‘Abu Ghraib’ for refugees in Germany


This video is called Photos show abuse of asylum seekers by security guards in Germany.

By Christoph Dreier in Germany:

Abu-Ghraib-like” torture of refugees exposed in Germany

1 October 2014

Reports from various German refugee facilities have revealed that residents are subjected to systematic torture and humiliation. Last weekend, videos and pictures emerged showing the serious mistreatment of refugees by security staff at one facility. One short video shows a refugee lying on a mat covered with vomit. The refugee asks someone off camera why they are hitting him.

“Do you want another? Should I kick you in the face, or what?” responds the security guard. “Then I do not need to beat you.” His colleague orders the victim to lie down in the vomit.

The video was shot in the refugee camp in Burbach in North Rhine Westphalia, and was leaked to a journalist, who then alerted the police. During a search of the security guards’ day room, police discovered a baton and a knuckleduster.

Police officers also found more images on the mobile phone of a security guard. In one picture, disseminated via WhatsApp, a security guard can be seen pushing his boot into the neck of a refugee lying on the ground, handcuffed.

The images revealed “A touch of Abu Ghraib,” a headline in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper acknowledged, while Bild stated: “These images remind us of Abu Ghraib.”

The police are investigating six security guards for aggravated assault in Burbach. Two of them have previous convictions. In addition, the police have said an employee at a refugee camp in Essen and another in Bad Berleburg are being investigated for assaulting and beating residents. A total of eleven investigations are currently underway.

The WDR news programme Westpol showed a doctor’s certificate regarding the injuries of a resident at the Essen home. “They mistreat us here”, a refugee told the programme. “The security staff have transformed this home into a prison. They hit us. And especially if you complain. They do what they want with us. They treat us as if we had no rights.”

On Tuesday, the regional newspaper Siegerland Kurier published excerpts from an anonymous interview conducted with one of the guards from Burbach, who can be heard in the video. The employee, whose name was changed by the editors to S., leaves no doubt that the abuse of refugees is systematic in the refugee system. Attacks, as documented on the video, have always taken place, he told the newspaper.

This could be for violations of the ban on cigarettes and alcohol. His colleagues were really keen to catch residents for such infringements, he said. “They walked round the hallways sniffing at doors. If they smelled cigarette smoke, the room was stormed,” explains S. The guards doing this described themselves as “SS-troops;” i.e., Nazi storm troopers. Many of his co-workers had a “clearly visible right-wing background,” he said.

The scenes shown in the video took place in the so-called “problem room”. This is where residents were taken if they “made trouble” or asked questions. They were locked in the room for up to eight hours. In some cases they were denied the use of the toilet, and had to urinate out the window.

According to S., at least some police officers who were called about disputes between residents welcomed the abuse. “One once said: The next time, we’ll pick them up after you’ve worked them over for five hours,” S. recalled. The officer had been called to arrest a resident detained by the security staff.

The Siegerland Kurier also published photos from the camp at Burbach. They show sanitary facilities smeared with feces and menstrual blood, rubbish-strewn corridors and injured residents. S. reported that it often took days until defects were rectified. Medical care was often not provided.

The refugee camp in Burbach was established last year at an old barracks. It was meant to provide accommodation for 500 people, but is now home to 700 refugees. Acuh, the Essen camp, is seriously overcrowded, with 650 residents in a facility meant for 300.

Both camps are run by the for-profit company “European Homecare”, which operates a total of 40 camps and is considered the market leader in the sector. The security service at Burbach was first outsourced by “European Homecare” to the firm “ESS”, and then to “SKI Security”.

The terrible conditions in the refugee camps and their systematic character have shocked people throughout Germany. At the same time, politicians of all parties have cynically tried to downplay the events.

The North Rhine Westphalia state Interior Minister Ralf Jäger (SPD, Social Democratic Party) described the torture by security guards as “mistakes by individual criminals”. Criminals had infiltrated the security company, he told broadcaster ZDF. This was “reprehensible, but sometimes not preventable, despite all the checks, despite all the supervision”. Nevertheless, he declared, “we need more controls” and “our partners have not complied with all contractual conditions”.

Federal Interior Minister Thomas De Maizière (CDU, Christian Democratic Union) also tried to downplay the scandal. He was sure that “the state of North Rhine Westphalia would correct these deficiencies without delay”. On Monday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert announced a rapid investigation and stressed that Germany was “a philanthropic country”.

