Category Archives: Germany

German Capital demands the head of Gregor Gysi: A founding member of Die Linkspartei.[Left Party]


The growth in working class support for Germany’s Die Linkspartei, [The Left Party] as expressed in recent regional election results and national opinion polls has clearly rattled Capital and its gofers in the Bundestag and media. This time in an attempt to halt the party’s rising popularity, reactionary forces have been rifling through the dustbin of history and dug up an old story about Gregor Gysi, one of the Left Party most charismatic leaders, who at one time was a member of East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party. [SED]

Unsurprisingly, as all of these parties have suffered at the ballot box due to the rise of the Left Party, politicians from the Christian Union parties, the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the FDP have called for for the head of Gregor Gysi by demanding that he should submit his resignation from national political leadership.

As anyone will know who has witnessed Gysi’s regular appearances on German TV, he is a very able fellow who had managed to turn the progressive wing of the Stalinist SED into the PDS, a left reformist party. Which eventually merged with Left social democrats led by the former Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, and the more radical WASG, to form the Left Party.

It is vital that Left Party members hold their nerve over these attacks; and understand they are politically motivated designed to drive down support for the LP. On no account must any party member join the chorus that is demanding Gregor Gysi’s head.

Mick Hall

Below is the DW-world-DE web sites take on this story.

German Left-Wing Leader Accused of Working for Stasi

Politicians from across the political spectrum have called on a top Left party parliamentarian to resign amid new allegations that he was an informer for the Stasi secret police in communist East Germany.

Parliamentarians from Germany’s biggest political parties attacked Left party parliamentary chief Gregor Gysi on Wednesday, May 28, saying he should bear the consequences of having provided information to East Germany’s Stasi secret police.
 
He should own up to his responsibility, politicians from the Christian Union parties the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the FDP said, with calls for an explanation, apology or even resignation.
 
“The departure is overdue,” said Christian Democrat Thomas Strobl. “Take the necessary consequences.”
 
Social Democrat Stephan Hisberg, one of the founders of the East German SPD, accused Gysi and his Left party of “lying and betraying.”

Recurring allegations

Gysi, a lawyer, has been battling allegations he colluded with the East German secret police for years. He responded to the attacks on the floor of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, with an impassioned speech. He rejected the allegations, saying that politicians from other parties had for years used every means to try to damage him personally in order to harm his party.
 
At issue this time is a 1979 meeting between Gysi and two East German dissidents, one of which was his client Robert Havemann. The head of the Stasi archive, Marianne Birthler, had provoked the new debate with comments she made on ARD television on Wednesday, in which she alleged that documents in the archive’s possession concerning the meeting stemmed from an informer who could only be Gysi.
 
Gysi took legal action against ZDF television after it broadcast similar comments Birthler made last week.
 
At a Left party convention last week, Gysi rejected the accusations, saying he had never consciously or willingly cooperated with the Stasi.

Threat from the Left?
Left party leader Oskar Lafontaine had called for Birthler’s dismissal.
 
“The boss of the Stasi [archive] is not in the position to exercise her duties objectively and impartially,” he said.
 
The Left party was established by trade unionists and former Social Democrats a year ago. It is Germany’s third-largest political party.

 
DW staff (ncy)

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Filed under E U, Germany, Organized Rage, Socialism/Politics/UK/EU/Democratic accountability/Left, witch-hunt

Left-Wing Extremism on the March in Germany: Is this the beginning of a witch hunt.


The article below is taken from the semi official German web site. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3335522,00.html?maca=en-bulletin-433-html Could this be the beginning of a witch hunt against the German left and especially the Die Linke, [Left Party] which in a short period of time has become a force to be reckoned with in both German national and regional politics.

Mick Hall

Left-Wing Extremism on the March in Germany

Authorities fear an increase in left-wing extremists could lead to more violence

As politicians across Germany work hard to combat right-wing extremism, membership in left-wing extremist groups is on the rise. Many members are also involved in Germany’s Left Party, according to a news report.
As Germany institutes a growing number of programs aimed at curbing far-right extremism, including a 625,000-euro ($964,470) project in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, violence among far-left extremists is on the rise, according to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the mass-market Bild daily reported Wednesday, May 14.

Extremist divisions of several left-wing movements have seen sharp increases in the last year, according to excerpts from the BfV’s still unpublished 2007 report cited in the Bild. Interior Minster Wolfgang Schaeuble is scheduled to present the report on Thursday.

Opponents of social order

Demonstrators at the May Day riots in Hamburg
According to the report, the number of people involved in these groups now totals 6,300, an increase of 300 over statistics from 2006. A total of 5,800 of these fall under the umbrella of a relatively unaffiliated anarchic arm known as “Autonomists.” This group is thought to be particularly prone to violence and responsible for much of the unrest seen in Hamburg and Nuremberg as part of annual demonstrations held on May 1, according to the BfV.

