• Germany's news in English

Xenophobia takes root in German mainstream

The Local · 13 Oct 2010, 11:21

Published: 13 Oct 2010 11:21 GMT+02:00

The poll, presented in Berlin by the Friedrich Ebert foundation for political education (FES), showed that xenophobic views are taking a greater hold among the German public than previously.

The 10 percent who wanted a “Führer” said that this person should “govern with a hard hand for the good of Germany” and believed a dictatorship to be a “better form of government.”

One quarter of people questioned said they longed for a “strong party” that “embodies German society.”

More than 30 percent agreed with the statement, “foreigners come to abuse the welfare state,” said the FES, which is backed by the centre-left Social Democrats.

Even more people - 31.7 percent - said that in a limited job market “one should send foreigners back home,” and that too many immigrants put Germany in danger of being “overrun” (35.6 percent).

Anti-Islam views were particularly strong in the FES poll, which surveyed 2,400 Germans aged between 14 and 90.

Just over 58 percent said that “religious practice for Muslims in Germany should be seriously limited,” and that number rose to 75.7 percent for people from former East Germany.

Leipzig-based study authors Oliver Decker and Elmar Brähler called their findings an “alarm signal for politics and society,” saying the right-wing extremist views had multiplied during the financial crisis. People who promote such views could use the situation to “gain political capital,” they warned.

The study, entitled Die Mitte in der Krise - Rechtsextreme Einstellungen in Deutschland 2010, or “The mainstream in the crisis – Right-wing extremist attitudes in Germany,” also showed that older and less-educated Germans were most likely to be intolerant.

Still, the phenomenon is not confined to the “fringe” of society, FES spokeswoman Nora Langenbacher said. Instead right-wing extremist views are found in “worrisome amounts within mainstream society,” be it eastern or western Germany, men or women, young or old, members of democratic parties, or churchgoers.

“This development is most likely linked to the effects of the economic crisis,” the study said, adding that this meant not only an ongoing increase in the acceptance of right-wing extremist views, but also a measurable change in Germans’ relationship to the economy.

“Beliefs in an ethnic community with a common destiny are making themselves apparent, for example in distinguishing between ‘foreigners’ who bring ‘us’ something, and those who present a burden for the ‘common good’,” the study concluded.

The study results come as the debate over immigration and integration reaches a fever pitch in Germany. Since June, Thilo Sarrazin has made a number of anti-immigrant statements aimed mainly at Turks and Arabs, coinciding with the publication of his controversial book Deutschland schafft sich ab - Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen, or “Abolishing Germany - How we’re putting our country at jeopardy.”

While many politicians have condemned Sarrazin’s position, polls have shown that public support of his views is growing. In early September a poll conducted by Emnid for daily Bild revealed that 18 percent would vote for a party headed by Sarrazin, who was forced to resign from his Bundesbank position over his hot-button views.

But since then, several conservative politicians have been emboldened to make similar remarks, the latest being Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, who over the weekend suggested a ban on immigration for Turks and Arabs because of their “difficulties” with integration.

DAPD/The Local/ka

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Your comments about this article

12:17 October 13, 2010 by William Thirteen
'older and less-educated Germans were most likely to be intolerant.'

no surprise there...
12:46 October 13, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I'm surprised that reportedly only 10% of the respondents said that they wanted a "Führer." That doesn't track with the other results in the same poll. I suspect that if the respondents were completely honest and unconcerned with the stigma attached to the title, many more would opt for a Führer. I think the populist rabble in the US would, too. The democratic experiment is in constant peril because time and again the people demonstrate that they are unwilling or unable to govern themselves responsibly.

The populist xenophobic panderings of people like Sarrazin and Seehofer wouldn't stand a chance in an enlightened society.
13:02 October 13, 2010 by LancashireLad
Sadly, there is no such thing as an enlightened society.

