Insects decline in Germany

This video says about itself:

5 September 2017

Due to a reduction in biodiversity, insect populations have declined in Europe by as much as 80%. Educators in South Africa predict the same fate for their country.

From PLOS one:

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas

Published: October 18, 2017


Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning.

Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna.

Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.


German neonazi mass murderer not a ‘terrorist’?

This video says about itself:

Inside Story – How did the media cover the Munich attack?

23 July 2016

Police report no links between ISIL [ISIS] and a gunman‘s ‘night of horror’ in a Munich shopping mall.

However, there were plenty of links to Norwegian neofascist mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and other nazi terrorists.

By Dietmar Henning in Germany:

Attack in 2016 on Munich shopping centre was an act of right-wing terrorism

11 October 2017

The German authorities and media regularly exaggerate and exploit terrorist acts or acts of violence perpetrated by Islamist or left-wing groups to justify the strengthening of the police-state apparatus and further surveillance, and to agitate against refugees. By contrast, right-wing terrorist attacks and violence are downplayed, and their political motives often denied.

This has been revealed once again by the case of the cold-blooded murder of nine people from an immigrant background by 18-year-old David S. on July 22, 2016, in Munich’s Olympia shopping centre.

What at first appeared to be a “shooting spree” was soon exposed to be an act obviously motivated by right-wing extremist views. The perpetrator was a convinced neo-Nazi and racist. Nonetheless, the investigating authorities and Munich state prosecutor continue to this day to refuse to describe the attack as an act of right-wing political terrorism.

The Bavarian state intelligence agency described the perpetrator as a “psychologically disturbed avenger” and a “rampager.” The fact he was bullied at school was the main focus of investigations into the attack. The state prosecutor and Bavarian office of criminal police (LKA) wrote in their final report, “It cannot be assumed that the attack was politically motivated.”

They continued to stick to this position after three academics presented reports at Munich’s city hall that came to a very different conclusion. According to them, the attack was not revenge for bullying at school, but was rather motivated by the perpetrator’s extremist world view.

The Office for Democracy in Bavaria’s capital city hired academics Christoph Kopke, Matthias Quent and Florian Hartleb to examine the young shooter’s right-wing background. The trio was able to review the state prosecutor’s investigation files, question witnesses and examine data from the attacker’s computer.

Hartleb, a political scientist, reported that David S. was not so isolated as has been claimed. “He was even class spokesperson,” noted Hartleb. Unlike previous mass shooters, S. did not carry out the murders at his own school, the location of his bullying experiences. He knew none of his victims. On the day of the attack, David S. saved a document on his computer that stated, “I want to exterminate all German Turks now—regardless of whom.” The bullying thesis thus played a much smaller role than the authorities alleged.

David S. carried out the terrorist attack as a “lone wolf,” one of the reports continued. The 18-year-old had a firm ultra-right outlook and developed hatred towards people with an immigrant background. The date of the attack was also no accident. It was the anniversary of the mass shooting by right-wing Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who David S. saw as a model or “supreme hero,” as Kopke put it.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported a year ago that David S. considered it a “distinction” that his birthday was April 20, 1998, the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s.

The fact that S.’s parents were Iranian played no role, explained Hartleb. By devaluing immigrants, he could prove himself to be a “real German.” In a manifesto authored a year prior to the attack, David S. indicated that he considered his Iranian origin to be a special honour because Iranians have the same Aryan origin as Germans. In the pamphlet, the future attacker wrote of “foreign sub-humans,” “cockroaches” and people he would “execute.”

Hartleb did not see the fact that S. apparently had no connections with extremists as proof that S. was not a terrorist. The case, in which an individual acted without the support of an organization, conformed much more to a process of self-radicalisation. This was a “rare, although increasingly common special kind of terrorism.”

Quent, head of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society in Jena, stated that the events at the shopping centre could be described as the “action of a terrorist acting alone.” The authorities excluded the issues of prejudice and racism. The victims “were not murdered because people who looked similar may have bullied David S., but because David S. had developed a generalised hatred for all people with what from his point of view were specific characteristics.” What is this if it is not racism, he asked, particularly from the standpoint of those affected.

