Von Dr. phil. Clemens Heni, 21. September 2017

Times of Israel (Blogs)

On September 24, 2017, elections will be held for the German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag. For the first time since it was established in 1949, a neo-Nazi party will probably be elected to seats in parliament. It is the “Alternative for Germany” party or AfD. According to recent polls, the AfD will get some 8–12% of the votes, if not more. They might become the third biggest party in Parliament after the conservative CDU and the mainstream left-of-center SPD, who have been in a coalition in recent years with the conservatives.

The media in Germany is responsible for allowing neo-Nazi ideology into the mainstream. All media channels pushed the right-wing extremist ideology by inviting neo-Nazis from the AfD on a daily basis (!) into their studios. That never happened before in the history of the democratic Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). At the one and only TV debate between chancellor Angela Merkel and her challenger Martin Schulz from the Social Democrats, the four leading TV channels ARD, ZDF, RTL and Sat1, behaved rather like the right-wing extremist AfD. They asked questions about non-Germans, they connected terror and immigration as such and they pushed the entire agenda of the AfD, without framing it quote in those terms. The threat of neo-Nazis being elected to the Federal Parliament of Germany was not worthy of a single question. Journalist Stefan Niggemeier tweeted that over half of the 97 minute show sounded “like an AfD-questionnaire”. The failure of the four leading journalists involved, Sandra Maischberger, Maybrit Illner, Peter Kloeppel and particularly Claus Strunz (Sat1) was shocking to many critical observers in Germany. Many other leading TV journalists have also flunked the est. Take Frank Plasberg, for example. On September 18, 2017, he invited right-wing extremist Alice Weidel to his show treating her like a mainstream figure. We will soon learn who Mrs. Weidel is.

Political scientist, professor Hajo Funke from Free University Berlin is also shocked about German media and accuses Plasberg and Illner for their pro-right-wing extremist agenda, which should have no place in public TV, as both work for the two leading TV stations ARD and ZDF respectively.

Who or what is the Alternative for Germany (AfD), and what do they stand for? The party was founded in 2013 by capitalist-nationalist Bernd Lucke. Soon, more outspoken and right-wing extremist forces took power, starting with the election of Frauke Petry as head of the party in 2015. Since 2014 the party has been elected to many state parliaments within Germany (Germany consists of 16 states or Bundesländer). The AfD is anti-EU, defames abortion, promotes ultra-nationalism, racism, hatred of the other, embraces the German past, including the Nazi time, and is supported by thousands of very dangerous neo-Nazi punchers. Since 1990 until 2013 alone, 184 people have been killed by neo-Nazis in Germany for political reasons. The victims are German-Turkish people, leftists, punk-rockers, Muslims, homeless people, refugees, among many others.

The AfD’s head of party, Frauke Petry, wants to reintroduce the core Nazi word “völkisch” in German discourse. The two leading campaigners for the AfD campaign, Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland are both rather more right-wing extremist than Petry. In an e-mail Weidel wrote in 2013, that members of Angela Merkel’s cabinet are “pigs” and “puppets of the winners of World War II” and Germany is not “sovereign”, the latter being typical neo-Nazi and so-called Reichsbürger (Citizens of the German Reich) language.

The head of the AfD in the Parliament of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt), André Poggenburg, has openly used Nazi language against the left in a speech in Parliament. Markus Frohnmaier, who is a candidate for the Bundestag in the state of Baden-Württemberg, head of the Young Alternative, the youth organization of the AfD, and a spokesperson for Alice Weidel, has close connections to neo-Nazis such as the  “German Defence League” (GDL), and has said that he and the AfD would together “clear the country out” of the left.

Dubravko Mandic, an immigrant, who came to Germany in the 1990s from the former Yugoslavia, now agitates against immigration and admits, that the AfD has “concerns” similar to those of the neo-National-Socialist Party (NPD — Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands). Mandic is a candidate for the Bundestag in Baden-Württemberg, in the city of Tübingen. Mandic even frames his and the AfD’s “network” as a “right-wing radical network between the AfD and the Identitarian Movement”.

