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Outrage of AfD 'incest' query

April 13, 2018

A far-right parliamentary question linking incest, disability and migrants has outraged Germany's ethics council and Catholic bishops. They say the query amounts to inhumane contempt bordering on former Nazi language.

AfD MPs in the Bundestag
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Schreiber

German Catholic bishops joined Germany's Ethics Council Friday in describing the opposition Alternative for Germany's (AfD) question tabled in the Bundestag parliament as "inhumane" and intolerable.

Prelate Karl Jüsten, spokesman for the German Catholic Bishops Conference, said the formal AfD query contained wording implying a difference between worthy and unworthy life.

"That we cannot accept as the Catholic Church," Jüsten insisted. "For us, all disabled [persons] are equal, regardless of how the disability originated, whether through birth or misfortunes in life."

Read more: Remembering Nazi euthanasia victims

The AfD in its query, broken down into five questions to Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government, asks for data on disability by age, migratory background, and main cause, and for statistics on disabled children born to parents, "especially those resulting from [incestual] marriage within the family."

Former Hadamar personnel at 1947 euthanasia trial
Hadamar personnel at 1947 euthanasia trial Image: picture alliance/dpa

The far-right party prefaced its query, circulated as parliamentary paper 19/1444, with allusions to a 1995 British study and two German media articles — dating back to 2003 and 2008 — implying links between incest and children born disabled.

In a sober reply on Thursday, Germany's labor ministry presented data from 2015, indicating 7.6 million persons with disabilities, compared to 6.7 million in 2001.

'Shocking subtext'

German Ethics Council chairman Peter Dabrock said Thursday it was "shocking and fully unacceptable that a German Bundestag question conveys in subtext that a rise in disabilities is a societal scourge."

Dabrock, a theologian, told the Catholic KNA news agency that the authors of AfD question had "consciously" transgressed the boundary of extreme-right vocabulary" and posited an "abstruse connection" to Germany's migration issue.

All persons, whether disabled or not, should "recognize clearly which dark intellect such questions come from," Dabrock said.

'Dissection room' in former Nazi Hadamar euthanasia center
'Dissection room' in former Nazi Hadamar euthanasia centerImage: picture-alliance/dpa

'Inhumanely contemptuous'

Peter Weiss, social welfare spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) weighed in on Friday, describing the AfD question as "completely inhumanely contemptuous."

"It is dreadful that the AfD in its parliamentary question constructs apparent causal links that are not borne out by data," Weiss added.

Opposition Left party parliamentary co-leader Dietmar Bartsch accused the Bundestag's 92-member group of staging a "fully illegitimate provocation."

Its query tacked onto the language of the NSDAP [Adolf Hitler's party] in the "Third Reich" and violated post-war Germany's Basic Law first-article principle of human dignity, Bartsch said.

Disabled victims of Holocaust remembered

300,000 murdered

Some 300,000 persons with impairments and psychological conditions were murdered in gas chambers, via medical overdosing, and inhumane incarcerations during Hitler's regime under "euthanasia" programs such as "T4-Aktion," based on a "racial hygiene" doctrine.

Across Nazi-ruled Germany, there were six such death centers, including the last created, Hadamar — in the present-day German state of Hesse — where 15,000 were killed.

Verena Hartmann
AfD's Verena Hartmann: Submitting questions 'a form of research'Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler

AfD ex-police officer backtracks

Backtracking on Friday, one of the four parliamentary question signatories named initially by the AfD, parliamentarian Verena Hartmann, claimed she had not participated in the query.

Submitting questions was a "form of research", said Hartmann, a Berlin police officer by training and a member of the Bundestag's human rights committee.

ipj/ng (AFP, KNA)