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Neo-Nazis gain foothold in rural villages

The Local · 6 Sep 2011, 11:54

Published: 06 Sep 2011 11:54 GMT+02:00

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In Sunday’s state elections more than 30 percent of the people who voted in the village of Koblentz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania chose the NPD on their ballots. Nearby villages saw similar numbers of residents voting for the NPD – between 26 and 29 percent.

The strong support of small communities like these helped the NPD to an unexpected six percent of the overall vote, putting them over the five percent threshold necessary to gain representation in the state parliament.

Researchers into extremism point to a range of factors for the NPD’s resilience in these small villages. One factor is likely to be voter apathy among those not in favour of right-wing extremism – in Koblentz only 109 of the eligible 209 voters took part in the election. But the main reason, they say, is that major parties have all but abandoned these places.

“They have left us alone,” said Ingelore Grygula, the mayor of Koblentz, who said mainstream politicians drop by every few years and then take off.

These days, the mainstream parties’ election campaigns are concentrated in major cities, leaving people in smaller communities at the mercy of neo-Nazi propaganda.

But even in strongly NPD villages like Koblentz, the topic of right-wing extremism often remains a largely sensitive one, with people often unwilling to say how they voted.

“There are a lot of right-wing ideas among young and old and I too have understanding for them,” said Olaf Krüger, an unemployed cook in the village.

Even those who are employed can hardly survive on their meagre wages and must get help from the government, he said, helping the NPD capitalize on populist frustrations.

“No other party cares about the people here,” he said.

Political scientist Ingmar Dette suggests a simple solution: mainstream parties need to change how they reach rural people.

While the NPD has effectively campaigned on issues like crime, unemployment and poverty, parties like the Christian Democratic Union and Social Democratic Party haven’t been as provocative or aggressive enough, she said.

This enables neo-Nazis to “capitalize on people’s uneasiness,” she said.

Grygula, however, seems sceptical. The community has been left to its own devices for years, she said bitterly.

Berlin-based photographer Christian Jungeblodt spent several months between 2006 and 2009 visiting villages and towns around Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – talking with local people about whether and why they were attracted to far-right politics and the NPD.

Story continues below…

Among others, he spoke with Michael Andrejewski, now NPD member of the state parliament, who talked of coming to the east of Germany from the west as he said conditions were far more productive for attracting people to far right politics.

He said the combination of unemployment, a sense of abandonment among local people and the lack of a democratic tradition meant there was less social stigma in the east about becoming involved with the NPD than there was in the west.

Andrejewski has managed to unite many of the illegal comrade groups of neo-Nazis with the NPD, said Jungeblodt, while the party is active in areas which attract little funding or political attention from other parties.

The NPD hierarchy is using the east of Germany, in villages such as those where Jungeblodt was working during the project, as a field experiment. Jungeblodt’s project called Forgotten Land, was supported by the VG Bildkunst and can be seen in full on his site www.jungeblodt.com.

The Local/DPA/mdm

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Your comments about this article

17:04 September 6, 2011 by marimay
They probably live very unsatisfying lives and need to blame those different from them for their self-inflicted misery. It is normal "human" behavior, sadly.
17:58 September 6, 2011 by neunElf
Marimay, your arrogance and condescension are breathtaking!
18:21 September 6, 2011 by Ludinwolf
Those left,right, central, up down... whatever fanaticals could discuss and show that they have a better option to offer to our planet or country rather than campaign against those that god knows why the reason they are here. Talk is cheap, so rather than show violence, why those haters get doing better for their countries that they love so much?,,,, ah, i actually forgot that nearly all of them are on benefits and are ´unfit´ to work.
18:59 September 6, 2011 by dirving71
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it -- George Santayana
09:57 September 7, 2011 by crm114
Ludinwolf, the reason they exist and prosper is because mainstream political parties refuse to acknowlege and discuss the very real concerns of european citizens, other than to denounce anyone who holds a different view on among other things multiculturism, as racist thugs. The flag waving, jackbooted skinheads maybe the media poster boys for radical political parties but your assumption that all who sympathise with their policies are unfit benefit scroungers is wide of the mark, you need only look at what is happening in Holland, Finland, Denmark to see that.
11:40 September 7, 2011 by michael4096

I disagree. There is an enormous amount of discussion about the concerns of citizens. Oodles of it ranging from sarcarstic commentary such as yours to international research studies and political & media hand-wringing

Indeed, there is far, far, far more smoke than fire

@Ludinwolf - Put youself in their position: you can take responsibility for your life and go do something useful for yourself and society - or, you can blame others for everything and continue to feel sorry for yourself. Which is easier?
14:39 September 7, 2011 by Ludinwolf
@crm114 i agree with the last part of the your text.


so translating what you mean is that some born with character and are in care of their own values into the society, by taking part of it in constructive way and others not...? must be it.

Honestly, if it is easier to stay at home i have no clue, i ve never been feeling like that, i feel i have a role and duties to play along. When i came out in this world, and finally saw that all the marvellous life and advanced tech and medicine wasnt there for myself at cost of nothing but the from the ceaselessly effort of ancestors brutal effort thru wars and plagues, now how can i sit and suck blood without feeling like an insect? .... but yr right, for some is easier to blame others every sense.
20:58 September 7, 2011 by KeltoIberian67
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
08:45 September 8, 2011 by Sastry.M
One solution, if not the end solution, may be to pull down holocaust memorials in all German states and stop reciting the "Nazi" Mantra as a constant evil reminder!
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