Media coverage of racist riots in the east German city of Chemnitz earlier this year showed just the tip of the iceberg: what lurks beneath the surface remains hidden. I’m a university student and an antifascism activist living in Saxony, not far from Chemnitz. For a long time I underestimated the extent of rightwing extremism in Germany. Before I moved to this area a few years ago I didn’t know Saxony, and took antifascism for granted. I’d never come across “real” Nazis or violent racists. I grew up in Berlin, I’m the child of a metropolis where it is normal not to be white or have a German name. My French grandfather fought for the Allied air force – that’s how my father came to Germany. My mother, a German, was born in West Berlin, that western enclave in the middle of the German Democratic Republic, a refuge for “alternative” people, punks and conscientious objectors. For a long time I told myself that the east-west divide … [Read more...] about I live among the neo-Nazis in eastern Germany. And it’s terrifying
Why is eastern europe population declining
So Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – AKK, as her fans call her – is the new leader of the CDU. After her narrow victory over her rival Friedrich Merz, the tabloid Bild ran the headline: “Kramp-Karren-Power!” However, the woman who demonstrated her enduring power at the CDU party congress on Friday was not AKK, but Angela Merkel. AKK was Merkel’s choice. For the first time in postwar German history, a national leader has managed her own succession. Konrad Adenauer and Willy Brandt were forced out by cabals. The interim figures Ludwig Erhard and Kurt Georg Kiesinger never had a chance to make their mark. Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schröder went down to defeat in elections before being disgraced – Kohl by a party-financing scandal, Schröder by taking a job with Gazprom. Merkel declared that she would not seek another term when her chancellorship expires in 2021, and then took a gamble by stepping down as party leader and indicating that … [Read more...] about Could Angela Merkel’s successor be Europe’s saviour?
Last month Germany’s version of the Sun, Bild, ran a sensationalist attack on the outgoing president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi. Depicting the central banker as “Count Draghila”, replete with vampirish teeth and velvet collar, the article portrayed the ECB boss as a fiend sucking the bank accounts of German savers dry of billions of euros with low interest rates. A day later the tabloid interviewed the head of the German central bank to ram the message home under the headline “Is our money in danger?”. There is an undoubted perception across Europe’s largest economy that the ECB was penalising savers through easy money policies that have given populists a stick to beat mainstream politicians with. However, the release of the latest economic data shows that Mr Draghi was right and German sentiment was wrong. It is increasingly clear the risk of recession in Europe is rising. Growth is sputtering while inflation is falling. The eurozone … [Read more...] about The Guardian view on eurozone populism: fight it with fiscal firepower
If Germany is the heart of Europe, then it is currently the slow-beating heart of a well-fed businessman resting on his office couch after an ample lunch. For Europe’s sake, and for Germany’s own, that heart needs to beat a little faster. It’s not that German elites don’t intellectually recognise the problems gathering all around them. Berlin, which is beginning to rival London as a thinktank hub, is pullulating with clever people who can tell you exactly why, faced with the challenges of Brexit, populism, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, climate change and AI – to name but a few – Europe needs more strategic autonomy, digital innovation and sustainable growth. What is missing is a sense of urgency and the ability to translate these abstract goals into dynamic policies that German voters will actually support. For now, Germany is effectively willing the ends but not the means. Why this stasis? Because Germany has been doing quite nicely, thank you. It … [Read more...] about Angela Merkel must go – for Germany’s sake, and for Europe’s
Antisemitism is rising sharply across Europe, experts have said, as France reported a 74% increase in the number of offences against Jews last year and Germany said the number of violent antisemitic attacks had surged by more than 60%. The figures confirm the results of three recent Europe-wide surveys showing Jewish people feel at greater risk, and are experiencing markedly more aggression, amid a generalised increase in racist hate speech and violence in a significantly coarser, more polarised political environment. France’s interior ministry said this week that recorded incidents of antisemitism rose to 541 last year from 311 in 2017, while the German government said offences motivated by hatred of Jews hit a 10-year high of 1,646 in 2018. Physical attacks rose from 37 to 62, leaving 43 people needing medical treatment. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, denounced the trend as “unacceptable”, telling ministers that antisemitism in France was “a … [Read more...] about Antisemitism rising sharply across Europe, latest figures show