Luring Germany to Far-Right
The eugenic plans of the Third Reich were just about to play out, what Adolf Hitler wanted and believed to be the superior form of mating, but were hindered and at once stopped in their nascent tracks with the defeat of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in World War II, and then the trials and executions of prominent Hitler allies in what famously became the Nuremberg trials, respectively. Although, this was not the supposed end of Nazism in general. It evolved to a new form and took new guise with every obstruction and ban faced, to once again resuscitate in the political arena of modern-day Germany as Neo-Nazism.
Nazism was the ideological stand of the Nazi Party, also known as the Third Reach (Third Realm), which encompassed, in its abode, the ideas and praxis of extreme ethno-nationalism, xenophobia, racial supremacy, homophobic, anti-communism, anti-Semitism and fascism. Nazism, during World War II wreaked havoc in Germany and other involved nations with prolonged and barbaric war crimes aligning with its ideologies. At the center of the Nazi ideology was their idea of being descendants of the superior race (the Aryan race), and anti-Semitism, which led to the genocide of around 6 million Jews during the war in what today is infamously known as the Holocaust.
Neo-Nazism took off right after the old Nazism was said to have taken its last breath. Nazis after the incarcerations and bans were not allowed to express their beliefs. But this is, in the contemporary world of social media and a globalization, almost impossible to implement. Nazis after the wars incorporated themselves into the social structure as normal citizens and many worked for the state, providing service in security forces like the police and military. This was supposed to be a political fringe, which now seems to have shaped into a major far-right political movement with borrowed ideological elements from the original Nazi movement and have put euphemisms to good use to dissociate themselves from the Nazi ideology.
Germany is now seeing a fair share of extreme right-wing inspired protests and violence. Two of the major components that push the far-right agenda and holds great influence on Germans, both young and old, are the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a right-wing party that has a fair share of presence in the political arena and the parliament of the country, and the Identitarian Movement, fueled by the country’s nationalist youth.
The Alternative for Germany(AfD)
Contemporary Germany is an audience to a drastic shift of the political theme to the right-wing unnoticed. At the centre of this movement is the right-wing political party Alternative for Germany (AfD), of which some members promote an extremist ideology and the theories of racial discrimination and German nationalism, and have further supported anti-immigration conspiracy theories one of which is called the great replacement.
AfD has churned good on the populist ideology of becoming a front people recognise and relate to for they take an anti-elitist stand. Factions of the party show an inclination to an ideology that resembles neo-Nazism traits, including ultra-ethnonationalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. One of the most overt far-right speakers Björn Höcke, considered to an extremist by many, has been attracting major support by citizen who feel segregated and left out. Höcke, who according to Germany’s intelligence agency enjoys the support of 40 percent of party members, leads a movement inside the AfD called the wing which is shifting the party to a right extremist stand point. Höcke was once recorded saying that the Berlin’s memorial for victims of the Nazi oppression is a “monument of shame”.
The extreme and overt views of the party is one of the major reasons that it has seen an exponential jump in their vote share in the elections. In 2013, AfD can only secure 4.7% of the total votes share which significantly increased to 12.6% in the 2017 federal elections, helping it capture 89 seats in the Bundestag making it the third largest party in the German parliament.
The Identitarian Movement
The Identitarian movement that started in France as a counter to what it calls the increasing Islamization of Europe now holds an extremist right-wing classification tagged to it by the German domestic intelligence agency, BfV. The movement thrives on the ideas of ethnopluralism, anti-Islamization, pan-European nationalism, xenophobia, anti-immigration and cultural hegemony.
Though Martin Sellner, the most prominent leader of the movement, was, in his teenage years, involved with neo-Nazi groups now claims to have distanced himself from Nazism. The Identitarian movement and its leaders do not seek involvement in electoral processes but rather want to propagate their ideas though staging protests, and further influence and change the general political debate. They also claim the conspiracy theory of the great replacement to be true. The great replacement theory is an ethnonationalist and white supremacist theory that speculates the demographical displacement of the native European people with increasing immigrations from the middle east Arab and the other Saharan Muslim countries.
Identitarians, in August 2016, held protests against immigrations in Europe and the perceived strengthening of Islam in the country and in Europe, at Berlin’s historic Brandenburg gate and climbed to the top and hung protest banners on top of the iconic structure.
Resurgence and Ignorance
With the developments of far-right and right extremist movements and incidents, a trepidation of history repeating itself looms over Germany. Germany has bear witness to several incidents of violence where the perpetrator was judged to have carried out these attacks filled with xenophobic, racist and extremist ideas. Two of the most highlighted incidents were the Halle synagogue attack in 2019, where two were killed after a failed attempt to break in the Jewish worship house, and the midnight shootings at two shisha bars in Hanau the very next year, killing nine people.
The incessant growth of the right wing and especially the tightening hold of AfD in the political system could prove to a major factor for the resuscitation of the neo-Nazi movement in German. What started as a social media propaganda now seems to morph into a real threat to the democratic and diverse demographics of country. But Germany’s law enforcement seems to give little to no importance to the threat posed by right-wing extremism and inspired violence. Speculations are that officers in the police and military also align with the ideology for the far-right and may have colluded with such groups. These are not mere allegations but have some or more truth as incidents like German military unit were seen displaying the Hitler salute and police officers were found providing German refuge addresses to right extremists.
In contemporary times, the far-right is once again becoming a force to reckon and feared in Germany, and it brings with it the scenes of Germany when once it used to be the Weimar Republic that with its fall saw the rise of the Nazi Party with Hitler and Goebbels leading from the front. This is a crisis that if takes a bitter and more solid shape, cannot just create menace within the borders of Germany but can extend further creating a ripple effect that might affect all of Europe and even beyond.
The indifferent attitude of the German authorities and politicians can throw Germany back to its infamous past which it is still trying to forget. But it is something that they should always remember, because it will keep their conscious in check.
“The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonorably, foolishly, viciously”- Julian Barnes.
~ Abdul Wahab