I'd like to see the questionnaire before making any judgements. I'd like to see if and by how much it is biased.
13:21 October 13, 2010 by Jibzy
If by Intolerance is implied as believing.. love germany or leave it... i'm entirely intolerant.
13:27 October 13, 2010 by munichiscool
14:27 October 13, 2010 by tallady
The problem with "democracy " where majority rules ,leads itself to where peoples attitude can be bought ,pressured as in the case of immigration or deceived into approving a would be sinister leaders designs..Seehofer, Sararzin,Hitler,George Bush,The Tea Party Movement..on and on ,we have seen this before and events like the present day economic down turn(unemployment) only fuel these peoples attidude into believing anti immigration laws are the answer to their problems,,they are not the answers only the beginning.
15:14 October 13, 2010 by moistvelvet
They want to get rid of foreigners who feed off the German economy without offering anything to it, I would like to know how they feel about German parasites leeching in exactly the same way despite having the knowledge, language, education and nationality to get better jobs in Germany than the foreigners.

16:10 October 13, 2010 by anne k
This article says 10% wanted a dictatorship and a "Führer". The word "Führer" as used in the study does not mean a Hitler figure; it is used in the normal way to mean "leader". The question actually says "We should have a leader to rule Germany with a strong rein for the good of all" - 3.7% agreed wholeheartedly, 9.5% agreed mostly, 51.9% disagreed entirely. The question about a dictatorship says "In the national interest, under certain circumstances a dictatorship is the best form of rule" - 2% agreed wholeheartedly, 6.8% agreed mostly, 53% disagreed entirely. 2,411 people were surveyed, 1907 of whom were from the west and 504 from the east.
16:22 October 13, 2010 by inmylife
It's sad that 10% want a Fuhrer. I'm not surprised though. Multiculturalism is like playing with fire. Once people wake up to what's happening they will strike back without mercy. Forcing the Germans to give money to France and Greece so they can retire at 58 is madness as well.
16:49 October 13, 2010 by anne k
Just to repeat clearly, this part of the article:

"The 10 percent who wanted a ¦quot;Führer¦quot; said that this person should ¦quot;govern with a hard hand for the good of Germany¦quot; and believed a dictatorship to be a ¦quot;better form of government.¦quot;"

... is misleading and an extremely poor piece of reporting. Using the German word "Führer" instead of translating it as "leader" is sensationalist, the figures are wrong, and the questions are either translated inaccurately or with key parts missing.

This article might even be seen as an attempt to spread negative ideas about Germans. *Who* is xenophobic, exactly?
17:03 October 13, 2010 by munichiscool
@anne K : "Früher" has very special meaning in Germany. It is the "you know who" :) I hope you understood. Otherwise ask some German directly. :)
17:28 October 13, 2010 by anne k
@munichiscool - I'm not a complete idiot, thanks. In the study, which you too can read if you follow the link at the end of the article, "Führer" is used, in German, in the normal meaning "leader". In English, using the German word Führer instead of translating it as "leader" means that you are definitely referring to a Hitler figure. That is not how it is used in the study.
18:03 October 13, 2010 by catjones
As usual, no one extrapolates these stories. If the right wing did take over, what would they do? Raise an army? Invade Poland? Build a wall around Germany?

During periods of economic uncertainty, the government always tries to find the scapegoat, the distraction and the press willingly goes along for the ride.
18:13 October 13, 2010 by Beachrider
If Germany is to have an 'Open Society', then it will be impacted by the residents, even as the profile of residents change. Fear of change is natural, but coping with changes around German society is very important. As some populations contract (traditional German birth rate is down) others either grow-in-comparison or grow-in-reality. Someone will have to be paying-taxes in 20-40 years when the non-retired Germans try to retire. The Japanese are struggling with this concept. Deal with it and Germany will still be a world influencer in 10-50 years. It isn't easy. Good luck!
18:20 October 13, 2010 by Prufrock2010
It's a little disingenuous to parse the real meaning of "Führer" in this context, particularly when those who said they wanted one also said they believed that a dictatorship was a better form of government. "Führer" does indeed mean leader. It also means something else in the German psyche. Let's keep it real here.
19:28 October 13, 2010 by anne k
"It also means something else in the German psyche. Let's keep it real here. " The German word Führer, used in English, means something much less ambiguous in the English "psyche", which is why I believe the decision not to translate it, or explain the ambiguity, is sensationalist.
20:13 October 13, 2010 by T Gonzaga
A free and democratic society abdicates its' duty to confront and to counter challenges to its fundamental principles whenever it fails to prohibit inhumane practices such as denigration of women, honor killings, censorship, theocracy, refusal to integrate etc. Furthermore, where such indifference is maintained over years, whether under the guise of toleration or of cultural relativism; it becomes inevitable that a segment of the native population will become angry and alienated and susceptible to the appeals of demagogues. Freedom isn' t free and toleration is not a synonim for either, appeasement or capitulation. The last Fuhrer of Germany had a hand in burning his own Reichstag. This time, the German government may have merely allowed the perpetrators to bring their own matches and torch, while our liberal pandering provided the fuel.
21:10 October 13, 2010 by Canadianhaggis
It's nice to see that the media and the German public are allowed to voice an opinion that is not politically correct and goes against the norm. Could never happen here in Canada. You would be branded a raciest and the cops would all over you. Comments like I see here would never be published.

