Militarism, racism in German parliament

This 18 May 2018 German TV video is about Alice Weidel, MP for the neofascist AfD party.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

Militarism and fascist demagogy in the German parliament

22 May 2018

The German parliament (Bundestag) opened the first general debate of the new legislative period last week to discuss two over-arching goals: the imprisonment, persecution and deportation of migrants fleeing the war-torn Middle East, and military rearmament.

The formation of a new grand coalition government between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has left the fascist Alternative for Germany (AfD) the largest opposition party, after it received 12.6 percent of the vote in the 2017 election.

As a result, Alice Weidel, the party’s co-leader, was left to perform the customary rite afforded to the largest opposition party: the opening of debate.

Upon approaching the platform, the 39-year-old fascistic demagogue launched into a frenzied, profane tirade, at points yelling over the howls of approval from her fellow party members. She denounced the government for draining national vitality and ensuring the “downfall of our nation” by admitting people from “tribal” societies.

The governing parties had done nothing to raise the birth rate for German families, she declared, while “fattening the population” of “Muslim migrants”, whom she called “burqas, knife-men and other good-for-nothings.”

“Who will pay your state-funded pensions?” she demanded, “Including yours [Green Party member] Mr. Hofreiter, you noisy troublemaker? Your imported gold pieces?”

From the demagogic portrayal of the German people as victims of foreigners, to its racist vulgarity and dog-whistle appeals to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (gold pieces), Weidel’s rant was a speech that could have been given by a brown-shirted Nazi parliamentarian in the early 1930s.

But despite Weidel having just called her an “idiot”, Chancellor Angela Merkel ignored the inflammatory tirade that had opened the debate. Without the slightest rebuff to Weidel, Merkel proceeded to outline her vision of a more aggressive role for Germany on the world stage through military rearmament. She said nothing about the AfD’s fascistic rant against immigrants because her government has largely embraced the AfD’s immigration policies.

Many people, horrified by the display of fascist filth in the German parliament, are wondering how it can be, after the horrors of the Holocaust, that such tirades are once again part of everyday political life in Germany. Over recent weeks, representatives of all political parties have agitated against refugees in the style of the AfD and denounced refugee aid organizations as an “anti-deportation industry.”

The Bundestag debate exposed the fact that racism and fascism have once again become political tools of the ruling elite. In the final analysis, the same questions that led to a catastrophe in the 1930s are posed today. Germany’s elites are responding to the historic crisis of European and global capitalism, the worldwide growth of militarism and war, and the deepening rivalries between the imperialist powers by resorting to an aggressive foreign policy and implementing a vast programme of rearmament.

Merkel declared that the additional billions already made available for defense spending were nowhere near enough. Germany is “committed… to the goals of NATO’s Wales summit. That was put in writing in our coalition agreement”, she said.

Concretely, this means military spending has to grow to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024, which in numerical terms means an increase in spending from the current level of €37 billion to €75 billion. This would make Germany by far the strongest military power in Europe.

“Alongside foreign interventions”, Merkel said, “national territorial and alliance defense is once again of growing significance.” She added: “We not only need to equip our soldiers so that they can perform foreign interventions well, but… they must to the same extent be provided with a much broader range of materiel and military equipment at home, so they can accomplish the additional tasks we have today.”

Merkel made clear that the grand coalition is ready to implement another round of sweeping social attacks to finance the planned military build-up. It is necessary “to contribute to the improvement of our competitiveness, and not just against the European standard, but also compared to what is required globally”, she declared. While this concerns “very much the competitiveness of Europe”, it also includes “very much Germany’s competitiveness.”

As the chancellor pulls on her military boots and prepares to dictate austerity measures on behalf of the ruling elite, she adopts the far-right’s refugee policy. Merkel explicitly praised the detention centres backed by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, which will serve to confine and concentrate asylum seekers. The issue is “the creation of a functioning repatriation culture in Germany. Whoever has no right to stay must go”, she told the deputies.

