It was an interesting report that ARD (German public Channel One) produced this week. The topic is....why does so much right-wing behavior and xenophobic action occur in eastern sections of Germany?
This centers around a study that was sponsored by the Eastern Commissioners of the German Federal Government. Their conclusion in the final product was that statistics show a increase in violent acts by right-wing militants. The term "menacing social development" was uttered at some point in the report.
To make the investigation and report work....they centered the analysis and target areas to two cities: a suburban area of Dresden (Freital and Heidenau) and a suburb of Erfurt (Herrenberg).
Why only these two sections or areas? Basically, they cherry-picked the result areas so that it would confirm to their expectations. I won't call it a false or fake report, but they avoided vast sections of eastern Germany. For that matter, they avoided using hundreds of sections of Germany (north, south, east and west). In terms of avoiding biased results....they screwed up.
The areas of Freital and Heidennau? If you've ever been to Dresden....it's an odd city. In the 1700s and 1800s....you would have described as very successful farming region that had successful banks, capital growth within the city, a major university, and a thriving cultural scene. If you lived within a hundred miles of Dresden....it was the place where you wanted to socialize, spend money, and send your kids off to the university.
The Dresden of 1900 to 1940....was thriving city with research institutes, commerce development, and cultural exchanges. In the mid-1930s....they were nearing 650,000 residents. Without the war, they would easily reach 1.5 million residents today (my humble opinion).
As much as the cultural class of Dresden (that has developed since 1945) will state their claim to fame and proud leadership of the city itself.....this is a city that developed primarily because of agricultural belt around the 'beltway' of the city. The farming district, successful banks, and the business sector are what paid for the cultural developments that the intellectuals of Dresden chat about today. The intellectuals didn't pay for the statues, architecture, or the opera hall....it was built on the backs of the working class and less-than-intellectual crowd.
Freital is a neighborhood to the SW of town. For a long part of it's history....coal-mining (working-class Germans) were the primary business of the region (just 8 km SW of Dresden).
Heidennau? It's mostly south of Dresden....about 10-to-12 kilometers. For decades, this was a small town of industrialized operations. It's where you could get capital out of Dresden banks, find cheap labor, and performa a start-up operation. Added to the common worker theme....this is a town that was made up of Slavic groups who immigrated into the region back 1,300 years ago.
As for the third area used in this report? Herrenberg (outside of Erfurt)? It's a dead and dying community. Back during the Wall-period (around 1990), the city population stood at 15,000. Today? It's near 7,700 residents. A loss of fifty-percent of the population in a 27-year period? Yeah.
The committee here that wanted to paint the neighborhood of Erfurt as racist and xenophobic didn't really mention that one odd characteristic of the area. Three kilometers SE of Erfurt....you'd best describe the area as the end-of-the-line. I won't call it a ghetto area, but it's a low-income residential area where little of the billions pumped into East Germany since the DDR days have been put to use. The politicians, the intellectuals, and the social reform crowd never came to Herrenberg to stage an intervention or renovate the neighborhood. Now? They'd like to come and chat over right-wing behavior.
There are a number of amusing parts to this right-wing story. If you go into urbanized areas of Berlin, Koln, or Mannheim.....you will find a fair number of immigrants who are part of the communities, and the general location perception (the Germans) are more pro-immigrant than anti-immigrant. Oddly, you can get into a car and drive 50 kilometers away...into a more rural environment....find few if any immigrants....and find the general attitude being either neutral or anti-immigrant (I'm not referring to these east Germany regions but Germany as a whole).
Urbanized problems versus rural mentalities? Yes.
A lot of play occurred over the past day or two since the release of this right-wing report. Various news media types came out to hype up the report and target xenophobia once again. Different political folks (particular from the opposition parties) chatted over the sad nature of these Germans.
I've pointed out on numerous occasions that in the period 1800....if you'd pulled out a map of the Germanic region....you'd find 200 separate states, city-states, empires, kingdoms, etc. It is not one state or one group of people in 1800. It is a mixture of various cultures and societies. Unification, as much as you can call it....didn't really start to occur until 1870s. Today, it is still a collection of cultural groups and states. They may talk a unified structure and one Germanic society, but it's never reached some peak where everyone is of one society.
The other thing missing from this report? Oddly, left-wing fanatics. As far as this effort was concerned.....there are only right-wing extremists in Germany. One can be amused by this suggestion but it just makes the overall report more of a question-mark.