It is kind of refreshing people can speak their minds.
22:08 October 13, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"What % have germanophobia?"

Probably the majority, I'd bet. That would explain their penchant for projection.
22:27 October 13, 2010 by Richard Hurlbrink
Germany today is the result of many factors. At the end of the war the victors decided to ¦#39;reprogram, reeducate¦#39; the German people. The Allies accomplished this through the terror bombing of the cities, the mass forced relocation of the people, the elimination of all elements of NS, the new Constitution, the new education programs, the new leadership, etc., all of this was a profound success, which resulted in the Germany of today. The Germany of today is a government bent on culture suicide and the death of what was the German nation. National pride is forbidden, questioning the direction the politicians are taking the nations are forbidden, any questions that deviate from what is ¦#39;acceptable¦#39; is punished in many ways, lost of job, lost of position, threats of law suit, and even jailing of the offender. Foreigners can be critical of German but God help the German who believes he truly has freedom of speech.
22:31 October 13, 2010 by Prufrock2010
It seems to me, Mr. Hurlbrink, that you just exercised your freedom of speech.
22:52 October 13, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Churchill might have been a racist colonialist and a bit of a closet nazi himself, but what does that have to do with your comment?
00:20 October 14, 2010 by bugger
Go ahead and have your Fuhrer, we know how that story ends.
05:06 October 14, 2010 by bernie1927
It is really unfortunate that in the poll the word "Fuehrer" was used, instead of the true meaning of this word, namely "leader". I am sure, the poll results would have been quite different. The way it is now, the polling was completely useless.
13:32 October 14, 2010 by Ansgard
I think this research is bullshit.
14:21 October 14, 2010 by bugger
All you've done is redefine nationalism and wanting a different form of government as "xenophobia" and "extremism", respectively. The issues you mention are happening across Europe, and even over here in the States.

Waves of immigrants hit by the bad economy looking for a country with better social services(such as yours, which thanks to its strong industry has been less affected by the financial crisis,) demanding such as a due right by their mere presence with the "host country" unable to take any action lest they be called "racist" or "xenophobic".

Not just Muslims, but masses of Muslims moving to western countries with the intent to Islamicize us. They also demand not tolerance or acceptance, but special rights, such as the right to turn the courts or their host country into a weapon to silence anyone who says something they dislike, and the right to publicly humiliate their women by forcing them to act as lepers, teaching them to be deeply ashamed of their own bodies. Free religious practice is only a human right to the point where it stops being about personal practice, and shifts to efforts to take away the liberty of others.