Quent dealt with another aspect arising out of the authorities’ version of events. By referring to the perpetrator’s possible negative experiences with fellow students of Turkish or Albanian origins, the victims were made jointly responsible for the attack.

This was also the attitude of the authorities in regard to the murders committed by the National Socialist Underground (NSU) terrorist group, two of which took place in Munich. The police did not conduct an investigation into right-wing terrorism, although profilers considered this suspicion as likely, but treated the immigrants themselves as suspects. In accordance with this, investigators intimidated relatives of the victims.

Quent wrote in his report, “The victims of the attack bear no responsibility for the offender’s bullying experiences.” He demanded that the authorities condemn the destructive impact of racism, rather than justifying them with references to causes in the interests of the perpetrator.

Kopke, a professor of political science at the Institution for Economics and Law in Berlin, chose not to go as far as his colleagues and describe the attack as a terrorist act. But even David S.’s references to right-wing extremism qualified the attack as a hate crime and fulfil the criteria for the constitutional definition of “right-wing politically motivated crime (PMK),” according to Kopke.

The authorities reject this interpretation. The domestic intelligence agency, whose “estimations” provided the basis for the conclusion that David S.’s alleged motivation was “unpolitical,” did not attend the presentation of the reports on Friday, despite being invited.

Senior prosecutor Gabriele Tilmann spoke of an “impenetrable mélange” of motives for the attack. The authorities could not conceal David S.’s right-wing opinions. But these did not “trigger the attack,” claimed Tilmann. “We consider the perpetrator’s illness due to many years of bullying to be the primary cause.” Jürgen Miller, chief special investigator at the LKA, asserted, “It was an attack guided by revenge and anger with a variety of motives.”

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, chief senior prosecutor Hans Kornprobst declared a day prior to the report’s release, “I want to warn against compartmentalising the whole thing, even though some want it that way.” Placing a right-wing “stamp” on the attack was a “crude simplification” of the perpetrator’s motives.

While Kornprobst here opposes “crude simplification,” in the case of Islamist acts of terror this has “long become a well-practiced routine,” as Georg Dietz wrote in a column published by Spiegel Online. “In the case of Islamist-motivated killings or attempted murders, regardless of how the Islamist connection is identified, a conspiracy is sought after; in the case of killings motivated by right-wing extremism, even when the connection is clear, they search for understanding.”

This evasive “search for understanding” does not simply stem from the rightward-leaning outlook of the authorities, but also from the fact that the intelligence agencies and police have often known about, and even jointly organised, such attacks. This applies to the NSU murders as it does to the Oktoberfest bombing in 1980. In the case of the terrorist attack at the Oktoberfest, the authorities have referred for decades to the psychologically unstable “lone” perpetrator, Gundolf Köhler, and covered up his right-wing connections and co-conspirators.

The trial in the Munich District Court of Appeals of David S.’s alleged weapons supplier, Philipp K., continues to proceed along these same lines. The accused sold the weapon and ammunition to the young shooter for his murderous assault. There are not only indications of his right-wing views in the investigation files, but also evidence that he possibly knew of plans for an attack beforehand.

However, the state prosecutor could not find any evidence of foreknowledge of and therefore co-conspiracy in the attack, nor a right-wing motive for supplying the weapon. The weapons’ dealer is as a result not being charged with terrorism, but for “violating the weapons law and involuntary manslaughter.”

95-year-old Hitler survivor on German neofascist AfD

This 24 September 2017 video from Alexanderplatz square in Berlin, Germany is about a protest after it turned out that the racist AfD party would be represesented in the German parliament.

By Chloe Farand in Berlin, 27 September 2017:

‘Have we not learned from the war?’ Re-emergence of Germany’s far-right brings back memories of darker times

The nationalist Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party won 93 seats in parliament, the first time a far-right party has entered the Bundestag in almost six decades

In a modest apartment in a district of former East Berlin, Hans Blank, 95, a veteran socialist and political activist, sighs at the state of politics in Germany.

