It has been exactly 20 years now, but the images just won’t go away. I remember August 23, 1992, as if it was yesterday. I was 11 years old and on TV I saw houses burning, people applauding, cheering and shouting, “We’ll get all of you!” Those words were directed toward the over 100 people trapped inside the houses. It was in Rostock-Lichtenhagen, a huge housing complex in East Germany, where several thousand asylum seekers and immigrants were living among some 10,000 Germans.And even some conservative press sources say nothing about this still prevalent mindset in Germany. Realizing just what kind of demonic brains are on the loose even in east Germany, it makes me feel all the more disturbed if this is being ignored by say, the US media on the right.
Just days before German authorities planned to evacuate the asylum shelters, the local population decided to take matters into their own hands.
On August 22, they began to gather in front of the houses where the foreigners were living and began to throw stones and fire-bombs towards the building. The police were obviously unable and unwilling to interfere, and fire-fighters couldn’t reach the burning buildings without police protection. For three straight days the mob was allowed to attack the houses. Only at the end of the second day, with massive reinforcement, could the police evacuate the shelters.
It was simply luck that the people trapped inside one of the buildings were not lynched or burned alive. Only moments before some of the neo-Nazis who had broken into the housing complex could reach them, they were able to break through a door and escape to a neighboring house. This was not Germany in 1933, but a country where one part had just toppled its socialist dictatorship through peaceful demonstrations.
I was just a kid but back then I learned that Germany was not alright, and maybe never really would be. Since then Germany has tried everything to make those images disappear. At every occasion you will hear how open-minded and tolerant a country today’s Germany is.
The millions of tourists visiting Berlin, Munich, Hamburg or Frankfurt will confirm this impression; and in some parts of the country it’s true. In many towns and cities you will find Turkish snack places, Italian pizzerias and people with all kinds of different backgrounds, getting along pretty good.
But beneath that there is the Germany of Rostock- Lichtenhagen; people that still cling to a concept of “Volk,” who see everything foreign as a threat to something called “Germany.” Even 20 years after Rostock-Lichtenhagen, many parts of East Germany are still very dangerous for non-whites, people with liberal political opinions or who are just dressed differently.
When German NGOs and politicians warned in 2006 that certain regions in East Germany basically constitute “no-go-areas” for non-whites, the reaction was outrage. Not about the truth of the statement but about the international image of Germany that such a statement would create.
Only this year a Jewish restaurant in Chemnitz had to move because it was attacked on a regular basis and the local police were not willing to provide the protection necessary. In 2011 federal authorities listed almost 11,000 criminal offenses committed by neo-Nazis, among them 537 acts of violence.
Speaking of which, I must take issue with Zdiara's claim that "liberal" opinions are what paint a target on the carrier. Never mind that east Germany was infested with communism years before, even nazism/fascism is otherwise leftist ideology, and I've got a feeling it's more likely that conservative opinions are what make it dangerous to be around that area. It's possible to estimate that even after the Berlin Wall came down, not all leftist sentiments fell with it. Consider that, even people supposedly detesting communism could still have maintained certain other negative sentiments, and for all we know, they might still condone certain aspects of socialism.
In that case, why is Zdiara insisting on pegging the culprits here as rightists? He does this again with the following:
The police reacted reluctantly, and lawmakers were more concerned with the picture that Germany presented to the outside world, than with the people being harmed or killed. Particularly telling was the reaction of the German parliament. Immediately in the aftermath of Rostock- Lichtenhagen, the German parliament changed the Asylum legislation in 1992, severely restricting the granting of political asylum in Germany.Oh good grief. For someone who says he's got a problem with blaming victims, he's severely undermining his positions by invoking a classic stereotype leftists like to use by claiming that "right-wing/conservatives" are the cause of all evil in this world, and a liberal could never in any way, shape or form be guilty of anything.
By this move German lawmakers basically adopted the positions of right-wing hooligans, blaming the victims and thereby rewarding the perpetrators.
And what "innocence" does he think Germany could ever have had if this mindset existed at the time Germany was split in two? A shame that for someone who supposedly cares about racism in Germany, he's taking the easy way out by blaming conservatives as the sole problem that led to that horrifying attack in Rostock-Lichtenhagen in the early 90s.
Update: he's not the only one. Even Deutche-Welles used the term "right-wing extremism" to describe this. I'll admit that in Europe, even righties can have questionable character, but even so, they're taking the easy way out. So is the AP Wire/San Francisco Chronicle, their willingness to acknowledge that one of the gangs running rabid in Germany uses the full name of the nazis when they call themselves the "National Socialist Underground". And it's the same situation with Der Spiegel.