El Mercurio published a similar piece about Rudolf Hess that would have led to legal charges had it been published in Germany.

The Göring piece drew widespread criticism and united all presidential candidates from left to far right in their condemnation.

In a very rare event, the German embassy even commented, saying “there is not even the slightest space to justify or minimize morally and politically – and much less in legal terms – Göring’s nefarious role during the Nazi regime and in the Holocaust.”

The following open letter was written by a concerned Chile Today reader. If El Mercurio’s executives and staff have the capacity to respond remains to be seen.

“October 25, 2021

Dear Carlos Schaerer Jiménez, Alejandro Arancibia Bulboa,  

Álvaro Fernández Díaz, Graciela Almendras, and El Mercurio staff:

I have read your publication “commemorating” Hermann Göring upon the 75th anniversary of his death. I write to you to express my sheer repulsion, demand an explanation of your intent, and hopefully incite changes to your practices.

As I am sure you are all well-aware, Göring was a staunch supporter of Adolf Hitler and a high-level member of the Nazi party. He was a principal architect of the Nazi police state (creator of the Gestapo secret police) and was even declared Hitler’s successor, shall the need arise, in 1939. As testified to by Göring at the Nuremberg Trials:

“After a certain period of time, when I had acquired more insight into the Führer’s personality, I gave him my hand and said: ‘I unite my fate with yours for better or for worse: I dedicate myself to you in good times and in bad, even unto death.’ I really meant it – and still do.” – Hermann Göring

His unwavering support of the Führer earned him various powerful positions within the Nazi party, all of which he used to enrich himself and commit atrocities. As Commissioner of the “four-year plan,” Göring was tasked with pulling Germany out of a financial crisis and making the country primarily self-sufficient to prepare for war. Some of Göring’s methods for doing so included the establishment of concentration camps to “rid Germany of opposition,” and the emigration and expulsion of Jewish people.

Initially, Göring used his powers as Commissioner of the four-year plan to carry out primarily economic and social persecution against the Jewish community. He passed numerous decrees ordering the elimination of Jews from the German economy, the repossession of their property and businesses, and their exclusion from schools, resorts, and parks. He soon warned of a “final reckoning with the Jews.” On July 31, 1941, Göring authorized SS General Reinhard Heydrich to make preparations for the implementation of a “final solution to the Jewish question,” a euphemism to refer to the mass murder of millions of Jews, part of Operation Reinhard, named after Heydrich. Three concentration camps were opened in occupied Poland. Many others followed across Europe. The German SS and police used the camps to commit the mass murder of millions of Jewish people – innocent men, women, and children – by asphyxiation with poison gas or by shooting.

The atrocities committed by the Nazis are fairly common knowledge, particularly for the well educated. Or so I thought.

Upon finishing your work, Ms. Almendras, I was left with an abundance of questions – mostly all involving a resounding why? I exercised an act of empathy that El Mercurio was evidently incapable of. I stretched myself beyond the imagination to find even one compelling or legitimate reason for your piece, yet repeatedly reached the same conclusion – no such reason exists.

Your publication is simply a grotesque offense not only to the Jewish community, but to the entire free world. Again, what was your intent? Did you and the El Mercurio team really believe it appropriate to discuss the love-life and early-career of a mass-murderer? Did someone buy the page to pay homage to the memory of a Nazi criminal, and, if so, who?

When every member of the upcoming presidential race publicly dismisses your 1.5-page piece, it surely brings into question your editorial team’s qualifications, publication standards, and target audience. It is no secret that El Mercurio has a long-standing history of targeting a select, conservative sector of Chilean society. But when even the most far-right candidate expresses his outrage, who was this article written for and for what purpose?

Unfortunately, an apology is not enough. The damage is done. Instead of issuing more empty words, I hope you conduct an internal review and systematic changes to assure such an atrocity is not committed again. I also hope you provide at least double the space that was afforded to this repulsive article to cover the stories of Holocaust victims living in Chile.”

Regards,

Chandler P. Carney, Esq.

U.S. attorney, Chilean resident, daughter of a U.S. Army colonel, and granddaughter of a U.S. WWII medic.

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