Any writing by Jürgen Habermas is noteworthy, but his lengthy op/ed piece in the New York TImes (Leadership and Leitkultur) is quite remarkable. Here Habermas takes stock of Germany's autumn of discontent and finds some cause to worry.
Habermas first turns his attention to the Sarrazin phenomenon and the primitive Bell Curvetheories that were long ago discredited in the United States:
In sharp contrast to the initial spontaneous objections from major politicians, these theses have gained popular support. One poll found that more than a third of Germans agreed with Mr. Sarrazin’s prognosis that Germany was becoming “naturally more stupid on average” as a result of immigration from Muslim countries.
After half-hearted responses in the press by a handful of psychologists who left the impression that there might be something to these claims after all, there was a certain shift in mood in the news media and among politicians toward Mr. Sarrazin. It took several weeks for Armin Nassehi, a respected sociologist, to take the pseudoscientific interpretation of the relevant statistics apart in a newspaper article. He demonstrated that Mr. Sarrazin adopted the kind of “naturalizing” interpretation of measured differences in intelligence that had already been scientifically discredited in the United States decades ago.
After the speech the president received a standing ovation in the Bundestag from the assembled political notables. But the next day the conservative press homed in on his assertion about Islam’s place in Germany. The issue has since prompted a split within his own party, the Christian Democratic Union. It is true that, although the social integration of Turkish guest workers and their descendants has generally been a success in Germany, in some economically depressed areas there continue to be problematic immigrant neighborhoods that seal themselves off from mainstream society. But these problems have been acknowledged and addressed by the German government. The real cause for concern is that, as the Sarrazin and Wulff incidents show, cool-headed politicians are discovering that they can divert the social anxieties of their voters into ethnic aggression against still weaker social groups.
Habermas is concerned by the populist yearning for a charismatic leader. He sees the current adulation of defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as symptomatic of this yearning:
The same yearning for charismatic figures who stand above the political infighting can be seen in the puzzling popularity of the aristocratic defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who, with not much more than his family background, polished manners and a judicious wardrobe, has managed to overshadow Ms. Merkel’s reputation.
Finally, the philosopher turns his attention to the Stuttgart 21 street protests, but it is not clear whether he views these as yet another danger or as an opportunity for more participative democracy:
The state government of Baden-Württemberg, where Stuttgart is located, sees the protests narrowly, as simply a question of whether government is legally permitted to plan such long-term megaprojects. In the midst of the turmoil the president of the Federal Constitutional Court rushed to the project’s defense by arguing that the public had already voted to approve it 15 years ago, and thus had no more say in its execution.
But it has since emerged that the authorities did not, in fact, provide sufficient information at the time, and thus citizens did not have an opportunity to develop an informed opinion on which they could have based their votes. To insist that they should have no further say in the development is to rely on a formalistic understanding of democracy. The question is this: Does participation in democratic procedures have only the functional meaning of silencing a defeated minority, or does it have the deliberative meaning of including the arguments of citizens in the democratic process of opinion- and will-formation?
After such clear and penetrating analysis of the current situation in Germany, Habermas ends his piece with a rather disappointing call for a more robust, less "defeatist" political class. Habermas the rationalist doesn't seem to have a strategy for harnessing the populist unrest for positive political change.
Business is booming at the Meschede-based automotive supplier Honsel AG. Honsel develops and manufactures aluminium and magnesium products using casting, extruding and rolling processes for engine, transmission, suspension and car body of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. According to its Web site the company has a global workforce of 3,800 and annual sales of 540 million euros (760 million dollars). Yet this week Honsel filed for insolvency in the nearby town of Arnsberg. How could it be that campany operating all out with five shifts just to keep up with orders would become bankrupt. It turns out that Hormel had the misfortune to be acquired by a "Locust" (Heuschrecke) - also known as a Hedge Fund - in this case the US group Ripplewood Holdings.
Auch in Zeiten des Aufschwungs produziert die Wirtschaft Verlierer. In diesem Fall hat es den Automobilzulieferer Honsel erwischt, der nun Insolvenz anmelden musste. Und das, obwohl das Unternehmen Tag und Nacht arbeitet, um alle Aufträge abzuarbeiten. Dennoch blieb dem zuständigen Amtsgericht in Arnsberg nichts anderes übrig, als den Konkurs zu bestätigen. Nach Lage der Dinge geht die Pleite erneut auf das Konto einer Heuschrecke.
