The specter haunting Europe


Chills and fear. Nothing less. Not only for Greece, but for the entire world. Or at least for those people and politicians whose memory is still intact and who still feel horror at the idea of Nazism.

The same people are now appalled at the thought that the racist folk of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the bigots, the migrant-hunters – in short the 21st century Nazis – have entered the Bundestag, the German parliament, after winning 12.6 percent of the vote in Sunday’s general election.

The archaically populist AfD played (in Trump style) the game of provocation, of verbal violence and fake news. The far-right dominated newsfeeds and timelines on Germany’s social media. The AfD’s election performance – despite tensions at the top and several scandals, and the fact that its party platform was basically reduced to five primitive slogans – only surprised those European politicians who continue to believe that the continent remains a model for democracy and humanism. Among them, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who proved to be as farsighted in politics as he is with finances: His certainty that the AfD had no chance of winning echoed his conviction that severe austerity would renew Europe.

We have not yet reached the point of actually experiencing the Nazi slogan (also popular among their Greek counterparts) that “We will return and then the earth will tremble.” However, we cannot afford to drop our guard, especially now that German nationalists will seek to impose, as natural, their leadership on the rest of Europe’s far-right groups. The top echelons of the AfD and its large mass of supporters include Wehrmacht admirers who casually celebrate its achievements. The party’s ranks also include younger supporters who not only refuse to feel any historical guilt or sense of responsibility (which also explains their scorn at Greek and Polish demands for Second World War reparations) for the country’s Nazi past, but who also take pride in what the German soldiers achieved during the war. The AfD folk no longer need the historical revisionism of Holocaust denial. They admit that Hitler’s genocide of 6 million Jews took place, but they do not consider it to be a proper chapter of the war. If these people like to treat Auschwitz as a detail, one does not want to imagine what they think of the Distomo killings.

The election was a triumph for the “Germany First” AfD and their triumph was the result of many factors, one being the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel and Schaeuble’s European policy was based on a similar Germany-first dogma.