Analysis |

Preaching Nazi Pride and Justifying a Mass Murderer, These Far-rightists Will Change the Face of Germany's Parliament

The German AfD party came in third place in Sunday's parliamentary election. Here are some of the controversial remarks by those elected

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Alice Weidel (L) and Alexander Gauland of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AFD) at a news conference in Berlin, Germany August 21, 2017
Alice Weidel (L) and Alexander Gauland of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AFD) at a news conference in Berlin, Germany August 21, 2017Credit: Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS
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The far-right Alternative for Germany party, which became the third largest party in the Bundestag after Sunday’s election, will introduce a new language into the German parliament. It is expected to be ultra-nationalist, belligerent, crass and polarizing. It may be racist, too, preaching hatred, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

While far-leftists in the Left Party have sat in Berlin for years, the Alternative for Germany, founded only in 2013, is by far the outfit making the most controversial statements.

Polls forecasted the Alternative for Germany, the AfD, winning 10 percent of the vote, which translated in the election to 13.2 percent of seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. The party’s slate included shady characters whose remarks on several issues have won them their 15 minutes of fame.

Wilhelm von Gottberg. Called on Germans to stop feeling guilty for the acts of the Nazis.Credit: Joó Ádám - Eigenes Werk

One of them, Wilhelm von Gottberg, 77, called on Germans to stop feeling guilty for and thus apologizing for the acts of the Nazis more than seven decades ago. Gottberg’s age would make him the oldest member of the Bundestag, earning him the honor of delivering the first speech at the opening of parliament. But the legislature preempted this scenario by changing the rules to recognize the longest-serving member, not the oldest.

Alexander Gauland, a founder and co-leader of the party, has said Germans have “the right to be proud of the German soldiers in two world wars.” Last year he said that “not everyone who holds a German passport is German,” and that Germany’s commissioner for refugees, Aydan Ozoguz, who is of Turkish origin, should be “disposed of” in Anatolia. Another co-leader, Alice Weidel, called Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government “enemies of the constitution” as well as “pigs and puppets of World War II’s victorious powers.”

Martin Hohmann, another AfD candidate expected to get into parliament, is a former legislator for Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Over a decade ago he said it was unfair that Germans were still being portrayed as a nation of murderers because of the Nazis’ crimes, while no one was talking about how “Jews were active in great numbers” in the killings during the Russian Revolution.

Another dubious figure expected to make it into the Bundestag is Jens Maier, a 55-year-old judge. He came to the defense of right-wing extremist Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011. Maier said Breivik’s desperation over Norwegian immigration policy turned him into a mass murderer.

Detlev Spangenberg, who founded a movement known as the Confederation for Freedom and Democracy, is also likely to reach parliament. On its website, his movement called for a return to Germany’s 1937 borders. He is expected to be joined by Markus Frohnmaier, who has said that after the election, “politics will be for the people and only the people.” Frohnmaier has used the German word Volk, a taboo term in Germany since the Nazi period.

Martin Hohmann.Credit: AP

Meanwhile, their comrade, Thomas Seitz, has called the refugees “invaders” and Merkel’s policy “the beginning of the destruction of the German nation.” Another AfD candidate, Gottfried Curio, has said that “Germany was a country until recently. Now it’s just a territory.”

And Martin Reichardt, who has been mentioned as a possible ministerial candidate, has said that “we will restore our country to ourselves.” If the party indeed becomes the third largest in the Bundestag, AfD members will receive additional time for their speeches. They’ll get the chance to massively spread their racist ideology.

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