Germany Expected To Put Right-Wing AfD Under Surveillance For Violating Constitution

Of note (perhaps the USA could consider a similar initiative for those that disputed the election results in Congress and the Senate):

Germany’s Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, is constantly on the lookout for potential threats to Germany’s democratic constitutional system, and it has wide-ranging powers when it finds them.

“This agency has the power — and not only to do surveillance on fringe groups, domestic terrorist threats, but also to keep an eye on any political institution, like a political party,” said Melanie Amann of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel and the author of a book about the Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

“Like if their program becomes more radical or if they notice that a political party, maybe that’s even sitting in the parliament, goes into a direction that might be harmful to our political system.”

The agency has wrapped up a two-year investigation into the Alternative for Germany, the country’s largest right-wing opposition party, and is expected to announce soon that it will place the entire party under surveillance for posing a threat to Germany’s political system and violating the constitution. The unprecedented move would mean that all AfD lawmakers, including several dozen in Germany’s parliament, would be put under state surveillance.

The driving force behind the creation of the Verfassungsschutz agency and its surveillance powers was the American-led Allied forces, who, after World War II, helped write a new German Constitution with an eye toward preventing the return of Nazi ideology. That’s why the first article of the constitution guarantees the right to human dignity — an article that the agency determined a far-right branch of the AfD violated. It placed that group, known as der Flügel (“The Wing”), under surveillance nearly a year ago.

Amann said the agency has identified instances of AfD politicians denigrating Muslim migrants to Germany. “They were all treated as potential terrorists,” she said. “They were dehumanized in the speeches. They were compared to animals. The [agency] report made it quite clear that these people had crossed a line.”

Some AfD politicians have also trivialized Germany’s Nazi past. Speaking at an AfD event in 2017, the leader of the Flügel wing, Bjorn Höcke, called the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame.” A year later, AfD parliamentary leader Alexander Gauland likened Germany’s Nazi era to “a speck of bird s*** in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”

“If you look at how the AfD has been behaving for some time now, it’s clear it’s acting against our democracy and our constitution,” said Social Democrat parliamentarian Thomas Hitschler, a member of the parliamentary committee that reviews Germany’s intelligence agencies. He said the Verfassungsschutz agency has spent two years gathering evidence to inform the decision that is expected to put the entire AfD under watch.

But AfD politician Georg Pazderski claims the process is political. The agency is run by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, staffed with members of her own conservative Christian Democratic Union party. Pazderski said the CDU is worried about how fast the AfD has become a presence in Germany’s parliament; the party now has 88 members of 709 in the Bundestag, more than 12% representation.

“If you have an opposition party which is very successful within a very short time, we become a danger for the ruling parties,” Pazderski said, “especially for the conservative CDU. And this is a reason why they are trying to stigmatize us and to really put us in the Nazi corner and also to spread strong rumors.”

Hitschler insists the process is not political and the agency’s findings must withstand tough legal scrutiny.

“Its decision must be so watertight legally that it will stand up in the courts,” he said. “The AfD has legal recourse to contest the decision, and the agency isn’t about to lose face in court with a poor case.”

The AfD is already preparing for the decision. This week, the party published a position paper that represents a U-turn in how it sees immigrants, insisting that it is a party for all Germans, even naturalized citizens.

AfD politician Jens Maier, already under surveillance for being part of the Flügel, told NPR by email that last year’s decision to put his section of the party under surveillance has had real consequences.

“A lot of members fear for their civil reputation or even their jobs, especially if they are employed in public service,” he wrote. “This is clearly an unfair method to lower the election results of the AfD.” Germany’s federal elections are scheduled for September.

Der Spiegel’s Amann says tightened surveillance on the AfD will affect civil servants such as police officers and military personnel, who may cancel their membership out of fear of losing their jobs.

While the Verfassungsschutz agency is able to tap phones and use informants to gather information on whomever it monitors, Maier said he hasn’t noticed the surveillance. But he said it has changed the way he and his associates communicate.

“We don’t talk about confidential topics on the phone or online anymore and people from the outside contacting us do so with care now, knowing that somebody is possibly listening,” he wrote.

When Germany announces the AfD is under surveillance, Pazderski said it can expect an immediate lawsuit challenging the decision. And that, he said, may take years to resolve.

Source: Germany Expected To Put Right-Wing AfD Under Surveillance For Violating Constitution

Immigration and integration: Germany debates terminology

Important and significant debate (moving towards the Canadian definition of integration):

For 15 years now, the term used by German statisticians and politicians alike to denote foreigners and their descendants has been “people with a migration background.”

That was the label given to people who weren’t born into German citizenship. And to people whose mothers or fathers were not born German citizens. Today, that applies to a quarter of the population.

After two years of discussing how Germany could better acknowledge its status as a society of immigration, a specialist commission of 24 politicians and academics appointed by the government has submitted its report to Chancellor Angela Merkel. One of its recommendations is to stop using the terms “migration background” or “immigrant background.”

‘Simply be Germans’

People should use the term “immigrants and their descendants,” commission chair Derya Caglar said. “In my case, this would mean that I am no longer the migrant, but rather the daughter or descendant of migrants.”

Caglar, a member of Berlin’s city-state legislature for the Social Democrats (SPD), said her parents had immigrated from Turkey but she was born here. “And my children, who are currently defined as having a migration background, would simply be Germans,” she said.

The German government’s commissioner for integration, Annette Widmann-Mauz, of the Christian Democrats (CDU), is in favor of the change. The term “migration background” encompasses so many groups now that it has lost much of its meaning, Widmann-Mauz said.

“Many of the 21 million people to which the term is applied do not feel appropriately described by it,” she said. Widmann-Mauz said nearly one-third of people to whom the term “migration background” is applied were born in Germany. The term, she said, gives the impression “that they would never belong here 100%, that immigration was their defining characteristic.”

Merkel: ‘Opulent opus’

Over 240 pages, the report articulates 14 core messages. Topics include social housing, greater efforts to combat racism and hate crimes, and equal education and health opportunities. In Germany, according to the report, integration is a “permanent task affecting everybody.”

Caglar said some of the recommendations would “require patience and a long-term strategy.” Others, she said, “don’t require much adjustment at all.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her gratitude for the “opulent opus”, saying it provided politicians with “much expertise.”

“As a result of the wave of immigration between 2013 and 2015-16, we have a mountain of tasks in front of us, requiring a great deal of integration work,” Merkel said. “This challenge, it must be said, will not get easier in the near future, because we are experiencing great economic tensions as a result of the pandemic.”