A member of the left wing populist party Die Linke (The Left), Mr Blank has lived in the now gentrified neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg for his entire life, witnessing the key events of the last century and how they have transformed Germany into a modern state.

The recent rise of the right wing nationalist and euroseceptic party Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), which seized on the country’s anti-immigration sentiment and the shift of the political landscape to the centre ground, has brought back memories of darker times in Mr Blank’s life.

The results of Sunday’s election sent shockwaves through the country as the AfD won 12.6 per cent of the vote and a total of 93 seats in parliament. It is the first time a far-right party has entered the Bundestag in almost six decades.

Mr Blank does not hide his anxiety at the success of the AfD. The oldest member of Die Linke in Prenzlauer Berg, Mr Blank has, like his father before him, made political engagement his way of life.

For him, the AfD’s message of “them versus us” when referring to refugees and migrants is a slippery slope.

“We can’t directly compare what is happening now with what happened in the last century but the rise of the AfD is reminiscent of Nazi times, particularly in their political message. There is nothing more serious than this for our people,” he told The Independent.

“The AfD suggests migrants are not good people and that they must leave, they see Muslims as different from them, they say they are not Germans and cannot become German. This is the same thought process the Nazis had with the Jews, that they could not be Germans,” he added.

Siding with optimism, Mr Blank said he hoped the German people will resist the AfD’s political arguments and stay away from this renewed nationalism. “Have we not learnt the lessons from the war?” he asked.

“It is partly the fault of my generation, we should have done more to pass on our experience to younger generations.

“Some people and politicians argue all this is in the past and we should put it behind us to focus on the present. But that’s a mistake. We can’t close our eyes on the past because otherwise we won’t know how to deal with the present and the future.”

Born in 1922 in Berlin into a working-class family, Mr Blank’s father Wilhelm Blank was a member of the communist KPD party in Germany and became a leading resistance figure against Hitler’s regime after he was elected into power in 1933.

He helped people persecuted by the regime into hiding and sent letters and notes encouraging others to join the resistance. He was eventually denounced, allegedly by a member of his left wing network and sent to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp for political prisoners in the northeast of Berlin. He was later transferred to Mauthausen in Austria where he died four weeks before US troop liberated the camp.

In 1941, Mr Blank was forced to join the German army and fight for the Nazi cause after his father had attracted dangerous attention on his communist family and friends.

“My father had told me what a war was like and for ordinary people there is nothing more wicked than a war,” he said.

Mr Blank fought under the command of notorious German war general Erwin Rommel in North Africa, deliberately avoiding fighting on Europe’s front line.

But in 1943, he was captured by the British in Libya. For the next four years he worked in labour camps as a war prisoner, first in Morocco before being sent to Louisiana in the US to pick cotton and harvest sugar cane. He was eventually sent to France where he worked in a stone pit in the Pyrenees.

In 1947, Mr Blank was one of the first war prisoners in France to be sent back to Germany after his mother sent a letter to the French authorities explaining that his father had been a communist rebel against the Nazis and that the family was “on the good side” in Mr Blank’s words.

Now a staunch pacifist, he remembers this part of his life with mixed emotions. “Imprisonment was a terrible thing but at least I always had something to eat,” he said.

Upon his return to Berlin, Mr Blank joined the new police force but his aversion to uniforms made him seek other opportunities and he became an engineer for the construction industry. …

And yet, over the years Mr Blank has continued to hold on to his belief in a socialist ideal. He said some have described his affiliation with Die Linke, which received 9 per cent of the votes in Sunday’s election, as “utopian” but added: “This is the only party which can achieve peace”.

For now, Mr Blank hopes he can pass on the principles that have ruled his life to his two granddaughters, including the memory of his own father who died resisting the Nazi regime.

A few hundred metres from his home, a memorial stone remembers his father as a political victim of Hitler’s so-called national socialism. In recent years, the stone has regularly been vandalised and Mr Blank has had to clean the memorial himself on several occasions.

“This continues to be my battle,” he said.

After ten hours of negotiation on Sunday, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian partner, the Christian Social Union (CSU), agreed on a common approach for negotiations on a future government coalition with the neo-liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens. The result of the talks is a clear shift to the right that will also determine the policy of the next German government: here.

