The photo above is of German politician Björn Höcke, a member of the state assembly in Thuringia and leader of the Alternative für Deutschland – AfD - (“Alternative for Germany) — a right-wing extremist party which now polls ahead of all three parties in Germany’s coalition government (Social Democrats, Green Party, Liberals). A German court determined that it is legally permissible to describe Herr Höcke as “Fascist”.
Recently, I received this disturbing message from Dirk Kurbjuweit , Chief Editor of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, which was sent out to all subscribers (my translation):
I have been observing and describing political events in Germany for decades. And I think what we are experiencing at the moment is perhaps the greatest threat to democracy in the history of the Federal Republic. And not because it comes abruptly, with dramatic steps. But because it happens slowly. The AfD, which is extremist at least in part, now has around 20 percent of the votes in polls. It stands for hatred, for contempt for those who think differently, for rejection of the EU, and it has anti-Semitic traits. Their foreign policy ideas are adventurous, their pandering to the warlord Vladimir Putin has a bad effect.[...}They no longer try to hide the extremist elements, as other populist parties in Europe do. A new group is now at the helm there, which aims to make the previously unspeakable sayable, to normalize extremism
For Höcke and his millions of followers, the Federal Republic of Germany is a “Dictatorship” — an illegitimate vassal-state of America, which must be overturned — either at the ballot box or by “other means”. Instead of a democracy Höcke envisions a Volksherrschaft — a people’s sovereignty open only to “Biodeutsche” = ethnically pure Germans, disenfranchising refugees, recent immigrants, and even second or third generation legal citizens with Turkish or other ethnic backgrounds. Virulent anti-Americanism, anti-European Union and anti-NATO sentiment is core to the AfD’s platform. Each week thousands of Germans in the eastern states — especially in Saxony — march through the streets shouting slogans against the government, many waving Russian flags.
In many respects, the AfD and its millions of followers are a mirror-image of MAGA Republicans in the US, except given Germany’s past even more disturbing.