Merkel said recent immigrants were often among the first to feel the effects of a country’s economic difficulties. “Therefore,” she said, “we will have to pay great attention to the issue of integration and immigration in the coming years so that our efforts were not in vain.”

Coronavirus as amplifier

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, of the SPD, said the pandemic had shown how dependent Germany is on immigration. “The coronavirus crisis acted as a magnifying glass,” he said. “In many areas, we have a shortage of specialist workers.” To fix this, he said, Germany would have to harness its domestic potential for training specialists. “But, at the same time, we also need specialists from elsewhere in Europe and so-called third countries,” he said. “We see this not just in hospitals and care professions, but also on building sites and in the trades.”

That German is a country of immigration has become the consensus among politicians, business leaders and across society.

The only party to question this in the Bundestag is the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is also the biggest opposition grouping. It wants to apply strict limits to immigration. Within the commission, not everyone could agree on issues of migration and integration. And the final report also reflects opposing views in the section “dissenting opinion.” This also applies to the new term “immigrants and their descendants.” Like the ethnic minorities it is designed to describe, the expression “migration background,” is likely to stick around.

Source: Immigration and integration: Germany debates terminology

Germany: Anti-Semitism commissioner calls for removal of Nazi law leftovers

Of note:

Germany’s anti-Semitism commissioner called for the removal of 29 Nazi-era paragraphs that remain in the country’s laws in comments published on Sunday.

Felix Klein, appointed two years ago by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, said the worst example was a 1938 Nazi remnant in Germany’s present-day law on changing a person’s name.

Jews in Nazi Germany were required under a 1939 regulation stemming from that law to insert a “typical” Jewish forename, Israel for men, and Sara for women, if their first name was not on a “typical” list maintained by the-then Interior Ministry.

Klein, who last year, with Social Democrat Eva Högl and Christian Democrat Thorsten Frei, demanded removal of such wording used to persecute Jews, told the magazine Der Spiegel parliament had already been sent a reformulations catalog.

“The name change law is the most blatant of all,” said Klein, adding that the latest version — dated 2008 and still accessible on the Justice Ministry website — still mentioned the “German Reich” and the “Reich Minister of the Interior,” terminology proscribed by the defeated Hitler regime.

In last year’s appeal, Klein, Högl and Frei wrote that the occupying Allied Control Council had sought to annul that law, but it lingered under Article 125 of Germany’s postwar constitution or Basic Law.

“Anyone who wants to change their first or last name in Germany today is [still] confronted with this anti-Semitic-motivated law from 1938,” they said.

Instead, an amendment should state the “Federal Republic of Germany” and the “Federal Minister of the Interior,” Klein told Spiegel in his latest appeal.

Naturopathy law also tainted

As further lingering examples, Klein cited Nazi-era paragraphs riddling Germany’s current law on naturopathic healing practitioners, its gambling casino ordinance, and a mutual Greek-German law on civil legal assistance.

Klein said the aim of the omnibus legislation before the Bundestag was to review and remove all such leftover Nazi-era passages.

In their 2020 joint appeal, Klein, Hogl and Frei said a further aim was to avoid wording that defined Germany’s postwar federal interior ministers as “successors” of the Nazi-era Reich interior minister and convicted war criminal Wilhelm Frick.

It was Frick, convicted at the Allied Nuremberg trials and executed in 1946, who from 1930 in the-then Thuringia state sought German nationality for the Austrian-born, but stateless, Adolf Hitler, regarded by Prussia as an undesirable alien.

Hitler finally got German nationality in 1932, via the-then-adjacent state of Braunschweig, becoming a year later chancellor and seizing power.

Source: Germany: Anti-Semitism commissioner calls for removal of Nazi law leftovers

Germany Moves Toward Requiring Women On Large Companies’ Executive Boards

Of note to Canadian regulators, broadening to visible minorities and Indigenous peoples:

Germany has taken a step toward requiring what has not happened voluntarily: putting women on the management boards of the country’s largest companies.

On Wednesday, Germany’s cabinet approved a draft law that would require stock exchange-listed companies with executive boards of more than three members to have at least one woman and one man on those boards.

The rule would affect about 70 companies – of which some 30 currently have no women at all on their management boards, the Justice Ministry said. These companies generally have more than 2,000 employees.

The draft law will now go to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, for a vote.

The legislation also contains a provision intended to improve the effectiveness of a 2015 law that requires leading companies’ supervisory boards — which are generally chosen by shareholders and don’t have executive powers — to have at least 30% of their positions occupied by women.

The new law would extend the 30% requirement to companies in which the federal government is the majority shareholder. That includes Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company. In addition, executive boards – responsible for managing the company – that have more than two members will be required to have at least one woman. These measures would affect about 90 companies.

Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Franziska Giffeycalled the law a “milestone” that would ensure there will no longer be women-free boardrooms in these large companies. The law would make Germany better prepared for the future, she said, and more able to capitalize on its potential.

“We have seen for years, not many changes are made voluntarily, and progress is very slow,” Giffey said in a statement.

An October 2020 report by the AllBright Foundation, which advocates for boardroom diversity, found that Germany lags the U.S., France, the U.K., Poland and Sweden in the proportion of women on executive boards at leading companies.

The study found that in the U.S., women comprise 28.6% of the executive boards of the 30 largest publicly traded companies. In Germany, that figure is just 12.8%. And only four of Germany’s largest 30 listed companies had more than one woman on their executive boards.

Janina Kugel, a former Siemens executive who is now an equality advocate, told Deutsche Welle the new quota would be an important signal.

“The perception of Germany is that, because we’ve had a female chancellor for the last 15 years, Germany is very progressive in that matter, but actually it is not,” she said.

The U.S. has also begun to confront the issue of gender disparity in boardrooms.

In 2018, California became the first U.S. state to require companies based there to have women on their boards of directors.

And the U.S. stock exchange Nasdaq announced diversity requirements last month. Under the rule submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nasdaq would require companies traded on its exchange to appoint at least one woman and at least one member of an ethnic or racial minority or LGBTQ+ person to their boards of directors.

Source: Germany Moves Toward Requiring Women On Large Companies’ Executive Boards

ICYMI: New Year’s Eve in Cologne: 5 years after the mass assaults

Useful looking back and what has changed:

As a social worker, Franco Clemens has experienced a lot. But nothing prepared him for what happened on New Year’s Eve five years ago. It happened “in multicultural Cologne, of all places, a melting pot of integration,” he reflects. The night began seemingly harmlessly.