London protest against German extreme right

This video says about itself:

25 September 2017

The far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has won its first seats in the parliament and is set to be the third party. The result has sparked protests across the country. Demonstrators gathered outside the AfD headquarters in Berlin, as well as Frankfurt and Cologne, carrying a banner saying “Nationalism is no alternative”. The demonstration remained mostly peaceful. AfD was founded in 2013 and its policy is heavily anti-immigrant, and particularly anti-Islam.

By Felicity Collier in London, England:

German far right‘s gains spark protest

Wednesday 27th September 2017

Campaigners rally at embassy to denounce ‘racist populism’

Calling parties like the German AfD racist is correct. Calling them ‘populist’ is wrong.

ANTI-RACISM campaigners took to the streets of London last night to protest at the German far right’s recent electoral success.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), an anti-EU party with a large fascist wing, attracted a shock 12.6 per cent share of the vote in Sunday’s parliamentary election, winning seats in the lower house Bundestag for the first time.

Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU party saw its vote share shrink from 41.5 per cent to 33 per cent, meaning she will have to form a new coalition.

Talks are reported to have started with the Christian Social Union, the pro-business Free Democratic Party and the Greens.

Gathering outside the German embassy in Belgravia, the groups Stand up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism called on political leaders across Europe and the US to stop fuelling racism and Islamophobia.

Stand Up to Racism described Germany’s election outcome as a “chilling example of the right-wing racist populism that has won electoral success from France and Germany to Trump’s victory in the US.”

It pointed out that France’s fascist National Front leader Marine Le Pen had celebrated the result.

Interim Ukip leader Steve Crowther also congratulated the AfD, calling the election result a “brave move” and crowing that “people were no longer prepared to be ignored and coerced by the left.”

A senior AfD member is due to speak at Ukip’s conference in Torquay at the end of the week.

Sabby Dhalu, co-convener of Stand up to Racism and joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, insisted: “Mobilising internationally against the growth of the far-right AfD is crucial, particularly given Ukip’s decision to invite the AfD to Britain.”

She said the AfD’s growth showed that concessions to racism and Islamophobia only benefit the far right, and urged the labour movement and all anti-racists to unite against fascism.

A Hope Not Hate spokesman told the Star: “It’s little surprise that radical right parties are seeking closer ties.

“Ukip’s youth wing, for example, has developed ties with the Sweden Democrats, a party with a long history on the extreme right.”

He added, however, that with Ukip’s former financer Arron Banks and ex-party leader Nigel Farage likely to launch a rival movement, Ukip’s drift ever rightwards — with the potential for anti-Muslim extremist Anne Marie Waters to become leader — “looks set to further consign it to irrelevancy.”

Extreme right in German parliament, why?

This video says about itself:

24 September 2017

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the election night headquarters of the AfD on Sunday, to voice their rage at the far-right German party entering parliament for the first time.

Demonstrators at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz Square chanted slogans, labelling those inside the building ‘Nazi pigs’.

A number of arrests were made.

By Kevin Ovenden in Britain:

Why has the far right surged in Germany?

Tuesday 26th September 2017

Failures of the centre-right and centre-left have created space for the flourishing of the neonazi AfD – with important lessons for Britain, says KEVIN OVENDEN

THE shock at Germany’s election result on Sunday is sinking in across Europe.

For the first time since 1953 a far-right, extreme racist party with a large fascist wing has entered the German parliament. That was expected given the polls.

But the Alternative for Germany (AfD) did better than predicted and took 12.6 per cent. It is now the third party in the German parliament, with 93 seats.

A bigger shock was the performance of Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU and its Bavarian sister party (CSU). The supposed iron chancellor of Europe took her party to its worst performance since 1949, falling to 33 per cent — a loss of 8.5 percentage points on four years ago.

Though still the largest party and in talks to form a new coalition, the CDU has been significantly weakened.

The centre-left SPD has suffered a disaster with its worst result ever. It got barely over 20 per cent and immediately ruled out going back into the “grand coalition” which has bled its electoral support over the last four years.