Left-wing extremist organizations are deemed to be “avowed opponents of the state and social order of the Federal Republic of Germany, which they defame as an order of capitalism marked by racism and fascism,” according to the BvF. Though the groups are not illegal, the BfV, which oversees threats to the internal security of Germany, monitors them as some are prone to violence.

Left-wing extremists also came into focus in 2006 when police raided offices throughout Germany ahead of the 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm. The raids, later declared illegal by the Federal Court of Justice, were conducted out of fear that extremist groups might have been planning bombings as part of their anti-globalization protests.

Ties to the Left Party

5,800 of those extremists are affiliated with the “Autonomists” movement
One of the largest of the left-wing groups noted in the 2007 report is the “Communist Platform” (“Kommunistische Plattform”), a group within the Left Party. The organization, whose motto is “overcoming capitalism,” subscribes to a revolutionary-Marxist ideology with 840 members.

Together with the 60-member Marxist Forum, it comprises a fraternity of orthodox-Communism sympathizers including some members of the former East Germany’s Communist Party.

Also noted on this report are the “Socialist Left Party” (“Sozialistische Linke”) with 550 members and the 420-member strong pro-Cuban “Consortium — Cuba yes!” (“Arbeitsgemeinschaft Cuba Sí”).

The Left Party, which has about 10,000 members, was formed in 2007 by left-wing members of the Social Democratic Party and the Party of Democratic Socialism, which was the successor to the former East German communists.

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Filed under democratic mandates/general elections, Die Linke-(Left Party), E U, Germany

German Green Party return to the safety of their middle class comfort zone.



Like their Irish counterparts, who are junior partners in a conservative coalition government led by the right of centre Fianna Fáil Party, the German Green Party in the Hamburg region has signed a deal with the conservative Christian Democratic Union, (CDU) which will take them into the regional government led by Hamburg’s CDU Mayor Ole von Beust. (The CDU is the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel)

The landmark coalition agreement signed on Thursday, April 17, in Hamburg’s City Hall, follows five weeks of intensive political negotiations that centered on energy and environmental issues, or so we are told. It is expected to be formally approved by party executives at the end of the month.
 
“In politics as in normal life, it is important to have the strength and the courage to walk new paths,” said Hamburg’s CDU Mayor Ole von Beust. “It’s not an experiment but a chance … Even if it may seem unusual to many, I’m convinced it’ll be a success for Hamburg.”
 
The Hamburg CDU leader Von Beust lost his absolute majority in the Feb. 24 State elections and his party has since then been on the search for a suitable coalition partner. 
The Greens have typically partnered with the SPD and the CDU has traditionally found an ally in the free-market liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), but the addition of fifth party, the Left Party, has forced political camps to rethink their well practiced two-party alliances.
 
For both the CDU and the Greens in Hamburg, “it’s just about opening up new options in the new five-party system,” wrote the Financial Times Deutschland on Friday. “For chancellor and CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel, nothing less than securing her chancellorship beyond the election year 2009 and the likely end of the grand coalition [of the CDU and SPD] are at stake. For this goal, serious conflicts are simply papered over, particularly in the areas of economic and energy policy.”

“Now older and wiser, the children who had once run away from the middle-class are coming back,” opined the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday from Munich. “The Greens are becoming the junior partner of the party that they once considered to represent the bleak, stale, unenlightened middle-class.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel considers the milestone coalition “a break in Germany’s party history.”
“If it’s successful, the Hamburg coalition will contribute to the de-ideologization of German politics, so that it’s no longer membership in a political camp but agreement on individual issues that will determine how governments are built,” wrote the paper on Friday.
 
“For the voters, that means that politics is becoming less predictable and more complicated.”

Many of us on the left, especially those of us who come from the working classes have always had our doubts about the Greens, not least because they have always refused to stand down for a left candidate who had a better chance of being elected. It seems once the Greens had a taste of political power that aphrodisiac replaced political principles and loyalty to a broad progressive coalition.
 

 

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Filed under E U, enviorment, Germany, green-party, International solidarity/democracy/oppression/neo-cons/, progressive-coalition

Real political grievances lay behind the students revolt of the 1960s, not just pop music and free love.


The article below by Louisa Schaefer was first published on the DW-WORLD.DE web site, whilst it does not give a detailed analysis of the 1960s students revolt in Germany, it does give a taster and unlike the mainstream media that have covered the 1960s, it points out real political grievances lay behind the outburst of militant protest by German youth.

Mick Hall

’68 Movement Brought Lasting Changes to German Society by Louisa Schaefer.

