- (AFP) -- Conspiracy theories on the September 11 attacks
are gaining ground in Germany two years on, with books claiming that the
US government was behind the atrocities climbing bestseller lists.
- Thanks to a handful of new "non-fiction" works
in bookstores, wild accusations have gradually become part of public debate
amid a sizeable minority in Germany, home to the so-called Hamburg cell
that in 2001 produced three of the suicide hijackers.
- Although each book has a different take on the events
of that day, they share the premise that the government of US President
George W. Bush planned the kamikaze jet attacks or allowed them to happen
to advance a radical foreign policy agenda.
- Frankfurt-based publishing house Zweitausendeins (2001)
boasts the runaway success of Mathias Broecker's book 'Conspiracies, Conspiracy
Theories and the Secrets of September 11' on its website, with more than
105 000 copies sold in 10 months. A follow-up volume has just hit bookstores.
- Broecker, a former journalist with the leftist daily
Tageszeitung, argues that dozens of "unanswered questions" about
the attacks point to a spectacular cover-up on the part of the US administration.
- More than 70 000 Germans have also bought 'The CIA and
September 11' by former federal research minister Andreas von Buelow, in
which he argues the planes were piloted into targets in New York and Washington
not by Islamic extremists but rather by remote control.
- A third work, 'Operation 9/11' by public television reporter
Gerhard Wisnewski, claims that the twin towers of the World Trade Centre
were wired with explosives, has already secured a fourth print-run after
three weeks in stores.
- France's Thierry Meysson has found success at home and
in Germany with '9/11: The Big Lie', which argues that the attack on the
Pentagon was an attempted coup d'etat by US military officials to justify
- Influential news weekly Der Spiegel tackled the phenomenon
of crackpot theories in the cover story of its edition released on Monday,
before this week's second anniversary of the attacks.
- The article meticulously knocks down the most popular
conspiracy theories making the rounds and attributes their popularity in
Germany in part to the deep unpopularity here of the conservative US administration.
- Social psychologist Heiner Keupp told AFP that conspiracy
theories served a basic human need, leading to the remarkable success of
- "People have the feeling after reading them that
they understand something about this complicated and inscrutable world,"
Keupp said, adding that a healthy dose of paranoia was also usually part
of the equation.
- Mass communications expert Rudolf Stoeber said that the
shock of the September 11 attacks made the search for simple answers to
complex events particularly tempting.
- He said he found it particularly striking that young
people appeared most susceptible to such arguments.
- A survey produced by the respected Forsa institute and
published in the weekly Die Zeit in July found that 31 percent of Germans
under the age of 30 believed the US government was directly involved in
the September 11 attacks.
- Amid all age groups, the rate was "only" 19
- "September 11 was so irrational. We are raised that
there has to be a rational solution and that is why we look for one,"
- He also saw cultural ignorance as a factor in explaining
why Germany has given fertile ground to theories that seem unthinkable
- "We don't understand Islam and have no idea about
the lives of the attackers. That is why we prefer to look in our own cultural
circles for possible causes for the incomprehensible," he said.