Merkel now has to form a conflicted coalition with the free-market liberal FDP (which got 10.7 per cent) and the Greens (8.9 per cent).

The SPD has pursued the kind of centrist politics promoted by a voluble core of Blair-era MPs in the British Labour Party. They should behold the result. Indeed, across the European continent from Ireland to Greece, Blair-Brownite politics is sinking Labour-type parties everywhere.

The only major exception to the decline of the centre-left is the British Labour Party. And under Jeremy Corbyn, it is the only one with a leader and policies aimed squarely against austerity and offering some radical change for working people.

It is the only one also with a party leadership that has had a strong relationship with social movements for radical change — against austerity, racism and war.

That, not mythologised German stability and prosperity, is the exception in Europe. Indeed, Germany now expresses the political turmoil we have seen in other countries — most recently France.

The two traditional governing parties lost 14 per cent of the vote between them, polling 53 per cent combined.

There is a fragmentation of the party political system, with seven parties in the parliament.

And there is a polarisation. The far right has been able to gain frighteningly from it. The radical left Die Linke slightly improved its vote to 9.2 per cent, despite a squeeze earlier this year.

Die Linke’s overall vote masks a significant regional and demographic shift. It lost heavily in the former East German states, which had been the party’s bedrock but where it has been more governmentally oriented and appeared as a conventional party. It lost a third of its vote in Saxony.

That was offset by substantial gains in parts of West Berlin and the west of the country. Despite a huge anti-left witch-hunt following the G20 protests in July, Die Linke won 12.2 per cent in the city of Hamburg.

It gained votes compared with the recent regional election in North Rhine Westphalia to take 7.5 per cent.

But its decline in the rust-belt eastern states enabled the AfD to make a historic advance — concentrated in exactly that region, where it polled 23 per cent.

That was not through direct voter switch from the radical left over to the far right, as liberal theories of “populism” would have us believe: politics as a horseshoe, with left and right close to one another and “centrists” representing progressive democracy.

The AfD did gain 400,000 votes directly from Die Linke, according to exit surveys. But it got 1.2 million from those who did not vote in 2013, one million from the CDU, about 700,000 from neonazi and fringe parties, and about 400,000 from the SPD.

Its vote profile illustrates the nature of the party and how it has evolved out of a radicalisation on the right of politics to then be able to penetrate popular disaffected layers.

The AfD was founded in 2013 by free-market economics professors as a Thatcherite Eurosceptic party opposed on nationalist grounds to the bailouts of Greece and other countries at the height of the eurozone crisis.

It drew support from hard-line traditional CDU circles and elements of the free-market liberals. It was not enough to cross the 5 per cent threshold at the 2013 election, where it polled 4.7 per cent.

Over the next two years it sharply radicalised in an overtly racist direction as a faction led by Frauke Petry ousted the founding leadership and put Islamophobia, not Euroscepticism, at the centre of the party’s programme.

It mingled with the anti-Muslim Pegida street protests and was well positioned to mount a campaign of racist agitation in response to the large refugee flows in 2015.

But there was nothing automatic about the arrival of largely Muslim refugees propelling the AfD forward. The dominant national mood in Germany in the summer of 2015 was to welcome the refugees, who Merkel pragmatically allowed in when she realised there was no way to stop the human tide which had fled war-torn Syria.

It was in the period after the refugee flows that the AfD was able to make significant headway. Merkel did a disgraceful deal with Turkey’s Recep Erdogan to stop the refugees by force.

She continued to make a halfhearted defence of allowing the first arrivals in. But it became more and more tempered with promises not to let in more and to increase the rate of deportations. The mixed message had an unambiguous conclusion — the refugees are a problem.

And her government pressed on with austerity cuts to local services and increasingly precarious working arrangements for millions of Germans.

This was the breeding ground for the AfD. And it was watered further when, in the wake of incidents like the new year Cologne sex assaults and the terror attack in Berlin, mainstream right-wing politicians, amplified by the corporate media, returned to themes they had pressed for over a decade — that Muslims do not fit into liberal societies, multiculturalism has failed, and so on.

