The Beast Reawakens
by Martin A. Lee
1997, Little Brown
As in France, such notions were compatible with the hatred of refugees, asylum seekers, and ethnic minorities. But this animosity was obscured somewhat by the German New Right’s strong endorsement of national liberation movements and “revolutionary struggles” around the world, ranging from the Basques in Spain and the IRA in Northern Ireland to the peoples 0 Eastern Eu , the Ukraine, the Afghan mujahideen, and the Sandinistas of Nicaragua. In short, any mortal enemy of a superpower was deemed a de facto ally by various inchoate New Right formations that sprang up in West Germany during the early 1980s.50
This period also saw the emergence of the Greens, left-of-center peace-and-ecology party, as a mass-based opposition movement in West Germany. Galvanized by NATO’s decision to station a new generation of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, the Greens adopted a neutralist stance toward the East-West conflict. Their attempts to forge a third way beyond capitalism and Communism bore certain similarities to themes stressed by New Right intellectuals and neo-Nazi militants, who tried to outflank their left-wing contemporaries by enunciating radical positions on ecology, nuclear weapons, U.S. Imperialism, and “national liberation.” Some right-wing extremists went so far as to call for “revolution from below” in Germany modeled after Third World independence struggles. They often employed leftist-sounding rhetoric that appealed to the Greens’ supporters, who also obsessed over questions of personal and collective identity. Many Greens were receptive to arguments that German unification was an indispensable precondition to a durable peace in Europe. Such matters were debated in New Right publications that interspersed articles by left-wing authors and neo-fascistic “national revolutionaries.“51
The political cross-fertilization that ensued in West Germany around this time provided new opportunities for far Right strategists, who were continually searching for ways to transcend their marginalized status. Toward this end, they sought to piggyback on the success of the Greens, which polled enough votes to enter the West German Bundestag — a feat that had not been accomplished by a radical right-wing party since 1949. Although most Greens were indisputably antifascist, some of them lacked the political savvy to realize that neo-Nazis and other far Right miscreants had infiltrated their ranks from the outset.52 *
In 1980, the West Berlin chapter of the Greens, known as the Alternative List, expelled a contingent of “national revolutionaries” that had employed stealth tactics in an effort to take over the group. This was merely one skirmish in a battle for control of the Greens as leftists feuded with brown elements inside the party. Left-wing forces ultimately prevailed, prompting ecofascists and their fellow travelers to form a rival organization, the Democratic Ecology Party headed by Herbert Gruhl, in 1982.53
While German neo-Nazis and New Right intellectuals expressed concern for Green issues, their interest in Green issues was little more than a pretext for promoting a cutthroat social Darwinist ideology and a disguised form of racism. Gruhl, for example, trumpeted the “laws of nature” to justify a hierarchical social order. “All strivings of people . . . for organized social justice are simply hopeless,” he asserted. A guest speaker at Holocaust-denial confabs and other neo-Nazi functions, Gruhl was subsequently awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Service Cross), the country’s highest official honor, by the Bohn government.
* The first organization to call itself “the Greens in 1977 was led by August Haussleiter, a bullnecked, red-faced veteran of Hitler’s beer hail putsch, who had a long history of involvement in extreme right-wing causes after World War II. During the 1950s, August Haussleiter’s Deutsche Gemeinschaft (German Community) collaborated with the neo-Nazi Bruderschaft, which counted Otto Skorzeny among its key personnel. Shortly after the Socialist Reich Party was banned by the West German government, Haussleiter engaged in secret talks with Ernst Remer’s colleagues in an effort to preserve the political punch or the SRP faithful. The SRP-linked attorney Rudolf Aschenauer was an executive board member of the DeutscheGemeinschaft. By the late 1960s, however, Haussleiter had swung toward the Left in an effort to attract student radicals. His group, Action Community of Independent Germans, began to focus on ecology and antinuclear issues. Haussleiter subsequently became a father figure for the fledgling Greens, whose initial supporters included dissident conservatives as well as left-wing activists. In 1980, he was elected chairman of the Greens, but Haussleiter was forced to step down after a months because or his checkered past.