Just as in years past, a crowd assembled in the square in front of the central railway station, right next to the city’s landmark gothic cathedral. Nothing unusual for the city in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. But this time, a throng of about a thousand young men was forming in the crowd. Most of them were from the North African-Arabic region.

The atmosphere was uninhibited, aggressive. Fireworks were pointed at people, passers-by harassed, cellphones and wallets were stolen. The police were surprised and overwhelmed; there were too few officers on duty.

The situation soon escalated completely. It came to especially “abominable” scenes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel would later describe it. Packs of men were hunting down women, cornering many of them. There were sexual assaults, rapes.

Merkel’s ‘welcoming culture’ under pressure

In the following days, a total of 1210 criminal complaints were made, 511 of them involving sexual assaults. Rape or attempted rape accounted for 28 complaints. Similar scenes occurred in other German cities including Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main and Hanover, albeit not on the same scale.

Franco Clemens, who at the time headed a refugee accommodation center in Cologne, is appalled at what was done to the women. For him and his staff, the violence came as a “shock, which felt like the ground was pulled out from under our feet.” Clemens sees the welcoming culture for refugees, which had been promoted by Merkel, as being called into question.

The Cologne New Year’s Eve attacks led “to a paradigm shift in society,” concluded Clemens in an online discussion on the topic led by Berlin-based organization the Migration Media Service (Mediendienst Integration.)

“The welcoming culture was contradicted, in that many people who had previously broadly supported it were suddenly fearful,” the street worker said. With that, a lot of support was lost. “Right up to the refugee homes, where many people had still been helping us to advance social work and integration.”

Instrumentalized by the Trump campaign

Because what happened in Cologne brought fundamental sociopolitical issues to the fore, it triggered a worldwide media response.

During his US presidential election campaign, Donald Trump portrayed the attacks as a cautionary tale from a misguided refugee policy. Trump used them unscrupulously in his anti-immigration polemics.

In Germany itself, the long-running debate about migration policy and how to live together in a pluralistic society flared up. Citizens who until then had no concerns felt a newfound need for security. Sales of alarm pistols, pepper spray, and tear gas soared to record levels.

Among the beneficiaries of these developments was the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which succeeded in using people’s reservations, fear, and anger to gain votes. Soon it would become the largest opposition party in the Bundestag.

Tightening of asylum and sexual assault laws

As a result of the incident, Germany tightened laws covering the right to asylum and made it easier and quicker to deport foreigners who committed crimes.

Laws governing sexual offenses were also reformed. “Until then, sexual assault was not a criminal offense,” said Behshid Najafi, an educator from agisra, a Cologne-based women’s help service. Because of what happened on New Year’s Eve, that law changed in November 2016.

In addition, the principle of “no means no” was applied from then on. The law was also changed to mean that a sexual act would be considered rape even if the victim did not actively try to defend themselves. And if sexual crimes were committed in a group, then all participants in that group should be liable for prosecution.

There were also consequences for the media. Like the police, they were accused of being too hesitant to report on the foreign citizenship of the suspects. The press council changed its guidelines for naming alleged offenders. Previously, the press code stated that journalists should as a rule refrain from naming a suspected criminal’s country of origin or migration background, regardless of the accuracy of that information. Now, the code states that information can be reported “if there is a justified public interest.”

Racism accusations against police

The Cologne police, meanwhile, assembled a group of specialists in a team called “AG Silvester” to ensure there was no repeat of the incident the following year. On New Year’s Eve 2016-2017, police deployed more officers to the streets. When officials used the word “Nafris“— an abbreviation for North Africans — in a tweet about inspections they were carrying out, they were accused of racial profiling. The police sought to justify themselves by saying that it was undeniable that there was a spate of crimes by people from the North African region. But the vast majority of North African people living in Germany were “of course, not criminals.”

Safety plans were revised, and police training was adapted to meet the demands of the situation. “A lot has happened in the police, if I look at what we do for intercultural competence, anti-discrimination, for stress management and communications training,” the former head of AG Silvester, Klaus Zimmermann said.

But whatever happened to the call from Merkel “to identify the culprits as quickly and comprehensively as possible and punish them, regardless of their origin or background?”

Insufficient evidence due to tumultuous scenes

According to the figures, the “tough” response from authorities is sobering: The Cologne public prosecutor’s office investigated a total of 290 people. Only 37 cases were completed, 32 with convictions. Most of them were for theft or similar offenses. Only two men were convicted and sentenced for sexual assault: A 26-year-old Algerian and a 21-year-old Iraqi each received one-year probation.

However, in chaotic scenes like New Year’s Eve, it’s almost impossible to attribute specific acts to individual perpetrators. “We exhausted all our methods. We tracked phone signals, brought in specialist observers called super-recognizers to analyze video footage in order to detect the offenders,” Zimmermann said.

The changes made by Cologne police have at least ensured largely peaceful New Year’s Eve celebrations near the central station ever since. Things are expected to be even calmer throughout Cologne this year — due to coronavirus restrictions.

Source: New Year’s Eve in Cologne: 5 years after the mass assaults

Germany: She Called Police Over a Neo-Nazi Threat. But the Neo-Nazis Were Inside the Police.


Traveling for work and far from home, Seda Basay-Yildiz received a chilling fax at her hotel: “You filthy Turkish sow,” it read. “We will slaughter your daughter.”

A German defense lawyer of Turkish descent who specializes in Islamist terrorism cases, Ms. Basay-Yildiz was used to threats from the far right. But this one, which arrived late one night in August 2018, was different.

Signed with the initials of a former neo-Nazi terrorist group, it contained her address, which was not publicly available because of the earlier threats. Whoever sent it had access to a database protected by the state.

“I knew I had to take this seriously — they had our address, they knew where my daughter lives,” Ms. Basay-Yildiz recalled in an interview. “And so for the first time I actually called the police.”

It would bring her little sense of security: An investigation soon showed that the information had been retrieved from a police computer.

Far-right extremism is resurgent in Germany, in ways that are new and very old, horrifying a country that prides itself on dealing honestly with its murderous past. This month, a two-year parliamentary inquiry concluded that far-right networks had extensively penetrated German security services, including its elite special forces.

But increasingly, the spotlight is turning on Germany’s police, a much more sprawling and decentralized force with less stringent oversight than the military — and with a more immediate impact on the everyday safety of citizens, experts warn.

