Skip to comments.A resurgent right (Germany's Extreme Right Gathers Strength)
Posted on 02/10/2005 4:49:24 AM PST by Cornpone
Suddenly a resurgent far-right is taking centre political stage in Germany just as the nation marks the end of the war and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Leon Mangasarian reports.
Sixty years after the Third Reich's defeat, German leaders seem at a loss to counter a tightly organised rightist party which is exploiting the Holocaust in a brazen bid to expand its power.
Germany bickers over what to do with radical right Germany's establishment politicians have been locked in furious debate since January when the extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) marred sombre commemoration of Auschwitz death camp's liberation by comparing the Holocaust to the 1945 Allied firebombing of Dresden.
In a carefully planned affront, NPD members in eastern Saxony state's parliament walked out of a memorial service for victims of the Third Reich. For good measure, they also issued a statement equating Auschwitz with abortion.
"Since the end of Auschwitz, 18 million unborn people have been murdered in Germany ... is Auschwitz really over?" says the NPD on its website www.npd.de
Turning up the political heating in the debate about the extreme right and the NPD, Bavaria's conservative premier, Edmund Stoiber, accused Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrat-led government for causing the "economic failure" that was fuelling extremist parties.
In a weekend newspaper interview, Stoiber said that tackling high unemployment was the key to combating the far right.
Much of Germany is aghast over the NPD, which won 9.2 per ent, or 190,000 votes, last September in economically depressed Saxony. An Infratest Agency poll shows 63 percent want the NPD banned.
Germany's tough-minded interior minister, Otto Schily, is furious.
Neo-Nazis have managed to establish themselves in the mainstream. His ministry outlawed the party in 2000 only to see Germany's highest court overturn the ban in 2003. The reason given by judges was that too many NPD members had been recruited by Schily's ministry as informants.
The Constitutional Court justices alleged the informants were "steering" the NPD.
Schily, who remembers seeing the 1938 "Kristallnacht" or night of broken glass as a six-year-old boy when Nazis launched the Holocaust, angrily rejects this.
"A criminal does not become a state employee just because he gives the police information," says Schily.
Leaders in Berlin are arguing over a possible new bid to ban the NPD - but many are warning this might spark even more support for rightists.
"A second failure [of a ban] would be a disaster," admits Schily.
Political extremism experts, such as Eckhard Jesse of the Technical University of Chemnitz, say banning has not worked in the past and that democratic parties must meet rightists head on with better arguments.
"There is now an intellectual right-wing extremism in Germany," warns Jesse.
The news weekly Der Spiegel agrees, saying, "Neo-Nazis have managed to establish themselves in the mainstream."
Worrying as this may be, the rightists need to be kept in perspective: For years, polls have shown that the far-right has a maximum potential of 10 to 15 percent in Germany which is about on par with other European countries.
Meanwhile, the NPD and their German People's Union (DVU) ally have been cleaning up their act to escape the skinhead and streetfighter image they had in the 1980s and early 90s.
Suits, ties and courses in rhetoric are now the order of the day with private donors funding party thinktanks and rightist academics who serve as advisers. The NPD has temporarily frozen informal ties with Saxony's "SSS" skinhead group.
The NPD's chief strategist and spin doctor is a slick lawyer who, ironically, is named Peter Marx.
Under the ever-smiling Marx, the NPD has focused on east German anger over cuts to unemployment benefits as a way of broadening its appeal and seeks to be both a nationalist and a socialist party.
"The goal is supporting native families ... German money for Germans!" says the website of Holger Apfel, the NPD leader in Saxony's state parliament.
If a party ban is not on the cards, what is to be done? The established parties in Saxony appear clueless, according to Der Spiegel, and notes, "Up until now they have reacted helplessly."
NPD leader Holger Apfel: The radical right's new technocratic look Jesse says Germany's Christian Democrats have made "a terrible mistake" by failing to provide a political home for conservative patriots and thus helped drive them to the far-right.
Der Spiegel argues that the far-right has profited from a new willingness among Germans in books and films to examine their own suffering during the war including the firebombing of cities, mass rape by Soviet soldiers and the expulsion of 15 million ethnic Germans from eastern Europe in 1945.
A letter to the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper by Juergen Schulz expresses this increasingly held view.
Schulz begins by underlining his distaste over the NPD's refusal to honour Holocaust victims.
But he adds: "When we remember the firebombing victims, isn't it time that we can say their death was murder and a war crime? Are not the established parties also partly guilty for the rise of the NPD and anti-Semitism in Germany, if they continue to treat this problem as a taboo and leave it to the far-right?"
The confused and uncertain response of established parties seems even stranger given the militant stance of the NPD.
NPD objectives are brutally clear to anybody who bothers to view the party's website or the latest edition of the German domestic security agency's annual report.
A poll shows 63 percent of Germans want the NPD banned. The NPD's geopolitics are shown on a map of Germany from 1938 - including parts of the country lost after World War II to Poland and Russia - which is available as a silver coin to raise funds for the movement. The map has a sword across it with the words, "The Reich, our Mission".
