On March 13, there were state elections in three German states: Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saxony-Anhalt. In all three states, the biggest winner was the “Alternative for Germany” (Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD) with 12.6 percent of the votes in Rhineland-Palatinate, 15.1 percent in Baden-Württemberg and unprecedented 24.3 percent in Saxony-Anhalt. With almost 11 million inhabitants, Baden-Württemberg is the third-biggest and third-most-populated state in Germany; the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Bosch are located there. As a result, Baden-Württemberg also has a very low rate of joblessness (3.7 percent compared to 6.4 percent in all of the FRG, which is an all-time low in Germany since the reunification in 1990). So much for those who believe that poverty or unemployment are the simple causes of right-wing extremism.
In late May and early June, public attention in Germany was focused on an elected AfD member of Parliament in Baden-Württemberg, Wolfgang Gedeon, a retired doctor and author who in 2012 published a pamphlet titled The Green Communism and the Dictatorship of Minorities. A Critique of the Western Zeitgeist. In that work, Gedeon argued against the “Judaization of Christianity” and the “Zionization of Western politics.” In particular, he took aim at the United States, whose foreign policy is run by Zionists. He also argued for “family values” while protesting against “ethno-suicide,” “the cult of being gay,” and the “holocaust of abortion.” Among Gedeon’s heroes is the imprisoned Holocaust denier and neo-Nazi Horst Mahler, whom Gedeon calls a “dissident” fighting for a true German “national identity.” He mocks the Holocaust as a “civil religion,” an anti-Semitic term well-known not just from neo-Nazis, but also from anti-Zionist scholars.
Gedeon opposes “feminism,” “sexualism,” and “migrationism” as core elements of what he calls “green communism.” He is against communism because he rejects a “secular religion of humanity,” deriving from socialist or communist ideology, starting with “Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.” He is against “humanism” and “egalitarianism,” and this is indeed a core element of all New Right and Far Right ideologues, whether in the AfD in Germany, the FPÖ in Austria, the Jobbik or Fidesz in Hungary, the national conservatives in Poland, the Sweden Democrats, the Front National (FN) in France, the Lega Nord in Italy.
For Gedeon, four elements of “green communism” constitute a threat:
1) The end of “the family” and the development of shared or collective forms of living (in German, Wohngemeinschaften, in which several people share an apartment)
2) What he calls “the abolition of races,” which he explains is coming about “by supporting of a universal mixture of races, aiming at a world hybrid race”
3) “The liquidation of states and nations”
4) The “defeat of Christianity” by “secular state religion.”
Gedeon ends his anti-Semitic pamphlet by framing WWII as a “victory” for the United States (of course, it was) and “total defeat of Germany.” He is sad about the defeat for Germany and mocks the Nuremberg Trials. He trivializes the Shoah by equating the Soviet Gulag or Hiroshima with Auschwitz.
Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany. For Gedeon, this is a result of policies by a “Zionist minority.” Similarly, immigration and antiracism are the result of Zionist—read: Jewish—conspiracy to undermine national identity—a classical anti-Semitic trope.
Green Communism has been displayed in recent years at AfD party conventions and no one had any problem with that, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has reported.
In June, head of the AfD fraction in the Parliament of Baden-Württemberg, Jörg Meuthen, previously a supporter of Gedeon, dismissed him and was joined by several other MPs. Gedeon left the fraction due to power games between Frauke Petry and Meuthen. The extreme-right-wing ideology of the AfD and Gedeon and his former allies did not change, though.
The reluctance of many German, French, or American anti-Islamist activists to frame parties like the AfD as right-wing-extremist, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, anti-feminist, and anti-Islamic is also striking—and increasingly disturbing. Some anti-Islamist authors in the U.K. or America, even praise and promote the founder and leader of PEGIDA (“Patriots against the Islamization of the Occident”), Lutz Bachmann, who once posed with a Hitler haircut on social media. In an interview with Bachmann by Raheem Kassam, Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, Bachmann agitates against circumcision. According to media reports, Bachmann called refugees and immigrants “animals” (“Viehzeug”). Currently, Bachmann faces a court trial in Dresden for racist agitation.
The links between these various “New Right” movements are not hard to spot. Agitators like Renaud Camus, the main thinker of the French National Front, is published in Germany by the Antaios publishing house, which is run by the New Right activist Götz Kubitschek, who has good connections to the neo-Nazi scene. Renaud is infamous for his take on immigration and Islam: He calls for “revolt against the big replacement.”
On July 22, nine people were killed in Munich by 18-year-old Ali David Sonboly, a German citizen born to Iranian parents. A video recorded during the gun rampage showing shouting between Sonboly and a resident made evident his pro-German and anti-Muslim attitude. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Sonboly was proud of his birthday, April 20, which he shared with Hitler. He also had sympathetic feeling for neo-Nazi mass murderer Anders Breivik, whose picture, according to witnesses, he had on WhatsApp. Breivik killed more than 70 people in Norway on the same date, five years before, in 2011. Sonboly was proud of his Iranian-German background, as he saw both as “Aryan.” He was also in favor of the AfD, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine. However, police believe that Sonboly probably would have killed even without his outspoken right-wing-extremist worldview, because of his manifest psychological problems. In any case, it was not at all an Islamist attack, we have to emphasize that.
The lessons of the past should be particularly clear in Germany: Fighting Islamic fascism by collaborating with brown fascism will lead to the murder of leftists, Muslims, immigrants, antifascists, and Jews. In Europe, more “national identity” leads to more anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and racism. When will we learn that lesson?
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Clemens Heni, a political scientist, is a former post-doc at Yale and the director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.