In the most recent edition of konkret (in my opinion the best source for political news and analysis in Germany) Hermann Gremliza has written an article about the recent news in Germany regarding a Neo-Nazi cell in Zwickau which is very relevant to the concerns of this blog (as shown in articles about "Why prejudice against the 'far-left' helps the far-right" and "Wachet auf!").
Now, I don't always agree with Hermann Gremliza. His understanding of the uprising in the GDR on the 17th of June 1953 is full of shite. However, he does offer a very good analysis of contemporary politics in Germany and economics generally and I recommend reading his articles.
Here is a summary of his most recent article (one can listen to the original here in German). The text in italics is my additions, as are the photos:
"Lazy justice. Comfortable judges. Delayed trials." From the Spiegel.
"When eight people from Turkey and one from Greece are murdered in the civilised and notoriously xenophobic Germany, society and state concentrate their suspicions regarding "Who did it?" on who? On the milieu of those who were murdered, their "mafia" and "clans". As soon as a policewomen is shot and there is no suspicion of this being the work of "left-wing extremists who are enemies of the constitution", the people to blame (according to the state bar of Baden-Württemberg) are "mobile social groups like Sinti and Roma", in other words "Gypsies" (Inverted commas here added by myself).
"As soon as it comes to light that it is an unhappy accident that the murderers were Nazis politicians and the media march separately to make a combined strike: Liberals demand a "relentless clarification" of "mistakes" and "accidents", while Conservatives shake with disgust and use the moment to call for an extension of police and intelligence services. The Spiegel made this clear with their title for their write-up of the murders: "The brown army faction" (In other words, they are like the "Red Army Faction".)
"Chancellor Merkel spoke of the ten murders as being "probably from extremism from the right side" (obviously "right" means direction in this case) and speaks that this incident "should make us attentive to every form of extremism". In Niedersachsen the Interior Minister Uwe Schünemann speaks that there must be a "a centre for the defense against terror, also for the area of right-wing and left-wing extremism".
"Who or what is a left-wing extremist? For Merkel, Schünemann and other defenders of the state in public authorities and editorial offices, left-wing extremism begins with people who sit down or lie down in the way of the police who clear the streets free with blows for brown (i.e. Nazi) battalions, after city administrations have declared racist slogans to be a matter of free-speech and not of criminal acts and therefore declare the Nazis to require the protection of the constitution.
"The dominating thing that we are told in politics is this: Left and right don't exist any more; and when it looks like they do exist it's the case that left is like right, and right is like left. Of course everyone knows that this isn't true. It wasn't an Islamist (though many thought so) who did the massacre in Norway, rather it was a blonde Arier. No-one thought: It must be a fascist, a Nazi, someone from the right-wing; this mass murder could have been started by a Communist, a Socialist, someone from the left-wing: even in the wildest dreams of the President of the protection of the constitution and the Professor for totalitarianism they didn't believe such things.
"The talk of extremism or, alternatively of radicalism is propaganda. There is no left-wing extremism or no right-wing extremism or "right-wing terrorism". What there is are Nazis, Communists, Anarchists, Autonomists. Undoubtedly many of these are prepared to do criminal acts. Six million Jews, twenty million "Slavic sub-humans" (actually 25-30m Soviets died) and, in the past few years, 182 people in Germany were not killed by extremists, in other words Nazis and/or Communists, rather by Nazis.
"The definition of extremism is a derivative of the totalitarian "theory". It insinuates that there must be a something on the left side that is a version of the Nazis.
"The Red Army Faction started murders [and were, in a marked difference to the Fellowships (Kameradschaften, nationalist groups) in general and the National Socialist Underground especially were hunted by state and press organs, until all its fighters were imprisoned or dead]. However condemnable the motives of the RAF were, their victims were no poor devils, rather were representatives of the ruling class. 99.9% of people in Germany could go without fear into the streets or in bed. There are 6.7 million (non-native Germans) potential victims of Nazis. That state offices such as the Spiegel magazine can name the brown murders as like the RAF shows that they so-called theorists of totalitarianism have made their old chestnut that the "class war" is the left-wing equivalent of the "race war" and therefore the president of an industry group, a rich SS man, the head of the federal office as well as representatives of a persecuted race (the Jewish, perhaps?) become ennobled.
"Since the capitulation of the RAF in 1998, the year in which the protectors of the constitution now know to be the year when the now discovered Nazi group started to arm themselves with weapons and explosives, and nothing happened with them for twelve years, because of "the lack of concrete evidence of planned murders", there were, apart from the defense from police attacks, from the left no occasions of violence against people as far as I can remember. What there were and are, are a few marks on bank industry property and burned cars, things that insurance could give pay-outs for.
"The Spiegel says "the secret service is under the suspicion of being found out". In truth all offices have functioned as they wished. Regarding this we have to look into their history. The police, the federal information service, the office for the protection of the constitution, the judiciary and military were all formed by people from the Nazi state. Almost all Nazi policemen and women stayed in their jobs, the federal information service and the offices for the protection of the constitution were formed and occupied by men from the Reich Main Security Office, the Gestapo and the "Foreign Armies East" (a Nazi formed military intelligence organisation). Not a single Nazi judge was prosecuted and the German army was formed (and let it be said, given a soul) by officers of those who had planned and carried out the "war of extermination" (i.e. in the Soviet Union).