The weekly Stern magazine says the NPD sells T-shirts, sweatshirts and posters emblazoned with the number "88". The letter "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet and "HH" stands for "Heil Hitler" an expression which has been banned since the Federal Republic of Germany was created in 1949.
The NPD treats Nazi leaders such as Rudolf Hess as heroes and takes aggressive, anti-foreign and anti-Semitic positions, says Germany's home security agency, the Verfassungsschutz.
A commentary in the party newspaper, "Deutsche Stimme" (German Voice), provides just one example: "The Torah is the original document of Jewish hatred of (other) nations."
Another NPD commentary warns that immigrants are threatening what it terms "the continent of the white nations with disintegration and decomposition".
Following their propaganda success with the Holocaust in Saxony, NPD activists plan at least two more big demonstrations aimed at upstaging Germany's established parties.
The NPD has called for a march through Dresden on 13 February to mark the 60th anniversary of the World War II firebombing of the city by British and US aircraft which left at least 25,000 dead.
An even worse public relations disaster for Germany could be in store on 8 May - the 60th anniversary of the Third Reich's defeat - when NPD leaders plan to march past the new Holocaust memorial in Berlin.
"Sixty years of Liberation Lies - End the Cult of Guilt," is the NPD's motto for the demonstration.
The party is also gearing up for state elections and functionaries have high hopes of winning seats in Schleswig-Holstein on 20 February and in North Rhine-Westphalia on 22 May.
Nazi'ism is not rightist.
The resurgence of nazi symbology is part of a carefully staged plan. starting with the german government
Interesting. What lies are they speaking of?
Well since the leaders of the west have all imbibed the liberal lie they can now reap the costs of doing so by making it easy for anyone to breach their fantasy, no matter how repugnant.
The NPD is nationalist. No problem. I'm a nationalist too.
The NPD opposes abortion. Me too.
The opponents of the NPD want to outlaw "bad" political speech and crush the NPD. I think that's wrong.
The article says the NPD is anti-semitic. So far, I see no evidence. As far as I can see, that would be the only grounds on which I would oppose the NPD.
Who are the real nazis? It seems to me that this NPD is the only pro-life party in German political spectrum.
Nazi is short for NAZI SOCIALIST
hmmm, which party in the USA is more socialist?
Here in the States, David Duke traded in his Klan robe for a suit, a tie, and a face-lift and attempted to sell himself as a Republican, fooling no one.
Sometimes I wish we could suspend the Constitution for just one day a year and hunt them with hounds.
And then there was Senator Byrd who prides himself in being a world class, um, partisan.
We are dealing with the same thing right here in River City. Kennedy, Kerry, Dingy Harry and all other leftists in our government are so far up against the left wall that they see Pres Bush as a wild-eyed right wing nut......
This explains why France wants to be our friends again.
"Nazi'ism is not rightist."
You are right. People seem to have a difficult time believing that.
Nazi is short for Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.
The first two syllables, "Nati" are pronounced as we pronounce "Nazi:" NOT-see.
Whoops, missed the third 's': Nationalsozialistische
The first two syllables, "Nati" are pronounced as we pronounce "Nazi:" NOT-see.
However, let us not forget that the Nazi's mortal enemy during it's political infancy was the Communists..
The Nazis, although they called themselves "socialist", were not.. They were Totalitarians..
Although the distinction between political philosophies is probably hair-thin, Hitler, influenced by Mussolini, steered his political philosophy and that of the party toward Facism..
While both include state monopoly/control of all facets of life and an Authoritarian rule, Facism includes the ideology of rule through racial superiority..
Those that know something about German politics, is there any party that would be close to mainstream conservatism in Germany? It's difficult to tell as they label everything extreme right in these socialist nations.
If not conservative, is there a party that is at least sane?
"Sixty years of Liberation Lies - End the Cult of Guilt,"
is the NPD's motto for the demonstration
Interesting. What lies are they speaking of?
Apparently 1. That the holocaust is over when abortions explode in popularity. 2. That Nazism was not leftist.
Left, Right, these are just different paths to the same end..
Extremism on either side will usually end up in tyranny and Despotism..
IIRC, the Christian Democrats are about the closest to center-right you will find..
Compared to US politics, a Christian Democrat would probably be a "moderate"..
It is disingenuous, I think, to claim that Hitler's national socialism and Stalin's socialism belong on the same 'leftward' side of the political spectrum. 'Left' and 'Right' appellations are a shorthand of convenience, for one thing, and misleading in this context. The nazis, although sharing the usual totalitarian disregard for human life, certainly derived nothing from either Marxist or Leninist economic models. If one is talking about American politics, then 'left' and 'right' are commonly understood to mean those domestic political parties descended from American historical tradition--political groupings literally reading from the same page; e.g., the US Constitution. Followers of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Osama bin Laden (and so on) fall into another category entirely. The comparisons and associations many folks are making here are simply invalid.