The Identitarian Movement is based, among other tropes, on the ideology of Renaud Camus from France, who agitates against a supposedly “replacement” of Europeans and the West by people from the Middle East, mainly Muslims. Even some Jews follow this concept, not just in America, the UK, Australia or Israel, but also in Germany. Neo-Nazis and the alt-right in Charlottesville used that slogan and chanted that “Jews will not replace us”, as they believe Jews are behind all evil. This is the same antisemitic ideology of AfD politician and book author Wolfgang Gedeon who promotes the antisemitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” For him, all evil comes from the Jews, America, Zionism, Muslims, homosexuals and the left.

Jens Maier, AfD candidate for the Bundestag in Saxony, trivialized the mass murderer Anders Breivik and admitted that a book by the neo-Nazi Fjordman inspired him.

At the head of the list for the Bundestag of the AfD in the state of Thuringia is Stephan Brandner. He is a particular vulgar and extremely aggressive agitator. He wants chancellor Angela Merkel to be locked up, and indirectly frames his own party as “Jewish”, by accusing the left-wing Antifa as being “SA”-style Nazis. The SA were the infamous Storm Troopers, who were essential to bringing down the Weimar Republic and helping Hitler and the Nazi Party to gain power in January 1933.

Frank Magnitz, candidate for the Bundestag in the city of Bremen, shares fantasies about the destruction of all of Islam by sharing a picture with the inscription  “If you could push this button and remove Islam from the world forever, would you do it? Like and share for yes!” You see a group of praying Muslims and on the left side a red button. Pushing the button means you support the destruction of Islam and all Muslims. These neo-Nazi fantasies of killing an entire religion is part of the entire project of the AfD. This man too might become a member of parliament.

The leading neo-Nazi politician of the AfD, though, is a Björn Höcke, who is not running for the Bundestag, speaks in a manner imitating Joseph Goebbels, and who frames the Holocaust Memorial as “a memorial of shame,” that no country in the world would place in the center of its capital.

Others, such as Vera Lengsfeld, a blogger and former MP, who  blogs at “Axis of the Good” by journalists Henryk M. Broder and Dirk Maxeiner, is promoting the AfD by joining head of party Petry at an event in the city of Pirna. According to the daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, this event is co-organized by a group called “Pro Patria Pirna”, which is an ally of the “One Percent Movement” of Kubitschek and his colleague, the right-wing extremist journalist Jürgen Elsässer. However, a last minute decision by the city of Pirna, owner of the location where the event was slated to take place, cancelled the event in its entirety.

Holocaust denier Wilhelm von Gottberg, who is 77, is on the list of the AfD in the state of Lower Saxony.

There is a nasty climate in Germany these days. Right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis can shout the most antisemitic, racist and pro-German slogans on the streets such as “Deutschland Erwache (Germany Awake)” or “Alles für Deutschland (Whatever it takes for Germany)”, both Nazi slogans and legally forbidden in Germany.

Again, agitation against the left supports the AfD, directly or indirectly. Even anti-BDS parties such as the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Berlin, which had passed an anti-BDS and pro-Israel resolution in April 2016, while voting for Michael Müller to be their head of party, did not help counter the anti-left agitation. The Jerusalem Post and the Simon Wiesenthal Center threatened Müller with being on their Top Ten list of “antisemitic” slurs for2017, if he would not distance himself from BDS and if he would not act against the al-Quds march in Berlin every year. Müller is a pro-Israel politician. He went to Tel Aviv with a delegation in 2015 to increase trade with the Jewish state. He got the anti-BDS resolution passed in 2016 and was patron of “Israel Day” in the heart of Berlin at Wittenbergplatz, alongside with then Israeli ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsman. But for some strange reason, none of this prevented the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Jerusalem Post from considering him a possible candidate for the top ten antisemitic and anti-Israel slurs of 2017. Why? Because he is a leftist. Müller is very anti-Nazi, to be sure, and in 2016 urged the public in Berlin not to vote for the right-wing extremist AfD.