Are the citizens of a free society not entitled, if they wish, to desire a strong, nationalist government? Or any other kind, if they so choose? Saying someone who believes a monarchy would suit the country better is "extremist" is reminiscent of McCarthy-era treatment of communists.
15:32 October 14, 2010 by Major B
Many of these comments are sooooo humorous and sooooo In the past. They are mired in the post WWII analysis of Germany and are just plain outdated. And with the U.S. history of racism against minorities as bad as anything the Nazi's did, Americans should just plain stay out of this. It the U.S. took 25 years after WWII before it could pass a Civil Rights Act, having "saved the world" for democracy during that conflict. And the Xenophobia in the U.S. South was horrendous, just plain horrendous during the Civil Rights era. This is not to disrespect the huge sacrifices Americans made in both world wars. Why is this issue being sensationalized by The Local?
17:23 October 14, 2010 by tallady
xenophobia taking root in mainstream German,that is the TOPIC,,

Being married to a German and working with German youth ,I must agree with an earlier comment that stated German youth Xenophobia is on the rise..I hear it every day and in the last 5 years it is getting louder...i believe that most youth ages 13 to 20 are not as connected to the past Nazi era of their parents ,the country is united(with some problems there) and this age group shows great pride in their country ,,Only 2 years ago people did not hang flags from their balcony and on their autos like we have recently seen. There are big changes in attitudes and in Nationalism taking place among this group...I think we are going to see much more of this and Politicians are starting to listen for those precious votes ...
18:33 October 14, 2010 by michael4096
..the Germans have made great progress in the last 60 years..
antrodemus - I'm sure all germans will thank you for your support - but, for curiosity, what measure are you using for the term 'progress'…[/quote]Tallady - This fits with my own observations. Young germans are resisting the 'warmongers of europe' stigma pinned to them by history. Unfortunately, it's translating into pinning a 'pariah' label onto immigrants in general and muslims in particular. We must have somebody to blame, even if we're not sure what we're blaming them for!
18:41 October 14, 2010 by twobuckchuck
When minorities seek to preserve their culture, they call it pride. When Europeans do it, they call it xenophobia.
22:28 October 14, 2010 by golew
This is not at all an issue unique to the Germans. A resurgence in Nationalism is inevitable when any nation fears losing their culture and sovereignty. This is currently an issue throughout the Western world and very predictable really. How long should we expect any citizen to simply roll over and hold themselves to higher standards than their immigrants? You can see the same issues everywhere you look. In America with the Mexican illegals, in the UK with the muslims, in Germany with the Turks. What's even more surprising is that you don't have to be white to exhibit this form of xenophobia. This is of course what the majority of westerners have been taught, is it not? I've seen this as well in my latest travels to Japan, Thailand, Singapore. It's a human condition. In order to avoid such a shift in attitude it is up to the IMMIGRANTS to RESPECT their HOST country. Plain and simple. Germans, the onus is not on you to explain your fear and anxiety.
23:04 October 14, 2010 by HJ Marseille
1. Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,

Über alles in der Welt,

Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze

Brüderlich zusammenhält,

Von der Maas bis an die Memel,

Von der Etsch bis an den Belt -

|: Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,

Über alles in der Welt. :|
23:47 October 14, 2010 by ww77ww
Is the true disease the claim of "xenophobia" or is it simply a reaction to unsustainable and mindless immigration policies enacted by idiotic irresponsible farleftists?

People from "enlightened" places might be able to give this some honest thought.
00:23 October 15, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I think the "far rightists" are more inclined to be xenophobic, thus explaining their reactionary mindset. So your rhetorical question is answered. Irresponsible is almost the exclusive province of the right wing.
11:18 October 15, 2010 by bugger
Nice to see the German people finally waking up.

Don't let anybody try to convince you that what you feel is "phobic" or an "ism".

You are right and correct to feel this way.
11:52 October 15, 2010 by Incredible14U
So every country would like a strong leader or leadership. When times are tough who would'nt? So when things get tough economically with no jobs etc, all the frivilties of left wing liberal politics (playing about toy town politics) goes out the window. When times are tough the tough get tough....it comes down to a matter of survival? While main land european politics goes one way British and USA politics drift in the other like ships passing in the night, so it was before two world wars. Germay's problem is oil and gas. The awakening to Islam and its silent take over of the countries it enters will bring about a great clash of civiliastions the world has never seen. May i say for you folks who read in this forum to take a look at a book, on line in pdf formatt, Called 'Germany and the holy roman empire' it will send a shiver down your spine, if you have one and make your hair stand on end, where ever it is..
14:08 October 15, 2010 by DinhoPilot
!!! DAMN !!!

