This weekends extreme-right NPD national party congress in Berlin Reinickendorf doesn’t have to get any uglier because it is already ugly enough as it is. But the hundreds of demonstrators and mainstream Berlin politicians calling “Nazis out” from outside are sure doing their best to contribute. And it is easy to understand why. Although the NPD usually knows best how to remain politically insignificant out there in the lunatic fringe where it comes from and belongs, it accidentally managed to stumble over the five percent limit in recent elections and now sits in two state parliaments.

This is making a lot of the said mainstream politicians nervous these days and the talk is back about banning the NPD again. The former German government made a run at shutting them down but failed when the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the Supreme Court) determined that the state’s case was based in part by statements made by paid government informants. And now it seems that the city of Berlin’s Interior Minister is ready to take another shot at outlawing the party because “The NPD has in the meantime clearly devloped into a neo-Nazi party.”  

This argument seems less than convincing to me as the NPD was clearly a neo-Nazi party to begin with. And as he says himself, what is really necessary, in order to climb over the legal hurdles put up by the Bundesverfassungsgericht when they made their last decision, is to pull out the V-Leute (the V-People as in Verbindung – undercover police spies working for the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) who have infiltrated the NPD. This will let the party hang itself with its own rope and without any “help” from the outside.

But the real question for me is whether spying on or even banning a party like the NPD makes any sense. As ugly as they are, they can only and will only always remain an insignificant Randgruppe (marginal group) in 21st century Germany. They are politically meaningless, despite their temporary seat warming function in state government, because no other German party will ever work with them.

Sure the emotional reaction to them is understandable, but it says much more about the German past than the German present. Statistics here or there, Germany is (unfortunately?) no more xenophobic than any other nation out there. And it is certainly a less violent society than most others. And no, ignoring the NPD won’t make them go away, but it’s a fine option to having to look at them all the time. They will disappear again soon enough all by themselves.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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