German President Gauck’s pro-poverty propaganda in Greece

This video is called Greece – Athens 2012.

By Christoph Dreier in Germany:

German President Gauck visits Greece

11 March 2014

Last week, German President Joachim Gauck travelled to Greece for a three-day state visit. The trip served to strengthen the Greek government in its attacks on the rights and social achievements of working people. The anti-communist former pastor from East Germany exhibited all of the dishonesty and hypocrisy which have become his political trademarks.

He was very concerned at having to hear “what so many Greeks have to put up with in the seventh year of the crisis, and how those suffering most under the crisis did not cause it,” Gauck asserted. In the same breath, he stated that the austerity measures, which were in large part dictated by Germany, were tough but necessary, and that the path pursued thus far had to be maintained.

At the end of his trip, he shed crocodile tears in the village of Lingiades, the scene of one of many war crimes by the German army in Greece in World War II, and asked Greeks for forgiveness while briskly rejecting calls for reparations for the victims.

The surroundings of Gauck’s trip recall state visits conducted to totalitarian states. As was the case with the visit of German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble last June, large areas of the city centre of Athens were sealed off and a ban on demonstrations was enforced. When around 500 people approached the exclusion zone to protest against mass layoffs, they were attacked by police with batons and tear gas.

Gauck later indirectly thanked the government in Athens for its suppression of any expression of democratic opinion. He also praised the government for having prevented “chaos and anarchy”, also “in delicate phases.” He also explicitly thanked the trade unions for not using “their power to blockade,” and said they had thereby served Greece.

At the same time, Gauck noted repeatedly in his speech the need for “painful reforms,” and opposed describing them as a “dictate from outside actors”. In a discussion with opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, he stated that the reform measures were not an austerity program but an aid program.

In fact, it is an aid program for the country’s banks and creditors. They have been compensated for their toxic investments while Greek state debt has exploded, the social achievements of the working class have been destroyed and broad sections of the population have been ruined.

On average, wages have fallen by 40 percent over the past four years. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been destroyed and the education and health care systems have been decimated. At a rate of 28 percent, unemployment has reached a new record. Out of over one million registered unemployed, only 16.4 percent receive state support and health care.

As a result, every new layoff or spending cut is a question of life and death. Health minister Adonis Georgiades declared at the end of February that emergency patients would continue to be treated for free. However, according to the health minister, who was previously a member of the extreme right-wing Laos Party, “illnesses like cancer are not considered urgent, unless you are in the final stages.”

Gauck not only defended these measures, but called for their expansion throughout Europe. The Greek government is currently negotiating with the European Union (EU) over new cuts. According to reports, EU representatives are demanding the layoffs of 4,000 state workers by the end of the month, the easing of protection against sackings in the private sector and the cutting of public sector wages.

Gauck announced in an interview with the Greek daily Kathemerini that “painful reforms to stimulate the economy and employment,” enforced in Germany as part of the Agenda 2010 program of reforms, were to be carried out throughout Europe. “Although there is no reform blueprint,” the German President said, “wherever we can provide meaningful German experience, we will help and do so gladly.”

Gauck linked his call for the plundering of European workers with a revival of German militarism. In a repugnant manner he used the victims of the Nazi regime for this purpose.

On Friday, Gauck visited Ioannina, a town in the northwest of Greece, and the nearby village of Lingiades, where in October 1943 the German army committed a horrific war crime.

After an officer from the notorious 1 Alpine division Edelweiß was killed by Greek partisans, General Hubert Lanz ordered the extermination of the entire population of the village in retaliation. Wehrmacht soldiers herded the villagers into cellars, shot them and finally set the buildings ablaze. 82 people died, mainly women and children. The youngest was two months old. Lanz was convicted of war crimes at Nuremburg, but spent only four years in prison before becoming defence expert for the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and honorary chairman of the association for Alpine troops.

German soldiers deported 1,725 Jews from Ioannina and the surrounding area to Auschwitz, of whom only one tenth survived the concentration camps.

Gauck held a speech in Lingiades and laid a wreath at the memorial for the murdered villagers. Germany was doubly guilty, said Gauck, because the perpetrators had not asked for forgiveness for a long time. He wanted to do this on their behalf now.

The hypocrisy of these words was hard to swallow. Only a day earlier, Gauck emphatically stated that no legal right to compensation for the victims could be deduced from Germany’s moral guilt.

When Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who fought the German occupiers at the age of 14, declared at a joint press conference on Thursday that Greece had never given up on reparation payments, Gauck responded, “You know that I can only answer that by saying that I believe the legal process has been concluded.”

Among the Greek demands is a loan imposed by the occupiers in 1942 on the Greek state through blackmail. Even the Third Reich recognised this loan as an official debt worth almost 500 million Reichmarks. But the federal republic declared it null and void and today takes the view that all Greek claims were satisfied in the global reparations agreement from the 1960s. At that time, Germany transferred the derisory sum of 115 million marks to Athens. The German government is also of the opinion that the bailout received by Greece as an EU member has invalidated all claims for reparations.