This was the context for the AfD’s growth, defying simplistic analyses that its support would collapse once Germany and the EU tightened the fortress Europe policy last year.

Not only did it grow, it radicalised further with a strengthening wing that has a fascist perspective and is prepared to break the taboos of German history.

Bjorn Hocke declared, for example, that Holocaust memorials are a national shame, and Germany should be “normal” in its national pride.

Alexander Gauland, joint lead candidate in this election, said during the campaign that he was proud of the German armed forces of the last century, including during the second world war.

Not all AfD members share that attempt to relativise nazism. But the party conference in April would not even debate a motion from Petry putting distance between AfD and the outright neonazis who have gravitated towards it.

The one-time radicalising leader has been outflanked by an even more fascistic wing. Immediately on being elected on the AfD ticket, Petry resigned the whip, an indication of the strength of the more extreme faction in the parliamentary cohort.

There is a bigger gap between AfD voters and the fascist core of the party. Some 34 per cent say they voted out of commitment to the party, with 60 per cent saying they were “against all the other parties.”

But that is little cause for the highly complacent responses from some liberal European quarters to the AfD breakthrough.

That has depended on two things. The election campaign was heavily shaped by questions of security and terrorism, pushed by the right-wing media and also by mainstream right-wing politicians.

Merkel opened her bid for re-election promising to ban the burka, and journalists put AfD themes at the centre of the television debate between her and the SPD’s Martin Schulz, with both of them making concessions to the far right.

Second, there was scant difference between the two main parties who had been in coalition together.

The combination meant that anti-Muslim racism could become an organising principle for the AfD to move beyond a hard-right base and scoop up disaffected votes.

It will now have 700 full-time operatives paid for by the German parliamentary budget. A significant cohort will be out-and-out fascists.

As the Petry resignation shows, tensions between the different wings of the AfD will not evaporate. But they will be assuaged by these resources and the fact that the AfD can now present itself as a shining model to the European far right.

The material resources the AfD has acquired will enable it to build a mechanism to try to harden its voter and membership support.

Its parliamentary presence also means that it will be rubbing shoulders with hard-right CDU and CSU MPs who bitterly opposed Merkel’s nods to social liberalism.

SPD leaders on Sunday night were somewhat theatrically invoking their forebear Otto Wels making an anti-nazi speech in 1933. They forget that it was made after the left had failed to stop the fascists taking state power. It was the last such public speech Wells made.

Much more seriously, activists in Die Linke are trying hard to address the situation.

Young people took to the streets of Berlin’s Alexanderplatz on Sunday night to protest against the AfD as results come in.

Anti-racist activists in Die Linke launched last year the Aufstehen Gegen Rassismus (Stand Up Against Racism) coalition. Its aim is to draw into common action against the AfD and racism the vast layers of the working class and oppressed who oppose them.

And it is also an echo of the British experience of this sharp political polarisation common now across Europe.

It is good to have a party with radical left-wing policies. But it is not enough.

Can there be a mass, participatory left-wing politics embedded in powerful social movements that can reach those embittered and alienated layers in society? If not, they are given all the reason in the world by the mainstream right and its media to gravitate to racist scapegoating, a false solution behind which lie actual fascists. Now in the parliament of Germany.

The same parties that are ideologically and politically responsible for the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) are exploiting the right-wing extremists’ success in Sunday’s federal elections to shift the political climate even further to the right. They are preparing the way for a government that will launch a major military buildup, slash wages and benefits, and establish the framework of a police state: here.

Petry, co-leader of far-right AfD, to quit party altogether as strife deepens: here.

From AFP news agency today, about Israel:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on winning a fourth term in Sunday’s elections but made no mention of the rise of the hard-right.

Israeli survivors of Hitler’s Europe, however, said that they were shocked and worried by the result, in which the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party won about 13 percent, the best showing for a nationalist force since World War II.

“We have an enemy in Germany,” said Saul Oren, a former inmate of Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps who moved to Israel in 1968.

