Still obsessed with Hitler and attracted by the lure of the far right: News magazine Der Spiegel's astonishing condemnation of Germany
Best-selling magazine mourns the 'happy, cosmopolitan Germany of 2006''The scandal is that young Germans feel the need to be neo-Nazis'
23:57 GMT, 14 December 2012
After decades of trying to shake off the shadow of Hitler, fears are growing that Germany is once more embracing the Fuehrer’s evil beliefs.
The far Right continues to attract young recruits with its message of racism and arrogance.
And now an alarm bell has been sounded by the country’s biggest news magazine.
Self analysis: 'Der Spiegel' on the shelf: The magazine is one of the largest news sources in Europe
Der Spiegel says the heady days of partying epitomised when Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006 are long gone. It concludes: ‘The reality is that there is hardly anything that interests the Germans as much about themselves as their relationship to the Hitler era.’
In a lengthy essay, the journal says: ‘This year, amid fresh debates over xenophobia, many are left wondering if the ugly German is back.
'When the Greeks or the Spaniards protest against the supposed dictatorship of the Germans in euro policy, some of their posters depict Nazi motifs.
Hitler, pictured in January 1935, casts a long shadow over Germany, says Der Spiegel
'When American author Tuvia Tenenbom recently travelled through Germany, he discovered plenty of anti-Semitism. We’re back where we didn’t want to be, caught in the spell of a Nazi past, one that also dominates the present.
‘When we look back at the media reports of 2012, there is much about this year that hints at the country’s Nazi past. And there doesn’t seem to be anything left of the happy, cosmopolitan Germany of 2006, nor of the exciting summer of 2010, when a young German team thrilled the world with its coltish and offensive approach to football at the World Cup in South Africa.
‘Many of the players were children of immigrants, and Germany came across as a relaxed, multicultural nation.
‘At the end of 2012, it seems as if we are the gloomy Germans once again, the Germans who either cannot or don’t want to shed their horrific past. It seems that it’s time for us to adjust our self-image once again.
‘We can celebrate as exuberantly as we wish, and we can play football as magnificently as we sometimes do, and yet the Nazi story will be with us for a long time to come.’
The magazine published its essay against the backdrop of Right-wing crimes dominating news headlines despite government attempts to ban the biggest neo-Nazi party, the NPD.
In April Nobel prizewinning author Gnter Grass was condemned as anti-Semitic after writing a poem sharply critical of Israel. Then it emerged that Olympic rower Nadja Drygalla had a boyfriend who belonged to a far-Right group.
The ugly German rears its head: The magazine's article is also available on the English version of Der Spiegel
Neo-Nazis also infiltrated a
neighbourhood in the city of Dortmund and established a presence among
fans of its football club, Borussia.
This week's Der Spiegel magazine cover
But most disturbing was the fact that
police and intelligence agencies had tabs on the murderous National
Socialist Underground. Yet they did nothing to stop it murdering nine
immigrant businessmen and a policewoman in a 13-year reign of terror
which included bank robberies and bombings.
While these and many other stories played out, the far Right continued its insidious corruption of the young.
This led to teachers in one eastern state being given the kind of vetting usually reserved for spies after it was found that Nazis were trying to indoctrinate children as young as three into thinking Hitler was a great man.
Der Spiegel says: ‘The scandal is that young Germans in the 21st century feel the need to be neo-Nazis.’
It points out that other countries, such as Hungary and France, have elected far-Right politicians.
But it adds: ‘Even after almost 70 years, it does make a difference whether an act of xenophobia happens in Germany.
‘We remain a special case, because Hitler is one of us.’