(Even in the midst of a recovery there are economic losers. In this case it caught up with the automotive supplier Honsel, which had to file for bankrupcty protection. This, even though the firm has been working day and night fulfilling orders. Still, the court in Arnsburg had no choice but to declare the company insolvent. It appears that we have a another case where a locust is responsible for a business failure.)
Ripplewood followed the typical American PE business model of taking a healthy, cash-generating business, loading it with unsustainable levels of debt, and paying themselves lavish dividends and "management fees":
Der IG-Metall-Bevollmächtigte Wolfgang Werth aus Arnsberg zeigte sich von der Insolvenz wenig überrascht. "Der Haupteigner hat die Belegschaft immer im Regen stehen gelassen und kein wirtschaftliches Konzept gehabt, sondern immer nur auf das Geld von Kunden und Beschäftigten geschielt", sagte er. Die Geschäfte bei Honsel laufen nach Auskunft von Werth gut. Es werde im Fünf-Schicht-Betrieb gearbeitet. "Die Insolvenz bietet die Chance, Heuschrecken und Finanzinvestoren loszuwerden und wieder einen strategischen Investor zu finden."
(Wolfgang Werth, representing the IG-Metall union, was not at all surprised by the insolvency. "The principla owner left the workers standing out in the rain and never developed a clear economic strategy, but rather always had his eyes on the cash of the customers and the workforce," he said. But Werth says the business is going well, operating 5 shifts. "The bankruptcy gives us the opportunity of getting rid of the locust and financial investors and find instead a strategic investor.")
I must admit I had never heard of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff until she was invited by Pamela Geller - the doyenne of the American Islamaphobes - to speak at a conference last spring in Washington DC. Now Sabaditsch-Wolff has been charged in Austria with incitement (Volksverhetzung) and the right-wing blogosphere in Europe is up in arms. The bloggers are begging for support from their American blogger friends:
A Call to Mobilize the American Blogosphere in Support of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
We, the undersigned... have written this post jointly as a public call for our American colleagues to take up the cause of the Austrian feminist and anti-jihad activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
Geert Wilders is well-known to most American conservative and libertarian bloggers, but Elisabeth’s case is not so prominent. Like Mr. Wilders, she faces trial for reporting factual information about Islam. Her “crime” was to conduct public seminars in which she described Islamic doctrine, quoted from the Koran, and explained to her listeners what she considers the dangers of Islam.
Like Mr. Wilders, Elisabeth has been charged with “hate speech” for her words. Unlike Mr. Wilders, however, Elisabeth is a private citizen, a wife, and the mother of a small child. She lacks the major resources necessary to defend herself against the well-funded organs of the state which seek to persecute her.
Elisabeth’s Voice calls on the American blogosphere to support Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in her fight for the right to speak freely.
One of the "undersigned blogs" is the German hate blog Politically Incorrect. The American bloggers they are appealing too include Geller's blog Atlas Shrugs and Michelle Malkin, whose blog receives over 1 million hits a month - numbers that Politically Correct can only dream of. Ms. Malkin is known for celebrating the shameful internmant of 200,000 Japanese-Americans during the Second World War and calling for the establishment of detention camps for American Muslims. If Michelle Malkin answers the call from PI and the other European hatebloggers, we will see the formation of a trans-atlantic Axis of Hate.
I am certainly against the Austrian incitement laws since they tend to make martyrs of Holocaust-deniers like David Irving and hateful fanatics like Sabaditsch-Wolff. But since the laws are currently on the books it is worthwhile revisiting the specific charges against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. Some reporters attended a "seminar" offered by the Austrian fascist party (FPÖ) where Sabaditsch-Wolff instructed the attendees on the "nature of Islam":
• „Die Moslems lügen uns allen tagtäglich ins Gesicht. Es steht im Koran, dass sie das tun müssen.“ • „Mohammed hatte gerne etwas mit Kindern. Und alle Moslems sollen so leben wie Mohammed. Wenn Kardinäle Kinder vergewaltigen, tun sie das trotz der Religion – Muslime vergewaltigen Kinder wegen der Religion.“ • „Im Koran steht, dass alle, die den Islam ablehnen, getötet werden müssen. Deshalb töten Muslime.“ • „Die Muslime führen einen heimlichen Dschihad. Über Einwanderung und Geburtenrate wollen sie den Islam in Europa verbreiten.“
("Muslims lie to our faces each day. The Koran instructs them to do so. Muslims love to abuse children, just like Mohammed. Whe cardinals abuse children they do so in violation of their religion, while Muslims rape children because their religion dictates this. The Koran says that anyone who rejects Islam must be killed. That's why Muslims kill. Muslims are conducting a secret Jihad. Through immigration and high birth rates they will spread Islam throughout Europe.")