"That's all a long time ago now. The thing is, it's not over. The last founders were still working in their posts in the 1980's and those who are now in their posts received their spirit, a spirit which goes through all floors. As someone who left the Neo-Nazi scene, Manuel Bauer was asked "Do you have the experience of whether Neo-Nazi sympathisers also work within the police and the 'Protection of the Constitution?'" the answer was given "Yes. We received information from members of the police who we knew about when and where their colleagues were to do their patrols". "Why?" one can ask. "Their existed a sympathy among the police", said Bauer, "Just because they can hide themselves behind their uniform, their state uniform or system uniforms it does not mean that they are different or think democratically."
"The number of secret sympathisers and understanders in robes and other uniforms is higher than the book-learned could dream of. The NPD and other Nazi fellowships (Kameradschaften) are so intermingled with state-paid informs (V-Männer und Frauen) that the Federal Constitutional Court is not able to differentiate between the Nazi men who are paid by the state and the original Aryan faces. The Minister for the Interior Hermann from the CDU, who wishes to present himself as the protector of democracy, should look to the early history of his party, as well as the jurist Theodor Maunz. (Theodor Maunz was a Jurist. He joined the SA in 1933 and for his services to the Nazis was made Professor in Freiburg and served as enabling the Nazis to gain juristic legitimacy. To highlight his Naziness I would add that he wrote articles for an extreme right wing newspaper till his death in 1983.) He is quoted as saying "That which the Führer assigns in the form of judicial commands forms the judicial foundation of the police". The "Maunz-Dürig" commentary to the constitution (written after the war) has been quoted by Roman Herzog (president of Germany 1994-99), the judges of the constitution Udo di Fabio and Hans Hugo Klein, as well as Hans-Jürgen, who was president of the court of the constitution. (In other words, he was influential in how the constitution of Germany is being understood and applied.)
"Here and there lies the suspicion that the "National Socialist Underground"were behind the (of course) unsolved attack on the "Crimes of the Wehrmacht" exhibition in Saarbrücken in the March of 1999. After the opening of the exhibition in 1995 a former officer of the Wehrmacht who had taken part in the blockade of Leningrad (at least 900,000 died from hunger and cold), was later a consultant to Hermann Göring's Reich Air Force Ministry, was able to observe the trials of men following the 20. July 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler before being a head of a military battery on the west front; this former officer spoke out against the calling of 19 million of German soldiers of being members of a criminal organisation and said that no-one "who knows anything seriously about historical truth" can "see the Wehrmacht wholly and collectively as being a criminal organisation." The name of this man was Helmut Schmidt [who was Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 til 1982. Note also that Helmut Schmidt, the co-founder of the "German national foundation" spoke out against immigrants ("It was a mistake to call people from other cultures here") as well as "anti-authoritarian education") See here for more details.]
"The "right-wing terror", said Chancellor Merkel to her party friends is "a shame for Germany". One which is earned."
Wew! Let's briefly consider what has been said here. Regular readers of this blog will know my position regarding the focus on so-called "left-wing extremism" in GB, Germany and beyond, and also how this focus in Germany contributed to the fact that Nazis were able to kill immigrants in Germany and stay undetected for over ten years; therefore I agree with much here. The same regular readers will also know of my pointing out that Nazis are much more of a danger to society than any supposed act of "left-wing terrorism". I also share the view that it is the police who are often the force behind the issue of violence regarding those who are anti-fascists. What Gremliza says, though, goes further, namely that it is the state institutions of Germany themselves which carry Nazi echoes within their corridors.
Certainly, many Nazis continued working for the state, sometimes in important positions in both West and East Germany (see here for more information.) The Allied occupying forces wanted to build up the structure of the West German state in order to keep Germany as a strong force in the threat of the Soviet Union. Therefore many of those who underwent trials for being members of illegal organisations (the NSDAP, the SS, the Gestapo, for example) or actual criminal acts were later amnestied. Regardless of the moral nature of such acts, it could be understood that Gremliza is indeed right in saying that it is Nazis themselves who influenced the spirit of German state organs (including those with the monopoly of violence) post-1945.
Germany wouldn't be alone of course in having state organs that have dodgy beliefs. The City of London police consider the peaceful protestors of the Occupy movement in GB to be "terrorists". As I have written before, Spinwatch have written an excellent report showing how prejudices against the "far-left" were much more important than the threat of actual (but less overtly political) violence from the IRA. The Polish judiciary has itself recently made a bizarre and dodgy decision regarding Nazis.
Maybe Gremliza is however being too dark in his analysis of the situation in Germany. Certainly, not all members of state organs in Germany (say, the police, the protectorate of the constitution) are Nazi sympathisers. The thing is, as sure as we see in GB a police which carries a cold-war hangover regarding the left-wing, it is very much possible that German police and other state security organisations carry not only such a hangover, but one from the Nazi times. To tell the truth I am not totally knowledgeable about post-1945 history in Germany. I do know, though, the motivation of the aforementioned RAF:
"They'll kill us all. You know what kind of pigs we're up against. This is the Auschwitz generation. You can't argue with people who made Auschwitz. They have weapons and we haven't. We must arm ourselves!"
Don't get me wrong. I am not RAF fan, sympathiser or excuser (after watching "Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex" I thought they were a load of stupid bastards for whom I had no sympathy). A look at post-1945 history in West Germany however does offer a few clues as to why they existed. When one knows however about things like Operation Gladio or see how German state authorities have dealt with the Zwickau Nazis, one can get quite anti-state, I have to say.
In any case, I believe that Gremliza could be right in saying that we are wrong to use the term "right-wing extremism" in that it insinuates a left-wing alternative. There are murderous twats on both left and right. The thing is, there are many many many many more on the right, and their potential victims comes from a much wider group.
Keep in touch. I plan to write a review of the Wrocław Modern Art museum next week, and also the start of the "Taboos and other subjects to piss people off" series: Starting with "How Britain deals with its history".