Yesterday Germany's highest court rejected an attempt to ban the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party, the country’s oldest far-right political organization even though the NPD's platform violated the principles of the constitution. In response, one of the leaders of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party decided to go "full-Nazi" in a beer hall speech delivered in Dresden:
In a speech in a beer hall in Dresden, Björn Höcke, who leads the party in the eastern state of Thuringia, railed against Germany’s decade-long tradition of acknowledging the crimes of the National Socialist era, describing the Holocaust memorial in Berlin as a “monument of shame”.“They wanted to cut off our roots and with the re-education that began in 1945, they nearly managed,” Höcke said. “Until now, our mental state continues to be that of a totally defeated people. We Germans are the only people in the world that have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital.”The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a large sloping field covered in austere slabs of concrete, was unveiled in 2005 and is located close to the German parliament and the Brandenburg Gate.
For Höcke and the AfD, the successive postwar governments of the Federal Republic had made a huge mistake in "re-educatiing" ("umerziehen") German youth to reject Nazi greatness and take their place in the world as the Master Race:
"Und anstatt die nachwachsende Generation mit den großen Wohltätern, den bekannten, weltbewegenden Philosophen, den Musikern, den genialen Entdeckern und Erfindern in Berührung zu bringen, von denen wir ja so viele haben [...] vielleicht mehr als jedes andere Volk auf dieser Welt, [...] wird die Geschichte, die deutsche Geschichte mies und lächerlich gemacht. So kann es und so darf es nicht weitergehen."
One other sentence in Höcke's speech gave me pause: "Wir werden uns unser Deutschland Stück für Stück zurückholen." ("We will reclaim our Germany piece by piece.") This is a sinister echo of "We will make America great again." - showing transatlantic continuity in neo-fascist rhetoric.
The court rejected banning the NPD in part because the party was "too insignificant" to pose a threat. Looking back, the NSDAP also seemed "insignificant" after the ban was lifted in 1925. And who needs the NPD when most of its policies have been appropriated by AfD - currently polling around 10% nationally?