After World War II, the greatest preoccupation among the United States, its allies and Germans themselves was that the country’s police force never again be militarized, or politicized and used as a cudgel by an authoritarian state like the Gestapo.

Policing was fundamentally overhauled in West Germany after the war, and cadets across the country are now taught in unsparing detail about the shameful legacy of policing under the Nazis — and how it informs the mission and institution of policing today.

Still, Germany has been besieged by revelations of police officers in different corners of the country forming groups based on a shared far-right ideology.

“I always hoped that it was individual cases, but there are too many of them now,” said Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, where 203 police officers are under investigation in connection with reported far-right incidents.

For Mr. Reul, the alarm sounded in September, when 31 officers in his state were found to have shared violent neo-Nazi propaganda. “It was almost an entire unit of officers — and we found out by chance,” Mr. Reul said this past week in an interview. “That floored me. This is not trivial.”

“We have a problem with far-right extremism,” he said. “I don’t know how far it reaches inside the institutions. But if we don’t deal with it, it will grow.”

It has been growing by the month.

The 31 officers in Mr. Reul’s western state were suspended in September for sharing images of Hitler, memes of a refugee in a gas chamber and the shooting of a Black man. The unit’s superior was part of the chat, too.

In October, a racist chat group with 25 officers was discovered in the Berlin police after one officer frustrated that superiors would not do anything about it blew the whistle. Separately, six cadets were kicked out of Berlin’s police academy after playing down the Holocaust and sharing images of swastikas in a chat group that had 26 other members.

In November, a police station in the western city of Essen was raided after images of ammunition and benches arranged to form swastikas were discovered in a WhatsApp chat. This past week, a violent far-right chat with four police officers in the northern cities of Kiel and Neumünster was discovered. Ammunition and Nazi memorabilia were found in raids of the homes of two officers.

Much focus has been on the state of Hesse, home to Ms. Basay-Yildiz, who lives in Frankfurt, and a number of other high-profile targets of neo-Nazi threats.

Ms. Basay-Yildiz is intimately familiar with discrimination in Germany.

When she was just 10 years old, her parents, guest workers from Turkey, took the young Seda to help translate when they went to buy car insurance. The salesman declined to sell it to them. “We don’t want foreigners,” he told them.

“So I decided that I want to know what kind of rights I have in Germany,” Ms. Basay-Yildiz recalled. She went to the library, found an agency to file a complaint and got her parents the insurance they wanted.

It was then she knew what she wanted to do with her life.

She rose to prominence as a lawyer when she represented the family of a Turkish flower seller who was shot at his roadside stand. He was the first victim of the National Socialist Underground, known as the N.S.U., a neo-Nazi terrorist group that killed 10 people, nine of them immigrants, between 2000 and 2007.

Police forces across Germany blamed immigrants, failing to recognize that the perpetrators were wanted neo-Nazis, while paid informers of the intelligence service helped hide the group’s leaders. Files on the informers were shredded by the intelligence service within days of the story’s exploding into the public in 2011.

After a five-year trial that ended only in July 2018, Ms. Basay-Yildiz won her clients modest compensation but not what they had most hoped for: answers.

“How big was that network and what did state institutions know?” said Ms. Basay-Yildiz. “After 438 days in court we still don’t know.”

Three weeks after the trial finished, she received her first threat by fax. They have not stopped since. Ms. Basay-Yildiz represents precisely the kind of change in Germany that the far right despises.

But she is not the only one. Police computers in Hesse have been used to call up data on a Turkish-German comedian, Idil Baydar, as well as a left-wing politician, Janine Wissler, who both received threats. The police president of the state failed to report it for months. He had to resign in July. 

Most of the threats, including those to Ms. Basay-Yildiz, have come in the form of emails signed “NSU 2.0.”

In all, the state government has been looking into 77 cases of far-right extremism in its police force since 2015. This past summer it named a special investigator whose team is focused solely on the email threats.

When investigators discovered that Ms. Basay-Yildiz’s information had been called up on a computer in Frankfurt’s first precinct an hour and a half before she received the threat, the police officer who had been logged on at the time was suspended. The whole police station was searched and computers and cellphones were analyzed, leading to the suspension of five more officers. Later in the year, the number grew to 38.

Ms. Basay-Yildiz is not reassured.

“If you have 38 people, you have a structural problem,” she said. “And if you don’t realize this, nothing will change.”

Others, too, fear that the infiltration of police ranks poses special dangers for Germany, not least a creeping subversion of state institutions that are supposed to serve and protect the public.

“These far-right calls for resistance to public servants are an attempt to subvert the state from the inside,” said Stephan Kramer, head of the intelligence agency of the eastern state of Thuringia. “The risk of infiltration is real and has to be taken seriously.”

Like the military, the police have been aggressively courted by the far-right Alternative for Germany party, known by its German initials, AfD, since its founding in 2013. Four of the AfD’s 88 lawmakers in the federal Parliament are former police officers — nearly 5 percent compared with less than 2 percent in all other parties.

Penetrating state institutions, especially those with guns, has been part of the party’s strategy from the start. Especially in eastern states, a more extremist AfD has already made deep inroads into the police force.

Björn Höcke, a history teacher turned firebrand politician who runs the AfD in the eastern state of Thuringia, has repeatedly appealed to police officers and intelligence agents to resist the orders of the government, which he calls “the real enemies of democracy and freedom.”

Then, there is the question of whether the police force can adequately police itself. Despite strong evidence in her case, Ms. Basay-Yildiz notes, the perpetrators have not been identified.

The officer who had been logged into the work station that had been used to access Ms. Basay-Yildiz’s home address, and the names and birthdays of her daughter, husband, mother and father, turned out to be part of a WhatsApp group containing half a dozen police officers who shared racist, neo-Nazi content.

One image showed Hitler on a rainbow with the caption “Good night, you Jews.” There were images of concentration camp inmates and images mocking drowned refugees and people with Down syndrome.

The officers were suspended and interrogated. They offered multiple alibis — requests for information are so numerous, they could not recall accessing the information; many officers can use the same computer.

The investigation stalled.

“It was absurd,” Ms. Basay-Yildiz said. “I have to assume that they did not treat these suspects as they would treat other suspects because they are colleagues.”

More frightening than the threats, Ms. Basay-Yildiz said, was her growing sense that the police were shielding far-right extremists in their ranks.

She was never even shown photos of the officers in question, who remain suspended on reduced pay, she said.

