Jump to content

Thilo Sarrazin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thilo Sarrazin
Sarrazin in 2009
Berlin Senator of Finance
In office
17 January 2002 – 30 April 2009
Preceded byChristiane Krajewski
Succeeded byUlrich Nußbaum
Personal details
Born (1945-02-12) 12 February 1945 (age 79)
Gera, Thuringia, Allied-occupied Germany
Political partySPD (until 2020)
SpouseUrsula (née Breit)
Alma materUniversity of Bonn
ProfessionEconomist, politician, writer

Thilo Sarrazin (born 12 February 1945) is a German politician and former member of the SPD, writer, senator of finance for the State of Berlin from January 2002 until April 2009, former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank until 2010.[1][2][3]

He became well known after publishing a controversial book about Muslim immigrants in Germany in 2010.[4] In his book Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Is Doing Away with Itself),[5] he denounces what he sees as the failure of Germany's post-war immigration policy, sparking a nationwide controversy about the costs and benefits of multiculturalism. As a result, he is no longer a member of the SPD as of 31 July 2020.[6]


Early life and education[edit]

Sarrazin was born in Gera, Germany. His father was a doctor and his mother was the daughter of a West Prussian landowner. His paternal ancestors were French Huguenots who originated in Burgundy, while his grandmother was English and another ancestor was Italian.[7] He has explained that his name means Saracen (i.e. Muslim) and is common in Southern France: "It is derived from the Arab pirates that were called 'Saracens' in the Middle Ages". He has referred to himself as "a European mongrel".[8]

He grew up in Recklinghausen where he graduated from the local gymnasium after which he did his military service. From 1967 to 1971, he studied economics at the University of Bonn, earning his doctorate. From November 1973 to December 1974 he worked for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and became active in the SPD.

Career as civil servant[edit]

In 1975 Sarrazin began working in the Federal Ministry of Finance. Until 1981 he served as a department head in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and from 1981 he returned to the Federal Ministry of Finance. From October 1981 he served as bureau chief and was a close collaborator of Federal Finance Minister Hans Matthöfer and his successor Manfred Lahnstein. Even after the end of the socialist-liberal coalition in October 1982, Sarrazin remained in the Finance Ministry, where he was director of several units, including (from 1989 to 1990) the "Innerdeutsche Beziehungen," which prepared the German monetary, economic and social union. During his time as Head of the Federal Ministry of Finance, he was partly responsible for German railways.[9]

From 1990 to 1991 Sarrazin worked for the Treuhand. Up to 1997, he was State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in Rhineland-Palatinate. Subsequently, he was chief executive of TLG Immobilien (TLG).

Deutsche Bahn[edit]

Between spring 2000 and December 2001 he was employed by the Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway. During his first four months he served as head of internal auditing; from 1 September 2000 he was on the board of DB Netz, responsible for planning and investment.

Sarrazin is considered a key developer of the people's share model of the German railway, which provides for the issue of non-voting preferred stock to limit the influence of private investors. He claims to have made this proposal to thwart the model of capital privatization of Deutsche Bahn. He is regarded as an explicit supporter of orienting the Deutsche Bahn on the principles of efficiency under a cost-effectiveness analysis. His relationship with the former CEO of Deutsche Bahn AG, Hartmut Mehdorn, is characterized as hostile.

Sarrazin's dismissal from the board of DB Netz AG was followed by legal disputes. He drew his salary for a transitional period during which the details of the separation procedures were regulated. According to Hartmut Mehdorn, Sarrazin broke his contract with the company, which stated that secondary activities are not allowed. The employment contract was subsequently terminated without notice by the DB. Sarrazin sued, but the case was dismissed by the Federal Court.

Finance Senator[edit]

Sarrazin was appointed Finance Senator to the Senate of Berlin in January 2002. He adhered to financial policy based on strict savings and a single-entry bookkeeping system for the management of local authorities.

