As I was waiting for the bus this morning, a spectacularly beautiful car passed by. I immediately wished I was driving it, only envisioning the performance and luxury. Alas, more than just the fact that I can’t afford a car like that was stopping me. You see, the car was a BMW 6 Series Convertible. A German car. And as many Jews do, I harbor a lingering negativity towards German automobiles (and other German products, presumably) that prevents me from buying one.
I was thinking about this. Is it simply because of the Holocaust? I am not trying to make light of the Holocaust at all, heaven forbid, just wondering why it has such an impact on our consumption habits. Certainly, we don’t think that modern Germans are responsible. Are we holding a 60-year grudge? That seems unfair. Is it because of the association that Mercedes and BMW have to the German Army and Luftwaffe? (And Volkswagen, too, being given the name in the title by Hitler?) Does that mean that Porsche and Audi are OK, because they are companies formed after WWII? The Japanese allied with the Germans in WWII, yet I still drive a Honda. The revulsion just isn’t the same.
Given the complexities of the world economy, does that mean I shouldn’t drive a Jeep or a Chrysler either, since the merger with DaimlerBenz? What about products made in America for German companies? What about products made in Germany for domestic companies? Should I throw away my J.A. Henckels knives because they are made with German Steel?
How long are we supposed to carry this grudge? At what point do we say, the current ownership of BMW and Mercedes has nothing to do with the holocaust. Driving the new E500 does not make me a bad Jew, not will it make me forget the Holocaust, nor will I be financing, heaven forbid, the next Holocaust by buying German products.
I agree, we should never forget what happened in Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s (and more importantly, what happened in the 1920’s, that led up to it. It’s more important, imho, to recognize the signs that something is coming.) But why does that necessarily include German cars?