Mainstreaming neo-Nazi ideology involves some very rich and influential people in Europe. According to a report by investigative journalist Tomasz Konicz, the AfD gets money and support from Mövenpick Company and from the “Swiss Goal Corporation” which itself includes leading AfD politicians as Jörg Meuthen, Markus Pretzell and Guido Reil. Billionaire August von Finck junior (born 1930), among the richest people in Germany (he lives in Switzerland), is a supporter of the AfD The Finck company then went ahead and bought the name of the gold company “Degussa”, the very same Degussa that delivered Zyklon B to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. “Evonic Degussa” would melt down the gold from the teeth of the murdered Jewish victims. Today, many Germans run riot about an economic crisis and rush to buy gold. Gold happens to be a more stable currency. August von Finck Jr’s father was a Nazi who “Aryanized” Jewish banks, including the Rothschild Bank and Dreyfus & Co. in Germany. “The Junior”, though, is known for his support for several right-wing parties in recent decades, the most recent being the AfD. AfD politician Beatrix von Storch was for example a member of a “Citizens’ Convent”, dedicated to a hardcore neoliberal campaign against the welfare state. They were supported by the Finck company, as the saga has been analyzed by Konicz.

Journalist Robin Alexander from Die Welt already emphasized in 2013 the connection of billionaire von Finck and the AfD. August von Finck is also owner of Mövenpick hotels & resorts. von Finck was a former ally of the “capitalist establishment” in Germany, from Franz-Josef Strauß (Christian Social Union, CSU) to the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) to chancellor Merkel. He was a big beneficiary of a tax reform in 2009, carried out by Merkel and the Liberal Party. Ideologically, the von Finck family has a long history of pro-Nazism, perhaps now reaching its culmination in support for the AfD.

Journalist Marcus Engert of BuzzFeed News has analyzed 396 AfD-candidates, exposing the extremist right-wing agenda of many. Professor Hajo Funke says he fears that the Bundestag is not fit to deal with neo-Nazis in Parliament. We never had organized neo-Nazism in a apoliticalparty making it into the Federal Parliament. Of course, Germany had dozens if not hundreds of former individual Nazi Party (NSDAP) members in Parliament since 1949 and small Nazi (not neo-Nazi) parties in Parliament from 1949 through the 1950s. This ugly German history is well known, including Nazis as leading politicians such as Hans Globke, who was responsible for the Nuremberg Race Laws and then became minister under Konrad Adenauer in the 1950s, or Kurt-Georg Kiesinger, who was a Nazi Party member (NSDAP) and then chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1966–1969, who was famously slapped by anti-fascist Beate Klarsfeld on November 7th, 1968. Or take Hans Filbinger, also from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who was prime minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg (1966–1978), a member of the pro-Nazi “Bund Neudeutschland”, a Catholic antisemitic organization, and a member of the Nazi party. Then there is Carl Carstens, also a member of the Nazi party. He was President of the German Parliament (1976–1979) and then President of Germany (1979–1984).

Today, following the September 24, 2017 Federal Election, postwar Germany will for the first time face neo-Nazis in the Bundestag. Contrary to the 1960s, these days we have no Beate Klarsfeld who will tell these antisemites, racists, and pro-Holocaust representatives that their activism will not go unchallenged. These days, neo-Nazism is much more widespread compared to the climate in the 1960s. Today, we have young and old neo-Nazis joining forces in an unprecedented way. In the 1960s the old Nazis never had a chance to form their own party and to be elected in the Bundestag. 2017, neo-Nazis will fulfill that mission: Honoring the German Army, affirming the Holocaust and fighting democracy.

The core of the AfD is not to fight jihad or Islamism, as these folks after all share the very authoritarian personality characteristic of radical Islamists. Both groups detest democracy, the political left, women, gender, heterogeneous societies and multicultural societies. The German mainstream media helped to push a neo-Nazi agenda and for the first time, even some Jews are joining the right-wing extremist agenda of those who embrace the German Wehrmacht, which was part of the killing troops during the Holocaust.

That is all you need to know about September 24, 2017.

*The author would like to thank political scientist Nils Gerster and professor Dovid Katz for help with this article.