Germany on Edge as Far-Right Rises in Europe

Hitler with microphone

Hitler ready to give his first major radio address — a medium he would go on to use very effectively to rule his nation.

Germany is a bit on edge these days, with the rise of white-supremacist groups, neo-Nazi groups, and right wing political parties around Europe, which seem to sanitize the tactics Hitler used to come to power in the early 1930s. In Poland, the nationalist, anti-refugee government has actually taken control of the new WWII museum in Gdańsk because it gives the “wrong” spin to that history (a spin not friendly to its right-wing ideology). And in Hungary and Poland, the electorate is so fiercely split, it’s reminding people of the tense two-political-camps feeling during the 1930s when oftentimes families couldn’t even talk to each other.

My German friends explain that conventional conservative political powers supported Hitler in the early 1930s because they thought he would mobilize a certain political base, but then could be tamed or controlled once in power. They believed many Germans voted for Hitler because they didn’t take his promises seriously and just thought he’d shake things up.

Hitler and his government

Today in Berlin, there is a small but powerful monument remembering how, after the last free vote in the German parliament, the members of parliament who voted against Hitler were arrested and sent to concentration camps, where they died.

Memorial to Politicians Who Opposed Hitler

The Memorial to the Politicians Who Opposed Hitler (Mahnmal für die ermordeten Reichstagsabgeordneten)

When asked what Germany is doing to protect its democracy, my friend explained, “Today in Germany, the media always agrees on the facts. Truth still rules. From these facts, people with different politics can then editorialize and debate. This makes it difficult for populist factions to spread their message. Right-wing populist movements in Germany have to get and share their ‘news’ on Facebook because the media doesn’t give them a platform.”