The grand coalition’s right-wing agenda has unanimous support in the Bundestag. Significantly, representatives of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the Greens … applauded at various points during Merkel’s address alongside deputies from the governing parties. …

To cite Leon Trotsky’s brilliant words from his essay “What is National Socialism”, written in 1933, “Not every exasperated petty-bourgeois could have become Hitler, but a particle of Hitler is lodged within every exasperated petty-bourgeois.”

In his speech, AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland referred directly to Herfried Münkler, the Humboldt University professor and foreign policy adviser to the government, in demanding Germany’s return to a militarist great power foreign policy. “As a ‘power at the centre’, as an arbitrating power, as Herfried Münkler sees us, Germany has to find a common course for European policy,” he stated.

He then approvingly cited Münkler’s rejection of a “foreign policy bound by values” from his book on the Thirty Years War, which includes the astonishing declaration at the beginning: “A great deal about the disastrous consequences of unconditional commitment to values can be learned from the example of the Thirty Years War.”

What rejection of a foreign policy “bound by values” means in practice was made clear four years ago by Jörg Baberowski, a Humboldt University colleague of Münkler, who is also praised by the AfD. “If one is not willing to take hostages, burn villages, hang people and spread fear and terror, as the terrorists do, if one is not prepared to do such things, then one can never win such a conflict and it is better to keep out altogether”, stated Baberowski in October 2014 in connection with the German army’s interventions in the Middle East.

At the time, the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party) analyzed the objective driving forces behind the revival of German militarism, warning at the time: “The propaganda of the post-war era—that Germany had learned from the terrible crimes of the Nazis, had ‘arrived at the West’, had embraced a peaceful foreign policy, and had developed into a stable democracy—is exposed as lies. German imperialism is once again showing its real colors as it emerged historically, with all of its aggressiveness at home and abroad.”

This assessment has been confirmed by the grand coalition’s reactionary policies and the integration of the AfD into the political establishment. To prevent the ruling elite from implementing its programme of militarism and war by resorting once again to fascist methods, the growing opposition among workers and youth must be mobilised on a conscious political basis.


Big demonstration against Macron’s nuclear policy in Aachen

Demonstrators in Aachen, Germany today against nuclear plants, Reuters photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Dutch protest in Aachen against nuclear power plants and Macron

About 1500 protesters, some of them Dutch, demonstrated this afternoon in Aachen [in Germany] against the French president Macron and the Doel and Tihange nuclear power stations in Belgium.

The protest was against the French support for the nuclear power plants. The Doel and Tihange power plants, both close to the Dutch border, are owned by the French state for more than 25%.

Especially the Tihange 2 and Doel 3 power stations regularly have problems with cracks and other problems. The campaigners called on the president to shut down the power stations for ever.


President Macron was in Aachen to receive the Charlemagne prize. This annual award is for people and organizations that are committed to European unity.

During the award ceremony, the protesters made noise and shouted slogans.

New German film Transit on refugees

This video says about itself:

Transit – Christian Petzold Film Clip (Berlinale 2018)

When a man flees France after the Nazi invasion, he assumes the identity of a dead author whose papers he possesses. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband – the very man he’s impersonating.

Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold
Stars: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese

By Stefan Steinberg in Germany:

Christian Petzold’s Transit: The condition of refugees as hell on earth

9 May 2018

Written and directed by Christian Petzold, based on the novel by Anna Seghers

A number of films at this year’s Berlin Film Festival dealt with the plight of refugees.

Forced to abandon their homelands—and everything familiar to them—to escape war, famine or the lack of any economic prospects, refugees are rendered stateless for at least the period of their flight. In transit they are deprived of the rights due to them as citizens of a nation. They are at the mercy of the state or maritime waters they are crossing, and are then equally at the mercy of the state they have chosen as their new home, and its repressive apparatus. They also run the risk of becoming the targets of right-wing demagogues seeking to divert attention from the disastrous state of life under capitalism.