Clearly the intent of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was to incite hate against a minority group in Austria. While this activity is illegal in Austria, it is protected in the US under the Freedom of Speech principle. And she will be embraced as a kindred spirit here by Malkin, Geller and the many other hatebloggers in the US.
Recently I wrote about the dream of Udo Ulfkotte, Thilo Sarrazin, Horst Seehofer and others of an "ethnically unified" (i.e. aryan) Germany. It is only a matter of time before talented "foreigners" get sick of the eternal "integration debate' or the primacy of the "Deutsche Leitkultur" (primary culture) and start voting with their feet. Who wants to hear over and over that they don't do enought to "fit in" to rigid social norms? Or when even the chancellor says on national television that "multiculturalism is dead" in Germany? WHy should they have to listen to a best-selling author tell the world that they have low IQs, that they are not suited for knowledge-driven economy?
Auch Karatas und Ahmet sahen sich in Deutschland, dem Land in dem sie aufwuchsen, immer wieder mit Ablehnung konfrontiert. "Ich habe erlebt, dass meine Familie eine Wohnung nicht mieten durfte, weil wir Türken waren. In der Schule musste ich mich immer dafür rechtfertigen, überhaupt das Abitur zu wollen", sagt Ahmet.
"Obwohl ich als Akademikerin sicher mehr über deutsche Geschichte und Kultur weiß als viele Deutsche, hält sich der Penner auf der Straße, der kaum drei zusammenhängende Sätze formulieren kann, für etwas Besseres - für mich ist das ein Indikator für das allgemeine fremdenfeindliche Klima", sagt Karatas. In der Türkei wird um ihre Herkunft weniger Aufheben gemacht. "
(Karatas and Ahmet were constantly confronted with rejection in Germany, the country they grew up in. "I saw how my family couldn't rent an apartment because we were Turkish. In school I always had to justify why I wanted to pursue the Abitur," Ahmet says.
"Even though I have a university degree and know more about German history and culture than most Germans, any bum on the street that can't put together three sentences thinks he is better - for me that is an indication of a climate hostility towards foreigners," says Karatas, In Turkey no one makes a big deal about her background.
Being smart, fluent in German, and ambitious is not enough, evidently. These young people would apparently have to take on "ethnic German" names, dye their hair, renounce their religion, and obiliterate every evidence of their heritage if they want to "integrate" according to the requirements of politicians like Horst Seehofer:
Während die Wirtschaft sich also noch um die Zuwanderung von Fachkräften sorgt, CSU-Chef Seehofer keine Arbeitskräfte mit fremdem kulturellen Hintergrund mehr will und die Koalition über ein Punktesystem für Einwanderer nachdenkt, entwickelt sich Deutschland still und heimlich zum Auswanderungsland. Nach Angaben des Statistischen Bundesamts lag die Zahl der Türken, die Deutschland verließen, im Jahr 2008 bei etwas mehr als 34.800, nach Deutschland zogen im gleichen Jahr nur 26.600.
(While business is trying to generate an influx of qualified workers, CSU leader Seehofer doesn't want any moe workers with foreign cultural backgrounds and the coalition is considering a "point system" for immigrants. Germany is becoming a country of emigration. According the Office of Federal Statistics, the number of Turks who left Germany in 2008 was over 34,800, while only 26,600 came to Germany that year. )
Angela Merkel is correct: multiculturalism is dead. And the country is worse off because of it.
The city council of Regensburg has a message for the jounalist Dr. Udo Ulfkotte: Your'e not welcome here.
Here is the background as reported by Regensburg-Digital.de: an unnamed citizen ("ein Bundeswehrarzt a.D") handed out copies of the völkisch-nationale weekly Junge Freiheit highlighting a piece by Udo Ulfkotte which made his typicial racist and hateful attacks on Muslims and Turks living in Germany. One respected member of the city council was outraged that this right-wing trash was being pushed at a city-sponsored event and wrote a note to Regensburg's mayor:
„Bei dem Zeitungsartikel handelt es sich um ein zweifellos rechtsextremes Produkt, das sich fast ausschließlich gegen Muslime und Türken richtet“, schreibt Dünninger in einem Brief an Oberbürgermeister Hans Schaidinger. „Dieser Artikel enthält alle Vorurteile und Klischees, mit denen gerade gegenwärtig hasserfüllte Emotionen geweckt werden sollen.“
("The newspaper article is a right-wing extremist piece that is clearly directed against Muslims and Turks" Herr Duenninger writes in a letter to Mayor Hans Schaidinger. "This article contains prejudices and clichees which are meant to spur hate-filled emotions.")
