we could talk endlessly about the populist movements in democratic countries. let me explain something special concerning the german far right movement and free elections.
→ björn höcke is a high school teacher for history. his positive remarks about the nazi era and his negative remarks about immigrants and jews seemed enough for almost 25% of the voters in the central german state of thuringia to support his right wing party AfD. tonight’s result does not come as a surprise, but it needs special attention in four respects:
- a political party which is part of the democratic party mix (as opposed to a party with a criminal agenda) can be voted for in a democratic election. it is no crime having voted for höcke today.
- in germany we have a strict law about how to deal with the immense horror the nazis (with the support of the majority of germans) did to the jews. it is illegal to call the holocaust a hoax. it is illegal to use nazi symbols (such as the swastika or the hitler salute). that’s why people like höcke apply sophisticated expressions when they talk about such things. a collegue of höcke recently called the hitler era a marginal affair in the thousands of years old “proud” german history. this was almost invoking an indictment by state prosecutors. if he had said the holocaust was merely a bird shit in history, he would have landed in court.
- of course, höcke’s right wing thoughts are well known among his followers and voters. they do know that he supports a fascist and white supremacy anti-jewish ideology. since they know this, we know what’s in their heads. thoughts and votes are free.
- it’s of zero concern why they would vote for such an outdated brutal system of the past. many just hate the political establishment in berlin – which of course is no reason to breed thoughts about a german superiority in race, culture and everything.
solution? education, i guess. but not with history teachers who are blind on one eye. takes long, at least three generations. east germany has not had a historical analysis of the hitler regime. why not? because the east german republic → GDR had, from the start in 1949 on, a strict anti-nazi policy. while in west germany many judges and leading political figures had started their career in nazi deutschland, east germany threw them out of the country or put them in jail. west germany in the 1960s started to deal with the horrors of the past, whereas east germany stated: that part of history was a west german thing and we (the folkis in the east) had nothing to do with it. they considered it to be a history of the “corrupt” west and not of their own. in psychology this disaster is called repression.
what germany desparately needs is lawyers, state prosecutors and judges who immediately jump into the arena when a politician does pro nazi talk (or tweet). the courts in germany have a heavy workload, but this needs to be high on the agenda and alertness.