Opinion: Banning the Far-Right NPD | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 24.01.2005
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Opinion: Banning the Far-Right NPD

Politicians in Saxony's state parliament made no bones about their extreme right-wing views by walking out on a commemoration of Holocaust victims. DW's Heinz Dylong says there's too little outrage over their behavior.


NPD politicians rejected a minute's silence for Holocaust victims

The National Democratic party's (NPD) behavior in Saxony's state parliament was absolutely unbearable! First, they withdrew from a minute of silence for the victims of the Holocaust, then came a debate in which they equated the World War II bombing of Dresden with the Holocaust. They spoke of a "bombing Holocaust," described the allies as "mass murderers" and the air strikes as a "cold-blooded planned industrial mass murder of the civilian population."

The air campaign on Dresden in February 1945 certainly shouldn't be played down. The attack on the refugee-filled city that killed more than 35,000 made little sense according to military standards. That may -- indeed, it must -- be lamented. All the same, nothing can be equated to the mass murder and the contempt for humanity that distinguished the Holocaust. It was an unparalleled historical low. The air campaign on Dresden was a superfluous and appalling operation; but its deeper cause was the war provoked by Germany. And that must without fail be taken into consideration when the victims of the attack on Dresden are commemorated.

But such considerations are entirely alien to the far-right NPD. Given their muddled thoughts, no one should be surprised. What is alarming is that the NPD doesn't fear that such statements would hurt them in the eyes of voters. They received more than 9 percent of the votes in state parliamentary elections in Saxony in September.

No deterrent

And even though that doesn't mean the voters were all right-known extremists -- a significant number was motivated by the federal government's social reforms -- the frightening findings do show that the NPD's well-known extremist positions didn't deter voters. The core of the NPD's party platform wasn't enough to keep voters in the democratic camp. While in the 1960s, the NPD's temporary upswing was attributed to their voters coming from old Nazi circles, this explanation is impossible today.

The secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, declared that "anti-Semitic and xenophobic ideas long ago became socially acceptable again." That shouldn't be viewed simply as an all too pessimistic estimation. Rather, it is a request to the democratic parties and the democratic public. Sixty years after the end of World War II, 60 years after the liberation of the concentration camps, an offensive confrontation with right-wing extremist attitudes must be sought.

And the ban on the NPD that failed two years ago due to the applicants' amateurish procedure -- they relied on testimony to the federal constitutional court from witnesses in the service of one of Germany's intelligence services -- should be considered again.

After all, one needn't repeat the same mistakes, and intellectual discussion of right-wing extremism, which is surely necessary, is thus not out of the question.

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