The fate of refugees is the subject of the latest film by German director Christian Petzold, Transit, which screened at the Berlinale and is now on public release in Germany. This is Petzold’s third historical film, following Barbara (2012), set in East Germany in 1980, and Phoenix (2014), about a concentration camp survivor in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Born in 1960, Petzold has made eight feature films in total since 2000. One of his mentors was Harun Farocki, the left-wing German filmmaker and theorist.

Transit is based on the novel of the same title by German author Anna Seghers (1900-83). Seghers joined the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1928. Her novels were subsequently burned by pro-Nazi students in the notorious action in the middle of Berlin in May 1933. Like many other left-wing intellectuals, Seghers was forced to leave National Socialist Germany and fled with her family through several countries. Her novel Transit appeared in 1944 and mirrors her own flight from the Nazis through France to Marseilles and then eventually on to Mexico.

In her book, Seghers describes the refugee’s feeling of helplessness and frustration with bureaucracy: “Everything was on the move, everything was temporary, but we didn’t know whether this state would last until tomorrow, a few weeks, years or even our entire lives.” The fictional character in the novel wonders if the Nazis in Paris “a tough and dreadful enemy (…) were in fact better than this invisible, almost mysterious evil, these rumours, this corruption and fraud.”

Petzold decided to locate his film adaptation of Transit in the present day. Germany is run by Nazis, who have also overrun most of France. The main character, Georg (Franz Rogowski), a Communist, is sent by a comrade with an important letter to the writer Weidel. In a hotel, Georg finds a few belongings of the writer who has killed himself. Georg takes the papers of the deceased, including visas and a ship’s passage to Mexico, and travels to Marseilles.

In Marseilles, he encounters and becomes friendly with a small boy and his mother. Having assumed the identity of the dead writer, Georg begins the laborious process of securing his passage to South America. At the embassy, he chances to meet and is captivated by an enigmatic woman, Marie (Paula Beer), who is waiting for her husband. She proves to be the wife (or widow) of the very man whose identity Georg has assumed. Trapped between states, she is also unable to choose between the husband she left behind, her current companion, Richard (Godehard Giese), or her new acquaintance, Georg.

There are moments in both film and novel that recall Franz Kafka’s novels, The Castle and The Trial —flight and transit as a permanent, meaningless, incomprehensible state. In one memorable section of her novel, Seghers writes: “He waited in the hereafter to learn what the Lord had decided about him. He waited and waited, one year, ten years, one hundred years. Then he finally begged for the decision. He was told: ‘What are you waiting for? You’ve already been in hell for some time.’”

While Seghers essentially preserves the historical context of the massive exodus from Nazi-dominated Europe, Petzold unsettles the viewer with abrupt changes of perspective and mysterious encounters (and failures to encounter).

In his film Barbara, Petzold effectively portrayed the oppressive nature of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany). His Phoenix dealt with the consequences of the fascist mass murder of the Jews. Nazi rule in Transit remains nebulous, but Petzold’s film transmits the coldness and cruelty of the French bureaucracy, which insists that all protocols are adhered to before further passage is possible.

Observing the growing disorientation and despondency of Transit ’s central characters, one is reminded of the fate of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig—who committed suicide with his wife in 1942 after reaching South America—and that of German philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin who—convinced he was in danger of immediate arrest by the Gestapo—killed himself on the French-Spanish border in 1940.

Petzold was motivated to make his new film by his sympathy for the plight of refugees and uneasiness at the growth of far-right radicalism in Germany and Europe. In an interview, the writer-director noted that he played badminton regularly in a sports hall close to the large refugee camp in Berlin that features in the documentary film Central Airport THF (2018, directed by Karim Aïnouz).

