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Young easterners as anti-foreigner as old in west
Photo: DPA

Young easterners as anti-foreigner as old in west

Published: 26 Mar 2013 13:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Mar 2013 13:37 GMT+01:00

Young eastern Germans are as xenophobic as pre-war west Germans, according to a new study, which suggests that both groups had similar historical experiences - the collapse of an authoritarian regime.

People born after 1981 in the formerly communist eastern half of Germany are as anti-foreigner as those born before 1930 in the west, researchers at Leipzig University discovered after spending ten years asking people about their views, weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported on Tuesday.

More than 31 percent of younger eastern and elderly western Germans could be said to be xenophobic, they concluded.

The team of sociologist Johannes Kiess and psychologists Oliver Decker and Elmar Brähler asked 18 questions to tease out the level of xenophobia of their subjects. They asked about support for right-wing authoritarian dictatorships, whether Jews were "too influential," how important a national feeling is, and whether the Nazi era had its good aspects.

"Our thesis that xenophobia is the gateway drug has been clearly confirmed," said Brähler. He and the team had published findings every two years, but their latest publication pulled ten years of work together.

Regardless of age, 23 percent of people in the west, and 32 percent in the east agreed with xenophobic statements. Yet anti-Semitism seemed to be distributed the other way around, with nearly one in ten of westerners tending towards that particular brand of hatred, and only one in sixteen in the east.

Nearly ten percent of western Germans born before 1950 could be said to have clearly extreme-right attitudes. This share rose to 16 percent for western Germans born before 1930. In eastern Germany around ten percent of those born since 1971 could be described in this way - with men clearly over represented. The worst groups were the oldest in the west and the youngest in the east, with xenophobia rates of more than 30 percent.

Decker said these figures were "the results of an authoritarian socialization", referring to the Nazi dictatorship and the collapse of the East German communist regime.

"The collapse of societies which have integrated their members in an authoritarian fashion leads to authoritarian aggression," he said.

The study suggests that centre of society is not immune to becoming a threat to democratic life and that democracy is "not always on a stable base". The stark warning issued by the researchers was that if things get bad for the majority of a society, democracy loses its power to keep people integrated.

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Your comments about this article

07:05 March 27, 2013 by IchBinKönig
by this logic the increasing intolerance for immigrants in Greece has to do with the 'Collapse of an Authoritarian Regime'.

Doesn't it really have more to do with poverty and a loss of everything BUT a national identity? Its why often the poorest people are the most devout, to sport, nation, neighborhood or religion. Its all they have. In the new EU, it seems we're back to those days.
14:30 March 27, 2013 by Bulldawg82
@IchBinKonig: I think you have summed it up very nicely.
15:05 March 28, 2013 by Berliner1978
There's nothing wrong with Nationalism, only with what you do with it..

Invading Poland = bad.

Keeping Germany to be German = good.

Pride in one's people and nation are healthy as long as others are respected as well. And why not? Where would we be without Chinese food, or pizza? At the same time, there is the saying that strong fences make good neighbors. Relatives who come to visit are welcome for a while, but eventually it's time to go home, right?

As long as they are not declaring war on anyone or putting people in camps, no one should be pointing a finger at Germany for wanting stay German by limiting foreign influence or the number of immigrants who come there.. Go to any of these other countries and try demanding that you be accommodated, good luck with that.

This whole idea that everyone must be free to come to a country and change it from what it is to something else at the expense of the people who live there is absolute garbage. Why is it wrong for people to preserve their culture and country?

Because there's no money to be made in it, that's why. To make money, big money, requires change, the more the better. People who are this greedy do not care for history (see the current flap over that section of the wall being torn down at 0500 in the morning) or culture, or national pride. If it stands in the way of them making money or gaining power and influence (which leads to money) it has to go. Right and wrong mean nothing to them, and you wonder why things are the way they are when people such as these are in power, either directly or indirectly.

A stable society, where things can be counted on from one generation to the next, offers the people safety and security, but nothing to politicians, bankers, and developers. Germany is at special disadvantage here as anything remotely nationalistic gets immediately tagged as "Nazi", and at that point those trying to stand up for their country and it's culture are "guilt-ed" to roll over and submit. In such a way present day Germans are made to continue to pay for the sins of National Socialism committed long before they were born.
17:10 March 28, 2013 by alf2
It is not democracy which keeps people integrated, it is monoculturalism, which liberals have been trying to corrode for decades.
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