Speaking of Dr. Ulfkotte, the city councilman noted:
„Für Hassprediger ist kein Platz an diesem Ort und in anderen städtischen Räumen.“
("We have no place for hate-mongers in our city facilities or anywhere here.")
The reporter for Regensburg-Digital.de notes that Ulfkotte's piece on Muslims conforms in tone an content to similar article that regularly appear in neo-Nazi publications (Ulfkottes Ausführungen unterscheiden sich nur unwesentlich von einem Artikel, der ebenfalls im Oktober im NPD-Blatt „Deutsche Stimme“ erschienen ist.)
Meanwhile Ulfkotte has taken his hate campaign to the town of Betzdorf, where a teacher at the elementary school mistakenly served pork instead of chicken to some Muslim pupils. It was a minor misunderstanding and nobody got too upset, but Dr. Udo Ulfkotte made a hysterical media event out of this inconsequential mishap. RTL and Bildzeitung picked up the "story" and the teacher is now on disability because of the unwanted publicity. A local reporter noted this about Dr. Ulfkotte:
"Ulfkotte... wird von den Rechten als heimlicher Retter des Abendlandes abgefeiert. Dieser Mann spielt mit diffussen Ängsten der Menschen und treibt ein äußerst miserables Spiel."
(Ulfkotte is celebrated by right-wing circles as the saviour of Western civilization. This man plays with people's diffuse fears and is engaging in a sick game.")
A complete report on Ulfkotte's sorry role in the the Betzdorf "affair" can be found at TAZ.
During the Bush era, US conservatives used to complain bitterly about the intransigence of "Old Europe". But today's Tea Party extremists embrace "Old Germany" - especially the Waffen-SS and the East German "Grenztruppen" (border guards).
Rich Iott is the Tea Party candidate for Congress. Rich spends his weekends dressed as a Nazi and assumes the identity of "Reinhard Pferdmann", re-enacting the glories of the Waffen-SS along with other Nazi enthusiasts.
Iott doesn't view members of the Waffen-SS as murderous shock troops; instead, he has nothing but praise for their courage and patriotism.
"I've always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things. I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them. From a purely historical military point of view, that's incredible.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, the Tea Party candidate for the US Senate, Joe Miller, is full of praise for the old border guard unit of the East German Volksarmee:
Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller was asked about illegal immigration at his town hall yesterday, and he said that the country's first priority should be to secure the border. "If East Germany could, we could," he said. "East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow" from one side of the border to the other. "Now, obviously, other things there were involved. We have the capacity to, as a great nation, obviously to secure our border. If East Germany could, we could."
During the Tea Party rally Miller had his private Stasi-security unit handcuff a reporter who asked Miller a question he found inappropriate.
Boh Miller and Iott are representative of the hyper-athoritarian streak prevalent in the Tea Party movement.
German managers embrace - in principle, at least - the concept of Mitbestimmung, or employee representation in the management of the enterprise. But only in Germany. When German companies operate in the US they proactively block any efforts by employees to unionize or otherwise gain any influence in management. This double-standard has drawn criticism to Deutsche Telekom, whose T-Mobile unit in the US has been preventing employees from organizing:
Die Deutsche Telekom steht wegen fehlender Mitbestimmungsrechte ihrer Mitarbeiter in den USA in der Kritik. 15 kalifornische Kongress-Abgeordnete drücken in einem Schreiben an Telekom-Chef René Obermann ihre "große Besorgnis über den beunruhigenden Doppelstandard im Hinblick auf die Arbeitnehmerrechte" aus. Der Brief liegt dem Handelsblatt vor. Anders als in Deutschland, wo die Mehrzahl der Telekom-Mitarbeiter gewerkschaftlich organisiert ist, gibt es bei T USA-Mobile keine Interessenvertretung.
(Deutsche Telekom is being criticized for not acknowledging the co-determination rights of its US employees. Fifteen congressional representatives in California have expressed their "concern for the disturbing double-standard with respect to employment rights" in a letter to Telekom CEO Rene Obermann. The Handelsblatt is in possession of the the letter. Unlike in Germany, where the majority of Telekom employees are unionized, the US employees have no representation.)
