Recent regional elections in Germany’s most eastern states, Brandenburg and Saxony, have seen far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) receive the second highest vote count. At the time of writing it ended up with 23.5% and 27.8% respectively.
AfD are part of the network of far-right forces all over Europe with whom our very own fascists like to align with, like Rowan Croft for example did earlier this year.
Trivialising the Nazis
Let us take a little journey into the dark depths of AfD to illustrate just how unacceptable they are.
AfD founder and leader Alexander Gauland called for people to take pride in the actions of the Wehrmacht during the second world war, including all the war crimes and crimes against humanity. He further tried to trivialise the entire Nazi regime by calling the whole era a “Vogelschiss” (translated literally as bird shit but figuratively as a meaningless blip) in the greater scheme of German history.
During the 2017 election campaign he said the then sitting commissioner of the federal government for immigration, refugees and integration, Aydan Özoğuz, could be disposed of in Anatolia. This was because she said, correctly, that beyond the language there’s no distinct German culture these days. Multiple complaints were made to the police as a consequence of his words. Even though police carried out an investigation it was decided that no charges would be brought against him.
Thuringia’s AfD leader Björn Höcke called for a 180 degree turn in how the Nazi era should be viewed. For example, he claims the sole purpose of the bombing of Dresden in 1945 was to destroy the collective German identity. He, like Gauland, calls on Germans to be proud of German accomplishments during Hitler’s reign.
He further referred to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin as a “Denkmal der Schande” (memorial of shame). In the context of his other ramblings about the need for pride in Germany and for changing how German history is viewed, it becomes abundantly clear that said shame lies not in the Holocaust itself, as it should.
Instead, the shame in Höcke’s view is the suppression of German pride and spirit by the “dämliche Bewältigungspolitik” (the politics of overcoming Holocaust guilt). He was called out on his blatant anti-Semitism by the Central Council of Jews in Germany as a result.
These are only a few examples of just how racist and problematic the AfD is. Nazi salutes and all kinds of derogatory language against immigrants and other minorities are common practice. And this the same patterns exist here in Ireland amongst our own racist figureheads and their followers.
The far right in Europe is closely linked. In order to fight them anti-fascists, too, need to link up and work together.