Forty years after the assassination attempt on the leader of the 1968 student movement, Rudi Dutschke, Germany is looking back on a time when young people demanded societal change — and went on the streets to get it.
Rebellion rolled through the streets of Germany in 1968 as students and other protestors set out to turn German society upside down through a strategy of “continual revolt.” They were enraged that former Nazis held powerful positions in society, incensed over legal reforms they deemed undemocratic and angry they didn’t have more of a say in running their universities.

“It was a revolutionary period that aimed to create a better world,” Wolfgang Bittner, a former lawyer and now writer in Cologne, told DW-WORLD.DE. The 66-year-old said he was “politicized” during that time as a university student.
“We students felt the leaden weight of antiquated, bourgeois German society — the complacency of it,” he said.

One of the spearheads of the student movement that formed as a reaction to that sentiment was Rudi Dutschke — an eloquent and charismatic leader and head of the Socialist Students Union. To thousands, Dutschke became a beacon for change.

He was shot in West Berlin on April 11, 1968, by Josef Bachmann, a laborer and sometimes burglar with alleged right-wing sympathies. Dutschke barely survived the bullets to his brain, and suffered health problems for the rest of his life, eventually dying as a result of his injuries 11 years later.

Students at the time blamed conservative media for stoking hatred against Dutschke. They resented the Bild tabloid’s smear campaign against Dutschke and the 68ers, as those of the movement were called, believing it played a role in convincing Bachmann to attempt murder.

Günter Wallraff, 65, a journalist and filmmaker known nationwide for his crusades against corporate injustice, said the 1968 movement brought about changes that many people now take for granted.

“The double standards for men and women in society were exposed then, greater rights and freedom for women and children were created, more power to students for democratic representation, sexual liberalization — the 1968 generation prompted all of that,” he said.

“New life was breathed into society at the time,” he said, pointing to dramatic shifts in literature, music and design as well.

But many students wanted more and had set their sights beyond Germany’s borders. Besides being anti-authoritarian, they were also largely anti-American. They opposed the US war in Vietnam and chanted the name of Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh as they battled baton-wielding police during protests on Berlin streets.

The year 1968 saw university campuses in several countries transformed into battlegrounds for social change. In Paris, students were joined by labor unions; people in Poland and Czechoslovakia demonstrated against repressive governments.

Germans, however, had their own particular demons to battle. The students, and other left-wing protestors, opposed an older generation that accepted Kurt Georg Kiesinger, a former member of the Nazi Party, as chancellor. They rejected the notion of a state led by President Heinrich Luebke, who held the office from 1959 to 1969. He had worked with architect Albert Speer during the Nazi regime and was suspected of having designed concentration camps during World War II.

“A generation of criminals was ruling society after the war and no one talked about what they had done. Discussing their crimes was not even a part of our school lessons,” said Wallraff.

Bittner agreed: “We saw that something dramatic had to happen.”

The student uprisings at the universities had begun even before the assassination attempt on Dutschke.
Nine months earlier, in June 1967, student Benno Ohnesorg was shot in the back of the head and killed by a plainclothes policeman during demonstrations in Berlin protesting a visit by the Shah of Iran.
That shooting outraged tens of thousands of students and hardened opposition against the grand coalition government of conservative Christian Democrat-led parties and center-left Social Democrats.

The protestors were deeply disappointed by what they saw as the Social Democrats’ betrayal of socialism. They also rejected the state of emergency law reforms of 1968, which granted the cabinet the power to get laws passed, despite rejection by parliament, during a national crisis — a move the students considered non-democratic.

The larger German society did not see the student rebels — including Dutschke — and other protestors as romantic revolutionaries fighting for the greater good. They were first considered a nuisance by many and, later, a danger.
During the 1950s, Germany had experienced the Wirtschaftswunder, an economic boom that allowed it to bounce back from World War II. Many Germans were happy to simply have a job, a car and enough money for a European vacation.

The tense atmosphere and violence that erupted following the assassination of Ohnesorg and the attempted one on Dutschke also gave rise to the political terrorism of the Red Army Fraction (RAF) in the late 1960s and early ’70s, which prompted panic and distrust throughout Germany. Though most members of the 1968 movement rejected terrorism, the distinction between the splinter group RAF and the original 68ers was unclear to many.

The 1968 movement prompted shifts in many parts of society, and 40 years later, Wallraff said a new movement could be on the horizon.
“All the signs are there,” said Wallraff. “So many societal standards are being done away with, workers have to hide the fact they are in unions … changes will have to happen — just look at the growth of right-extremism in eastern Germany.”

The growing gap between rich and poor in Germany, soaring inflation rates and decreasing health and pension benefits may likewise be contributing to a general feeling that the average citizen has been left behind despite strong economic growth.
The emergence of the new Left party and its growing popularity is yet another indication that the country may be poised on the brink of change.

