National Democratic Party of Germany


National Democratic Party of Germany
National Democratic Party of Germany - The People's Union
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands – Die Volksunion
Leader Holger Apfel
Founded 28 November 1964
Headquarters Berlin
Newspaper Deutsche Stimme
Youth wing Junge Nationaldemokraten
Ideology German nationalism
Ethnic nationalism[1]
Pan-Germanism
White nationalism
Political position Far-right[2]
European affiliation European National Front
European Parliament Group None
Official colours Black, Red, Yellow;
Black, White, Red (historical)
Seats in the Bundestag
Seats in the Regional Parliaments
Seats in the European Parliament
Website
http://www.npd.de/
Politics of Germany
Political parties
Elections
NPD logo until the end of 2010

The National Democratic Party of Germany – The People's Union (German: Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands – Die Volksunion, NPD), is a far right German nationalist party. It was founded in 1964 a successor to the German Reich Party (German: Deutsche Reichspartei, DRP). Party statements self-identify as Germany's "only significant patriotic force".[3] On 1 January 2011 the far right German People's Union (German: Deutsche Volksunion) merged with the NPD, and the party name of the National Democratic Party of Germany was extended by the addition of 'The People's Union'.[4]

The party is often described as a neo-Nazi organization,[5][6][7][8][9] and has been described as "the most significant neo-Nazi party to emerge after 1945".[10] The German Federal Agency for Civic Education, or BPB, has criticized the NPD for working with members of organizations which the federal courts later found to be unconstitutional and were disbanded,[11][12] while the German federal intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, classifies the NPD as a "threat to the constitutional order" because of its platform and philosophy, and it is under their observation.[13] The NPD rejects this depiction, calls it an attempt to discredit their politics and states that they stand for the interests of the German people and for the German state.[14]

It is currently represented in two of Germany's sixteen state parliaments with no seats at the federal level. Udo Voigt has led the NPD from 1996 to 2011.[13], he is succeeded by Holger Apfel.[15]

Contents

Platform and philosophy

Udo Voigt, leader of the NPD, standing in front of a banner depicting Rudolf Hess. Hess is considered a martyr by the NPD.[16]

The NPD's political philosophy coincides with the notion of a third political position, an idea which developed amidst criticisms of both liberal capitalism and communism. The NPD also endorses certain beliefs about human nature. NPD leader Udo Voigt states that the philosophy of the NPD differs from both communism and social liberalism in that it acknowledges people as unequal products of their societies and environments, largely governed by what is called natural law. Voigt states that the party is also influenced by the views of modern ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz and Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt.

The NPD calls itself a party of "grandparents and grandchildren" because the 1960s generation in Germany, known for the leftist student movement, strongly opposes the NPD's policies. The NPD's economic program promotes social security for Germans and control against plutocracy, but it does not oppose private property. Voigt has demanded the "dismantling" of the "liberal-capitalist system".[17]

The NPD argues that NATO fails to represent the interests and needs of European people. The party considers the European Union to be little more than a reorganisation of a Soviet-style Europe along financial lines.[18] Although highly critical of the EU, as long as Germany remains a part of it, the NPD opposes Turkey's incorporation into the organisation. Voigt envisions future collaboration and continued friendly relations with other nationalists and European national parties.

The NPD's platform says that Germany is larger than the present-day Federal Republic, and calls for revision of the post-war border concessions.[19] At one point, a map of Germany was shown on the party website omitting the border that divides Germany from Austria. The NPD also failed to color in the Oder-Neisse Line, the border which established the limits of federal Germany to the east and was agreed upon with Poland in 1990.[20]

The 2005 report of the Verfassungsschutz federal agency contains the following description:

"The party continues to pursue a "people's front" of the nationals [consisting of] the NPD, DVU, and forces not attached to any party, which is supposed to develop into a base for an encompassing "German people's movement". The aggressive agitation of the NPD unabashedly aims towards the abolition of parliamentary democracy and the democratic constitutional state, although the use of violence is currently still officially rejected for tactical reasons. Statements of the NPD document an essential affinity with National Socialism; its agitation is racist, antisemitic, revisionist, and intends to disparage the democratic and lawful order of the constitution."[21]

International connections

Udo Voigt and prominent American white nationalist David Duke.