Opposition representatives mainly criticised the lack of finance for the refugee accommodations, without making any serious criticism of Germany’s brutal asylum regime. The parliamentary leader of the Greens, Kathrin Göring-Eckardt, demanded that the government “consider as soon as possible” which buildings it could provide for the initial reception of refugees. In addition, “it must provide financial relief for the federal states and municipalities”.

The Left Party domestic political spokesperson Ulla Jelpke, and Özlem Demirel, the state spokeswoman for the party in North Rhine Westphalia, both provided statements. Jelpke called for better financial support for the local authorities. “Local authorities must be able to provide care for asylum seekers, instead of placing this task in the hands of profit-oriented companies,” she said.

Demirel added, “I expect that not only the security guards responsible will be punished quickly, but that there will be major improvements in the standards of accommodation and the security staff. It must be excluded that right-wing extremists can work in refugee shelters with or without a uniform”.

In reality, the brutal acts of the security staff are not simply due to the poor financing of the accommodations or the result of a lack of control. Since the change to the asylum law in 1993, the situation of asylum seekers in Germany has systematically deteriorated. The use of inhumane treatment was part of a deliberate plan to deter further refugees and curb immigration.

Late last year, 350 refugees who were originally stranded on the Italian island of Lampedusa were seriously harassed by the Hamburg Senate (city/state government). The refugees were denied basic care, and even the Church was prohibited from providing this. At the same time, the Hamburg police organized a large-scale operation in the city, subjecting all dark-skinned people to ID controls.

There were several cases of police brutality against refugees in Berlin over the summer. …

The barbaric conditions in the refugee camps have been known for some time and are deliberate. Earlier reports revealed mass epidemics, the placing of refugees in dilapidated facilities and a lack of basic hygienic conditions. A UNICEF study severely criticised the German authorities for massive violations of the UN Children’s Convention in dealing with refugee children.

Nazi death squad members identified


This video is called Einsatzgruppen: The Death Brigades, Part 1.

And this video is the sequel.

From Associated Press:

Wiesenthal Center pushes Germany for new probe of Nazi mobile death squad members

By DAVID RISING

October 01, 2014 – 5:01 am EDT

BERLIN — The Simon Wiesenthal Center has identified dozens of former members of Nazi mobile death squads who might still be alive, and is pushing the German government for an investigation, The Associated Press has learned.

The Wiesenthal Center’s top Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff, told the AP on Wednesday that in September he sent the German justice and interior ministries a list of 76 men and four women who served in the so-called Einsatzgruppen.

The Einsatzgruppen, made up of primarily SS and police personnel, followed Nazi Germany’s troops as they battled their way eastward in the early years of the war, rounding up and shooting Jews in the opening salvo of the Holocaust before the death camp system was up and running.

According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, they had killed more than a million Soviet Jews and tens of thousands of others by spring 1943.

“In the death camps the actual act of murder was carried out by a very small number of people — the people who put the gas into the gas chambers — but the actual act of murder in the Einsatzgruppen was carried out individually,” Zuroff said. “Almost every person in the Einsatzgruppen was a murderer, a hands-on murderer.”

Zuroff narrowed down the list of possible suspects by choosing the youngest from a list of some 1,100 with dates of birth known to his organization, from the estimated 3,000 members of the death squads.

All 80 would be very old if still alive, born between 1920 and 1924, Zuroff said.

“Time is running out,” he said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem. “Something has to be done.”

Because of Germany’s strict privacy laws, the Wiesenthal Center has been unable to confirm where the suspects live, but Zuroff said that task, and determining if they’re still alive, should be relatively easy for police or prosecutors.

Meantime, he said, his office is willing to assist in any way possible in coming up with evidence or other details.

“The hope is that as many as possible will be alive, but there’s no guarantee obviously,” he said. “But every person alive today is a victory of sorts.”

Germany’s Interior Ministry had no immediate comment but the Justice Ministry said it had passed the details of the letter to the special federal prosecutors’ office that investigates Nazi-era crimes.

The head of that office, Kurt Schrimm, told the AP he hasn’t yet received the new information.

A handful of Einsatzgruppen members were tried and convicted after the war but most have gone unpunished.

Schrimm has said, however, they could now be prosecuted under new German legal theory that service in a Nazi unit whose sole purpose was murder is enough to convict someone of accessory to murder — even without evidence of participation in a specific crime as had previously been required.

