On January 9, 1997, in an open letter in the New York Times to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, American artists and intellectuals criticized the discriminatory treatment of Scientologists in Germany. Although the petitioners claimed not to be biased in their complaint by sympathy for this church, their objectivity has to be questioned, for there are far more serious instances of discrimination and intolerance in Germany. These social activists usually end up “Nazifying the Germans,” equating the “victims” of the moment with the Jews of the holocaust. What they miss, however, is that the past most relevant for understanding Germany today is not the period of the 1930’s and 40’s but the period of the communist dictatorship, when the Soviet Union ruled the major part of our country.

Though the unification of Germany was ostensibly a crushing defeat for the left who opposed it, this defeat has been turned into a stunning victory, as the communist past is now repeating itself in Germany in the guise of liberalism. The victorious left is currently represented in the Bundestag by the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), by the “Greens” (whose leaders came from the radical ’68 generation and were sympathetic to the left-wing terrorists of the 1970’s), as well as by the Social Democrats, classified as “liberals” by American analysts. After unification, the leading communists of the East German regime dubbed themselves the “Party of the Democratic Left”; the Christian Democrats of that dictatorship were absorbed by Kohl’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU), and the Liberal Democratic Party was incorporated into Kohl’s coalition partner, the liberal Free Democratic Party. This inclusion of communists and their willing Christian and liberal collaborators into the “democratic bloc” has imposed a communist mindset on the culture of unified Germany.

Uninformed people around the world are used to identifying Kohl’s Christian Democratic Party as “conservative,” though it is nothing of the sort; it is even to the left of the neoconservative British Tories and American Republicans. The CDU’s top leaders, in fact, would reject the label “conservative.” In its early years, the party openly embraced Christian socialism and the nationalization of “key” industries. Only the circumstances of the Cold War and the expectations of its supporters forced the CDU to appear more conservative than it really is. In the last European elections. Chancellor Kohl favored Mr. Blair’s New Labour over the Europe-doubting British Conservatives, and he was not unhappy with the election results in France that brought the united left, including communists, back into government.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and her tyrannical internationalism forced the left to find a new ideological fatherland, which ironically turned out to be either liberal America or multicultural “Europe,” meaning the left has had to turn to political ideas it had previously associated with the enemy. The majority of Germans, at least 60 percent, are hostile to the left’s agenda, especially the abolition of Germany’s currency. Chancellor Kohl, in his zealotry for a united Europe, must therefore buck the will of his people and forge left-wing internationalism with the pan-Europeanism of the centrist Christian Democratic parties.

Americans may wonder how 60 percent of Germans can oppose the abolition of their currency, but still have the measure rammed down their throats by a 99 percent majority (a classic Soviet majority) of their freely and democratically elected representatives. Can this be democracy? Why not simply sack these rascals and throw them out of office?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do this within a party system based on proportional representation and ruled by party bosses. It is therefore imprudent for members of Parliament to oppose the party leadership, which in the case of the “governing party” is largely identical with the government. To comprehend the totalitarian nature of the situation, keep in mind that the original “anti-fascist” constitution of communist East Germany in 1949 was only a cunning version of the previously adopted constitution of West Germany, which is now the constitution of reunited Germany. This similarity shows that one only has to modify certain aspects of liberalism to form the anti-fascist version, or in other words, to turn a free democracy into what J.L. Talmon has called “totalitarian democracy.” The essential feature of such a system is the prohibition of any “opposition to democracy.” To do this, “democracy” must be transformed into a political religion, which indeed has happened throughout the Western world. The final chapter in this development is when the “democracy” becomes characterized by one-party rule, or when former opposition parties are absorbed, overtly or ideologically, into a governing coalition (as happened with the CDU and the liberals in Communist Germany and as happened with the rise of a one-party state in America). The formal abolition of opposition is thus not even necessary.

The impact of this communist pattern of thinking in Germany became visible during the process of unification. Leftwing agitation imposed a conversion rate for the GDR currency in relation to the deutsche mark of roughly 1:1.8, a rate that led to an inflation rate of approximately 350 percent in the former GDR. The result was the complete disappearance of East Germany’s manufacturing base, which is now sustained by huge public subsidies from the western region of Germany; without government assistance, the unemployment rate in the former GDR would be 80 percent. In the absurd expectation that the taxpayer’s burden caused by this misguided policy could be relieved by legislation, the political parties of the left and the center agreed on an amendment that abolished the constitutional protection of property, as far as this protection relates to land that was confiscated during the Soviet “property reforms” of 1945-49, when the Soviets stole (via mass expulsion and even murder) more than half of the real estate of East Germany.

In other words, by virtue of this constitutional amendment, the federal government of unified Germany and members of the former ruling communist elite are now the rightful owners of this stolen real estate, whereas the ostracized class of prewar property owners, largely faithful supporters of West Germany’s Christian Democratic Party, remains without compensation. In order to suppress or at least discredit opposition to the communist mindset now deep-rooted in Germany, the centrist bloc has begun harassing its critics by charging them with an offense called Volksverhetzung—meaning “instigating people” against minorities —found in paragraph 130 of the penal code. This law penalizes anyone expressing disbelief in the holocaust, in the official number of holocaust victims, or in the accepted methods by which these victims died. This code puts historians and even critics of immigration policy—in fact, virtually anyone who disagrees with any policy of the ruling class—at risk of criminal persecution. Most telling, this penal code mirrors the communists’ Boykotthetze (meaning instigation against democratic constitutions and politicians) of the GDR constitution of 1949, which was designed to suppress any opposition to the Soviet regime (i.e., “to democracy”).

