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Saturday, 21 July 2012

The brown terror and Germany’s inability to fight neo-Nazism


If there is one country that should take more responsibility to fight neo-Nazism than any other country in the world, then it can only be Germany. No other country has committed more right wing atrocities and agony in the 20th century, and Germany has succeeded to deal with its own past by a very thorough and concise evaluation of the causes, the processes and the evolution of Nazi crimes. And so far, Germany did a pretty good job here in terms of prosecution of war criminals, education of the population, and its special relationship to Israel and the Jewish community.

But in terms of actively fighting neo-Nazi terrorist groups or neo-Nazi political movements, German authorities have utterly failed to successfully combat any activities and group formation. For months, the state security institutions have been under attack by media and politics for not having forcefully taken significant action. Specifically in the case of the NSU Group (“Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund” = National Socialist Underground), whose members have committed a murder series of 9 Turkish and Greek immigrants between September 2000 and April 2006, the murder of a policewoman and the 2004 Cologne bombings, the amount of bureaucratic flaws has led to a full scale political scandal, and its end is not yet predictable.

Various German politicians from all parties unanimously called for a parliamentary enquiry committee which has begun its work, digging deep into the details of what has become one of the biggest scandals concerning internal security in contemporary German history. On the 2nd July 2012, the President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (“Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz”), Heinz Fromm resigned from his post shortly after it was revealed that on 12th November 2011, agency employees had destroyed files connected with the NSU case immediately after their role in the murders became public and the agency itself had received a formal request from the German Federal Criminal Police Office (“Bundeskriminalamt”, BKA) to forward all information relevant to these crimes.

This scandal raises one question: why are German authorities so reluctant to prosecute or even ban right-wing neo-Nazi groups or neo-Nazi parties like the NPD (“Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands” = National Democratic Party of Germany), which is currently represented in the parliaments of 2 out of 16 federal states?

From official sides, one argument is being repeatedly stated: the fear of a transfer of right wing activities from the political field (through the NPD) to underground terrorist activities (through the NSU). But apparently, just the mere existence of such a group like the NSU is an indication that all investigation by federal agencies have been poorly carried out in the struggle against the neo-Nazi menace.

However, some analysts state that an official ban of the NDP would not be necessary since the NPD is currently losing political support and has been facing bankruptcy for years, combined with a loss of party members. The German right wing movement is severely fragmented without unity in political agenda or strategy. Even the merger between the NPD with the other right wing DVU party (“Deutsche Volksunion” = German People’s Union) in December 2010 did not cause a significant boost for the German right wingers, since the major right wing parties (NPD plus DVU, and the “Republikaner”) all together neither have a sustainable agenda, nor stable finances, nor a stable electoral bias, not even if you combine these major parties with several smaller and regional right wing parties. Previous success of the right wing parties was mostly based on protest voters, but even this bias has been lost in recent elections to the uprising Pirate’s Party, which not only became the new front for protest voters, but also a potential new home for right wingers.

But, just the matter of fact that the internal quarrel of right wing parties in Germany does not require any action to ban right wing parties is an ineffectual, dangerous, and above all utterly wrong assumption. If we talk about the NPD or the NSU, we talk about Nazis, and there simply is no other expression for these people. The NPD, the NSU, the Republikaner and any other affiliated or sympathizing underground organization or party have the same target: these people want to turn back the wheels of history and rekindle the Nazi-Regime, destroy the democratic foundations of modern Germany and of our unified Europe. The shear matter of fact that German security institutions and leading governmental entities are unable or even unwilling to fight the rise of neo-Nazism is not only a humiliation of the effectiveness of German state and security organization as such, but it is most of all an utter blame of Germany’s responsibility to its own history.

The recent failures of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and of the BKA are just the tip of the iceberg. Thorough investigations have just started, and we will have to wait how many more failures our security institutions have made which will lead to a stronger neo-Nazi movement.

Edmund Burke once stated that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That was the way the Nazis grew form a small local group to a nationwide mass movement, and how they finally seized power in 1933. And one day, if we are not cautious and take immediate and sustainable action, it will happen again.

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