The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) in Germany is yet again under the glare of the authorities. The central European nation, with a history of Nazi crimes perpetrated by Adolf Hitler, has been lately grappling with the issue of stanching the influence of the far-right, which seems to be striving to keep its egregious ideology alive in myriad ways. The sixteen German states yesterday launched a campaign to ban the National Democratic Party, which is largely seen to be anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic. The renewed attempt by Germany to obliterate the influence of the far-right in a society that is multi-ethnic comes close on the heels of Chancellor Angela Merkel settling down in her new term after having signed a deal with the Social Democrats (SPD) to forge a coalition alliance.
The killing spree over many years by a neo-Nazi cell, which included a woman, revived the demand for a crackdown on the far-right that propagates an abhorrently racist ideology.
In an attempt to persuade the court to ban the party, the states are trying to underscore the hatred being propagated by the NPD in a flier: “You are either a German from birth or not a German. An African or Asian ... can never become a German because giving them a piece of paper will not change their biological genetic makeup. People from other races will remain foreign bodies no matter how long they live in Germany.” The contents of the pamphlet have been sent to the German constitutional court.
Going by experience, the states have to tread carefully in pushing the ban. An attempt by the federal government to ban the party failed in 2003. Germany’s past, in which Nazis and the Communists muzzled dissenting voices makes it hard for the present dispensation to push the ban. The story behind the racist murders that came to light in 2011 point to deeply divisive forces operating in German society. It is hard to discount the influence of the far-right in many European nations, especially after the debt crisis hit previously robust economies. Foundering economic growth and dwindling employment figures have made it hard for citizens to find jobs, handing the far-right a tool to grab anti-immigrant sentiments. The far-right, seen as a political grouping, may be hard to deal with. In liberal western democracies, they might just survive as dissenting voices amid other political parties.
The bid to squash the far-right party has a symbolism attached to it. Monday was World Kindertransport Day, the 75th anniversary of a mission that helped save 10,000 Jewish children from the Nazis. As part of a plan to rescue Jewish children in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, the Kindertransports sent them to Britain where they were welcomed with open arms. The German states would eagerly look forward to the NPD being banned. If they succeed, the symbolism of the event would not be lost on Germany•