German viewers criticise warmongering TV coverage on Ukraine


This video says about itself:

Ukrainians are burning their military draft cards [English subtitles]

27 July 2014

Ukrainians are burning their military writs, refusing to leave their sons to the Ministry of Defense.

By Sybille Fuchs in Germany:

German committee criticises television news coverage of Ukraine

26 September 2014

The supervisory committee of Germany’s ARD public television station has criticised the station’s coverage of developments in Ukraine. The station’s coverage had “given the impression of bias” and appeared to be directed against “Russia and Russian standpoints”, the committee declares in the minutes of its meeting of June 24, which has been published in the online magazine Telepolis.

The purpose of the nine-member committee is to represent the interests of viewers, and it has an advisory function. It is elected by the broadcasting councils of German states and consists of representatives from various associations, political parties, churches and other groups. Its current chairman is the lawyer and banker Dr. Paul Siebertz from Bavarian Radio. Also on the committee are the Catholic priest and journalist Stefan Wahl, a teacher, a natural health practitioner, a pastoral consultant and a representative of the federation of public officials.

Prior to meeting, the committee had analyzed several ARD reports on the crisis in Ukraine—a step that is regarded as unusual. The measure was taken following complaints from viewers about biased reporting. The members of the panel unanimously agreed that such criticisms were entirely justified.

The Advisory Council lists 10 points in which the reporting of the ARD was inadequate.

It criticises the absence of any fundamental analysis of the negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Ukraine on the Association Agreement. It criticises the fact that “NATO’s political and strategic intentions” with regard to its policy of eastern enlargement were not raised. Nor was any critical analysis made of the legitimacy of the “so-called Maidan council”. The same applies to the “role of the radical nationalist forces, particularly Svoboda” and their activities during the failure “of the agreement to resolve the crisis in Ukraine of 21 February”.

The “constitutional and democratic issues” involved in the removal of President Yanukovych and the role of right-wing forces in his overthrow were also not adequately investigated by the ARD. In addition, there was no critical analysis of the role of politicians such as Julia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko.

The council also challenged the station’s coverage of the secession of Crimea from Ukraine. There was no proper investigation made of the procedure and legality of the Crimean referendum, its international legal status, the significance of popular participation in the vote, and the role of historical issues and the ethnic groups in Crimea in the secession process.

The criticisms raised by the committee are devastating, and confirm the assessment of the World Socialist Web Site, which wrote that news reportage on German public television had “degenerated into nightly propaganda spots”. Rather than informing the public, the reports promoted the policy of the government, which has played a leading role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Whatever does not fit into the framework of official propaganda is eliminated: the content of the Association Agreement; the subordination of Ukraine to the dictates of the EU and the International Monetary Fund; the role of fascists in the Maidan protests; the toppling of Yanukovych in a right-wing coup; and the massive rejection of the new rulers in Kiev by the Russian-speaking population in the east of the country.

The council cautiously refers to a “more or less subliminal transfer of opinion by moderators and reporters” and the selective choice of reports, “which even in the synopsis of all ten Ukraine hotspots fail to give a fairly comprehensive picture of the crisis itself.” In plain English, this means manipulation and censorship.

Television director Tom Buhrow is reported to have reacted in an “extremely agitated and in part irreverent” manner to the criticism raised by the Advisory Board. From ARD sources Telepolis learned that both Buhrow and television director Jörg Schönborn aggressively insisted on an editorial line to “defend Western standpoints”. In other words, the one-sided reporting was ordered from the highest levels. From 2002 to 2006, Buhrow was head of the ARD studios in Washington.

Nothing is likely to change after the report. The station’s deputy programme director, Thomas Baumann, vigourously rejected the council’s charge of biased reporting and praised the work of the station’s “local correspondents”.

The reporting of the country’s second main public station, the ZDF, is no better than that of the ARD. Web sites have compiled the numerous complaints from viewers detailing inaccurate and false reporting, including deliberate omissions of important information, selective cuts to interviews and conflicting standpoints in the same programme. Viewers have also criticised the lack of any comment on pictures of pro-Ukrainian forces sporting Nazi symbols such as swastikas, as well as and the trivialisation of the fascist Azov battalion, which is fighting on behalf of the Kiev government.