Transit is clearly an attempt to provide some context for the dire situation confronting refugees in Germany and Europe today. At the same time, it points to the real dangers of the re-emergence of fascist movements in Europe. Far-right governments and coalitions involving neo-fascist forces are already in power in Poland, Hungary and now Austria.

In a recent interview with the Berliner Zeitung, Petzold made a number of interesting and correct points regarding the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which emerged at the last general election as the main opposition party in the German parliament.

Commenting on the organisation, Petzold countered those who argue that the racist AfD reflects the views of ordinary workers. He said: “I don’t think the AfD can be regarded as a party of the working class. It is also not a party of the betrayed working class, as some people say…. There are judges and former CDU [Christian Democratic Union] members in it.” Petzold went on to refute claims that the party has its base in regions of heavy working class representation. Instead, he notes: “The AfD stems from the petty bourgeoisie and the professional middle class.”

Petzold is undoubtedly one of the most significant directors active in Germany today and Transit is well worth viewing. At the same time, his new film lacks the same degree of urgency and concrete immediacy that characterised a number of other films at the Berlinale dealing with refugees, such as Styx and El Dorado.

The weakness of Petzold’s approach was indicated by a comment he made in another recent interview in which he described flight “as a normal condition.”

The problem with this is that the flight of refugees today, and at any time, is not normal. Flight is not some sort of existential dilemma affecting all of humanity. Rather millions of people have been forced to flee their homes and often their own families in past years due to poverty, hunger and wars fueled by unparalleled levels of economic and political inequality, as well as definite government policies. The rottenness of the official “left” in Europe and elsewhere, which has facilitated or led the anti-refugee campaign, is at the heart of this situation.

If flight and its consequences are viewed as a universal characteristic of the human condition, then we can do little about them. This is not Petzold’s position, but the disorientation of the characters in his film, combined with a passive readiness to accept their fate, leaves open the door for those seeking to interpret the current refugee crisis as an irresolvable, inevitable state of affairs.

German army used in civil war?

This German TV video says about itself:

2 October 2015

Urban warfare in “Schnöggersburg” – German Federal Armed Forces is building ghost town.

By Gregor Link in Germany:

German army rehearses for civil war

2 May 2018

Between March 21 and 27, German army units, including an expanded tank brigade and a combat company, conducted civil war scenarios in the artificial town named “Schnöggersburg”.

The Schnöggersburg complex, north of the city of Magdeburg in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, consists of more than 500 buildings, 300 cabins, sports facilities, bridges, an industrial area, an old town with marketplace, a government district, a slum and a religious building. It also has an airfield, a sewage system, a two-lane highway and a subway extending 350 metres, the only one of its type in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The World Socialist Web Site reported on the inauguration of the mega-complex last October.

On the grounds of the combat training centre (GÜZ), 560 soldiers practiced the storming of residential buildings, the demolition of barricades and an assault on the airfield and the tower. Together with their training officers, the troops carried out house-to-house fighting and street battles. A wide variety of weapons were used, including the Leopard 2 tank, which has been used and is feared in the Middle East, and the anti-barricade Pioneer tank, as well as a range of other armoured infantry combat vehicles.

The German army (Bundeswehr) assumes it will confront similar situations in the course of its imperialist interventions in Mali, Afghanistan and many other countries. The army stresses the importance it attaches to the routine and efficient implementation of such exercises. In a press release, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Dieter Lindstedt, departmental head of the German Army Development Office, explained the importance of the exercise: “This pilot exercise is enormously important in order to assess whether, or in which direction, we need to adapt, develop and orientate in future our mission principles and practices.”

The army exercise, however, fulfils an additional purpose. “Close to reality” (the term used in the official army report),
the Bundeswehr is also preparing for civil war conditions in Germany and the European Union. This was already evident from the first joint exercises conducted by the police and the Bundeswehr in March 2017. At that time, 360 soldiers collaborated with special police commandos equipped with helicopters, specially armoured vehicles, reconnaissance drones and explosive deterrent robots in the so-called GETEX (“Joint Terrorism Defence Exercise”) operation.