AAAAAAHHHHHHHH, It warms my heart to see Europe reverting to form.(/sarc)
If the neos change their focus from the Jews to the Moslems they may just replicate the rise of the NAZIs in the 30s. Islam is a real problem in Germany as in all Europe and Moslems openly proclaim their determination to Islamize Germany. If that happens and if there is an expansionist thrust then the US would find itself having to choose between Jihad and the Fourth Reich.
Antisemitism is a dead end for the neos. AntiIslam would open up the field if the present government can't figure out how to deal with the Saracens.
A vocal section of world socialism finds it embarrassing to admit that Hitler was indeed one of their brethren.
I understand why some have a problem. Among those are some that do not realize they are being used by their own.
"Nazi'ism is not rightist." I agree with the premise and have argued with many libs who equate US conservatism with Fascism and the Nazis. If all political philosophies were placed on a continuum and that continuum were circular, extreme left and extreme right would meet at some point.
The libs LOVE to label US conervatives extremists, but they are more extreme. They are not tolerant; they are biased; they are liars; they are loud and obnoxious, as well as noxious.
You miss my point. Just because National Socialism has 'socialism' in its name does not make it 'socialist'; that is, derived from Marxist theory, any more than a Christian Democrat in Europe is Christian in any real sense of the word. Hitler rose to power at least in part from the financial support given him by the Directors of corporations such as Krupp and E.G. Farben, who did so because of their fear of the communists. They certainly understood a distinction between the two, and were no doubt hoping for an accommodation with Hitler such as the one Mussolini enjoyed with Italian big business.
And I don't mind being in a very small minority if I know I'm right.
Far too many people find it "inconvenient" to accept Hitler as one of their own.
The only way Fascism and Naziism could be defined as right-wing was that they fought against their litter-mate Communism. In the wild, some of your fiercest competition will be your siblings.
Loved the way you supported your argument with specific examples and solid, thoughtful reasoning--oh, wait. You didn't.
"Nothing to understand" is right.
Germans have a longing for total guv control...no matter which side of the politcal spectrum you see. Managed life seems to be their dream.
Here's a listing of German parties and their leanings..
PDS - Party of Democratic Socialism , Formerly the SED; East German Socialist Unity Party.. Pretty much represents East German interests.. mostly through default..
The Green Party.. Socialist / Environmentalist .. Youth / Urban - Suburban - Student support..
REP - Republikaner / German People's Union DVU ( Duetsche Volksunion ) Far Right.. Anti-Crime, Anti - Immigration, Anti- American.. Blue collar support
FDP - Free Democratic Party ... The Center.. Anti-Socialist , Pro Individual Rights, Pro Private Enterprise.. Yeilds enormous power as a "coalition partner.. Who the FDP aligns itself with can determine which of the Major Parties controls the parliament..
SDP - Social Democratic Party... Marxist, Socialist.. Somewhat to the Left of the US Democrat Party.. Social justice, environment on the one hand, economic issues, ( inflation fiscal responsibility ) and national / european security on the other..
CDU - Christian Democratic Union .. Conservatism, Capitalism, Christians, ( Catholic / Protestant) Business, trade unionists.. Anti - nazi, Anti - Communist ... Advocates conservative values mixed with social market economy ..( combining capitalism and extensive social welfare )
CSU - Christian Social Union... Uniquely Bavarian, and predominantly Catholic.. Same values / politics as the CDU, and has remained allied to same throughout it's existance..
Carry on, but one has to wonder why you wish to do so here.
I won't argue that.. My point was that you can be an extremist on the right, or on the left.. It makes no difference..
If you need a rightist example, consider Franco of Spain.. fascist, dictator, totalitarian.. absolutely ruthless.
And yet, he struck a deal with the U.S. and maintained his regime.. up until his death..
"Embracing Stalins (sic)"?
Sorry, red-baiting simply doesn't work against a conservative Republican. I'm also sorry I let our difference of opinion on categorizing totalitarian idealogies degenerate into this. I apologize for any personal slight you may have perceived in one of my earlier responses. That 'you have no point' remark of yours put me in full retaliation mode.
Here's a link for you two on Totalitarianism, & it's comparisons of Nazism and Stalinism..
Just your meat and potatoes..
"Those that know something about German politics, is there any party that would be close to mainstream conservatism in Germany?"
I believe the Christian Democrats would be closest.
Thanks, I'll check it out. It's just that the burning need felt by some to comfortably categorize things, throwing everything into the same basket for the sake of readymade convenience, strikes me as a kind of intellectual laziness.
Thank you! :-)
Actually, no. Unlike National Socialism, Fascism was not originally racist. Up until 1938, Jews were prominent in Itay's Fascist government. Then Mussolini buckled under Hitler's pressure and began removing Jews from his government and party.
Initially, Fascism was even more purely socialist than Naziism. Mussolini only started the Fascist Party because he'd been expelled from the Socialist Party in a power struggle.