Despite last month’s banning of the Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ), a neo-Nazi youth group, the council’s general secretary, Stephen Kramer, described mainstream political protest against antisemitism as “mere window-dressing”.
Kramer said anti-Semitism was “once again widespread in all areas of German society”….
He said fighting it was “mostly only a dutiful expression in the political arena,” rather than evidence of any real conviction.
He said the presence of neo-Nazis in two regional parliaments was a “damning indictment” of all democratic parties, and added: “The question must be permitted of whether Germany is at best a fair-weather democracy. Until now, no-one has been able to give a convincing answer to this question, in order to contradict it.”
He said the NPD, the neo-Nazi party which remains legal despite government attempts to ban it, played an important role not only in fostering but also in enabling antisemitism in Germany.
“Although the NPD is tail-spinning from one institutional and financial crisis to the next, there is no reason for an all-clear signal. Just the opposite (in fact], as the radical powers are going about taking over the leadership of the far-right scene.”
He said that concentrating on the NPD had distracted attention from other, less visible organisations. “The debate about whether to ban it was a pointless one, and simply served as an alibi to show that the politicians were engaging with the problem while other problems were ignored.”
The HDJ case simply illustrated what a broad basis the radical right had, said Mr Kramer.
“Happily, it has now finally been banned, but it had already been carrying out its mischief for far too long.”
He said it demonstrated “how the neo-Nazis are very successfully active with their long-term aims of working on recruiting the next generation”.
He warned: “The ban of the HDJ will remain just a cosmetic measure if we do not now finally pay more attention to the area of youth work and offer alternatives.”
Launching a criticism of the family ministry for its inaction, he said it continued to disappoint, particularly in youth work in rural areas.
More than 130 people have died in neo-Nazi violence since Germany was reunified nearly 20 years ago.
As the economic situation worsens, the government is worried about unemployed youth being lured into the grip of the far right, with its message of intolerance towards foreigners and ultra-nationalism.
When he banned the HDJ, interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: “We will do everything possible to protect our children and youth from these rat-catchers.
“We need responsible parents, teachers and other role models who teach our children the values on which our democratic society is based.”
Mr Kramer launched his critique amid increasing sensitivity in Berlin over The Producers, the comic musical that portrays a singing, dancing Adolf Hitler.
It is the first time that the show, which has been seen in London, New York, and Austria, has been staged in Germany.
The controversial show is due to run for two months in a venue where Hitler once watched a Shakespeare play. It includes a troupe of storm troopers tap-dancing and Hitler singing: “Heil to me, I’m the Kraut who’s out to change our history.”
Editorials carried in German national newspapers have questioned whether it is right to laugh at Hitler, while the advertising literature for The Producers has been forced to replace the swastika motif with a pretzel, to comply with German law.
The Producers is based on the 1968 Mel Brooks film of the same name. It won 12 Tony awards when it was first performed.
A spokesman for the theatre, the Admiralspalast, was yesterday reported to have admitted that ticket sales were fairly slow. However, he added: “Of all the musicals I’ve seen in my life it’s by far the most exciting, the most bizarre and the most manic.” Link to article here:
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