Neo-Nazism in Germany
Why are we talking about neo-Nazism? Because we have to.
In August, 2017, with the alt-right and white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, it became clear that Nazism has not gone away, it has just morphed into a new form for a new age. For many North Americans, it was an eye-opener; people didn’t realize that there are people in 2017 who adhere to the principles of Nazism (or at least to their understanding of those principles).
Neo-Nazism has existed in Germany ever since the Nazis lost power in 1945. The Jewish Virtual Library states the following:
Both states of the divided Germany were effective in combating neo-Nazism. In Communist East Germany, all neo-Nazi parties were banned, while West Germany was quite stringent in its reaction to right- and left-wing terrorism and successful in containing neo-Nazism. However, a terrorist bomb that exploded during Oktoberfest in Munich in 1980, injuring several people, was attributed to a neo-Nazi group. After the reunification of the country a number of neo-Nazi youth gangs arose, especially in the former East Germany, exploiting economic turmoil and racism toward nonwhite immigrant “guest workers” (many of whom had resided in Germany for decades, or had been born there, and were prevented from becoming citizens by restrictive ethnicity-based naturalization laws).
Before reunification, there were approximately 18,000 members of extreme right-wing groups in West Germany, members of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Neo-Nazi (NSDAP) and National Freedom groups, and others. After re-unification in 1990, especially in the former East, thousands of young adults joined openly neo-Nazi groups. There followed a wave of violent attacks on refugees, immigrants, “guest workers,” and Jews. In 1992 and 1993 two attacks left eight Turkish women and girls dead and a number of other family members and friends seriously injured. During this period German officials banned 17 neo-Nazi organizations, but the groups continued to thrive underground. Small groups called freie Kameradschaften (free fellowships) were set up to operate on a regional level. In 2002 a young man, Marinus Schoeberl, was tortured and murdered by neo-Nazi youth north of Berlin in the village of Potzlow. The attackers thought he “looked like a Jew.” More than 100 murders by neo-Nazis and their allies occurred between reunification and the year 2006, with some 150 like-minded groups being monitored by government authorities; the number of adherents was estimated to be in the 10,000–25,000 range. At the same time, there were huge demonstrations in Germany against the rise of neo-Nazism and xenophobic attacks, and the number of neo-Nazis was tiny compared to the size of the population.
The readings below provide further context:
Your task: In the fight against neo-Nazism, does Germany go too far in restricting its citizens’ rights?
Neo-Nazism in North America
Neo-Nazism in North America is a curious mixture of original Nazism molded to fit new eras and contexts. At times it seems harmless, like a group of men who are just weirdly fascinated by Germanic lore and legend, but at other times the dangerous hate of Nazism is all too visible. Neo-Nazism in North America is largely linked to the white supremacist movement.
Read these articles to learn more:
And what is it about Nazis and 20+ point programs?
Your task: Compare the neo-Nazi programs with the original Nazi party program of 1920. What similarities/differences do you notice?
Neo-Nazism at Charlottesville
The video below gives a surprisingly candid and up-close view of some of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville. The reporter was given unprecedented access to the marchers as they prepared for Charlottesville. I think anyone who wants to try to understand the neo-Nazi mentality would do well to watch this video.
Your task: How would you describe the neo-Nazi mentality?
Manifestations of Neo-Nazi Culture
Like any culture, neo-Nazism has its own symbols and styles. Here are some examples from both Germany and North America:
Your task: What do you make of these cultural expressions?
Specific Instructions for this Review: Neo-Nazism
In this module you’ve studied the neo-Nazism and white supremacy in Germany and North America. You’ve learnt about the ideology of neo-Nazism, and you’ve discovered that it exists long after the demise of the original Nazi party.
One of the issues surrounding Neo-Nazism is a very simple one: how to respond? Here are a couple of examples of recent responses:
From the CBC Radio One program As It Happens: “Artists build replica of Berlin Holocaust memorial“
From The Guardian: “Der Spiegel removes ‘anti-semitic’ book from bestseller list“
From thelocal.de: “Leipzig University considers firing law professor“
A number of questions can guide your reading about these actions:
- Are the responses described above effective in combating neo-Nazism?
- Do such actions pose dangers to freedom of expression?
- Do the risks of damaging the freedom of expression outweigh the risks of neo-Nazism?
- Should Germany take a firmer stand on neo-Nazism than other countries?
Your task: What action(s) would you recommend for combating neo-Nazism? In answering this question, please consider both the stories above and the materials you studied in this module. Your answer doesn’t have to treat all of the information you’ve seen in this module, but it would be good to refer to some of the issues or articles/videos you’ve seen this past week.
Feel free to make use of the content items in the module and the postings of your classmates when composing your answer. (For example, perhaps someone else mentioned the point you’re making in a posting – you can cite that and expand on it.)
General Instructions for the Module Reviews
Please keep the following in mind:
- your answer should be uploaded as a PDF document – if it isn’t, it will be graded, but you’ll receive no comments.
- your answer should be double-spaced.
- no title page, but there should be a title, your name should appear at the top, and there should be page numbers.
- answers should be within the specified word range.
- good essays have the following: grammatically-correct sentences; coherent paragraphs; no spelling mistakes; a clear argument or point; titles that capture, directly or indirectly, a point being made in your essay.
- if you refer to a reading in this unit, you don’t have to give full bibliographical information, but when you first mention it, give the full title and author’s name. If you refer to material not read in class, provide a full bibliographical citation at the end of your essay (it will not count as part of the word count).
Please note: the question may ask you to make use of the discussions that occurred in the module. There are two modes for viewing the discussion forums, GRID VIEW and READING VIEW. (You can change which you view by clicking on the settings – the gear icon – in the upper right-hand corner of your screen when you’re in the Discussions area of the course.) Play around with the two views to find the setting that works best for you. For example, when I’m reading your discussions during the week and commenting on some of them, I use the READING VIEW, but if I have to read and grade a lot of postings I use the GRID VIEW.