The following is a short excerpt from a conversation with Mr. Mario Donga, a freelance consultant for Development Cooperation from Germany.
How has the trend of anti-semitism sentiments been under the center-right government?
With the onset of right parties taking over across the world, the trend hasn’t been any different in Germany. Although the anti-semitism sentiments are not expressed vocally, it is often disguised as the conservative outlook on politics. There is often a subtle mentioning of the Aryan race superiority, which goes hand in hand with ‘othering’ of the rest.
Are the youngsters in Germany involved in politics? Are they willing to take positions?
Youngsters are more concerned about environmental issues and don’t want to take a political stand on more complex issues like middle-east refugee crisis.
In Germany, the education system has been trying to teach empathy and equality. This is done by organizing visits to former concentration camps to make children understand what the past had been like. To make them empathize and teach them to differentiate love from hatred.
However, the popular belief that the logical conclusion of people becoming educated will prevent them from becoming extremists or subscribing to radicalism is slowly proving to be false.
Can one notice any pattern on how the politics of erstwhile GDR and West Germany has influenced the current political demography?
The erstwhile East Germany aka GDR was ruled by the socialist government. They were considered to be the good guys for having vociferously opposed anti-semitism perpetuated by the then Nazi rule of Germany.
In the post-Nazi period, the GDR government in East Germany, remotely managed by the USSR had built sky-scrapers in most villages, setting up offices of cooperatives or housing facilities for the people in these buildings. These tall buildings were considered to be the symbols of development by the people until the government toppled as it succumbed to playing by optics alone.
Around then, the West Germany was considered to be the world of free market, development and a globalized country. But it still had plenty of Nazi sympathizers in power, holding key positions in the bureaucracy and judiciary.
However, today the western parts of Germany seem more receptive of immigrants in comparison with the places occupied by the erstwhile GDR. This is contradictory to what one would have expected because the people who opposed Nazi then, seem to have turned conservative now.
How do you think that the people of erstwhile GDR transgress the political spectrum from far left to far right?
The political spectrum, how I see, is actually circular instead of a linear band. The erstwhile people of GDR who subscribed to left radicalism are now the subscribers of right radicalism. They didn’t have to go through the center phase of the political spectrum to make this huge jump. But what I’m saying are broad generalizations based on numbers and wouldn’t want to dismiss the fact there are both honourable and dishonourable people on both parts of Germany.
What do you think should be done to create a more equal world?
The common spaces for communities to come together have been continuously shrinking. The catholic church, although creating some spaces for human interaction has still not really opened up to accepting refugees, LGBTQIA+, liberals, etc. So, I believe we need to create spaces where diverse communities can come together to show solidarity for each other.