As a result of his remarks on Berlin's social and educational reputation some consider Sarrazin being an agitator. His proposals for cutting social benefits were often accompanied by protests. In 2008 he made suggestions, such as that a beneficiary of ALG II could eat for less than €4 per day. In 2009 he said of unemployed persons' management of energy: "First, Hartz IV receivers are more at home, second, they like it warm, and thirdly, many regulate the temperature with the window," in light of the fact that in Germany, the unemployed do not pay for rent and heating themselves. Sarrazin called pension increases "completely senseless action", but instead recommended that the government prepare older citizens for a "long term decline to the level of subsistence."[10]

In the political controversy surrounding the Berlin event center Tempodrom he was accused of having awarded state funds irregularly. The preliminary investigation was also against two other SPD-CDU politicians, three companies and two accountants. The investigating prosecutor filed an informal appeal against Sarrazin, but in December 2004 the Berlin district court rejected a trial because the prosecution was seen as ineffective.[11]

In August 2009, Berlin's public prosecutor conducted an investigation of Sarrazin for embezzlement. According to the office of the prosecutor, he favored the Berlin-Wannsee Golf and Country Club, leasing a golf course to them at a reduced rate.[12] Sarrazin dismissed the accusations on the grounds that he saw no financial loss for the city.[13]

Deutsche Bundesbank[edit]

On April 30, 2009, Sarrazin resigned from his position as senator as he was appointed to join the executive board of the Bundesbank.[14] From May 1, 2010 until September 1, 2010, his responsibilities at the Bundesbank included information technology, risk monitoring and review.[15] On September 2, 2010, he was released from specific responsibilities in a move by the other board members to have him removed as executive board member following a controversial statement made by Sarrazin about Jewish genetics.[16][17] Whether Sarrazin should keep his job at the Bundesbank or be dismissed was to be reviewed by then Federal President Christian Wulff. However, on September 9, 2010, Sarrazin asked the President to relieve him of his duties as a board member.[18][19]

Party membership[edit]

The party leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) announced in August 2010 that it would investigate whether to terminate Sarrazin's membership, because his theses could be understood as diametrically opposed to basic social-democratic values.[20] An arbitration committee, meeting in Berlin on 21 April 2011, decided that Sarrazin could remain a member of the party. The formal accusation that he had damaged the party with his theories could not be upheld, in particular because Sarrazin read a statement in which he said he had never intended to depart from social democratic values and that he had never intended to suggest that social-Darwinist theories should be implemented in political practice.[21] This in turn led to dissatisfaction among many SPD party leaders.[22] The SPD opened a third proceeding in order to revoke Sarrazin's membership after he published his book Hostile Takeover: How Islam Impedes Progress and Threatens Society. The arbitration committee of the concerned SPD district chapter, Berlin Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, accepted the motion of the SPD leadership. Sarrazin and his lawyers stated that they did not accept and sought to appeal the decision.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Sarrazin is married to Ursula Sarrazin (née Breit) and has two sons.[24] His apparent characteristic smirk is due to an operation he had in 2004 to remove a tumour on an inner ear nerve, resulting in an impairment of the right side of his face.[25]


Immigration, Islam and social welfare[edit]

Book cover

Sarrazin advocates a restrictive immigration policy with the exception of the highly skilled and the reduction of state welfare benefits. In September 2009, his views on economic and immigration policy in Berlin were published in Lettre International, a German cultural quarterly, and caused severe reactions. [citation needed] In it he described many Arab and Turkish immigrants as unwilling to integrate. He said, among other things:

Integration requires effort from those that are to be integrated. I will not show respect for anyone who is not making that effort. I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls. This holds true for 70 percent of the Turkish and 90 percent of the Arab population in Berlin.[26][27][28]

End of August 2010, Sarrazin's book Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany Abolishes Itself) was published, and within two months, it became the best-selling book on politics by a German-language author in a decade, with overall sales hitting 1.1 million copies[5] and the first editions sold out within a matter of hours or days. In the 13th edition Sarrazin added a foreword commenting on the nationwide debate his book has sparked.[29] As of May 2011, 1.5 million copies had been sold.[30] In 2010, he was quoted as writing regarding Islam, "No other religion in Europe makes so many demands. No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime. No group emphasizes their differences so strongly in public, especially through women's clothing. In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid."[31]

In 2010, Sarrazin's book came under criticism for claiming that Germany's immigrant Muslim population is reluctant to integrate and tends to rely more on social services than to be productive. Moreover, he calculated that their population growth may well overwhelm the German population within a couple of generations at the current rate, and that their intelligence was lower. He proposed stringent reforms for the welfare system to rectify the problems.[32][33] The first edition of his book sold out within a few days. By the end of the year, the book had become Germany's number 1 hard-cover non-fiction bestseller for the year and was still at the top of the lists.[34]


In 2010, an uproar was caused at an interview with Welt am Sonntag in which he claimed that "all Jews share a certain gene like all Basques share a certain gene that distinguishes these from other people."[35][36] He subsequently offered his regrets for the irritation caused,[28] and explained his source, for instance, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,[37] referring to international media reports,[38] on a 2010 study by Gil Atzmon et al. that appeared in the American Journal of Human Genetics.[39]