These reports make clear Germany’s public broadcasters are being deliberately used to bombard the population with misinformation and deception about a war it overwhelmingly rejects.

A report issued in September by the Democratization Policy Council (DPC), a US-EU think tank with close links to the German Green Party, criticizes European policy as too “soft” towards Russia and calls for an intensified intervention by the US and EU in the Balkan states to isolate and weaken Moscow: here.

Following the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army from areas of eastern Ukraine, there have been a number of reports of mass graves in which right-wing Ukrainian militias buried the bodies of their opponents: here.

Both of Germany’s public television broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, have come under sharp criticism for their blatantly biased reporting on Ukraine. They have adopted one-sided, favourable coverage of the right-wing nationalists in government in Kiev, branded Russia as solely responsible for causing the ongoing conflict and downplayed the role of fascist groups acting with support from the government: here.

The revival of German militarism: One year on: here.

Hitler whitewash by amateur historian Nolte


This video is called Nazi Concentration Camps – Film shown at Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

An attempt to rehabilitate Hitler

24 September 2014

The magazine the European has made Adolf Hitler the central theme of its latest edition. The Nazi leader’s brightly colored face is displayed on the front page along with the headline: “Hitlertainment: Germany’s Leading Pop Star.” Inside, along with interviews with leading politicians and cultural figures, life style articles, and much that is trivial and tasteless, Ernst Nolte makes an insistent plea in defence of Hitler.

Under the headline “Break the Taboo,” the 91-year-old historian complains that after Germany’s defeat in World War II, Hitler was transformed “from a liberator to the ‘absolute evil.’”

Nolte calls himself ‘a philosopher, not a historian’. He is indeed by training not a historian, but a philosopher in the tradition of Martin Heidegger (a nazi party member until the final collapse of Hitler’s Third Reich in May 1945). So, Nolte is an amateur historian.

After the war, he writes, a “multitude of hate and condemnation” emerged, “which made the one-time ‘liberator’ a representative of ‘absolute evil’ and a ‘taboo’ who could not be spoken about seriously or scientifically.” Nolte adds, “We are still hampered by this one-sided view today.”

Elsewhere, he complains that there is not enough Hitler in contemporary German politics. Hitler, Nolte writes, could appear “as the forgotten representative of tendencies of ‘self-assertion’ that are missing in the official politics of the German government.”

Nolte goes so far as to deny Hitler’s responsibility for the Second World War. The war in 1939 was “provoked not primarily by Hitler, but by the refusal to make compromises on the part of Britain as well as Poland,” he writes.

The “refusal to compromise” was Britain’s and Poland’s refusal to succumb to Hitler’s blackmail by giving up Danzig and the Polish corridor and allying themselves with him against the Soviet Union.

Nolte also praises Hitler’s birth policy, which he describes as a “pro-natal policy.” The Nazis made a high priority of a policy based on German women delivering the Führer a large number of Aryan offspring. This was also the aim of the SS organisation “Lebensborn,” which encouraged the pregnancy of single women because, as SS leader Himmler explained, “due to the fertility of the Russians,” Germany would otherwise be “overrun by them.”

Nolte concludes that Hitler “combated the tendency towards the ‘extinction of the people (Volkstod)’ not without success through a pro-natal policy.” With barely disguised racism, he charges that, by contrast, the “leadership of the German Federal Republic,” in place of promoting German offspring, “tolerate and even encourage a policy of uncontrolled immigration.”

In 1986, Ernst Nolte provoked the so-called “historians’ dispute” (Historikerstreit) in Germany when he played down the crimes of the Nazis and justified Hitler’s policies as an understandable response to Bolshevism. His right-wing views have become more radical since then. In 1998, he wrote in a book that Hitler had “well-founded reasons” to view the Jews as enemies “and adopt appropriate measures.”

That Nolte now openly espouses views previously associated with neo-Nazi circles does not come as a surprise. What is remarkable, however, is that a supposedly serious magazine, not attached to the extreme right-wing spectrum, publishes such a contribution without comment, and this in turn provokes no opposition.

The European has been appearing online since 2009, and since 2012 it has been published four times per year in printed form. Its editor, Alexander Görlach, was previously department head at the political magazine Cicero. With a doctorate in theology and political science, he is well connected politically. He was deputy spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union parliamentary fraction, and spokesman for the Association of Catholic Students. He has worked for several newspapers, radio stations and television broadcasters, and is a member of the Atlantik-Brücke think tank.