Just now that I thought things were getting better in Germany and that my german wife convinced me to go back to Germany cause they are soaring(financial, jobs, people, etc...) And cause she will have better job prospects than in th UK with her Masters Degree.

With the crisis every place is screw up. I don't think Germany is much more racist or xenophobic than UKin numbers,but there are certain attitudes that set both countries apart. Germany is a great country with loads of potential! Qualified immigraton can help the country BUT

... its this kind of survey and news that makes educated people stray away from Germany. Because I wonder why everyone comes to UK when Germany has alot more to offer and isn't as filled has th UK (the Island is litterally exploding we cannot fit more people here!)
15:16 October 15, 2010 by tallady
Are you including yourself amongst the "Educated"?
15:18 October 15, 2010 by michael4096

With respect, you cannot even relate to what a german living in first half of last century thinks of National Socialism. It's like asking the average iraqi what he thinks of 'truth, justice and the american way'.

So if you cannot even understand it, you cannot be judgmental or talk of 'progress'.
17:59 October 15, 2010 by James Delaney
It's now official - there's been no actual shortage of Holocaust survivors:

'The Israeli Prime Minister's office recently put the number of "living Holocaust survivors" at nearly a million' (extract from "The Holocaust Industry" by Norman G. Finkelstein of the City University of New York, published by Verso, London and New York, 2000, p.83).
18:27 October 15, 2010 by ww77ww
@prufrock - the left "wing" is virtually soley responsible for the demographic disaster and growing tensions in Europe today. Take some responsibility for what your people have wrought for once in your godforsaken life. Your people have brought virtually nothing to the table.
19:00 October 15, 2010 by GeeAitch
This story shows that Germany is a tolerant country by world standards. In South Africa, for example, locals set fire to immigrant homes. And try getting a work visa for India, Pakistan, Russia, Kenya -- indeed most countries -- unless you are highly skilled or have loads of cash.

The US, EU, Australia, Canada etc have some of the world's easiest immigration systems, and a tolerance that is largely unknown elsewhere.

Problem is the Europeans and Americans tend to see things in terms of their own countries and don't compare their attitudes with the world at large. If they did, they'd be pleasantly surprised.
20:05 October 15, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, articles such as this one is designed to provide readers with an general idea as to what society thinking. It is basically saying that the majority of native Germans are aware that there are serious problems, and that a new leader, or new form of government is urgently needed.

Of all the different thoughts I entertain, it's the quote from Plato that comes up the most. he once said "Only the philosopher that has achieved true knowledge is fit to rule. Democracy, the rule of the majority, is usually rooted in meer opinions."

Look at what's happening in the world today. Glance back for a moment at human history. If you were to do these things, you would agree that humans have never improved psychologically.

We really do need something that is new and truly brilliant.
20:53 October 15, 2010 by James Delaney
I've checked out the six volumes of Churchill's Second World War and the statement is quite correct - not a single mention of Nazi 'gas chambers,' a 'genocide' of the Jews, or of 'six million' Jewish victims of the war.

Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe is a book of 559 pages; Churchill's Second World War totals 4,448 pages; and De Gaulle's three-volume Mémoires de guerre is 2,054 pages.

In this mass of writing, which altogether totals 7,061 pages (not including the introductory parts), published from 1948 to 1959, one will find no mention either of Nazi 'gas chambers,' a 'genocide' of the Jews, or of 'six million' Jewish victims of the war.
00:53 October 16, 2010 by DinhoPilot
@ tallady

What the deuce?

In answer to your question when you tell me where I should include you! LOL!
06:19 October 16, 2010 by Cracatoa
Xenophobia is the label slapped across your forehead if your views don't match the political correct. Don't be concerned about that label. If you are deeply concerned about your countries future, they will label you xenophobic. If you are watching out for your country-man, they will label you xenophobic. If you are concerned about the very real effects of Islam on your country, they will label you xenophobic. But dont worry about this label. Your country needs you more than ever. It is time for the concerns of the "xenophobic" to be taken seriously as genuine and well founded.
09:57 October 16, 2010 by Hooshang Kharabaf
It is disappointing to see racists and extremists are growing with different faces and names all over the world.
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