The threats kept coming, sometimes every few months, sometimes weekly. She moved her family to another part of town. Her new address was even more protected than the old one. Ordinary police computers could no longer call it up. For 18 months, she felt safe.

But early this year that changed: Whoever was threatening her had identified her new address and made sure she knew it.

This time the police came back and said her address had not been accessed internally.

“The circle of those inside the security services with access to my details is very small,” she noted. One would think that would make it easier to find the perpetrator. But she is not optimistic.

“I live in Hesse,” she said. “We saw what happened here.”

Last February a far-right gunman killed nine people of immigrant descent in two shisha bars in the city of Hanau, near Frankfurt.

In June 2019, Walter Lübcke, a regional politician who had defended Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy, was fatally shot on his front porch two hours northeast of Frankfurt after years of death threats.

On Nov. 11, Ms. Basay-Yildiz received her latest threat. It opened with “Heil Hitler!” and closed with “Say hi to your daughter from me.”

When she reported it to the police, their assessment was that she and her daughter were in no concrete danger.

“But I can’t rely on that anymore,” Ms. Basay-Yildiz said. “It’s a great factor of insecurity: Who can I trust? And who can I call if I can’t trust the police?”


Germany: Coronavirus an extra burden for immigrants

Common pattern in most countries:

The German federal government commissioner for integration, Annette Widmann-Mauz, highlighted the plight of asylum seekers and people with immigration backgrounds during the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic crisis in a statement on Sunday.

“They often work in industries which are particularly affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic, such as retail, logistics or the hospitality sector,” she said, on the eve of the 12th integration summit which shines a light on the effects of the pandemic on immigrants.

At the same time as work conditions are becoming more difficult, the number of opportunities for integration are also shrinking.

The national integration action plan took on a digital offensive offering online integration courses, language teaching and consultations over social networks. The focus is on supporting women to enter and integrate into the job market.

“We mustn’t lose any time on integration, in spite of coronavirus,” Widmann-Mauz said.

A joint effort on integration policy

The integration summit, which began in 2006, will see around 130 representatives from immigrant organizations, religious communities, the economy, politics and sports come together over video conference to discuss the current topics regarding integration policy.

The government’s vice-spokeswoman, Martina Fietz, announced in advance of the summit, that those taking part “will discuss answers to the important question of how we can also strengthen integration in times of coronavirus, as many people with an immigration background are particularly hard hit.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will lead the discussion which will also look at the possibility of recognizing foreign professional and educational qualifications, as well as the promotion of early childhood education.

The first summit took place 14 years ago following a national debate about violence in schools. Teachers from a school in Berlin triggered the founding of the summit through a protest letter they wrote.

Source: Germany: Coronavirus an extra burden for immigrants

QAnon Is Thriving in Germany. The Extreme Right Is Delighted.

Metastasizing is the appropriate word:

Early in the pandemic, as thousands of American troops began NATO maneuvers in Germany, Attila Hildmann did a quick YouTube search to see what it was all about. He quickly came across videos posted by German followers of QAnon.

In their telling, this was no NATO exercise. It was a covert operation by President Trump to liberate Germany from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government — something they applauded.

“The Q movement said these are troops that will free the German people from Merkel,” said Mr. Hildmann, a vegan celebrity cook who had not heard of QAnon before last spring. “I very much hope that Q is real.”

In the United States, QAnon has already evolved from a fringe internet subculture into a mass movement veering into the mainstream. But the pandemic is supercharging conspiracy theories far beyond American shores, and QAnon is metastasizing in Europe as well.

Groups have sprung up from the Netherlands to the Balkans. In Britain, QAnon-themed protests under the banner of “Save Our Children” have taken place in more than 20 cities and towns, attracting a more female and less right-wing demographic.

But it is in Germany that QAnon seems to have made the deepest inroads. With what is regarded as the largest following — an estimated 200,000 people — in the non-English-speaking world, it has quickly built audiences on YouTube, Facebook and the Telegram messenger app. People wave Q flags during protestsagainst coronavirus measures.

And in Germany, like in the United States, far-right activists were the first to latch on, making QAnon an unexpected and volatile new political element when the authorities were already struggling to root out extremist networks.

“There is a very big overlap,” said Josef Holnburger, a data scientist who has been tracking QAnon in Germany. “Far-right influencers and groups were the first ones to aggressively push QAnon.”

Officials are baffled that a seemingly wacky conspiracy theory about Mr. Trump taking on a “deep state” of Satanists and pedophiles has resonated in Germany. Polls show that trust in Ms. Merkel’s government is high, while the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, has been struggling.

“I was astonished that QAnon is gaining such momentum here,” said Patrick Sensburg, a lawmaker in Ms. Merkel’s conservative party and member of the intelligence oversight committee. “It seemed like such an American thing. But it’s falling on fertile ground.”

The mythology and language QAnon uses — from claims of ritual child murder to revenge fantasies against liberal elites — conjure ancient anti-Semitic tropes and putsch fantasies that have long animated Germany’s far-right fringe. Now those groups are seeking to harness the theory’s viral popularity to reach a wider audience.

QAnon is drawing an ideologically incoherent mixture of vaccine opponents, fringe thinkers and ordinary citizens who say the threat of the pandemic is overstated and government restrictions unwarranted. Not everyone who now aligns with QAnon believes everything the group espouses, or endorses violence.

Until a few months ago, Mr. Hildmann was popularly known merely for his restaurant and cookbooks and as a guest on television cooking shows.

But with 80,000 followers on Telegram, he has since become one of QAnon’s most important amplifiers in Germany. He is a noisy regular at coronavirus protests, which drew more than 40,000 people in Berlin this summer, to bridle against what he considers to be a fake pandemic concocted by the “deep state” to strip away liberties.

He calls Ms. Merkel a “Zionist Jew” and vents against the “new world order” and the Rothschild banking family. He no longer recognizes Germany’s postwar democratic order and darkly predicts civil war.

During a recent interview at his vegan restaurant in an upmarket neighborhood of Berlin, admirer after admirer — a civil servant, a mail carrier, a geography student — approached to thank him, not for his food, but for raising awareness about QAnon.

Experts worry that activists like Mr. Hildmann are providing a new and seemingly more acceptable conduit for far-right ideas.

“QAnon doesn’t openly fly the colors of fascism, it sells it as secret code,” said Stephan Kramer, head of domestic intelligence in the eastern state of Thuringia. “This gives it an access point to broader German society, where everyone thinks of themselves as immune to Nazism because of history.”