In 1994, 2,586 people were charged with violating this code, and the number of books and magazines that are now prohibited by the government is mounting. The punishment for “wrong thought” can even be more severe than the verdicts given for certain kinds of manslaughter. Mr. Udo Walendy, an editor of a history journal, received 15 months immediate imprisonment for “playing down the holocaust,” in particular for asserting that some state documents relating to this event had been faked. (At the same time, two GDR border guards who had killed a 15-year-old boy received a suspended sentence of 12 months.) In the high-profile case of Günter Deckert, the leader of a small right-wing party, which in 1969 had received a popular vote of 4.6 percent, was brought up on criminal charges for translating and praising a speech by Fred Leuchter, who claimed the Nazis did not conduct mass exterminations by poison gas. When Judge Rainer Orlet recommended a suspended sentence for Mr. Deckert, he was hounded off the bench by political pressure; outraged by the judge’s lenient sentence, leftists and liberals demanded nothing short of two years immediate imprisonment for Mr. Deckert. Ever since then, and in particular since the resignation of the second judge to hear this case, German judges fear retribution if they fail to throw the book at anyone with an “extremist” background or “incorrect” thoughts. Conversely, serious crimes by left-wing terrorists are treated with kid gloves, as when radical Turks murdered a German conservative with “incorrect” views. Influenced by leftist pressure the world over, the Court found the assassins guilty not of murder but of a lesser offense based on “death caused by bodily attack.” If disbelief in officially protected tenets constitutes society’s vilest offense, one would think that only capital punishment could fit this crime. Germany, however, forbids capital punishment, and so it allows for the next best thing: leniency toward left-wing murderers who exercise the “right to resist”—i.e., to kill—perceived “Nazis.”

German civil servants risk their very jobs if they express the opinion, shared by many historians, that Germany was not solely responsible for the outbreak of the two world wars, or if they compare (without equating) the holocaust to the mass killing of German civilians by the Allies’ air raids and by the ethnic cleansing of Germans in the eastern territories, now annexed by Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic. Germany’s leftist political class is afraid that any tolerance of free thinking would force the country to be more assertive in furthering legitimate German interests, as in the clarification of German property rights in the territories now annexed by neighboring states. If the German government would, for example, veto Poland’s inclusion in NATO until this human rights question is resolved, it would reveal the tenuousness of European unity and jeopardize the aim of the “democratic bloc,” which, with the support of the communists, is to bring Germany under European control and force her to bankroll European union as a form of war compensation and penitence. Since the internationalist political class of Germany wants to be the friend of every foreign power and foreigner, the enemy has to be found from within. “Nazifying the Germans” thus becomes official German policy.

But to transform a “democracy” into an oppressive ideological regime which forbids opposition, critics not only have to be outlawed; secret police are necessary to discredit them as well. One major feature of the current “German way of democracy,” as the Economist described it, is the establishment of 17 internal secret service agencies (one at the federal level and one in each of the 16 states) designed to “protect the constitution.”

With the sole exception of the DP (German Party) that was part of Chancellor Adenauer’s coalition government during the Cold War, there has not been a single right-wing party that, once close to achieving the five percent of the vote needed to be represented in Parliament, has not been branded “extremist” and “radical” by the political and media elite. The most famous such party is the Republikaner of the state of Baden-Württemberg, where it constitutes the major opposition to a coalition government of Christian and Social Democrats. A government agent has even created a neo-Nazi group to infiltrate the party to instigate “neo-Nazi” activities, acts of “extremism” which the government could later cite as justification for shutting down the party. (America, does this sound familiar?) How many “neo-Nazi” groups would actually exist in Germany without such state intervention is an interesting question.

The Republikaner were very close to overcoming the five percent barrier before the last federal elections, which terrified the political establishment. To counter its growing popularity, the government then tried to pin on the party an arsonist attack that killed several Turks. Those accused of the crime were convicted on very flimsy evidence, and it was clear that they had had extensive contact with the government agent/agent provocateur. Germany’s Turkish community also threatened demonstrations and bloody reprisals, thus assuring that the suspects would not be acquitted.

The perversion of democracy into an ideological system with official truths to be protected by criminal law and a secret police is what passes for liberty in the “Free World” today. The result is that political institutions, as seen here in Germany, no longer reflect true public opinion. Though one-third of Germans say they belong to the “right,” right-wing parties are diligently suppressed.

Americans may ask whether rendering assistance to Germany’s right-wing opposition would further American interests. Perhaps not, at least in terms of the expansion of NATO or the inclusion of Turkey into Europe. But to require that the democratic process in different countries produce the same political results is a sign of the “totalitarian democracy” we now see throughout the West. If the United States is truly interested in the spread of democracy, as it says it is, then Americans have no other choice but to intervene in favor of Germany’s conservative opposition. Of course, it is always possible that, rhetoric to the contrary, true democracy is the last thing that America and her allies really want to spread.