“A new social movement in Germany — one that has learned from the mistakes of the past and is non-dogmatic and non-partisan — is long overdue,” Wallraff said.*

* Photo’s above.
1/ Ms Meinhof after her arrest in June 1972.
2/ Rudi Dutschke’s legend lives on. Dutschke has a street named after him which adjoins a street named after the right wing capitalist Axel Springer.

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Filed under 1060's, democratic freedoms, Germany, Organized Rage, rudi Dutschke, students-revolt

A warning from history: In conclusion.


Below is an email I received about my article A warning from history: Poll: the Nazi NPD overtake the SPD in Saxony. I have decided to publish it in full as I feel it adds considerably to my original piece as it sets both the SPD and the Nazi NPD in context within Saxony. The writer asked me not to mention his name, although I will say he is an expert on the political situation in Germany, past and present.

MH

“The SPD has probably more members in Saxony than the NPD, but nearly no activists, who are doing grassroots work, the SPD in Saxony (like in Thuringia) is partly the party of some former GDR-dissidents (many of them protestant ministers, musicians, writers, etc.), partly dominated by state and trade union bureaucrats imported from the west after 1990 (among them a certain number of “Lambertists”, doing entrism inside the SPD) …

What was left of old “Red Saxony” (which was already in decline in the 1920ies) is represented by “Die Linke”, who have together with Berlin their strongest regional federation in Saxony …

The NPD was quite successfull, mainly in economically marginalized rural and smalltown areas in the south and east of Saxony, far less in cities like Leipzig, Dresden, Chemnitz and Zwickau.

On the fringes of Saxony, they were highly successful in recruting not only from fascist skinhead gangs but also inside the local petty bourgeoisie, often through a single or a few influential members in crucial positions (like chairman of the local sporting association, only driving instructor in town, owner of the local bakery shop, landlord of a pub, social worker in a youth club), building networks in civil society for being able to create something like “cultural hegemony” on a local level …

The main leaders (and also the main finalcial sources) of the NPD are from the west of Germany … in comparison to the BNP, the NPD is less inclined to show some respectability and does not try to hide, that they are no “humble patriots” but people, who are at least higly influenced by nazism.”

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Filed under Germany, Nazi, NPD, Organized Rage, Saxony, SPD

A warning from history: Poll: the Nazi NPD overtake the SPD in Saxony


According to the Deutsche Welle web site* a survey conducted by the Forsa Institute found Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) is less popular than the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) in the eastern State of Saxony.**
If true this must be an important wake up call for the SPD as it will reverberate across the whole of Germany, for this is the first time ever in an opinion poll the Nazi NPD has overtaken the SPD in an opinion poll.

The popularity of the Christian Democratic Union, (CDU) the governing party in the State of Saxony dropped to 39 percent in the poll whilst the Social Democrat SPD face a nightmare scenario where they are now below their previous lowest level, dropping from 9.8 percent to just 8 percent. 


In the State elections in 2004, the SPD recorded its worst ever result, but even then it was marginally more than the rightist NPD’s 9.2 percent. While the far-right party has also dropped points in the current poll, the fact is that the SPD is now seen as being less popular than a right-wing extremist Nazi party in the State of Saxony. 

As I have aforementioned the SPD was hardly a force to begin with in Saxony, coming in well behind the CDU and the Left Party, the new kid on the block who gained 27 percent at the last general election, but the SPD was ahead of the free-market liberal FDP (7 percent) and the Greens (5 percent). However the impact of being beaten further down, and by the far right NPD, even if it is only in a poll, will not only have implications in the State of Saxony, but throughout Germany.


Werner Patzelt, a political scientist from Dresden, the Saxony state Capital, told the daily newspaper Der Spiegel that “the figures were dramatic and that he thought that the question of social justice, the most important issue for many in the region, had driven the low SPD vote in the poll”. “The feeling among the population is that the big parties do not act on its behalf in the State Assembly in Dresden and in the Federal government in Berlin,” he said.***
Saxony. SPD leader in Saxony Thomas Jurk said the poll was “harrowing; and It was now up to the SPD to reverse the party’s failing fortunes as quickly as possible.”

Since reunification, the SPD in the east of the country has never been able to gain the mass support of the German working classes like it does in Western Germany. The party is clearly paying the price for entering with the CDU in an unpopular National coalition, which has attempted to steal the social benefits that the German working classes have built up over the decades that followed WW2.

The SPD leadership in Berlin is beginning to wake up to the fact that simply telling the capitalist class to enrich themselves whilst covertly stealing the past gains of the working classes, is hardly good politics especially if your core support base is that very working class whose pockets you have been riffling whilst in government. The more so when there is a socialist party to the left of the SPD like the Left Party, which is hovering up working class support and been at the fore of the struggle against any reemergence of German fascism.


*http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,266,00.html
**http://www.forsa.com/
** * http://www.spiegel.de/international/

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Filed under EU, fascism, Germany, Left Party, Nazi, NPD, Organized Rage, socialism, SPD