Anti-Germans (political current)

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Anti-German communist protesters in Frankfurt in 2006. The banner reads "Down with Germany/Solidarity with Israel/For Communism!".[1]

Anti-German (German: Antideutsch) is the generic name applied to a variety of theoretical and political tendencies within the radical left mainly in Germany and Austria. In 2006 Deutsche Welle estimated the number of anti-Germans at between 500 and 3,000.[2]

The basic standpoint of the anti-Germans includes opposition to German nationalism, a critique of mainstream left anti-capitalist views, which are thought to be simplistic and structurally anti-Semitic,[3] and a critique of anti-Semitism, which is considered to be deeply rooted in German cultural history. As a result of this analysis of anti-semitism, support for Israel and opposition to Anti-Zionism is a primary unifying factor of the anti-German movement.[4] The critical theory of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer is often cited by anti-German theorists.[3]:2

The term does not generally refer to any one specific radical left tendency, but rather a wide variety of distinct currents, ranging from the so-called "hardcore" anti-Germans such as the quarterly journal Bahamas to "softcore" anti-Germans such as the radical left journal Phase 2. Some anti-German ideas have also exerted an influence on the broader radical leftist milieu, such as the monthly magazine konkret and the weekly newspaper Jungle World.


The first stirrings of the emergence of the anti-Germans can be traced back to the dissolution process of the Communist League (Kommunistischer Bund, KB), a Marxist-Leninist political organization primarily active in Hamburg and Northern Germany.[5]:11 The KB distinguished itself from other extra-parliamentary groups through a decidedly pessimistic analysis with regard to the potential for revolutionary change in Germany. Known as the "Fascisation" analysis, this theory held that due to the particularity of German history and development, the endemic crisis of capitalism would lead to a move towards the Right and to a new Fascism.[5]:11

The rapid process of collapse of the German Democratic Republic and the looming reunification of Germany led to an internal crisis within the KB and the development of irreconcilable perspectives within the organization. The majority tendency argued that with the collapse of the GDR, questions of social justice in connection with the restoration of capitalism in the former GDR should constitute the center of political work, and this tendency accordingly sought cooperation with the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).[5]:17 There also emerged a minority tendency which argued for a position of fundamental opposition to the restoration of a unified German nation-state, essentially representing a radicalized version of the Fascisation thesis, arguing that the coming period was one of reaction, and advocating a perspective of opposition against German nationalism, racism, anti-semitism, historical revisionism and a revival of German great power politics. It is said that during an internal debate, representatives of the majority tendency said that the minority current, due to its bleak analysis and unwavering pessimism, "might as well just emigrate to the Bahamas."[citation needed][6] The minority tendency, in an ironic gesture, thus named their discussion organ Bahamas.[6] The phrase Nie wieder Deutschland ("Germany, Never Again"), which became a central anti-German slogan, originated in demonstrations against reunification.[2][6][7][8]

In its first few years of existence, the journal Bahamas served as a pluralistic journal for a variety of currents of the radical left united by a common opposition to German nationalism, racism, and anti-semitism, as well as against apologetic currents within the left which sought to relativize such issues. Gradually, this diversity of perspectives gave way to a tendency oriented towards a Freiburger organization known as the "Socialist Forum Initiative (de)" (Initiative Sozialistisches Forum), a radical left formation mixing elements of council communism and elements of Critical Theory, particular Theodor W. Adorno and the Frankfurt School. At around the time of this shift in perspective, many of the former KB members left the editorial circle of the journal. In 2007 Haaretz described Bahamas as "the leading publication of the hardcore pro-Israel, anti-German communist movement."[6]

Development in the 1990s[edit]

The notion of a revival of German nationalism and racism as a result of the reunification seemed to confirm itself over the course of the 1990s, as shown by such events as the pogrom in the town of Rostock-Lichtenhagen (Rostock) and a murderous attack on a Turkish family in the West German town of Solingen.[9] Amid this wave of anti-immigrant violence, the German political establishment increased repression against immigrants, tightening of Germany's hitherto liberal asylum laws.[citation needed]

Throughout the 1990s, elements of the anti-German critique of the German mainstream society found their way into the broader left, especially the then-popular Antifa movement, which was the dominant organizational expression of radical leftist youth politics in the 1990s.[citation needed]

In 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of Dresden, anti-Germans praised the bombing on the grounds that so many of the city's civilians had supported Nazism.[2] Kyle James points to this as an example of a shift towards support for the United States that became more pronounced after 9/11.[2] Similar demonstrations are annually held, the slogans “Bomber Harris, do it again!” and “Deutsche Täter sind keine Opfer!” (“German perpetrators are no victims!”) have become common.[3]

The 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was also a focus of opposition for the anti-Germans, as for most of the radical left. Many anti-Germans condemned the war as a repetition of the political constellation of forces during the Second World War, with the Serbs in the role of victim of German imperialism. Some anti-Germans thus issued a call for "unconditional" support for the regime of Slobodan Milošević.[citation needed] The reasons the German government gave to legitimize the war - from an anti-German perspective - marked a turning point in the discourse of governmental history-policy.[10] The war was not justified "despite but because of Auschwitz". This judgment is often combined with the analysis of the genesis of a new national self as the "Aufarbeitungsweltmeister"[10] or "Weltmeister der Vergangenheitsbewältigung" (world champion in dealing with and mastering one's own past evil deeds).

See also[edit]

Anti-German banner expressing support for Arthur Harris.

Primary sources[edit]


  1. ^ Hirsch, Irmel (17 June 2006). "Antifaschistische Demo in Frankfurt" (in German). Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Strange Bedfellows: Radical Leftists for Bush". DW. 25 August 2006. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Verfassungsschutz des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen: 'Die Antideutschen – kein vorübergehendes Phänomen'" (in German). Retrieved 10 February 2007. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "A Defense: Why we (the anti-Germans) are pro-Israel". 
  5. ^ a b c Hagen, Patrick. "Die Antideutschen und die Debatte der Linken über Israel" (PDF) (in German). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 February 2005. Retrieved 21 February 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Letter from Berlin". Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "Communism, anti-German criticism and Israel". Café critique. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Harding, Luke (27 August 2006). "Meet the Anti-Germans". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Aktualisiert, Zuletzt (26 May 2008). "15th anniversary of the arson attack in Solingen: All four perpetrators again today on the loose" (in German). RP Online. Retrieved 18 November 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "AUFARBEITUNGSWELTMEISTER" (PDF) (in German). Retrieved 18 November 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]