German extremist who has swung from the left to the right
from YAHOO! Asia News
September 10th 2000
BERLIN, Sept 10 (AFP) - In a Germany living the drama of right-wing
extremism, there is the story of Horst Mahler, once one of the country's
most ferocious leftist extremists but now a member of the far-right
National Democratic Party (NPD).
Mahler, 64, was a founding member of the revolutionary Marxist Red Army
Faction, the infamous Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang, and spent 10 years in
jail after being caught for bank robbery in 1970.
Mahler, who is a lawyer, has swung all the way to the other side of the
political spectrum by joining in August the NPD, a far-right
grouping which Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government is seeking to ban
for alleged links with neo-Nazi skinheads responsible for a wave of
xenophobic attacks over the past few months.
The NPD denies it is involved in any attacks and says it urges its young
members to seek change politically, rather than in violence.
At a garden press conference last week at NPD headquarters in eastern
Berlin, NPD leader Udo Voigt, Franz Schoenhuber, the former leader of
another far-right party the Republicans, and Mahler spoke of
working towards unity among far-right groupings.
Mahler's presence there was yet another sign of how the right is a magnet
for expressing the rumblings of discontent in post-unification Germany,
especially in the former communist east where high unemployment,
particularly severe among the youth, feeds the discontent that flares in
skinhead attacks against foreigners they claim are taking their jobs.
As Germany's mainstream parties move towards the political center, the
unabashedly anti-foreigner NPD claims that it is not a threat because of
violence, which it condemns, but because it is feared as the
country's true opposition party despite its small size.
Jumping on this bandwagon, Mahler said he sees no contradiction between
his past and present.
In a calm tone but with the intensity of a lawyer pleading his
case, Mahler told the press conference: "The NPD is against globalization.
It is the same as fighting against imperialism as I did in fighting against
Vietnam War," with Baader-Meinhof.
Mahler had earlier in the week told AFP in an interview: "The NPD
knows that the only power that can stand up to this globalization is the
Mahler said at his home in the leafy Berlin suburb of Klein-machnow that
his political change had begun while he was in prison, when after
exhaustive reading he moved towards Hegel, rejecting Marxist teachings.
"The labels left and right don't apply anymore today," said Mahler.
Mahler, who as a lawyer defended Andreas Baader from arson charges before
turning to illegal actions himself, said he was moved to join the NPD in a
gesture of solidarity since he feels parties should not be banned in a
Mahler said he is above all a nationalist, fighting for the identity
of the German people and the German nation.
"The problem is that foreign people, especially Turkish people, have set
foot in our homeland and that we (Germans) will become a minority if this
flood of migration continues."
"If this is racist, then I am a racist. I oppose that the German
homeland becomes Turkey," Mahler said.
What makes Mahler stand out, besides his dramatic past, is his unabashed
anti-Jewishness, something German politicians, even most of his NPD
colleagues, studiously avoid.
In the interview, Mahler, both of whose parents were Nazi party members,
said the Jewish God "is a terrible God, a genocidal God."
"There's a 2,000-year-old conflict between Jewry and the
European peoples," he said.
Asked if he was anti-Semitic, Mahler said: "The opposite is true but of
course that is how it's portrayed."
He said the Jews are in Europe "a foreign body and they want to be
a foreign body because that is the way that they can sustain themselves.
"Jews need a hostile environment to survive as Jews in the Diaspora and
they create it," Mahler said
This considering of the Jews as responsible for the hate they face is the
essence of neo-Nazi logic, Berlin Free University political science
professor Hajo Funke told AFP.
Funke, who said he remembered Mahler as very "authoritarian" from hearing
him talk in the 1960s, said the neo-Nazi reasoning was a "combination of
the old, European anti-Jewish tradition cloaked in modern terms
of tolerance for other people's opinions" in order to look different from
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