The refugee situation in Germany has unleashed a wave of extreme right-wing violence. I wrote about Til Schweiger's battle against racists on Facebook and the arson attacks on sanctuaries for asylum-seekers. But now it has escalated to attacks on journalists and anyone who sympathizes with the refugees.
Heinrich Schmitz is a lawyer who frequently bogs about civil rights and in a recent article condemned the arson attack on a refugee center in Freital. The result was that police received an anonymous call from a "Heinrich Schmitz" that he had just murdered his wife and the body could be found at his home (address was given). The police broke into his home and informed Schmitz's daughter that her mother had been murdered. The event traumatized the whole family and Schmitz, in a piece published in Der Tagespiegel, stated he has given up all political commentary:
Als Bürger fühle ich eine Verantwortung für unsere Gesellschaft und für den Rechtsstaat, die ich mit meinen Kolumnen wahrzunehmen versucht habe. Schreiben, argumentieren und erklären ist nun mal das, was ich am Besten kann. Als Ehemann und Vater habe ich eine Verantwortung für das Wohlbefinden und die Sicherheit meiner Familie.
("As a citizen I feel a sense of responsibility for our society and the rule of law - which I tried to illuminate in my columns. Writing, arguing and explaining- those are the things I do best. But as a husband and father I am responsible for the well-being and safety of my family")
So another voice of reason has been silenced by bullying and threats of violence. Schmitz ends his "capitulation confession" with a scathing criticism of Angela Merkel for "standing by" while neo-Nazi's prevail:
Ich habe kapiert, dass die „schweigende“ Mehrheit der Bevölkerung am liebsten „schweigt“. Dass sie keineswegs mit dem Hass auf den Straßen einverstanden ist, aber lieber hinter den Gardinen steht, statt selbst auf die Straße zu gehen. Dass die Frau an der Spitze dieses Landes das Schweigen zur Regierungsmaxime erhoben hat und sich gerade deshalb alternativloser Beliebtheit erfreut. Dieses Schweigen wird über kurz oder lang zu einem „Schweigen der Lämmer“ werden. Es soll dann nur niemand behaupten, er hätte nichts gewusst oder er habe nichts tun können. Ich habe es oft genug gesagt. Das ist jetzt vorbei.
("I can now see that the "silent majortiy" prefers to stay silent. That they may not agree with the hate on the streets but they'd rather stand behind the curtains instead of confronting the hate on the street. I can now see that the woman at the top of our nation has elevated silence to the maxim of her administration and enjoys high poll numbers. No one can say that they didn't know about this or that nothing can be done about it. I've said plenty about it - but that's over now.")
Is Schmitz over-reacting? Are the neo-Nazis just making idle threats? Hardly.
A couple in eastern Germany who spoke out against neo-Nazis in their village have been given police protection after a fire gutted their barn. Artists Birgit and Horst Lohmeyer live in Jamel, near Rostock - a village that has become a neo-Nazi meeting place. No-one was hurt in the fire. Chemical evidence of arson was found after the big 150-year-old barn was gutted on Wednesday night.The couple had earlier reported harassment by neo-Nazis.Their anti-Nazi stand has earned them national recognition, German media report.