“It’s very dangerous,” Mr. Kramer added. “It’s something that has jumped from the virtual world into the real world. And if the U.S. is anything to go by, it’s going to gain speed.”

The QAnon conspiracy theory emerged in the United States in 2017, when a pseudonymous online poster claiming to hold the highest U.S. security clearance — Q — began dropping cryptic messages on the message board 4Chan. Global elites were kidnapping children and keeping them in underground prisons to extract a life-prolonging substance from their blood, Q hinted. A “storm” was coming, followed by a “great awakening.”

For historians and far-right extremism experts, QAnon is both a very new and a very old phenomenon. Made in modern America, it has powerful echoes of the European anti-Semitism of centuries past, which was at the root of the worst violence the continent has known.

The idea of a bloodsucking, rootless elite that abuses and even eats children is reminiscent of medieval propaganda about Jews drinking the blood of Christian babies, said Miro Dittrich, a far-right extremism expert at the Berlin-based Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

“It’s the 21-century version of blood libel,” Mr. Dittrich said. “The idea of a global conspiracy of elites is deeply anti-Semitic. ‘Globalists’ is code for Jews.”

The ignition switch for QAnon’s spread in Germany was “Defender-Europe 2020,” a large-scale NATO exercise, said Mr. Holnburger, the political scientist.

When it was scaled back this spring because of the coronavirus, QAnon followers contended that Ms. Merkel had used a “fake pandemic” to scupper a secret liberation plan.

Then one far-right movement, known as the Reichsbürger, or citizens of the Reich, jumped onto the QAnon traffic online to give greater visibility to its own conspiracy theory.

The Reichsbürger, estimated by the government to have about 19,000 followers, believe that Germany’s postwar republic is not a sovereign country but a corporation set up by the allies after World War II. The QAnon conspiracies dovetailed with their own and offered the prospect of an army led by Mr. Trump restoring the German Reich.

On March 5, the elements of the two movements fused into a common Facebook group, followed a week later by a Telegram channel.

“That’s when QAnon Germany first started taking off,” Mr. Holnburger said.

Two weeks later, in the middle of the lockdown, the German pop star Xavier Naidoo, a former judge on Germany’s equivalent of “American Idol,” joined a QAnon group and posted a tearful YouTube video in which he told his followers about children being liberated from underground prisons. A far-right influencer, Oliver Janich, reposted it to his tens of thousands of Telegram followers.

Since then, the biggest German-language QAnon channel on Telegram, Qlobal Change, has quadrupled its followers to 123,000. On YouTube, it has more than 18 million views. Overall, the number of followers of QAnon-related accounts on all platforms has risen to more than 200,000, estimates Mr. Dittrich of the Amadeu-Antonio Foundation.

On Tuesday, Facebook said it would remove any group, page or Instagram account that openly identified with QAnon.

In the country of the Holocaust, promoting Nazi propaganda or inciting hatred is punishable by up to five years in jail, and two years ago the government passed strict legislation designed to enforce its laws online.

But conspiracy theories and lies are not illegal unless they veer into hate speech and extremist content, and officials admit they have found QAnon’s spread hard to police.

Some QAnon followers are well-known extremists, like Marko Gross, a former police sniper and the leader of a far-right groupthat hoarded weapons and ammunition.

“Trump is fighting the deep state,” he told The New York Times in June. Merkel is part of the deep state, he said. “The deep state is global.”

But many are people who in the early days of the pandemic had nothing in common with the far right, Mr. Dittrich pointed out.

“You could see it in real time in the Telegram channels,” he said. “Those who started in April with worries about the lockdown became more and more radicalized.”

These days you see it on the streets of Germany, too.

Michael Ballweg, a Stuttgart-based software entrepreneur who founded Querdenken-711, the organization that has been at the center of protests against coronavirus restrictions, recently started referencing QAnon.

An eastern youth chapter of the AfD has used “WWG1WGA,” an abbreviation for Q’s motto “Where we go one, we go all,” on its Facebook pages.

Even those on the far right who do not buy into the conspiracy theory have found it useful.

Compact, a magazine classified as extremist by the domestic intelligence agency, has dedicated its last three issues to QAnon, pedophile scandals and the Reichsbürger movement. In August, it had a giant Q on its cover — and had to be reprinted because of high demand.

Jürgen Elsässer, its editor in chief, was at the last big coronavirus protest in Berlin handing out Q stickers and Q flags. He does not believe in a conspiracy of pedophile elites, preferring to look at it as “allegories.”

“Q is a completely novel attempt to structure political opposition in the era of social media,” Mr. Elsässer said in an interview.

After the pandemic, “the far right will reconstitute itself differently,” Mr. Elsässer said. “Q could play a role in this. It’s about elites, not foreigners. That casts the web more widely.”

Asked about the dangers of QAnon, the federal domestic intelligence service replied with an emailed statement saying that “such conspiracy theories can develop into a danger when anti-Semitic violence or violence against political officials is legitimized with a threat from the ‘deep state.’”

The biggest risk, say experts like Mr. Dittrich and Mr. Holnburger, may come when the promised salvation fails to arrive.

“Q always says: ‘Trust the plan. You have to wait. Trump’s people will take care of it,’” Mr. Holnburger said. “If Trump does not invade Germany, then some might say, ‘Let’s take the plan in our own hands.’”

Mr. Hildmann already has some doubts.

“It’s possible that Q is just a psyop of the C.I.A.,” he said.

“In the end, there are no external powers that you can rely on,” Mr. Hildmann said. “Either you deal with it yourself or you don’t bother.”

Black Germans Say It’s Time to Look Inward

Good long read:

In June, when Jelisa Delfeld joined a Telegram channel to help organize a silent demonstration against racism in Stuttgart, Germany, she was one of fewer than two dozen members. The next day, that number grew to 100, and the following, about 1,000 people had joined the channel where the protest was being planned.

“When the video of George Floyd being killed came out, it was also shocking in Germany,” said Ms. Delfeld, 24. “Even though it happened in the U.S., it’s a Black man, and we’re Black. If there’s pain in our community, you can feel that pain everywhere.

”Over five days of Zoom meetings, calls and texts, this group of young strangers, most of whom had little experience in activism, organized a demonstration that brought between 7,000 and 10,000 people into the streets of Stuttgart, a city of roughly 620,000, on June 6.

