Fact Check

A German's View on Islam

Rumor: Holocaust survivor Dr. Emanuel Tanay penned an essay about the dangers of Islam.

Published Jan 14, 2015


Claim:   Holocaust survivor Dr. Emanuel Tanay penned an essay on the dangers of Islam.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2015]

A German's View On Islam. Dr Emanuel Tanya. Is this a true publication?

Origins:   On 21 February 2006, Canadian Paul Marek published on his blog Celestial Junk an article titled "Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant." In passages such as the following, Marek's essay warned about the dangers of Islamic fanaticism and dismissed as irrelevant the notion that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful:

We are told again and again by "experts" and "talking heads" that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard quantifiable fact is, that the "peaceful majority" is the "silent majority" and it is cowed and extraneous.

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Marek's article has been republished in books such as How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth and Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam, and it has been widely circulated on the Internet under the title "A German's View on Islam." However, in the latter form the essay has most commonly been attributed to the late Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor who isn't German (he was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States) and had nothing to do with writing it.

It is uncertain how Dr. Tanay's name became attached to Internet-circulated versions of this essay. Some versions of the message state Tanay was one of the people (perhaps the first) who forwarded Marek's article to a wider audience, but this explanation does not seem likely and has not been proved.

Tanay, who passed away on 5 August 2014, talked about his experience living in occupied Poland during World War II with Dr. Sidney Bolkosky of the University of Michigan-Dearborn for the Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive in 1987:

I think one of the areas that has been neglected, I believe, is the survivor experience. That is, you know, variety of aspects have been talked about, written about, like people who died, who were annihilated or exterminated or whatever term you want to use, their resistance, but the people who survived, I think have been in a certain sense both in writing and teaching about the genocide, avoided. And that is why I think it is a value that we are discussing here today, and I certainly would think that the project that you were involved in of talking to survivors who have had a variety of experiences, I think it is very worthwhile because one day, once the last survivors are gone, there will be less ambivalence towards survivors and more appreciation of survivors as people who have achieved a great deal.

You know, prior to my analysis, I would have never thought of my own survival as an achievement. I always thought of it as an accident, like most survivors. Oh, I view it now as an accomplishment and achievement. I needed help of great many people. But it began with me. And I think that is true of most survivors and there is limited understanding of that. You know, we, for example, the whole notion that there could have been resistance misses the point. Resistance at that time was a form of collaboration. The true resistance was to survive. I was aware of it even then as a youngster.

I'll never forget the January 1, 1943, or rather, December 31, 1942, I was aware that this was a landmark. I was on a train and I had a sense of victory. I made it beyond January 1, 1943. Because already then, the rumors circulated that Hitler supposedly said that if a Jew will be free after January 1, he will tip his hat to him. I mean there was that kind of a, whether it was true or not, I don't know. It doesn't matter. The point is, there was a sense of accomplishment and achievement just in the very fact that one survived.

Last updated:   14 January 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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