A modern German nightmare
By Harald Dähne in Berlin
Since 1999 the German Bundestag has been housed in the building of the former German Reichstag. There were no real problems with that.
But after the elections last week (September 24th), the radical right wing AfD (Alternative for Germany) captured more than 14 Percent of the seats (94 from 709) in the German parliament. This was much higher than expected. The crypto Nazis were in.
Their slogan, chanted in the streets against Chancellor Angela Merkel : “Merkel go home!”
Return of the Nazis
It’s been a bitter occasion for German democracy: From 1953, no such a nationalist party had gained a foothold in our national parliament.
And never since 1933 have such right-wing MP’s been in the Reichstag building here.
Their intolerable slogans during the campaign were racist, nationalistic — and their rhetoric sounds like the Nazis in their fight against democracy in the “Weimar Republik”.
Adolf Hitler never entered the former building before it burned down in February 28th 1933.
He entered only the sham Nazi-Reichstag in an Opera-building nearby. The first time on May 17th 1933 was for a “peace”-monologue.
Hitler’s hatred of parliamentarianism
Hitler never was a member of a freely-elected German parliament — even though his Nazi party reached 37 percent. And until his naturalization as a German (he was only Austrian before) in 1932 it wasn’t possible to elect him.
He was only the “Führer” of his party NSDAP (“National Socialist German Labour Party”) because he hated and despised parliamentarianism.
Although hundreds of freely-elected Nazis populated the Reichstag building from 1928 till 1933, the Russians conquerors in 1945 were subject to a misconception when they regarded the building as the center of the Nazi regime.
During Nazi years until 1939 it was only used as library and office building. During the Second World War it became a hospital, and a bunker for anti-aircraft guns.
After the war, the old Reichstag, close to the Berlin Wall, was a symbol for the divided city and the divided nation.
In the 1980’s, famous pop concerts were staged in front of the building.
After German reunion, Berlin got its capital again. Inside the Reichstag building the plenary hall was rebuilt and 1999 parliament and government moved from Bonn to Berlin.
And since then Germany has changed in many more ways.
The recent election revealed angst, anger, hate and desperateness in East-Germany in an alarming way.
One example is the small town Wilsdruff near Dresden in Saxony: 13,900 people, 10 refugees — but 36 percent voted for the Nationalists. Not only there, there were comparable results in the South, especially near the Borders with Austria. It was in these areas that most refugees arrived in 2015/16 but now it’s quiet again.
As in the US and the UK, emotions surpassed the facts.
Real problems with the refugees can’t be the main reason for the present problem, as Wilsdruff is showing.
Looking for scapegoats
The jealousy about the standard of living is irrational. Germany is rich. But the policy towards refugees has been a magnifying glass for angst and anger – and a deficient policy since German reunion. It’s a little like the position of the Jews in Germany till 1933: In an unsecure and over-complicated situation, people look for a cheap scapegoat…
Democrats must co-operate
Short-term all democratic parliamentarians in Berlin have to work together: The AfD shouldn’t get the plenary chamber as a big arena for their loud Nazi rhetoric.
The media were focused too much on the deliberate provocations of the AfD-leaders last year.
It’s necessary to judge this party on their actions, not their words.
Germans have to realise: Wherever Nazis are – they roar loudly and feed negative emotions. But they do nothing for improvement of living conditions of the people.