The same day, thousands more people across Germany protested against racism and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, with police estimates of crowds reaching as high as 15,000 in Berlin, 25,000 in Munich and 14,000 in Hamburg. The numbers reflected an international galvanizing of protesters after the death of George Floyd.

Despite the overwhelming public show of solidarity in June and July, many activists in Germany said that Germans seemed more eager to support Americans than to look inward.

In the last few years, Germany has been criticized by the United Nations and the European Union for racial profiling and police violence. And while the country is known worldwide for its “culture of remembrance” around the Holocaust, German textbooks and mainstream history narratives largely ignore its colonial history. Many Black people in Germany say that they do not feel a sense of belonging, and that their presence here has been rendered practically invisible.

“The assumption is that if you’re Black, you are not, nor will you ever be, German,” said Angelo Camufingo, 28, one of the organizers of the group Black Lives Matter Berlin.

Part of it, many Black Germans say, has to do with a culture of denial around racial discrimination. “There was solidarity with the protesters,” said Julia Wissert, 36, the artistic director of the Dortmund Theater in western Germany, who, with a lawyer, developed an anti-racism clause for theater contracts in 2018. “At the same time, there is the imagined idea of racism being an American problem because America always had issues with racism due to slavery.”

Ms. Wissert described racism in Germany as a mist. “You can’t really see it if you stand in it, but you experience it if you stand in it because it makes you hyper-visible and invisible at the same time,” she said.

‘We Are Here’

Though Germany doesn’t maintain data on racial demographics because of the atrocities of the Nazi era, it does document where migrants arrive from. By that count, about one million of the country’s residents have roots in Africa, though the actual number is likely higher. Organizations that research Germany’s colonial history have traced the presence of people from the African continent as far back as the early 1700s.

“Black communities in Germany are so diverse,” said Siraad Wiedenroth, 33, who sits on the board of the Initiative for Black People in Germany, in a phone interview. “There are Black people here in the second, third and fourth generations. There are people who arrived 10 years ago via guest worker visas or to study, Black people here who sought refuge.”

Artists have worked to bring visibility to Germany’s nonwhite populations. Last year, working together with local youth, Ms. Wissert created a play in Bochum called “2069: The End of Others.” Experiences with racism came up repeatedly through stories her teenage collaborators told about their lives. “They know something is wrong, that they’re being treated differently,” she said.

Rhea Ramjohn, 36, one of the founders of Black Brown Berlin, a digital platform that connects Black and brown people, said: “The history of Black people in Europe and Germany is often a narrative that they were never here. We were never here. We just arrived here. We are all refugees.”

The platform showcases Black-owned businesses and produces anti-discrimination events. One of its projects is a series of portraits of Black and brown people along with their interpretation of the phrase “We Are Here.”

This summer, cultural institutions reached out to Black artists to commission work in response to the global unrest. Black Brown Berlin was approached in July by Haus der Kulturen der Welt, a prominent museum in the capital, to produce a piece for a digital series on racism during the pandemic. 

The result was a short film that pairs a spoken-word poem with visuals of dancers performing spontaneous movement in the Grunewald forest in Berlin, where Audre Lorde would walk with mentees and friends, including the activist May Ayim, during the years Ms. Lorde lived in Berlin. The poem includes references to the “mothers of the movement,” those whose Black children were killed by police, and “I can’t breathe,” a phrase that has taken on sharper significance during the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Femi Oyewole, 31, one of Black Brown Berlin’s founders, said that many of Germany’s demonstrations suggested that racism was “an American issue. Like, ‘Germany’s fine, we don’t have this issue.’ But people here were tired. What about people here in Germany who suffered at the hands of the police?”

Policing, Racial Profiling and Far-Right Violence

“When I was growing up and thinking about being Black, it was so shaped by the U.S.,” said Ciani-Sophia Hoeder, 30, a founder of RosaMag, an online lifestyle magazine for Black women in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

“Anti-Black racism was always something people thought the U.S. or U.K. or France have, but not Germany,” Ms. Hoeder said. “We don’t talk about police brutality.” 

Some monitoring bodies have been trying to change that. In 2017, the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent reported that while the German constitution guarantees equality and prohibits race-based discrimination, “it is not being enforced.” The report also said that the lives of people of African descent “are marked by racism, negative stereotypes and structural racism” as well as “racist violence and hate crimes.”

The report lists several examples of racial discrimination and violence that were not properly investigated, including the death of Oury Jalloh, an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone who burned to death while tied to a bed in police custody in Dessau in 2005.

Since 2005, a group of friends and family has uncovered various inconsistencies in the police’s version of events surrounding his death. For example, Mr. Jalloh did not have a lighter with him when he was admitted, but one was found later in the fire rubble bag. An independent examination of Mr. Jalloh noted that he had fractures all over his body. The mattress he was tied to was fire resistant.

In 2018, the state parliament in Saxony-Anhalt tasked two investigators with re-examining the details of Mr. Jalloh’s death. This summer, Der Spiegel reported on the resistance the investigators have run into.

The report from the U.N. also described racial profiling in Germany as “endemic.” A report from the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance last year emphasized that in Germany, “though there is strong evidence for extensive racial profiling, numerous police services and representatives are unaware of or do not admit its existence.”

“We have no racism problem in the police here,” Thomas Blenke, the interior minister for the state of Baden-Württemberg said in a news release. Some politicians say that racial profiling does not exist in Germany because discrimination is banned by the constitution. But rules of police conduct allow police officers to stop and search people without suspicion in trains or in train stations all over the country or in “criminal hot spots.”

According to Die Zeit, Horst Seehofer, the minister of the interior, canceled a planned study into racial profiling because there is “no need” for it. (A spokesperson for the minister said that he commissioned a study on “right-wing extremism in security authorities” that will be completed this month.)

Mr. Seehofer recently criticized a new law in Berlin that allows people who have been discriminated against by representatives of “the state,” such as police officers, teachers and judges, to seek damages and compensation, calling it “basically madness,” in an interview with the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. He added that “there is no justification for questioning the integrity of our police officers in such a structural way.”

This summer, Mr. Seehofer, whois on a new government committee against right-wing extremism and racism, threatened to file a criminal complaint against Hengameh Yaghoobifarah, 28, a journalist who had written a satirical column that criticized the police after the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and abroad. Two German police unions filed lawsuits against Mx. Yaghoobifarah.

After pushback from various sources, including from a petitionsigned by more than 1,000 people, Mr. Seehofer backtracked. Mx. Yaghoobifarah found out last week that 150 lawsuits that had been filed because of the column were being dropped.