In 2018, Sarrazin's statements were criticized by the chairman of the Interior Committee of the German Bundestag, Sebastian Edathy (SPD), the United Services trade union and the political scientist Gerd Wiegel. The Central Council of Jews in Germany strongly criticized Sarrazin, condemning him as racist.[40][41] Sigmar Gabriel, the General Secretary of the SPD, condemned Sarrazin for his eugenic approach.[42]


A Berliner Morgenpost poll suggested that almost half of the German population agree with Sarrazin's political views and 18 percent would vote for his party if he started one.[43] In a survey conducted for the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper among 10,000 Sarrazin readers, an overwhelming majority was shown to be male, middle-class, middle-aged to elderly, conservatives.[44]

The German-Turkish sociologist and best-selling author Necla Kelek, who has defended Sarrazin, introduced him at a Berlin press conference in August 2010 attended by roughly 300 journalists. While Turkish and Islamic organizations have accused Sarrazin of racism and damaging Germany's reputation abroad, Kelek said Sarrazin addressed "bitter truths" in his book and the chattering classes judged it without reading it.[45]

The new terror of virtue[edit]

The publication of his book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" provoked accusations that Sarrazin was stoking racism and xenophobia.[46] This harsh criticism inspired Sarrazin to write "Der neue Tugendterror - Über die Grenzen der Meinungsfreiheit in Deutschland" (The new terror of virtue - on the limits of freedom of opinion in Germany) on the topics of the mechanics of political correctness, prejudice and the political climate in Germany, as he explains in the second chapter of this book, titled "Wie ich mit der Meinungsherrschaft in Konflikt kam: Eine Fallstudie" ("How I got into conflict with the rule of opinion: a case study"). "I had expected a controversial discussion. But nothing had prepared me for the public storm that broke loose upon publication. I was accused of advocating biological determinism and labelled a social Darwinist, a racist, and an enemy of the people and of social justice."[47]

Selected works[edit]

  • Deutschland schafft sich ab, translated as Germany Is Doing Away with Itself (2010)
  • Europa braucht den Euro nicht, translated as Europe doesn't need the euro (2012)
  • Der neue Tugendterror. Über die Grenzen der Meinungsfreiheit in Deutschland. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, München 2014, ISBN 978-3-421-04617-8
  • Wunschdenken. Europa, Währung, Bildung, Einwanderung – warum Politik so häufig scheitert (2016)
  • Feindliche Übernahme: Wie der Islam den Fortschritt behindert und die Gesellschaft bedroht ("Hostile takeover – how Islam impairs progress and threatens society") (2018)