Alongside Nolte’s piece, the latest edition of the European features interviews with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, veteran Social Democratic politician Egon Bahr, Christian Democratic Union politician Wolfgang Bosbach, the philosopher Rüdiger Safranski, filmmaker Alexander Kluge, economist Thomas Piketty, and the general secretary of the German section of Amnesty International, Selmin Caliskan.

So far, however, none of these individuals seems concerned that his interview appears alongside a polemic calling for breaking the taboo on Hitler.

While Nolte’s more moderate theses provoked strong opposition in 1986, today silence reigns. The only conclusion that can be reached is that ideas long considered extreme right-wing and unacceptable are once again part of the mainstream and viewed as a legitimate contribution to debate.

The European, which calls itself a magazine of debate, is not the first supposedly serious magazine to publicize Nolte. His rehabilitation began in 2000, when he was awarded the Konrad Adenauer prize by the Deutschland Foundation. Then, in February of this year, Der Spiegel opened its pages to him.

Already in Der Spiegel, in an interview with Dirk Kurbjuweit, Nolte claimed, without being challenged, that the Poles and the British were partly responsible for the Second World War because they had not joined sides with Hitler. Berlin-based historian Jörg Baberowski appeared in Der Spiegel as Nolte’s advocate, declaring, “Nolte was done an injustice. He was historically correct.”

How can these attempts to rehabilitate Hitler be explained? It is obviously not just a matter of isolated flukes. Although Nolte’s contribution stands out for its open partisanship in favor of Hitler, the entire edition of the European is organized to give Nolte’s opinions credibility.

The “debate magazine” is conducting a very strange debate. It is not about clarifying what really happened in the past and what lessons are to be drawn for the present. Questions that have occupied generations of serious historians are not touched upon, such as: Who was Hitler? Whose interests did he represent? Who helped him come to power? Why did the workers’ movement fail? Terms such as Auschwitz, Gestapo, war of annihilation, and war crimes are absent.

Instead, Hitler has been transformed into a subjective cipher. The claim “whether we like it or not, Hitler is today a caricature of popular culture,” runs like a thread from the magazine’s first page to its last.

Editor Görlach declares “a de-demonisation is good for our approach to the Nazi period.” There are pieces on “The Monster Next Door” and “The Hitler in Us.” There are over seven pages of uncensored Nazi propaganda in the form of Hitler caricatures from the 1920s with the original comments by Nazi media chief Ernst Hanfstaengl. Nolte’s contribution fits perfectly into this eclectic mishmash.

The fact that the authors and producers of the magazine deal with Hitler in a thoroughly subjective way does not mean that they have no objective motives. The European ’s second major topic is significant in this respect. It is presented under the heading: “The Just War. What would we Germans still kill for?”

The attempt to rehabilitate Hitler is inseparably bound up with the campaign to end Germany’s military restraint, as propagated by German President Joachim Gauck, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and many other politicians and media representatives since the end of 2013.

History is returning with a vengeance. In 1961, Fritz Fischer in his book Griff nach der Weltmacht (Bid for World Power) exposed Germany’s war aims in World War I and proved that the Nazis pursued the same goals in World War II. Today, Foreign Minister Steinmeier—particularly in Ukraine—is walking in the footsteps of his predecessors Bethmann Hollweg and von Ribbentrop. The global crisis of capitalism and the unraveling of the European Union are posing German imperialism with the same tasks it confronted in 1914 and 1939.

Numerous politicians, journalists and academics are attempting to justify the revival of German militarism ideologically. Jürgen Habermas, who led Nolte’s opponents in the historians’ dispute of the 1980s, has been supporting “humanitarian” military interventions since the war against Serbia in 1999. Green Party “anti-fascists” are cooperating with rightists in Kiev who honor Nazi collaborators in the Second World War. They feel the irresistible urge to rehabilitate Hitler. “We must, of course, humanise Hitler,” writes the author Timur Vermes in the European.

Workers and young people should take this as a warning. Those who today call for lifting the taboo on Hitler will have no scruples about repeating his crimes, abroad and at home, tomorrow.

Whether their creators intended them as responses to the resurgence of German militarism or not, two films screened at this year’s Toronto film festival, both set in the postwar period, dealt quite strongly with the devastating consequences of Nazism: here.