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Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Extreme Right Wing in Today's Germany, part 1

I expect to post information about this troubling phenomenon from time to time.

Today's extreme right wing in Germany has not been well reported in the western press, although the German media carry full, and disquieting, details. The movement, while heterogeneous, is united in its key tenets: anti-foreigner, anti-Semitic, respectful of the Third Reich, anti-American, anti-Israel.

At the center of this movement is the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or NPD. The party cannot currently obtain the support of any appreciable number of voters in the old, western regions. But in recent years it has made spectacular electoral gains in two of the new, eastern "Laender" (provinces) of the Federal Republic:

1) Sachsen. This is the land of the two important cities of Dresden and Leipzig. It is densely populated, having about 230 inhabitants per square kilometer. In the last (2004) provincial elections, the NDP obtained 9.2% of the vote, sending 12 deputies to the provincial legislature in Dresden.

2) Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. This is largely rural and small-town territory, north and east of Berlin, with a population density of about 73 inhabitants per square kilometer. In 2006 it elected 6 NDP deputies to the provincial legislature in Schwerin, the party having obtained 7.3% of the vote.

There is little that the English-only reader can find that is either reliable or comprehensive. I thought that the (English-language) Wikipedia article on the NDP is particularly biased -- in favor of the NPD. But there is much in German that is informative. The German Wikipedia article is very good. There is also, among a number of other good German resources, the blog operated by Patrick Gensing.

Finally, there is the book-length study by Toralf Staud, "Moderne Nazis -- Die neuen Rechten und the Aufstieg der NPD," again, only in German so far. It should be issued in an English translation. I hope to report on this book in more detail in a future posting.

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