In the early 1930s, Germany’s first parliamentary democracy, the “Weimarer Republik,” was put under fatal pressure by economic depression, unemployment affecting 6 million people, political violence on the streets and a dysfunctional parliamentary system. When the Nazi party was about to take over, democratic self-defense proved to be insufficient. A majority of average Germans sat on their hands, tacitly anti-democratic or pro-authoritarian.
In German, “Weimarer Verhältnisse” is just another way of saying the beginning of the end.
The public mood is turning sour these days in Germany and much of the summer’s euphoria has vanished. So far, the authorities haven’t got the refugee crisis under control on a European, national or regional level. Public debate is being vulgarized. Right-wing extremists draw more and more public support. So where is Germany heading?
This year the number of refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany may end up being four- to five-times higher than last year. The number of attacks on refugee shelters has more than tripled and each one is, in the words of Justice Minister Heiko Maas, an “attack on our democracy.”
If the number of refugees does not drop any time soon, Merkel will tighten up German asylum regulations as another government did almost 25 years ago. Some restrictions have already been put in place. It will surely entail a fierce political crisis. But there will be no “Weimarer Verhältnisse” because of refugees or some xenophobic reaction to them. There will be no collapse of public order or collective decency.
Unfortunately, something else which is equally important might fall apart instead.
Right now, Germans mostly blame the chancellor for what is happening, even though the breakdown of inner-EU regulation and solidarity bears at least as much responsibility. Merkel hasn’t yet joined in the type of “beggar-my-neighbor” policy that most other member states have opted for. But her reluctance to do so won’t last forever.
Soon the U.K. government will officially start negotiating a “new relationship” with the EU. This will bring up uneasy questions in Germany, too. Why are we the biggest net contributor to all Brussels budgets — but don’t get much solidarity in return when we need it? What does it say about Europe if neither France, nor the U.K., nor Poland, nor Hungary care much what a critical moment the Union is facing? Why should Germany keep on being the honest broker if all other member states just look out for their national interest?
We are not far from the point of no return when Germany will withdraw to the same pitiful level of strategic involvement as the U.K.
If Prime Minister David Cameron strikes what he thinks to be a good deal for his country, a significant number of German politicians might fall in love with the British way of doing Europe: no more ambitions of an “ever closer” political union, no more “European Germany” — just boundless business and some political cooperation only when there is an immediate payoff.
As an island in the sea, the U.K. is free to turn its back on the European Union and to dismiss the idea of a bloc of nations willing to pool a large part of their sovereignty. But what if Germany, right in the center of the continent, did the same?
Clearly, it would change Europe a lot more than a couple of million refugees from war-torn Syria. It would not bring back “Weimar conditions” in my country, but it would revive the “German question” in the heart of old Europe.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Posted by GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD at 12:00 AM