Gauck has made the visiting of memorials marking Nazi crimes a central part of his trips abroad. Prior to Lingiades, he visited Oradour in France, Lidice in the Czech Republic, and Sant’Anna di Stazzama in Italy. In the process he has systematically used the horrific crimes of the Nazis to justify the revival of German militarism.

While Green Party foreign minister Joschka Fischer once justified German participation in the war against Serbia by reference to Germany’s responsibility for Auschwitz, Gauck now legitimises every German military intervention, including the German government’s current collaboration with fascists in Ukraine, by claiming to be preventing alleged crimes.

“We can never believe”, Gauck said two weeks ago in an interview with Deutsche Welle, “that after German brutality, German criminality, Germany’s murderous acts were defeated that the danger has been banished. It is absolutely not. And we have seen in Europe, in Srebrenica, that sometimes just talking doesn’t help. And in Rwanda we have seen what happens when we don’t intervene.”

Germany could no longer use the crimes of the Nazis as a “justification” to hold back from military intervention, Gauck said.

In the same interview, Gauck explicitly justified the intervention in Ukraine, where the German government has worked closely with the fascist Svoboda Party, which bases itself on the anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and enjoys close ties to the German fascist National Democratic Party (NPD). As the strongest power in Europe, Germany could not afford to take a back seat, the president declared. “There are no reasonable grounds which could be brought forward against our intervention.”

By Afrodity Giannakis, Thessaloniki. May 12, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — “I wish I could leave Greece. I can’t go on living here. I work very long hours and live more frugally than ever, but I still can’t pay the bills, the income tax or the other taxes like the property poll tax. My tax debt keeps building up. I’ll end up losing my home. They are stealing our homes and they are not communists. And people are getting sadder and madder every day. I can’t go on like this”: here.

On Saturday, German president Joachim Gauck reiterated his call for a more aggressive German foreign policy and more military interventions: here.

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Nazi-hunter Beate Klarsfeld German presidential candidate

This video says about itself:

Nazi Hunters, Kurt Lischka

“As Gestapo chief in Paris, Kurt Lischka was responsible for deporting 73,000 Jews and ordering the largest mass arrest in French history. Instead of serving time for his crimes after the war, a legal loophole allowed him to live openly in West Germany enraging Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, a husband-and-wife team of Nazi Hunters. Determined to bring him to justice, they plan a kidnapping that lands Beate in jail.”

From Associated Press:

Nazi-Hunter Klarsfeld Seeks German Presidency

BERLIN February 27, 2012

A German opposition party has nominated Nazi-hunter Beate Klarsfeld as a long-shot candidate for the German presidency in an election next month.

The Left Party on Monday nominated the 73-year-old Klarsfeld — the German-born wife of France’s best-known Nazi hunter, Serge Klarsfeld — to challenge Joachim Gauck in the March 18 vote by a special parliamentary assembly.

Former East German pro-democracy activist Gauck

“Former East German pro-democracy activist” sounds good. However, some other things about Mr Gauck do not sound good.

is virtually assured of election because the other four parties in Parliament support him.

Klarsfeld gained international prominence in 1968 when she slapped then-West German Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, a former Nazi party member, at a conference in Berlin.

The new president will replace Christian Wulff, who resigned in a corruption scandal.

The coronation of the new German president Gauck: here.

New German president Gauck, saint or sinner?

This video, recorded in Germany, is called ‘Shoe’ protesters urge German president [Wulff] to quit.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

All-party coalition supports Gauck as new German president

22 February 2012

The 72-year-old Joachim Gauck will be the next German president. Two days after the resignation of Christian Wulff, five of the six parties represented in parliament have spoken out in favour of Gauck as their candidate for the post.

The chairs of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union, the Free Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Greens announced their decision Sunday evening at a joint press conference with Gauck. This means that his election by the Federal Assembly on March 18 is guaranteed. The five parties have a large majority in the election committee, which consists of all members of parliament and an equal number of state representatives. Only the Left Party is not included in the deal and was not asked its opinion on the matter.

By agreeing on a common candidate, the establishment parties are closing ranks. Only on one other occasion—in 1989 for the re-election of Richard von Weizsäcker—did they support a joint candidate.

This takes place amid growing social tensions and deep divisions in society. As a result of the policies introduced by the governments led by the SPD’s Gerhard Schröder and by the CDU’s Angela Merkel, the gap between rich and poor has grown explosively and the number of poor and those in precarious low wage jobs has increased significantly. Support for the governing parties has declined accordingly.

Under these circumstances it was stressed over and over again that the future president must stand above the parties and restore confidence in the state. With Gauck, a candidate has been selected who, while not being a member of any political party, stands firmly behind the continuation of austerity policies and defends right-wing positions on all social and political issues.

In this respect the support of the government and opposition parties for Gauck reminds of the situation in Greece and Italy, where a grand coalition of almost all parties backs the technocrats Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti. There, as in Germany, a supposedly non-partisan figure is being used to justify the cooperation of all the bourgeois parties—from the right to the bourgeois “left”—against the interests of the people. As was the case in the selection of Papademos and Monti, the choice of Gauck as new German president represents a political swing to the right and a turn away from democracy.

