This article by Dr.Gerstenfeld “Germany –Reemerging Holocaust Traumas and the Refugee Challenge” is an extended version of an article published earlier by the Algemeiner, and republished here with the author’s consent.
It’s unbelievable and highly irresponsible what Alexander Gauland said, pressure needs to be applied to get him to reconsider his asinine and ahistorical reading of German history. Disgusting and blatantly wrong.
Germany –Reemerging Holocaust Traumas and the Refugee Challenge
This graphic statement was made by Alexander Gauland, the co-chairman of the German extreme right-wing AfD party at its conference earlier this month.
The German government spokesman called Gauland’s remark shameful. It also led to strong condemnations from politicians of all parties. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the secretary general of the Christian Democrats (CDU) tweeted: “50 million war victims, the Holocaust and the total war are for the AfD and Gauland only a speck of ‘bird poop’. That’s how that party looks behind its civil mask.”
Lars Klingbeil the Secretary General of the Socialist Party (SPD) tweeted: “That is a shocking minimization of national socialism. It is scandalous that such people sit in the German parliament.” The SPD deputy chairman, Ralf Stegner tweeted that “Gauland is an inciter of the worst type.” The previous SPD Chairman Martin Schulz said: “whoever minimizes the crimes of the old Nazis is the stirrup holder of the new Nazis.”
The Chairman of the Green Party, Robert Habeck, remarked that the “AfD rewrites history.” The head of the parliamentary faction of the Liberal parry (FDP), Marco Buschmann tweeted: “Gauland goes again below every level.” The head of the parliamentary faction of the Left party, Jan Korte called Gauland’than pressions “cynical and ignoring history.” “In these twelve years, Germany was responsible for the death of more people than in its entire history. Now everybody knows what this party is about.”
The statement was criticized from within the AfD as well. Gauland reacted by saying that he did not deny Germany’s responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis. He also remarked that his words expressed extreme repugnance for national socialism as he had compared it to animal excrement.
As so often happens, this issue was treated largely as an incident rather than seen in a much wider context. The impact of Holocaust-related traumas reemerges regularly in Germany in different ways. The “welcome policy” of Chancellor Angela Merkel has now added another recurring problem: the partly insolvable challenges from the massive refugee influx.
Since September 2015, at least 1.3 million asylum seekers, mainly Muslims from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have entered Germany. In the September 2017 elections the AfD gained 12.6% of the votes and became Germany’s third largest party. Without the welcome policy this anti-Islam party would probably have had difficulty passing the 5% parliamentary entrance threshold.
As a populist and nationalist party the AfD has the need to define a national identity rather than adhere to supranational Europeanism. Yet Gauland’s remark and the many negative reactions from within his party show that even there defining identity requires a careful approach. As for the media, his statement was only a passing remark. Three days later mentions of Gauland were only to report that his clothes were stolen when he went swimming in a lake.
Popular support for the AfD continues to increase. A recent poll gave it 16% of voter backing — close to that of the country’s declining second party, the SPD socialists. German acquaintances keep telling me that numerous people in the mainstream intend to vote for the AfD. They see no other alternative to express their wish that the inflow of refugees stops. The media publicity about murders and other major crimes committed by Middle Eastern immigrants is widespread.
Though without an anti-Semitic motif, a 20year old Iraqi Ali Bashar was accused of raping and killing a 14-year old Jewish girl, Susanna Feldman, in the town of Wiesbaden. He fled with his parents and five siblings to Iraq. If it was so easy to travel to Iraq, people ask, why would Germany have let him in originally? He was arrested in Iraq and brought back to Germany where he admitted to the murder but not to rape.
The stable Germany of the last decades is changing into a country in flux. Domestic and international problems have piled up rapidly. The government parties no longer have a majority in the polls. The national refugee agency, BAMF, is under scrutiny for a major scandal. Its head hgas been fired. There are also important policy and personal tensions between the two Christian parties, Merkel’s CDU and the Bavarian CSU.
Internationally the situation is deteriorating as well. In Italy, a populist government wants to transgress the European Union’s financial rules. The United Kingdom is negotiating its departure from the E.U. U.S. President Trump’s decision to cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran has led that country to threaten to abandon its commitments unless the Europeans compensate it for American sanctions. This they are unable to do. The newly imposed US tariffs on steel and aluminum may soon be followed by tariffs on cars. This will hit Germany hard. Trump has so little respect for Germany that he has even stated that the country’s citizens are not behind the government on the immigration issue.
A strong Germany is crucial for Israel’s position in Europe. Internal tensions can become bad for the country’s Jews. All one can conclude is that developments in Germany should be watched closely by both Israel and local Jewish organizations.