Voigt has held meetings with various proponents of white nationalism, including American politician David Duke.[22]

History

Early history

The NPD achieved success in the late 1960s, winning local government seats across West Germany. In 1966 and 1967, it won 15 seats in Bavaria, 10 in lower Saxony, 8 in Hesse, and several other seats. However, it did not then and has never since received the minimum 5% of votes in federal elections that allow a party to send delegates to the German Parliament. The NPD came the closest to that goal in the 1969 election, when it got 4.3 percent of the vote. An economic downturn, frustrations with the emerging leftist youth counter-culture and the emergence of a coalition government between the center-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU), the Christian Social Union (the CDU's present-day sister party), and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) helped pave the way for those NPD gains. The coalition government had created a vacuum in the traditional political right wing, which the NPD had tried to fill.[23] The historian Walter Laqueur has argued that the NPD in the 1960s cannot be classified as a neo-Nazi party.[24]

Yet, when the coalition fell apart, around 75 percent of those who had voted for the NPD drifted back to the center-right. During the 1970s, the NPD went into decline, suffering from an internal split over failing to get into the German Parliament. The issue of immigration spurred a small rebound in popular interest from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, but the party only saw limited success in various local elections.[23]

Recent history

Electoral history

In the 2004 state election in Saxony, the NPD won 9.2% of the overall vote. The NPD currently sends 8 representatives to the Saxony state parliament, the Landtag, having lost 4 representatives in the 2009 elections. The NPD maintained a non-competition agreement with the German People's Union (DVU) between 2004 and 2009. The third white nationalist-oriented party, the Republicans (REP), has so far refused to join this agreement. However, Kerstin Lorenz, a local representative of the Republicans in Saxony, sabotaged her party's registration to help the NPD in the Saxony election.[25]

In the 2005 federal elections, the NPD received 1.6 percent of the vote nationally. It garnered the highest percent of votes in the states of Saxony (4.9 percent), Thuringia (3.7 percent), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (3.5 percent) and Brandenburg (3.2 percent). In most other states, the party won around 1 percent of the total votes cast. In the 2006 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election, the NPD received 7.3% of the vote and thus achieved state representation there, as well.[26]

The NPD had 5,300 registered party members in 2004.[27] Over the course of 2006, the NPD processed roughly 2,000 party applications to push the membership total over 7,200. In 2008, the trend of a growing number of members has been reversed and NPD's membership is estimated at about 7000.[28]

The 2001–2003 banning attempt

In 2001, the federal government, the Bundestag, and the Bundesrat jointly attempted to ban the NPD in a trial before the Federal Constitutional Court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, the highest court in Germany with the exclusive power to ban parties if they are found to be "anti-constitutional". However, the case was thrown out in 2003 after it was discovered that a number of the NPD's inner circle were in fact undercover agents or informants of the German secret services, like the federal Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz. They include a former deputy chairman of the party and author of an anti-Semitic tract that formed a central part of the government's case. Since the government assemblies were unwilling to fully disclose their agents' identities and activities, the court found it impossible to decide which moves by the party were based on genuine party decisions and which were controlled by the secret services in an attempt to further the ban. “The party was, in part, responding to the government's dictates”, the court said. “The presence of the state at the leadership level makes influence on its aims and activities unavoidable”, it concluded.[29]

Horst Mahler (NPD), a former member of the far left terrorist organisation Red Army Faction, defended the NPD before the court. In May 2009, several state politicians published an extensive document[30] which they claim proves the NPD's opposition to the constitution without relying on information supplied by undercover agents. This move was intended to lead up to a second attempt to have the NPD banned.

Merger with DVU

At the 2010 NPD party conference at Bamberg it was announced that the party would ask its members to approve a merger with the German People's Union (DVU).[31] After the merger on 1 January 2011 the party name of the NPD was extended by the addition of 'The People's Union'.[4] Between 2004 and 2009 the two parties had agreed not to compete against each other in elections. However, on January 27, 2011, the Munich Landgericht (regional court) in a preliminary injunction declared the merger null and void.[32]

World War II and Holocaust commemoration controversies

Supporters of the NPD and other far-right protesters in Dresden, 2009.

On 21 January 2005, during a silence in the Saxon state assembly in Dresden to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Auschwitz extermination camp, twelve members of the NPD walked out in protest. The NPD was upset that a moment of silence was being held for those who died in the Auschwitz camp and that none was being given for those who died during the bombing of Dresden in World War II, with the anniversary of both events falling relatively close to each other. Holger Apfel, leader of the NPD in Saxony and deputy leader of the party nationwide, made a speech in the Saxon State Parliament in which he called the Allied forces of the United States of America and Britain "mass murderers" because of their role in the bombing. His colleague, Jürgen Gansel went on to describe the bombing itself as a "holocaust of bombs".