Extreme right AfD in German parliament

This 24 September 2017 German video is about protests immediately after it had become known that the racist AfD party would be represented in the newly elected parliament.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

The rise of the AfD and the rightward lurch of official politics in Germany

25 September 2017

For the first time since the fall of the Nazis, a right-wing extremist party is entering Germany’s national parliament. With 13 percent of the vote in Sunday’s federal election, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) became the third largest party in parliament, finishing behind the governing Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which suffered an electoral collapse. The CDU/CSU obtained 33 percent of the vote, its worst result in over 60 years.

The AfD has acquired political influence far beyond its actual strength. It set the tone in the election campaign with its agitation for a crackdown on refugees and the strengthening of the state’s repressive apparatus. All of the establishment parties sought to outdo the AfD with pledges to hire more police and deport more refugees, thereby bolstering the far-right party. Why vote for the more established parties’ versions of the AfD’s chauvinist and authoritarian politics when you could vote for the real thing? The CDU/CSU lost more than a million voters to the AfD, while the SPD lost 470,000 …

That being said, the AfD’s right-wing extremist programme does not enjoy mass support. Even among AfD voters, 60 percent said they backed the party as a protest and not because they support its policies. The AfD’s rise is, above all, the result of the rightward lurch of all of the established parties, which, with the support of the media, are doing all they can to channel mounting social discontent in a right-wing direction.

In the past, nominally left parties would be expected to benefit from a social crisis such as that which is gripping Germany, including the explosive growth of low-wage jobs, the rise of poverty and homelessness, the lack of affordable housing, the catastrophic conditions in the schools and hospitals, and the growing danger of war. …

The SPD is politically bankrupt and reviled. Having imposed the Hartz laws, tax cuts for big business and the rich, and an increase in the retirement age to 67, the SPD bears chief responsibility for the outrageous levels of social inequality.

The ruling elite came to terms with the AfD even before the votes had been counted. It is only a matter of time before it integrates the right-wing extremist party into government.

CSU leader Horst Seehofer declared that the AfD won votes because the CDU and CSU “left open their right flank.” He pledged that they would change this in the future and take a “clear stand.”

The historian Michael Wolffsohn rejected describing the AfD as “Nazis.” It is, he said, a reaction to “major social problems” such as the flood of refugees, for which the other parties have no answers. Political scientist Jürgen Falter warned against overdramatising the AfD’s entry into parliament. Far from being a “cause for concern,” it represented “a normalisation of German politics after our history.”

The established parties’ horror at the AfD’s right-wing extremist policies was hypocritical from the outset. This is shown by the case of Jörg Baberowski. The professor at Berlin’s Humboldt University, who cleared the way for the AfD with his agitation against refugees and his downplaying of the crimes of the Nazi regime, received unanimous backing from the established parties and the media when the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (SGP—Socialist Equality Party) publicly criticised him. The SPD, whose leading member Sabine Kunst is the president of Humboldt University … played a prominent role in the defence of Baberowski. Even when a court confirmed that Baberowski could be described as a right-wing extremist, they continued to support him.

The AfD’s rise is the result of the rightward shift of the entire ruling class, which is responding to the global capitalist crisis and the growth of internal and external tensions by returning to its most despicable traditions. In the 1930s, business associations, the military, bourgeois politicians and academics reacted to the intensification of the class struggle by backing Hitler and supporting his appointment as chancellor.

Similar developments are taking place in other European countries. In France, the right-wing extremist candidate for the National Front, Marine Le Pen, made it to the second round of the presidential election. In Austria, the participation of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) in government following elections in October is seen as all but certain. The social democrats as well as the conservatives are ready to form a coalition with it.

Meanwhile, Frauke Petry, ex-AfD leader, of the ‘moderate’ wing of the AfD, newly elected to parliament, has announced she will sit as an independent, not as an AfD caucus member. Ms Petry thought it had been not tactical of her successor Alexander Gauland to openly praise Emperor Wilhelm II’s militarism in World War I and Adolf Hitler‘s in World War II and to say that white Germans did not want African German national team footballer Jerôme Boateng as a neighbour.

ANGELA MERKEL WON REELECTION OVER THE WEEKEND But Germany’s parliament is far from gender equality, and a far-right nationalist party won parliament spots. [HuffPost]