Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nazi Culture in Germany: 2014

You could wander around Germany for an entire year, and probably not ever walk into a pub with a couple of Nazi guys, or stand on some street corner observing a Nazi march through some city.  This brings me around to an American perception of Nazi culture in modern Germany (2014).

Basically.....the number kinda stands on it's own.  In terms of true membership and week-to-week participation....it's somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 members in the group.  That's it.  Maybe on a surge weekend, on a four-star public outing, with wannabe pretenders attending as well.....there might be another twenty thousand folks.  So, it's not that many....out of eighty million.

The two states or city-states with the least Nazi action?  Saarland and Bremen.  There's nothing special about the two.  The Saarland is regarded as a working man's region, and Bremen is a fairly big city on the north coast with a fair amount of harbor activity.  Hessen is also in the rare-to-find situation.  In the ten months I've been around Wiesbaden....I've seen a grand total of five skinheads within the city.

The Nordrhein-Westfalen area is the magnet for participation and issues.  You can look up statistics and it's higher than any other German state.  Reason?  It's hard to say.  Maybe they just worked harder on membership or there's some historical story in the mix.

The National Democratic Party (NPD) is the political arm of the Nazi movement in Germany.  They lay claim to roughly 6,000 members (more or less).  If you looked up the basic features of the 1932 Nazi Party (at least as a national agenda).....it's generally reading like the NPD basic agenda of today.

So you put the political party and the general national group aside, and you just look at the German population in general.  You write down the five basic features that a Nazi would believe in: (1) share in profits of all major industries, (2) strong central power of the government instead of state or local control, (3) a rebuild or revolution in education with more access and potential for each student, (4) fixing the German legal system to handle corruption, over-profiting, and gross speculation....with severe fines and jail-time, and (5) solving debt-slavery (I know, it's a unique term but this goes back to 1855 and the Nazi fascination with a published book).

With those five agenda items....you can generally find roughly ten percent of the German population who have some appreciation of the Nazi goals (for 2014).  They may not be members or want to really be part of the rebuilding of the party.....but they agree with the platform issues.

There's an argument brewing currently over how many women are members within the movement.  The old answer used to be few....if any.  With the murder trial going currently.....some people now speculate that there might be a number of women who believe in the basic platform of the Nazi party.

The murder trial?  Oh, I might want to say a bit on it.  Beate Zschape is the accused....thirty-nine years old.  Somewhere around 1991 (she would have been close to fourteen years old).....she got involved in Jena right-wing activities.  By 1996, she'd moved up from just talking Nazi business....to being a willing participant in some several episodes of pipe-bomb building.

Around 2011....the cops finally came to some point where they've accused Beate and her small group of killing a number of foreigners in Germany.  It's mostly by accident that the cops stumbled onto a connection to various murders, and how they related to one central Nazi group.  Most of the group are dead (suicide).  Beate appears to be the only one left to try in court.  The court system.....has gone on a very long trail....with the case still in play.  About every three weeks....the state-run TV news folks will run a sixty-second update on their nightly broadcast.....I suspect mostly just to say it's still going on and remind the public of such matters.

One of the minor issues in this long process is that the court mandated that Beate undergo a mental exam.  She refuses.  One would suspect that the court worries about getting deep into a trial and coming to realize that she's not mentally fit.  The odds of the case closing in 2014?  As a 'guest' in Germany, I'd say it won't happen.  And it's entirely possible that by the end....the judges deem that she's not sane enough to realize what she got into.

Bottom line?  In a thousand years.....there will still be Nazis in Germany, and extreme right-wing activity.  I don't think the public can ever get away from that fact.  As for it being something to worry about?  No.....it's like looking in the US for environmental extremists....and realizing that they only count in the hundreds and rarely got real time on the national news.

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