This is now to be followed by LÜKEX (“Transnational Strategic Crisis Management Exercise”) in November of this year. The scenario of this exercise is, significantly, “a large-scale failure of the winter gas supply”, a situation that could, for example, be caused by an industry-wide strike in the energy sector.

According to a report in the Bundeswehr Journal, the LÜKEX 18 operation will take place mainly in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, but also include activities in other states, such as Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Berlin, Brandenburg, Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Involved in the operation at a federal level are the Ministry of the Interior, sections of the Economics Ministry, the Agency for Food and Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Press Office and the Foreign Office.

The deployment of the Bundeswehr domestically and the networking of civilian agencies with the police and military are part of a comprehensive rearmament offensive. Since taking office, Germany’s grand-coalition government of conservative parties (Christian Democratic Union [CDU]/Christian Social Union [CSU]) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has pressed ahead with its plans for establishing a comprehensive surveillance regime at a federal and state level.

Following the example of Bavaria, the state of Saxony has now submitted a far-reaching draft for a new police law. According to the plans of the CDU-SPD state government, the police in Saxony will receive hand grenades and machine guns, in addition to other equipment. Also planned is the introduction of new ammunition that aims to “overwhelm the victim without mortally injuring him”. In addition to video surveillance, facial recognition and the introduction of ankle restraints, the law will allow the authorities to monitor journalists when necessary for “the existence and security of the federal or state government”.

These measures correspond to the plans for a so-called model police law at a federal level, approved by the SPD and CDU/CSU in their coalition agreement. Among other items, the coalition partners call for “better facilities for the police”, the “expansion of DNA analysis”, “video surveillance at hotspots” and the strengthening and centralisation of security agencies and secret services in Germany and throughout Europe.

Behind the scenes, the coalition has agreed on the use of the German army inside Germany itself. The coalition pact states that the “development guidelines” for the army set out in the White Paper of 2016 are to be “consistently pursued”. The White Paper explicitly advocates the use of the army domestically. The section “Domestic deployment and services of the Bundeswehr” states that “the armed forces can support the police in effectively fighting accidents under narrow conditions and exercise sovereign tasks involving the use of interventionist and coercive powers”.

The real motives for these monstrous plans are bluntly laid out in a document issued by the European Union Institute for Security Studies entitled “What ambitions for European Defence 2020”. The document regards the task of future military operations to be the “shielding the global rich from the tensions and problems of the poor”.

“As the proportion of the world population living in misery and frustration will remain massive, the tensions and spillover between their world and that of the rich will continue to grow”, it continues. “Technology is shrinking the world into a global village, but it is a village on the verge of revolution. While we have an increasingly integrated elite community, we also face increasingly explosive tensions from the poorer strata below.”

Social inequality in Germany and Europe has continued to increase since the paper was first published in English in 2009. While the vast majority of the population fights for sheer survival, a small upper class elite has acquired astronomical assets. A study published at the beginning of the year by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) found that the 45 richest households in Germany own assets worth €214 billion, equivalent to the wealth of the poorer half of the entire population.

The activation of Schnöggersdorf is a warning. One-hundred years ago, the Social Democratic government under Reich President Friedrich Ebert and Defence Minister Gustav Noske relied on the military to quell the November Revolution of 1918-1919 and assassinate the revolutionary socialists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Today, the ruling class is once again preparing to suppress mounting popular opposition against social cuts, militarism and war by military means.

The author also recommends:

German military builds training ground for civil war
[30 October 2017]

Meanwhile, translated from German Tagesschau TV, 12 April 2018:

Soldiers in the Bundeswehr

More swastikas, more “Heil Hitler” shouts

The number of right-wing suspect cases in the Bundeswehr is rising. The military secret police, according to a report, found 431 cases. One year ago, the secret service found only 275 cases.