Mx. Yaghoobifarah and Fatma Aydemir, 33, the editors of a recent book of essays on racism, spoke about the reluctance in Germany to address the root of the violence against Black people.

“On all the talk shows in which Black Lives Matter was discussed, there was a hesitation to talk about the German police,” Ms. Aydemir said. “And whenever a person did that on a popular or mainstream platform, they always invited someone from the police or a politician very close to the police, or three of them even, to destroy this argument.”

Mx. Yaghoobifarah said: “They would, for example, say the police training in Germany is way longer than in the U.S., so people are more skilled here or they would say the history of the prison industrial complex and anti-Black racism in the U.S. is different than in Germany. And of course, it is different, but it doesn’t mean that Germany is doing well.”

The country has seen rising incidents of far-right violence; in 2019, more than half of politically motivated crimes in Germany were committed with right-wing motivation, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office.

Earlier this year, a gunman killed nine people at two hookah bars in Hanau. “There wasn’t a big outcry, a big protest, it was not at all comparable to what happened now,” said Tarik Tesfu, 35, a performer, presenter and talk show host. “It’s really easy for German media to criticize something so far away, and claim at the same time we don’t have these problems here.” 

“White German people can’t keep turning up only when someone dies in America,” said Diana Arce, 38, an organizer of Black Lives Matter Berlin. “They’re saying Black Lives Matter, but they still refuse to really fully investigate what happened to Oury Jalloh. There already is a history of violence here. There has always been a history of violence.”

Historical Revisionism

In 1884, leaders of various European powers, including Germany, gathered in Berlin to carve the African continent into colonies. The German state of Brandenburg had held a slave-trading outpost in Ghana in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

During the three decades that Germany maintained colonies in Africa, from 1884 to 1918, it committed what historians refer to as the first genocide of the 20th century against the Nama and Herero people of present-day Namibia.

The German colonizers and troops created concentration camps, where they used forced labor, sexual violence and starvation to kill their prisoners in an early form of the horrific methods the National Socialists used during the Holocaust. During the Maji-Maji War, a large-scale rebellion against German colonial rule in present-day Tanzania, at least 100,000 resistance fighters were killed, historians estimate.

Since 2015, Namibia and Germany have been involved in negotiations over reparations. Germany has yet to formally apologize for its crimes. The country has returned some of the skulls of the victims of the genocide to Namibia, which were taken by scientists studying “racial purity,” but many still remain in museums and in hospitals. And for the most part, this history is glossed over in school.

“Young kids growing up in Germany don’t realize or remember that Germany had colonies, and there were, for example, predecessors to concentration camps prior to World War II in Namibia,” said Mr. Camufingo, of Black Lives Matter Berlin. “They don’t know about Germany’s participation in the slave trade. None of that is taught.”

The Initiative for Black People in Germany has been campaigning for years to change street names that celebrate colonizers and to classify two German words as racial slurs. The organization recently had a big win: A district in Berlin voted to rename a street and a subway station that used a slur to Anton-Wilhelm-Amo-Strasse, in honor of the first known Black scholar at a German university, where his law thesis was on the topic of the rights of Black people in Europe.

“They hold on to these words like their life depends on it,” said Ms. Wiedenroth, a board member for the initiative, who said the word in question was used by “the white Europeans to describe the foreigners, the ‘not humans.’”

Dekoloniale, a new organization that seeks to bring colonial history into the mainstream, will open its headquarters on Nov. 15, on top of the site where the 1884 Berlin conference took place. Anna Yeboah, Dekoloniale’s project leader, and Christian Kopp, a historian in charge of the group’s exhibitions, both recalled first learning about German colonialism in Africa on trips to the continent. “It wasn’t a known subject,” Mr. Kopp, 52, said. “It felt like a secret.”

“It’s weird that we as German people have to go to Ghana to learn about this,” Ms. Yeboah, 30, said, recalling a visit in her teenage years to a German fort in Ghana from which hundreds of thousands of enslaved people were transported across the Atlantic Ocean.

On a walking tour, Mr. Kopp pointed out a sign across the street from Dekoloniale’s office explaining how in 1919, a group of men from East and West Africa who lived in Germany submitted a document calling for “equal rights and independence.” Mr. Kopp said that one of the aims of Dekoloniale is to shed a light on the personal histories and resistance efforts of Black people in Germany over the centuries.

“Many people in Germany have not thought about anti-Black racism or could afford not to think about it,” Mr. Kopp said. “There has been a long history of oppression and repression here, and a struggle for equal rights.”

Berlin Postkolonial, another group Mr. Kopp is part of, has been giving similar tours for 15 years. “In the beginning we did three tours a year,” Mr. Kopp said. “Now it’s 50.” He said that more and more teachers have been requesting tours for their students. Before, the tour groups mostly consisted of young adults curious about part of history that had been skipped over in school.

“History is a construction,” Ms. Yeboah said. “We need to know it to shape our future. It’s the only way you can move forward in a better direction.”


Germany: Coronavirus protests increasing anti-Semitism

Of note:

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has warned of increased anti-Semitism due to the protests against coronavirus measures.

“For months, conspiracy theories with anti-Semitic tendencies have been deliberately stirred up in the coronavirus debate,” Council President Josef Schuster told German daily newspaper Bild.

“If, for example, the Rothschilds are blamed for the pandemic, then this is a synonym for Jews,” said Shuster.

He added that not everyone who protested in Berlin in August was anti-Semitic or racist, “but they walked among them.”

Two recent protests have drawn tens of thousands from across the country to Berlin. The demonstrations were mainly peaceful, but at one point, hundreds of demonstrators broke through a blockade in an attempt to storm the Reichstag building.

Police also see uptick

The police trade union, the GdP, said it has also seen a rise in radicalization of protesters against coronavirus protective measures.

“Since the first demonstrations, right-wing groups have influenced the corona protest movement,” GdP vice-chairman Jörg Radek told newspapers of the Funke Media Group. “The right-wingers are there and are about to completely take over the movement.”

Some protesters have used signs and flags associated with far-right politics, from the Reichskriegsflagge (Imperial War Flag) to costumes comparing themselves to Holocaust victims.

“Nobody can say they are just a follower now. Anyone who stays with the movement must ask themselves whether they want to join forces with right-wing extremists and combine personal concerns in the coronavirus crisis with the extremists’ anti-democratic goals,” said Radek.

Source: Germany: Coronavirus protests increasing anti-Semitism