On July 13, the German weekly Junge Freiheit celebrated its 15th anniversary. This is astonishing, considering the outrages committed against the publication, including the burning of its printing facilities in 1994 and the five-year-long public warning against the paper issued by the provincial government of Nord-rhein-Westfalen for “intimations of a disposition sympathetic to the far Right.”
Throughout the summer and into the fall, the paper was full of provocative commentaries about the electoral campaigns of the two major-party coalitions, leading up to the national elections in September. Dieter Stein and his editors hammered away at the timid Edmund Stoiber, head of the Christian Democratic/Christian Social Union, who avoided the issue of immigration during his campaign with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder until about two weeks before the election. The September 13 issue of Junge Freiheit, which examined the candidates’ attitudes toward the planned American war against Iraq, described the difference as an entirely trivial distinction between someone who has already become “the bed-mat of President Bush” and someone who will return to that role immediately after the election.
The center-right coalition under Stoiber botched the national election, losing by two points, although, by every economic indicator and based on the voters’ widespread dissatisfaction with immigration, they should have won. Stoiber had turned his coalition into a laughingstock by running away from nationalist issues that should have worked for the right, in view of rising German unemployment and continuing anxieties about American imperialism.
Being conservative is not easy in Germany, where the federal state and its provincial counterparts maintain a constant surveillance, through paid spies, on those accused of “endangering the liberal democratic frame of the German constitution.” The Verfassungsschutz, a vast intelligence apparatus that functions both federally and provincially, monitors “extremist” organizations, publications, and personalities and prepares criminal charges against those expressing undemocratic sentiments. These “V-men” have been recruited from among former Nazis and East German communist secret police and unleashed on the political enemies of those “defenders of democracy” who run the German spy system. This government-sponsored intimidation runs counter to the Basic Law of the German state, which, in Article 5, affirms the right to express opinions freely. During the early Cold War, the main targets of the V-men were suspected communist agents and communist front groups. Since the mid-70’s, as German governments have veered leftward, the objects of surveillance and judicial prosecution have been overwhelmingly on the right. While impenitent communists fill the ranks of the present Red-Green coalition in Germany, right-of-center parties, such as the National Democrats and the Republicans, are on the verge of being banned. German communists, who have entered federal and provincial governments under the assumed name of the Party of German Socialists, now sit in judgment over right-of-center German organizations. The National Democrats, who openly oppose Third World immigration, would already have been banned (mostly because of the center-right Christian Democrats who want to recruit their voters) had it not been for the embarrassing revelation that V-men had infiltrated the party and planted the incendiary statements that were cited by the government and the courts to ban the targeted group.
Junge Freiheit, which scolds such illiberal behavior, has annoyed the political left and the bogus center-right, which endorse the curbing of “fascistic” thinking and publications. In Germany and in other European countries, “fascist” simply describes whatever the left does not want to be said. Junge Freiheit dares to raise off-color questions—e.g., about assimilating large numbers of Third World Muslims into German society, the harmful effects of German attempts at repudiating their national past, and the incompatibility of leftist thought control with an even minimally free society. Amazingly, Freedom House, which reports on the state of civil liberties throughout the world, considers Germany a thoroughly free society, despite the fact that its treatment of academic and intellectual freedom seems to have been inspired by the communists and Nazis. German jails are full of writers who have made objectionable historical or scientific statements—and not just about the holocaust. Today, Junge Freiheit explains, “extremist” is equated with “rechtsaussen” (anything thought to be right of right-center). Journalists who call for revolutionary leftist programs do not often get investigated. Meanwhile, the police turn their backs when antifascist thugs assault politically incorrect intellectuals.
Junge Freiheit has responded to this antifascist bullying by seizing the banners of freedom and German national dignity. It calls attention to the restraints imposed on nonleftist opinions and to p.c. lies and distortions intended to degrade Germans, Christians, and Western societies. Retaining Alexander von Stahl, a distinguished jurist, and launching a now heavily subscribed affirmation of support, signed by over 2,700 dignitaries, Dieter Stein has made the attacks on his publication the main reason for its continued existence. His website (www.jungefreiheit.de) documents his weekly confrontation with the judicial thought police.
While Stein’s weekly has never evinced the slightest sympathy for the Nazi regime (from which my own family fled), it does make the distinction between opposing the Nazis and turning their crimes into an excuse for denigrating German culture or for allowing self-described antifascists to destroy intellectual freedom.
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