Voigt voiced his support and reiterated the statement, which some controversially claimed was a violation of the German law which forbids Holocaust denial. However, after judicial review, it was decided that Udo Voigt's description of the 1945 RAF bombing of Dresden as a holocaust was an exercise of free speech and "defamation of the dead" was not the purpose of his statement.[33]

In 2009, the NPD joined the Junge Landsmannschaft Ostdeutschland in a demonstration on the anniversary of the Bombing of Dresden in World War II. 6.000 people took part in the event.[34][35]

Activism and controversy

Supporters of the NPD on May 8, 2005.

The NPD's strategy has been to create "national free-zones" and circumvent its marginal electoral status by concentrating on regions where support is strongest. In March 2006, musician Konstantin Wecker tried to set up an in-school anti-fascist concert in Halberstadt, Saxony-Anhalt two weeks before the state elections. The NPD argued that because of politics, the date and the in-school venue, the concert "was an unacceptable form of political campaigning."[36] In protest, the NPD vowed to buy the tickets and turn up en masse at Wecker's show, which led local authorities to cancel the event. The Social Democrats and the Greens were outraged by the decision, which the Central Council for Jews called "politically bankrupt".

The NPD was going to sponsor a march through Leipzig on 21 June 2006, as the 2006 World Cup was going on. The party wanted to show its support for the Iranian national football team, which was playing in Leipzig, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, the NPD decided against the demonstration; only a counter-demonstration took place that day, in support of Israel.[37] During the World Cup, the party's web site stated that due to the prevalence of people of non-German descent on the German national football team, the team "was not really German".

Later in 2006, the party designed leaflets which said "White - not just the color of a jersey! For a true National team!"[38] This leaflet was never mass-distributed, but copies were confiscated during a raid on the NPD's headquarters, when authorities had been hoping to find material linking the party to Nazism. Patrick Owomoyela was later informed about the poster after it was noted that the image depicted a footballer wearing a white jersey with Owomoyela's number on it. Owomoyela, of Nigerian descent, had played for the German national team in the years before the World Cup and proceeded to file a lawsuit against the party. The party was able to delay the procedures but in April 2009 three party officials (Udo Voigt, Frank Schwerdt and Klaus Bieler) were sentenced for Volksverhetzung (Voigt and Bieler to 7 months on probation, Schwerdt to 10 months on probation).[39]

In November 2008, shortly after the 2008 United States Presidential Election, the NPD published a document entitled "Africa conquers the White House" which stated that the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States was the result of "the American alliance of Jews and Negroes" and that Obama aimed to destroy the United States' "white identity." The NPD claimed that "A non-white America is a declaration of war on all people who believe an organically grown social order based on language and culture, history and heritage to be the essence of humanity" and that "Barack Obama hides this declaration of war behind his pushy sunshine smile." The NPD also stated that the extensive support for Obama in Germany "resembles an African tropical disease."[40][41][42][43]

In September 2009, another incident involving the NPD and a football player of the German national team was reported. In a television show of a regional channel, NPD spokesman Beier called midfielder Mesut Özil a "Plaste-Deutscher" ("Plastic German" or "ID Card German"), meaning someone who is not a born German, but one that is made by naturalization, particularly for certain benefits. The German Football Association announced that they would immediately file a lawsuit against the NPD and their spokesman, if requested by Özil.[44]

During Operation Cast Lead in 2009, the NPD planned a "holocaust vigil" for Gaza in support of the Palestinians. Charlotte Knobloch, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said "joint hatred of everything Jewish is unifying neo-Nazis and Islamists." Knobloch, who broadly associated Palestinians with Nazis, claimed German-Palestinian protestors "unashamedly admitted" that they would vote for the NPD during the next election.[45]

In April 2009, the party was fined 2.5 million Euro for filing incorrect financial statements, resulting, according to Deutsche Welle, in "serious financial trouble" for its administration.[46]

On 23 September 2009, four days before the federal elections, German police raided the Berlin headquarters of the NPD to investigate claims that letters sent from the NPD to politicians from immigrant backgrounds incited racial hatred. The NPD leader in Berlin defended the letters saying that "As part of a democracy we're entitled to say if something doesn't suit us in this country".[47][48][49][50][51][52]

