Leben in der Geschichte

LONDON – Vor Kurzem beteiligte ich mich an einer öffentlichen Diskussion mit Paul Keating, dem ehemaligen australischen Premierminister. Er ist ein interessanter Mann, ein wahrer Intellektueller, der von seinen inneren Dämonen dazu getrieben wird, sowohl kein gutes Haar an denjenigen zu lassen, die seiner transformativen Rolle in der australischen Politik nicht die gebührende Anerkennung zollen, als auch Ansichten zu entlarven, die er als Gequassel und Mythen ansieht.

Das lässt ihn regelmäßig in Kontroversen schlittern, kann jedoch einem pädagogischen Zweck dienen. Vor Kurzem verurteilte er beispielsweise die Ansicht, die australischen Opfer der Schlacht von Gallipoli 1916 im Ersten Weltkrieg hätten seine Nation in irgendeiner Weise begründet und befreit. Für ihn wurde Australien erst später erwachsen, in Kokoda, was häufig als Australiens Thermopylae bezeichnet wird: Eine kleine Gruppe junger Soldaten leistete dem Vorstoß japanischer Armeedivisionen Widerstand, die darauf aus zu sein schienen, Port Moresby in Papua-Neuguinea einzunehmen und den australischen Kontinent zu bedrohen. Keating glaubte, die Kämpfe in Kokoda stellten die wirklichen Geburtswehen eines unabhängigen Australiens dar, das nicht mehr irgendein koloniales Anhängsel Großbritanniens war, gegründet, um imperialen Zwecken in Fernost zu dienen.

Ich würde es nicht wagen, die Gefühle der Australier im Hinblick auf ihre eigene Geschichte infrage zu stellen. Dafür mag ich ihr Land zu sehr. Doch werfen Keatings Bemerkungen eine allgemeine Frage über Geschichte auf, die direkt auf das Identitätsgefühl abzielt, das jede Gemeinschaft zusammenhält.

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