A demonstration organised by a new right-wing movement in Germany against the “Islamisation” of Europe on January 12 drew 25,000 people in Dresden ― the largest such march yet. However, anti-racist counter-rallies drew 100,000 people across Germany the same night, and 35,000 in Dresden just two-days earlier to reject the racists. Since October last year, Germany has become increasingly polarised by weekly marches against “Islamicisation by the new right-wing movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA).
Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It? John Green & Bruni de la Motte Artery Publications, 2009 50 pp., $7.25 Red Love: The Story of an East German Family Maxim Leo Pushkin Press, 2013 272 pp., $31.60 The German Democratic Republic (GDR) disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.
Nearly twenty-five years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, socialist party Die Linke (“The Left”) looks set to form government in the eastern German state of Thuringia for the first time. After two months of uncertainty following September 14 state elections, the way was cleared for Die Linke to head a coalition government in December, alongside the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, on November 4 when nearly 70% of SPD members in Thuringia voted to enter the coalition.
For all the supposed faults of Keynesian economics, the so-called cure of neoliberalism is proving far worse than the counter-cyclical spending disease so despised by conservatives. From the early years of the Industrial Revolution, a cycle of “boom and bust” was identified as a distinctive feature of capitalism after the first global slump in 1860. It was these crises, expected to be repeated every seven to 11 years, which led Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to predict that they would bring about the destruction of the system that engendered them.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is determined to blame the Russian government for the tragic deaths of 298 civilians, including 38 Australians, when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Abbott went as far as to threaten to “shirtfront” Russian President Vladimir Putin during the November 15 and 16 G20 Summit in Brisbane.
For 48 hours, it looked as if Thursday, October 16, 2014 might join similar October Thursdays in 1907, 1929 and 1979 as another dramatic moment when sharemarket panic triggered economic downturn. However, it was not to be. The US$3 trillion slump in world sharemarket values in the first two-and-half-weeks of October had, by October 24, been partially reversed by a coordinated effort of “calm engineering” by central bankers. But how long can that treatment ― whose message to the gambling fund managers is that interest rates will stay low ― succeed?
Under the unfortunately red-hot slogan: “Stand up for Peace — In Solidarity”, about 300 participants and many day guests from nearby Berlin and Brandenburg came together from July 23 to 27 for the Ninth Summer University of the European Left. Constructive, concentrated, and communicative, people from at least 32 countries worked together during this unique annual event of the Party of the European Left and Transform! Europe.
The Ghetto Fights, Warsaw 1943-45 Marek Edelman Bookmarks, 2013 98 pp., $14.00 “Through the din of German cannons, destroying the homes of our mothers, wives and children; through the noise of their machine guns, seized by us in the fight against the cowardly German police and SS men; through the smoke of the Ghetto, that was set on fire, and the blood of its mercilessly killed defenders, we, the slaves of the Ghetto, convey heartfelt greetings to you.”
One hundred years ago, fighting broke out among the great powers of Europe, launching what has become known as World War I. The brutal conflict, which lasted more than four years, proved to be a decisive turning point for humanity and the socialist movement — its effects still felt strongly today.
The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler Ben Urwand Belknap, 2013 327 pages, $39.95 (hb) Throughout the 1930s, movie-goers all over the world got to see the German Nazi’s cut of every Hollywood film. Any movie touching on Germany contained no mention of Nazism or Jews. Both these silences, as Harvard University’s Ben Urwand unearths in The Collaboration, were the result of a remarkable agreement allowing the Nazis to dictate Hollywood movie content in return for Hollywood studios keeping their access to the lucrative German market.
About 300 West African refugees reached the German city of Hamburg early last year after a long and perilous journey from Libya. They had, like countless other refugees travelling from north Africa, crossed the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa the name that the group of 300 later adopted for themselves. The refugees had hoped to receive refugee status from the German state. However, authorities, deferring to European Union guidelines, refused to provide them with any sort of accommodation and tried to expel them from Hamburg.
Germany’s September 22 federal elections delivered victory to the ruling conservative Christian Democratic Alliance, despite forces to their left winning a majority of seats. Die Linke (the Left Party) has emerged the third largest in the Bundestag (German parliament). The Chancellor Angela Merkel-led alliance scored their best result since German re-unification in 1990, with more than 18 million votes (41.5%).
The upcoming federal elections in Germany, scheduled for September 22, are unlikely to change the character of German politics regardless of the outcome. The two main parties remain committed continuing to represent the interests of German corporations over its people. Die Linke (The Left Party) provides a left parliamentary alternative, but it has not succeeded in convincing ordinary, working people that a break of the status quo is possible.
A 700-strong march wound its way through the medieval streets of Freiburg, in the south-west German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, on April 20 to protest against the imminent resumption of deportation flights from the state. The theme of the protest was “Those who want to stay should stay”. Those targeted for deportation are Roma refugees who fled Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, and their German-born children.
All That I Am, A Novel By Anna Funder Penguin 2011 370 pp, $29.95 Germany at the end of World War I entered a political and cultural maelstrom that tested the integrity of all its participants. This factually based narrative, or “open-source novel” as author Anna Funder calls it, brings to life some of those who committed their lives to trying to bring socialism to Germany and combat Hitler.
Refugees coming to Germany right now are largely from known regions of crisis. They come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, many African countries and the Turkish-ruled part of Kurdistan. They also include many Roma who want to escape extreme poverty and racial discrimination in Kosovo and other East European countries.