Party leaders of NPD

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Verfassungsschutzbericht 2009,.Vorabfassung. Ministry of the Interior, Germany. 2010. p. 66. http://verfassungsschutz.de/download/de/publikationen/verfassungsschutzbericht/vsbericht_2009/vsbericht2009.pdf. "Der völkische Nationalismus als ideologische Richtschnur prägt die Herangehensweise an die unterschiedlichen Themen und Arbeitsfelder." 
  2. ^ http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4561154,00.html
  3. ^ Verfassungsschutzbericht 2009, Vorabfassung. Ministry of the Interior, Germany. 2010. p. 94. http://verfassungsschutz.de/download/de/publikationen/verfassungsschutzbericht/vsbericht_2009/vsbericht2009.pdf. "Das NPD-Präsidium bezeichnete in einer Stellungnahme vom 28. September 2009 die eigene Partei als nunmehr "einzige ernstzunehmende nationale Kraft" [...]." 
  4. ^ a b http://www.npd.de/html/1/artikel/detail/1933/
  5. ^ "Neo-Nazi NPD party takes hold in municipal vote in Saxony". [1]. 9 Jun 08. http://www.thelocal.de/politics/20080609-12381.html. Retrieved June 10, 2009. "The neo-Nazi NPD party has representatives in every county council in the eastern German state of Saxony after it increased its share of the vote in municipal elections on Sunday." 
  6. ^ "Neo-Nazis push into town councils". [2]. 9 Jun 09. http://www.thelocal.de/politics/20090609-19809.html. Retrieved June 10, 2009. "The neo-Nazi NPD party is entering several German city parliaments for the first time after this weekend’s local elections, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Monday." 
  7. ^ "Poll shows majority of Germany believe NPD to be non-democratic and damaging to Germany's image". [3]. 22 Sep 06. http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,438528,00.html. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Neonazis in der NPD auf dem Vormarsch". [4]. 19 May 2009. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/550/469109/text/. Retrieved August 23, 2009. "Das neonazistische Spektrum hat seinen Einfluss innerhalb der NPD ausgebaut." 
  9. ^ Verfassungsschutzbericht 2008. [5]. May 2009. p. 51. http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/de/publikationen/verfassungsschutzbericht/. Retrieved August 23, 2009. "Auch 2008 ist es in der Kooperation zwischen der NPD und der Neonazi-Szene zu erheblichen Spannungen gekommen." 
  10. ^ Peter Davies, Derek Lynch, The Routledge companion to fascism and the far right, Psychology Press, 2002, pg. 315
  11. ^ "Rechtsextremismus". Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung [6]. 2006 - 2008. http://www.bpb.de/themen/CNCDW9,79,0,Glossar.html. Retrieved August 23, 2009. "Auch zeigte sich die NPD nun bereit, mit radikalen Kräften aus dem parteiungebundenen Spektrum zusammenzuarbeiten. Formal gilt nach wie vor ein Unvereinbarkeitsbeschluss der NPD-Mitgliedschaft mit der Mitgliedschaft in verbotenen Gruppierungen. Faktisch jedoch setzt sich die NPD mit ihrer Strategie bewusst über die offizielle Verlautbarung hinweg. Die NPD wolle in Zukunft mit denjenigen zusammenzuarbeiten, die dazu bereit seien, "als politische Soldaten zu denken und zu handeln", so die neue Strategie." 
  12. ^ "Zusammenspiel zwischen NPD und Neonazis im niedersächsischen Landtagswahlkampf". Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz Bremen. 30 November 2007. http://www.verfassungsschutzgegenrechtsextremismus.de/de/aktuelles/news-detailansicht/artikel/11/zusammenspiel-zwischen-npd-und-neonazis-im-niedersaechsischen-landtagswahlkampf.html. Retrieved August 2, 2009. "Die Kooperation zwischen der NPD und den Freien Nationalisten (Angehörige von neonazistischen Kameradschaften) prägt das Auftreten der Partei im niedersächsischen Landtagswahlkampf. Bekannte Neonazis treten für die NPD als Direktkandidaten an, z.B. Dennis BÜHRIG in Bergen, Klaus HELLMUND in Celle, Mathias BEHRENS in Soltau oder Dieter RIEFLING in Hildesheim." 
  13. ^ a b Austrian ´neo-Nazi´ joins NPD’s executive committee. Austrian Times. Published April 8, 2009.
  14. ^ 'Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands Hier ist Deutschland'
  15. ^ Stabwechsel bei der NPD in: Blick nach rechts, accessed 14-11-2011
  16. ^ Ehemaliger Pfleger von Rudolf Heß wirbt bei NPD
  17. ^ Annual Report of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution 2004, p. 56.
  18. ^ NPD party programme (in German) http://npd.de/medien/pdf/parteiprogramm.pdf
