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Reunited Germany - The New Danger

Since 09-11-1989 g
rown at a terrifying pace
:
N
ationalism in Germany

Reunited Germany - The New Danger
Introduction

Since 1989, nationalism in Germany has grown at a terrifying pace and has been accompanied by a level of political violence from the extreme Right not seen since the days of the Weimar Republic when Hitler's fascists sought to terrorise all opposition.

This violence, which has resulted in more than 80 fascist killings since 1990 and more than 23,000 Right-wing extremist crimes investigated by the German police in 1993 alone, is the product of the rise of nationalism in a country that has signally failed to come to terms with its recent history and which continues to have judical and law enforcement systems that are "blind in the right eye".

Since reunification, Germany has been the recipient of numerous protests and complaints about racism, antisemitism, fascism and state-inspired nationalist activities from, amongst others, the US State Department, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Polish Foreign Ministry, the Danish, Czech, Nigerian, Portuguese and Israeli governments, the United Nations refugee organisation UNHCR, the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, Amnesty International and the US human rights organisation Helsinki Watch.

All have demanded an end to the racist and antisemitic violence of the German extreme Right and many have put the responsibility for the lawless activities of Germany's 65,000-plus organised right-wing extremists squarely on the shoulders of the German government itself, either for its pitiful inaction in the face of this criminality or, in some cases, actually accusing the government of complicity.

Inside Germany, there exists a very broad consensus of concerned human rights organisations, anti-fascist organisations, some intellectuals, leaders of some opposition political parties, leaders of minority religious and ethnic communities, anti-militarist and trade union groups which takes the matter further. For this broad consensus, the issue of terror and violence, of burning refugee centres, vandalised former Nazi concentration camps and desecrated Jewish property, is summed up in a single German phrase: Die Brandstifter sitzen in Bonn. Translated into English, this phrase loses something but is nonetheless accurate: "the arsonists are sitting in Bonn", a reference to the German government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The world-famous German novelist Günther Grass hit the nail on the head in 1993 when he declared: "The most dangerous thing is that we have [skinheads] in government. They are nicely dressed with beautiful hair. They speak well. But they think in the same way as the young kids who shave their heads and carry swastikas and demonstrate. They encourage these ideas and these brutal actions."

What might reasonably be termed the resistance - few use the term "opposition" any more in Germany - shares the views of Grass and those who identify the German government and state as central to the problem of nationalism and its evil manifestations.

Two separate nationalist projects exist in Germany:
the nazi project and that of the mainstream conservative Right

More and more, they see that, in reality, two separate nationalist projects exist in Germany: the nazi project and that of the mainstream conservative Right, embodied in the ruling Christian Democratic Union and its even more Right-wing counterpart, the Christian Social Union, in Bavaria. Sometimes these projects converge, sometimes they diverge, but almost continuously they run parallel.

For the conservative nationalists, who are not fascists and nazis despite their lust to make Germany a world power again, the fascists even represent a measure of competition and at least a potential threat. Hence, the bans on some nazi groups as explained in the section of this pamphlet on "internal security".

This conservative nationalism, which harks right back to the national Right parties, the Deutschnationale Volkspartei and the Deutsche Volkspartei -the people who handed over power to Hitler in 1933 - in the Weimar Republic, has escaped serious attention as have the activities of the new militarists.

This pamphlet, which does not and could not pretend to be comprehensive, scrutinises some of the aspects of the "new-old" nationalism and of the militarism which was never rooted out, but lay comparatively dormant for 45 years, only to be re-energised by the takeover of East Germany and the reunification that consummated it.

We do not doubt that this Searchlight special edition will attract critics, not least from those unfamiliar with the developments in Germany. Many of the facts presented here will shock but, almost without exception, facts cited are taken from the liberal and conservative German press and from parliamentary documents which, far from being state secrets, are publicly available. It is one of the peculiar contradictions of the current situation in Germany that so much information on these developments is to hand.

Not everything is concealed and, in part, we publish this pamphlet because of the relative failure of the international press to report accurately on the situation in Germany. There have, of course, been honourable exceptions, not least the excellent reporting of the Daily Telegraph's Robin Gedye and the work of American journalists Karen Breslau and Marc Fisher. But generally, coverage has been superficial and, in some cases, so false as to amount almost to "disinformation".

Searchlight is very proud that its team has been able to report, since even before the Berlin Wall opened, the revival of nationalism in Germany with formidable accuracy and depth. Even some of our erstwhile critics have had to accept that our analysis has stood up to the test of real developments.

We shall also probably be accused of being "anti-German" but our friends in Germany - and they are many - will testify readily to the great solidarity and material and political assistance provided by Searchlight. Among German antifascists such criticism will find scant sympathy.

Our objective is not to fan the flames of anti-German prejudice, but to warn of the character of revived German nationalism, which twice in this century, through its unbridled ambition, has plunged the world into war. Above all, we want our readers to see, well in advance, that once more a war danger begins to haunt the situation in Europe and to help develop an awareness of that danger.

A Germany that begins to view its army as an instrument of foreign policy, that can organise a torchlight parade, reminiscent of the Nazis, by the Bundeswehr in front of the Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the departure of US, British and French troops, has by no means exhausted its possibilities.

Events are now taking place in the heart of Europe which a mere five years ago would have been regarded as unimaginable at best, and as sheer fantasy at worst. Nobody can forecast the course of developments in the next five years or the next decade. However, in the light of the changed situation and the dangerous trends illustrated in this pamphlet, there are - alas - few grounds for optimism.

Our hope is to warn so that people can make reasoned judgments for themselves, debate the issues and organise action to ensure early international opposition to German nationalism and militarism and to encourage all those brave people who resist these frightening tendencies in Germany.

Nobody can say they were not warned.

hagalil.com 07-11-02

 


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