Two weeks ago a mob of Nazis stormed the Reichstag in Berlin after one of the leaders announced that “Trump has landed in Berlin!”. That was the signal they had been waiting for; only the brave intervention of three police officers prevented them from gaining entrance to the building and trashing the seat of the nation’s parliamentary democracy. The scene brought up uncomfortable memories for Germans. After all, it was the burning of the Reichstag in 1933 that was used by Hitler as a pretext for abolishing the democratic constitution of the Weimar Republic and arresting or murdering leaders of the German Social Democrats (SPD) and the Communist Party (KPD).
The New York Times has an excellent piece on how Donald Trump is an inspiration to German Nazis and other right-wing extremist groups in Germany.
“Trump has become a savior figure, a sort of great redeemer for the German far right,” said Miro Dittrich, an expert on far-right extremism at the Berlin-based Amadeu-Antonio-Foundation.
Germany — a nation generally supportive of a government that has handled the pandemic better than most — may seem an unlikely place for Mr. Trump to gain such a status. Few Western nations have had a more contentious relationship with Mr. Trump than Germany, whose leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, a pastor’s daughter and scientist, is his opposite in terms of values and temperament. Opinion polls show that Mr. Trump is deeply unpopular among a broad majority of Germans.
But his message of disruption — his unvarnished nationalism and tolerance of white supremacists coupled with his skepticism of the pandemic’s dangers — is spilling well beyond American shores, extremism watchers say.
The Nazis’ embrace of Trump coincides with the growing popularity of the “QAnon Conspiracy” in Germany. It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 QAnon followers in Germany — second only to the United States. The most influential QAnon leader is the celebrity chef and rabid anti-Semite Attila Hildmann:
“Trump is someone who has been fighting the global ‘deep state’ for years,” Mr. Hildmann said in an interview this past week. “Trump has become a figure of light in this movement, especially for QAnon, precisely because he fights against these global forces.”
“That’s why the hope for the German national movement, or the liberation movement, lies basically with Q and Trump, because Trump is a figure of light because he shows that you can fight these global powers and that he is victorious,” Mr. Hildmann said.
“The Germans hope that Trump will liberate Germany from the Merkel corona regime,” he said, so that “the German Reich is reactivated.”
The Nazis and other extremist groups look to Trump — and to a lesser degree, Putin — because they share the values of the US and Russian presidents: contempt for democratic institutions, hatred of people of color and immigrants, hatred of the Free Press — called Lügenpresse or Fake News.
You may think that these German Trumpists are just a small fringe group that doesn’t merit much attention. But last month a national poll revealed that one third of Germans believe in conspiracy theories.