  19. ^ Party program, p. 13. ("Deutschland ist größer als die Bundesrepublik! ... Wir fordern die Revision der nach dem Krieg abgeschlossenen Grenzanerkennungsverträge.")
  20. ^ Map of Germany on NPD's website http://www.npd.de
  21. ^ Report of the Versfassungsschutz
  22. ^ David Duke. "My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding". Free Speech Press. http://shop.davidduke.com/cgi-bin/dukecat/00088.html. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  23. ^ a b Chapin, Wesley D. (1997). Germany for the Germans?. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 70–73. ISBN 0313302588. 
  24. ^ Walter Laqueur (1996). Fascism: past, present, future. Oxford University Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-19-509245-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=DnaGAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  25. ^ Kerstin Lorenz, ehem. Landeschefin der Republikaner in Sachsen, tritt in die NPD ein! http://www.wno.org/newpages/par46b.html
  26. ^ BBC News update
  27. ^ Spiegel
  28. ^ "Verfassungsschutzbericht 2008". [7]. May 2009. p. 79. http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/de/publikationen/verfassungsschutzbericht/. Retrieved August 23, 2009. "Mit rund 7.000 Mitgliedern verzeichnete die NPD im Vergleich zum Vorjahr (7.200) einen leichten Rückgang, bleibt jedoch mitgliederstärkste Partei im rechtsextremistischen Spektrum." 
  29. ^ Hooper, John (March 19, 2003). "German court rejects attempt to ban neo-Nazi party". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,917120,00.html. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  30. ^ State politicians introduce document about NPD |tagesschau
  31. ^ "German neo-Nazi parties 'consider merger'". The Daily Telegraph (London). June 4, 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/7804533/German-neo-Nazi-parties-consider-merger.html. 
  32. ^ http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/fusion-von-npd-und-dvu-ist-unwirksam/3773068.html
  33. ^ Hannah Cleaver, "German ruling says Dresden was a holocaust", Telegraph.co.uk, April 12, 2005.
  34. ^ "Neo-Nazis hijack Dresden ceremony in the biggest far-right demonstration since Hitler". The Independent (London). February 14, 2005. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/neonazis-hijack-dresden-ceremony-in-the-biggest-farright-demonstration-since-hitler-483337.html. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  35. ^ Patrick Donahue. "Skinheads, Neo-Nazis Draw Fury at Dresden 1945 ‘Mourning March’". http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aGstsMp983DI&refer=worldwide. Retrieved 2009 02 14. 
  36. ^ Deutsche Welle article
  37. ^ Laura Smith-Spark, "Leipzig far-right rally dropped," BBC News (20 June 2006)]
  38. ^ "NPD leader charged for racist campaign against black player in national football team". Spiegel.de. 25 Mar 08. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,543287,00.html. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  39. ^ NPD-Chef Voigt zu Bewährungsstrafe verurteilt, sueddeutsche.de, 25. April 2009
  40. ^ German pol decries ‘Jewish-Negro’ alliance, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), November 11, 2008 (retrieved on December 5, 2008.)
  41. ^ Jewish group mulls charges over neo-Nazi Obama slurs, BreitBart.com, November 10, 2008.
  42. ^ Calls for prosecution after German politician says Obama win 'a declaration of war' by Jon Swaine, Telegraph.co.uk, November 11, 2008.
  43. ^ Racism Rears Its Head in European Remarks on Obama by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, page A15, November 11, 2008 (retrieved on December 5, 2008.)
  44. ^ http://sport.de.msn.com/fussball-article.aspx?cp-documentid=149765548
  45. ^ http://www.eurojewcong.org/ejc/news.php?id_article=3517
  46. ^ Far-right politician convicted over racist World Cup flyers. Deutsche Welle. Published April 24, 2009.
  47. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8270598.stm
  48. ^ http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=87480
  49. ^ http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4713188,00.html?maca=en-currentaffairs_germany-77-rdf
  50. ^ http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,26113608-401,00.html
  51. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/22/AR2009092201226.html
  52. ^ http://www.canada.com/news/Anger+results+after+German+Nazis+tell+immigrant+candidates+home/2019845/story.html

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