GERMANY: Authorities' hypocrisy on racist violence (from GLW)

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Thu Aug 24 04:46:42 MDT 2000

>From the latest Green Left Weekly:

GERMANY: Authorities' hypocrisy on racist violence
KIEL -- After years of racist crimes perpetrated against immigrants and
refugees, Germany's establishment is giving the impression that it is
finally willing to act to stop it. This follows a bomb blast in a commuter
train station in Dusseldorf that injured 10 immigrants from the former
Soviet Union on July 27.

While the identity of the bomber remains unknown, there is little doubt that
the motive was racist and anti-Semitic. The victims, mostly Jewish,
regularly went that way to attend German language classes.

The ruling Social Democratic and Green parties, as well as the opposition
Liberals and Christian Democrats, reacted by calling for the far-right
National Democratic Party (NPD) to be outlawed. The NPD has become the main
party of the militant right in the last year. It has about 7000 members and
many well-organised and determined cadres.

A government commission was set up to consider outlawing the NPD. However,
this is no easy task as it would need a positive ruling from the
constitutional court.

Another outcome of the Dusseldorf bomb may be that laws will be passed which
could undermine the right of free assembly. The surveillance of public
places by cameras is part of a package of police-state measures being
discussed in the wake of the attack.

The reaction of the bourgeois parties is nothing but hypocrisy. For decades,
anti-fascists had insisted that fascist organisations were already banned by
laws passed by the Allied occupation government after World War Two to
prohibit the Nazi party.

These laws existed until 1990 but neither Christian Democratic or Social
Democratic governments implemented them. In 1990, after the annexation of
East Germany, the constitution was changed to repeal the laws.

While racism in general and fascist organisations in particular have been on
the rise since the second half of the 1980s, these parties (except the
Greens) turned their back to the problem. In fact, successive governments
attempted to politically marginalise the anti-fascist movements. While 20
years ago almost all trade unionists and social democrats, and even a large
number of conservatives, called themselves anti-fascist, today it has become
a synonym for left-wing radicalism.

Anti-fascist groups are constantly under surveillance by the secret police
and are depicted in their annual reports as being threats to democracy. Most
capitalist media repeat this propaganda without question.

Brutal police attacks on anti-fascist protests have been common in recent
years. Several people have been killed in such attacks in the last 15 years.

Racist violence has flourished in this climate. In the 1990s, several dozen
people have been killed in racist arson attacks, stabbings and beatings. In
June alone, there were two arson attacks and 28 racist attacks on

This is only the tip of the iceberg; most crimes are either not reported by
the victims because they are intimidated, or are not reported by police
officers to higher authorities because of their own racist bias.

Most victims are people of colour, whether German-born or migrants from
Africa or Asia. As well, people with disabilities, homeless people and
left-wingers are singled out by neo-Nazis for assault. There are many
places, especially in former East Germany, which are no-go areas for anyone
who has black hair or is a punk.

These racists do not discriminate between refugees and immigrants on the one
hand and foreign business people and scientists on the other hand. Tourists
too have been attacked.

This explains the establishment's sudden concern. Leading capitalist
associations fear for the country's economy, and their profits, as the news
of the racist terror in Germany spreads around the world.

Politicians and entrepreneurs do not bother to hide their selfish motives in
the public discussion about racism. They certainly do not consider the need
to tackle the problem at its roots because the racist violence is the
extreme expression of a widespread attitude that is of their own making.

Like in all Western European countries, Germany's racism is a legacy of 500
years of colonialism and imperialism. Also, capitalist societies function by
throwing everybody into competition against each other. Society is atomised
and social solidarity undermined.

>From 1982 to 1998, the Christian Democrat (CDU/CSU) federal government
regularly campaigned with a racist agenda, sometimes against immigrant
workers, but mostly against refugees seeking asylum in Germany.

When Helmut Kohl became chancellor in 1982, he declared that there are too
many Turks living in Germany. Since then, there has been a constant push to
diminish immigrants' rights and remove the right of refugees to seek asylum.
With increasingly restrictive laws came a permanent public discussion that
depicted immigrants and refugees -- "foreigners" as they are usually been
called even if born in Germany -- as a "problem" or a "threat".

Only a year ago, the CDU/CSU organised a big campaign against the
half-hearted attempt of the new government to make it easier for immigrants
to get citizenship. As usual the Social Democrats gave in to the
conservatives' racist campaign.

Thousands of refugees are deported by Germany each year to face their
oppressors and torturers. Some are even handed directly to the authorities
of their home countries. Some have been killed by German police officers
during these operations.

Even more deadly are Germany's borders with Poland and the Czech Republic.
It is little known that more people die each year attempting to cross these
borders than did at the infamous Berlin Wall. As refugees are immediately
sent back when they are found by the border patrols, many try to cross the
river at the Polish border or through mountains at the Czech border. Many
drown or freeze to death. Between 1993 and 1998, there were 81 such victims.

Police activities generate a "man hunt" atmosphere in the border regions.
People are urged to inform the patrols about "foreigners" or suspected
"illegals". About two years ago, a taxi driver was sentenced to several
months in jail because he had accepted illegal immigrants as customers.

In this atmosphere, outlawing one of the many fascist organisations in
Germany would not change the widespread racism. However, it would help
anti-fascists make more difficult for the Nazis to recruit new followers.

But, as the Party of Democratic Socialism's Ulla Jelpke points out, racist
terror can only be stopped by ending the discrimination of migrants, giving
them full citizen rights and ending the anti-"foreigner" attitude of the


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