  1. ^ bundesbank.de: Press release of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine 9 September 2010
  2. ^ http://bloomberg.com: Bundesbank Says Sarrazin Will Resign on Sept. 30 After Jewish Gene Remark
  3. ^ Dernbach, Andrea (30 January 2020). "Er zeigt genau den antimuslimischen Rassismus, den er abstreitet". Der Tagesspiegel Online. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  4. ^ "'Massive Pressure': Islam Critic Sarrazin Resigns from Bundesbank Board". Der Spiegel. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via Spiegel Online.
  5. ^ a b "Sarrazin bricht Verkaufsrekord". Der Spiegel. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  6. ^ tagesschau.de. "Oberstes SPD-Gericht bestätigt Parteiausschluss Sarrazins". tagesschau.de (in German). Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  7. ^ Koch, Tanit (11 October 2009). "Thilo Sarrazin ist ein großer Integrationserfolg". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  8. ^ Rosenthal, John (1 September 2010). "The Saracen and the Jews". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  9. ^ Alexander Neubacher: "Der Weichen-Steller" in Der Spiegel Nr. 39, 2007, pp. 74–76.
  10. ^ Hoffmann, Andreas (13 May 2009). "Kinder kann kriegen, wer damit fertig wird". Stern (in German). Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  11. ^ Gehrke, Kerstin; Oloew, Matthias (8 January 2010). "Letzter Akt in der Tempodrom-Affäre". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  12. ^ Rennefanz, Sabine (29 August 2009). "Ein Geruch von Vetternwirtschaft". Berliner Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 15 September 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  13. ^ Sarrazin wehrt sich gegen Untreue-Vorwürfe. Focus, 29 August 2009. "Westen droht Moskau mit Sanktionen - Newsticker - FOCUS Online Nachrichten". Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ "Berliner Finanzsenator. Sarrazin wird Bundesbank-Vorstand". Spiegel Online (in German). 17 February 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank: Dr Thilo Sarrazin". Deutsche Bundesbank. Archived from the original on 2 September 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  16. ^ "Sarrazin's Jewish 'gene' comments spark outrage - The Local". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  17. ^ "Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank submits application for the dismissal of Dr Thilo Sarrazin". Deutsche Bundesbank. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Press release in German of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank". Deutsche Bundesbank. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  19. ^ "'Massive Pressure':Islam Critic Sarrazin Resigns from Bundesbank Board". Der Spiegel. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  20. ^ SPD Website Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine Secretary-General Sigmar Gabriel's announcement of the expulsion proceedings
  21. ^ "Sarrazin remains SPD member", The Local – Germany's News in English, 22 April 2011
  22. ^ "Sarrazin pardon sparks fierce SPD backlash", The Local – Germany's News in English, 26 April 2011
  23. ^ DPA (11 July 2019). "Thilo Sarrazin kündigt Berufung "durch alle Instanzen" an". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Personen A–Z: Dr. Thilo Sarrazin". SPD Berlin (in German). Archived from the original on 3 September 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  25. ^ "Thilo Sarrazin – der Unerschütterliche". Berliner Morgenpost online (in German). Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  26. ^ "Sarrazin muss sich entschuldigen". Die Zeit (in German). 1 October 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  27. ^ "Bundesbank-Präsident legt Sarrazin Rücktritt nahe". Die Zeit (in German). 3 October 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  28. ^ a b Randow, Jana; Vits, Christian (1 September 2010). "Weber to Debate Next Sarrazin Steps as Merkel Condemns Comments". Bloomberg. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  29. ^ Welt am Sonntag: "Sarrazin distanziert sich von Sarrazin" (in German)
  30. ^ Focus: "Schadet sich die SPD mit ihrem Sarrazin-Kurs?" (in German)
  31. ^ "Thilo Sarrazin Schreibt über den Islam: "Bei keiner anderen Religion ist der Übergang zu Gewalt und Terrorismus so fließend"". 26 August 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  32. ^ "Immigration Provocateur in Germany Crosses the Line". Der Spiegel. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  33. ^ "Was tun?". Der Spiegel (in German) (23 August 2010). 23 August 2010.
  34. ^ "Jahresbestseller Hardcover 2010". Buchreport. Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  35. ^ Lowman, Stephen (31 August 2010). "German Politician Stirs Controversy with His Inflammatory Views on Muslims and Jews". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  36. ^ Seibel, A.; Schuhmacher, H.; Fahrun, J. (29 September 2010). "Mögen Sie keine Türken, Herr Sarrazin?". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 5 September 2010. Alle Juden teilen ein bestimmtes Gen, Basken haben bestimmte Gene, die sie von anderen unterscheiden.
  37. ^ Müller-Jung, Joachim (1 September 2010). "Phantasma "Juden-Gen"". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  38. ^ Wade, Nicholas (9 June 2010). "Studies Show Jews' Genetic Similarity". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  39. ^ Atzmon, G.; Hao, L.; Pe'er, I.; Velez, C.; Pearlman, A.; Palamara, P. F.; Morrow, B.; Friedman, E.; et al. (2010). "Abraham's Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry". American Journal of Human Genetics. 86 (6): 850–859. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.04.015. PMC 3032072. PMID 20560205.
  40. ^ Online, FOCUS. "Zentralrat der Juden legt Sarrazin nahe, in NPD zu wechseln". Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  41. ^ ""Sarrazin erweist Hitler große Ehre"". 15 September 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via Sueddeutsche.de.
  42. ^ Gabriel, Sigmar (16 September 2010). "Gabriel über Sarrazin: Welch hoffnungsloses Menschenbild!". Die Zeit. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  43. ^ Berlin, Berliner Morgenpost - (6 September 2010). "18 Prozent der Deutschen würden Sarrazin wählen". Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  44. ^ "From financier to flag-bearer for Germany's far-right". Independent.co.uk. 22 October 2011. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  45. ^ "Sarrazin supporter defends banker's Muslim comments". BBC News. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  46. ^ "Sarrazin: Muslims not compatible with Germany". The Local de. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  47. ^ "Der neue Tugendterror - Über die Grenzen der Meinungsfreiheit in Deutschland" pp. 49-116

External links[edit]