T-Mobile used intimidation and threats to prevent union representatives from organizing on T-Mobile premises. This is a common practice by US corporations, but it violates Deutsche Telekom's corporate guidelines.
Die kalifornischen Abgeordneten werfen der Telekom in dem Brief vor, T USA-Mobile habe "aktiv daran gearbeitet, jegliche Gewerkschaftsaktivitäten zu unterbinden". So schildere ein Handbuch aus dem Jahr 2003, wie erste Hinweise auf gewerkschaftliche Aktivitäten frühzeitig erkannt und bekämpft werden könnten. Die US-Abgeordneten fordern, die Telekom solle "eine angemessene und faire Arbeitsbeziehung zwischen T-Mobile und ihren Beschäftigten implementieren, ähnlich der Unternehmenspraxis in Deutschland".
(In their letter, the California representatives accuse Telekom, that its US T-Mobile unit "actively prevented any union activity from taking place." They refer to a 2003 handbood that describes how any signs of union activity can be recognized and combatted. The US representatives demand that the Telekom must "implement an appropriate and fair relationship between T-Mobile and its employees, along the lines of its coporate practices in Germany.")
A comprehensive report on Deutsche Telekom's unfair labor practices in the US can be accessed here(pdf warning). Among the findings:
In Germany, Deutsche Telekom preaches and practices cooperation with unions and respect for workers’ rights,but in the United States fights vigorously against unionizationand violates workers’ rights.
DT’s own Social Charter declares the company “in favor of cooperating with legitimate democratic employee representation in an open and trusting manner ”throughout its operations,1 but DT’s U.S. subsidiary engages in conflict and promotes insecurity among its employees.
Deutsche Telekom’s German executives claim to uphold the labor principles of the United Nations Global Compact, which states that businesses should not “interfere in workers’ decision to associate” or “try to influence their decision in any way.” 2 But T-Mobile USA managers violate both principles with a systematic policy of union avoidance, dissuading employees from joining a union, and interfering with workers’ rights.
Gerhard Schröder once described the relationship between the Social Democrats (SPD) and Die Grünen (Green Party) as that of "cook and waiter": the big Volkspartei (People's Party) would formulate policy while the junior partner the Greens would help sell it to its affluent constituency. Well, now, as The Economist points out, the roles could be reversing:
The Greens are riding higher in polls than ever. In elections next year they could take charge of one or even two state governments for the first time. That would be a big shift. Post-war German politics has been ruled by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which usually form majorities by recruiting smaller partners (the CDU now governs with the liberal Free Democratic Party, or FDP). But the big parties’ share of the vote has been declining for years. In Baden-Württemberg, a CDU stronghold that holds elections in March, and in Berlin, an SPD fief that votes next autumn, the Greens are ahead of the SPD (one poll says they have also closed the gap nationally). This threatens to upend the traditional hierarchy of the centre-left parties.
The most recent polls put the Greens slightly ahead of the SPD nationally:
The 30-year-old Green Party in Germany appeared to have broken a major barrier on Wednesday as a poll suggested it has surpassed the older Social Democratics as the country's most popular opposition party.
The poll, conducted by Berlin-based pollster Forsa and sponsored by Stern magazine and private broadcaster RTL, found that 24 percent of Germans would vote for the Greens in an election, up one percentage point from last week. The Social Democrats (SPD) dropped two points to 23 percent.
The Greens are simply on the right side of some key issues that concern voters. They promote renewable energy, while Angela Merkel and her CDU want to extend the life of nuclear power plants and build underground nuclear waste storage facilities. In Stuttgart, Cem Özdemir of the Greens has been a fearless opponent of the unpopular "Stuttgart 21" railway construction project. Many Germans - not just Stuttgarters - have been appalled at the heavy-handed way the government has dealt with the project and the growing crowds of protesters. Still, outside of environmental issues, do the Greens have a coherent policy for governing at the national level? Not everyone is convinced. For examble, the editors of Die Tageszeitung see no real substance:
"The Greens are more popular than ever before, but why?... They are mainstream, but also a little bit alternative; accountable but also not out of place at demonstrations; a little bit neo-liberal, but in favor of a Green New Deal. They have arrived in the political center, but they are also a bit different. They are still opinion leaders when it comes to the environment, but nowhere else. Seldom has a party been so successful for no reason."