Gauck was born in 1940 in Rostock, the son of a captain of the German Navy, who spent several years in a Siberian prison camp after the war, accused of espionage.

I do not claim to be an expert on the biography of Joachim Gauck, or of his father.

However, I should say something on the Kriegsmarine, Adolf Hitler’s World War II navy, in which Gauck’s father was a high ranking officer. The navy was the part of the armed forces which Hitler trusted most. By the last year of the war, some officers of the army, like Colonel von Stauffenberg who made an attempt on Hitler’s life, had become opponents of the regime. Hitler also did not trust the boss of the nazi air force Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, any more. When Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, he named navy commander Karl Dönitz as his successor.

This was the foundation of the negative attitude he adopted towards the regime in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Gauck went on to study theology in the GDR and served as a pastor until the GDR collapsed in the autumn of 1989.

Shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gauck joined the New Forum—one of the allegedly “democratic” forces that negotiated the transition to capitalism with the GDR regime. After the reunification of Germany, Gauck headed the office in charge of the files of the Stasi, the GDR secret police. This made him a well-known national figure.

The media and the political establishment have gone to great lengths to portray Gauck as a steadfast, incorruptible democrat. His conception of democracy, however, is marked by anti-communism and has an extremely right-wing bias, both on political and social issues.

In October 2010 he gave an extensive interview to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which reads like a propaganda speech to justify the current austerity measures and social decline. Under the heading “People have to get up from their cosy beds”, Gauck combines an appeal to patriotism with attacks on every form of public welfare.

At the outset of the interview, he expresses the hope that youth will seek to make something better come out of “negative nationalism, i.e. not identifying as a German at any price”, and that youth will say Yes to the “region and the place where they live”.

“People need to get out of their cosy bed of expectations of happiness based on pleasure and prosperity. They should not expect others to do it for them”, he continued. “The hope that we can only be happy through consumption and neglect our civic duties is deceptive.”

He expressed his enthusiasm for “times of crisis or dictatorship”, in which life has to be tackled on a day-to-day basis. In affluent societies, however, “the challenge of having to define oneself is not so great. Life takes place. It is pleasant, often easy-going, entertaining. One notices only at certain turning points that something is lacking. There is hunger for a purpose.”

He praises statesmen who have the courage to follow a policy that “does not reflect the will of the majority of the people.” He endorses the labour market reforms introduced by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and the decision to allow NATO to rearm on German territory made by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD) in the early 1980s, in the face of massive popular opposition. Both men lost their posts as a result.

He prefers politicians “who were prepared to take the risk of not being re-elected”, Gauck explains.

In the interview, Gauck also expresses his support for the right-wing SPD politicians Heinz Buschkowsky and Thilo Sarrazin. Both made a name for themselves with vicious campaigns against Muslim immigrants. Gauck distances himself from Sarrazin’s “biological” arguments that Muslims lack intelligence, but praises Sarrazin’s courage.

While Gauck praises the courage of racist agitator Thilo Sarrazin, he is scathing in his criticism of those who protest against the power of financial markets. In October 2011 he described the Occupy-movement as “unspeakably stupid”. The idea of a world where one can free oneself from the grip of the bond markets is a romantic notion, he said. He was equally disparaging about the Stuttgart-21 protests, which he described as an expression of the “heinous” German inclination to hysteria and fear.

Gauck has explicitly campaigned for international military operations by the German armed forces. In a speech at the Deutsches Theater in the summer of 2010, he declared that he hoped to see more public support for the Afghanistan war, which in his view is “correct and necessary”.

Despite his right-wing positions, Gauck is supported primarily by the SPD and the Greens. They already nominated him as their candidate for the presidential office two years ago. In the event, he was defeated in a third round of voting by the CDU’s Christian Wulff.

Now, representatives of the Greens and the SPD are singing the praises of Gauck. Green Party chairperson Claudia Roth declared him to be a man who could reunite society, lend new splendour to democracy, and modernise it. SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel called Gauck’s candidacy a good and important signal to the people.

The FDP also signalled its support. FDP General Secretary Patrick Döring declared that the party had backed Gauck “out of inner conviction”. And Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) said Gauck would “add to the international reputation of our country based on his career and his lifelong commitment to freedom and responsibility.”

Resistance against Gauck came mainly from inside the conservative Union camp. Chancellor Angela Merkel had considerable difficulty in advocating a Protestant from the former GDR (like herself), in the face of opposition from forces rooted in the Catholic milieu of southern Germany. It was only when the FDP decided unilaterally in favour of Gauck on Sunday afternoon—risking a breakup of the governing coalition—that Merkel finally relented and gave Gauck her support.

The fact that five parties have now put their support behind this right-wing candidate should be taken as a warning. The enthusiastic support for Gauck from the ranks of the SPD and the Greens once again demonstrates that there is nothing to distinguish these parties from the traditional right-wing bourgeois parties.

See also here.

President Gauck’s recent speech to the federal armed forces lays bare the ideological foundations of the drive for the militarization of Germany’s foreign policy: here.