"Surely some of the Greens' recent success is fleeting and a result of the current situation. The Greens are profiting from a diffuse disgust with Germany's party landscape and are, like a sponge, absorbing dissatisfied voters from both the left and the right. Plus, the rhythm of political mood swings has become quicker. Not long ago, it was the FDP that was way up high, today it is the Greens, tomorrow others will take over. It is thus a mistake to call the Greens a party of the people. They are nothing more than a relatively small niche party made up of public officials, teachers and entrepreneurs and excluding blue-collar workers and the unemployed. Just what will remain of their current high in the end remains to be seen."
This week while attending a trade fair in Cologne I got a first-hand look at how Überfremdung (excessive number of "foreigners") is ruining Germany. Thilo Sarrazin has become a national hero in Germany for his thesis on how rapid breeding by racially inferior Turks and Arabs is destroying German society. My first encounter with this sub-strata of humanity was at the Kölner Messe itself when an attractive young Turkish (German?) woman helped orient me. Nazan -that was the name on her badge - was able to mask her low IQ by speaking perfect Hochdeustch as well as fluent English. Was she an exception to Herr Sarrazin's carefully constructed racial typology?
To find out, I spent a couple of days after the trade fair event to witness the devastation first-hand. Cologne, as we recall, was the site a of a fierce conflict over the construction of a mosque. Celebrities such as the Cologne-based writer Ralph GIordano spoke about "Islam's war" against Germany and a right-wing political movement - Pro-Cologne - has attracted neo-Nazi support from across Europe. I spotted a couple of Sarrazin's Kopftuchmädchen - girls wearing headscarves. One was chatting amiably with her (apparently) ethnic German schoolmates while the other was driving a BMW M3 Coupé. Were these the pathetic, servile creatures Sarrazin writes about? Venturing further I was approached by an Arab-looking man and I immediately recalled the numerous warnings by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte of how most of the violent crime in Germany is caused by Turkish or Arab males. To my great relief, this man did not want to assault me; instead he handed me a flyer advertising his uncle's camera store. In the distance I thought I spotted one of Giordano's dreaded mosques, but it turned out to be a branch of the Commerzbank.
Later I stumbled upon an earlier era of Überfremdung in Cologne. Very close to the majestic Dom is a preserved Mikvah - or Jewish ritual bath. An archaeological dig at the site is uncovering the contours of the old Jewish quarter in Cologne. It turns out that at one time Cologne had a very vibrant Jewish community which contributed to the commerce and culture of the prosperous city, until the time of the Black Death, which was blamed on the Jews. By 1425 the Dominicans had banished the Jews for good from the city. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Cologne thenceforth became a center of anti-Semitism, even though there were virtually no Jews left to persecute:
Though Cologne had ceased to be a home for Jews, it remained during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the center of an anti-Jewish movement. Thence arose the crusades against Jewish books; and baptized Jews like Victor of Carben and John Pfefferkorn found it a fertile field for their anti-Jewish propaganda. Reuchlin encountered there his bitterest enemies, the Dominicans, who converted the inhabitants of the once liberal city into a bigoted mob. Even after the Protestant reform movement had triumphed, Cologne remained the citadel of the reactionary spirit. Jews of neighboring towns had the greatest difficulty in obtaining permission to stay in the city even for twenty-four hours. Not until 1798, when Cologne became a part of the French republic, were its gates opened to Jews.
By the time the Nazis came to power in 1933, the Jewish population of Cologne had recovered to about 20,000 inhabitants. But during the Kristallnacht of 1938 the synagogues were burned, and, by 1941, those Jews who had not already fled were herded - in full view of Cologne's citizens - onto the grounds where the Kölner Messe now stands to be transported to the death camps. So when right-wing politicians in Germany, such as Norbert Geis, of the Christian Social Union, speak of protecting Germany's "Judeo-Christian" tradition against Islam, what they really mean is Germany's "Christian" tradition; the "Judeo" part was always under attack and eventual annihilation. Anyone interested ihis topic should read Amos Elon's great book The Pity of It All -(Deutsche Version: Zu einer anderen Zeit ).
What happened to the Jews of Cologne is a lesson for those who listen to the Sarrazins, Giordanos, Ulfkottes of today. Persecution of the minorities has always been an effective form of crisis management in turbulent time and diverts attention from the root causes of social upheaval. Are the hated mosques of Cologne the sites of archealogical digs of the future? WIll future historians shake their head and ask in sorrow: how could this happen?