Deutscher Politischer Kampf: Observations of Eisenach and the future of German politics
Eisenach, a small central German town with an extensive history, was and still is the site of strong political divide. During the 19th century it served as the birthplace to many political movements. It was here that the Marxist Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Workers Party of Germany) was founded. On the other end of the spectrum, the town was site to a Nationalistic student movement that fought, intellectually and physically, for a united Germany. Following the political struggles of the 20th century, Eisenach quieted down and became, to many, just another town. But upon visiting Eisenach, it became apparent that the ghosts of yesterday still haunt her ancient walls.
Just about everywhere outside the city center in Eisenach, you can find political posters and stickers littered about. To everyone, including non-German speakers, it is very understandable that the stickers belong to those outside the current establishment. One of these stickers was concurrent with the rising anti EU sentiment that has swelled throughout Europe. Though torn in half, it is clearly a picture of the EU flag with the stars joined together by barbed wire. This likely symbolizes that the sovereignty of nations is stripped away by the European Union and then strangled to death without escape. Some Europeans have joked that the EU is turning into the “EUSSR,” a play on the abbreviation for the former Soviet Union. This perspective is typically one found in the Nationalist camp and is generally rejected amongst those on the left.
Not far was a sticker from the Identitäre Bewegung. Directly translated from German, the Identitarian Movement, is a Nationalistic movement believing in the protection of the various races and cultures of Europe. They are strongly against mass immigration and support the strengthening of National culture and identity. Though they have been criticized for having links to violence and extremism, the group claims they are not to be placed in either category. The sticker on the sign in Eisenach proclaimed,“Multikulti ist eine Lüge!” with strategically placed Islamic women in veils, essentially meaning that Multiculturalism is a lie.
Similar to the message spread by the Identitarian Movement was that of a large German sign depicting sitting Chancellor Angela Merkel in a veil. Behind her was the German flag and directly next to her was an Islamic Crescent with the words, “Miss Germany 2020.” The sign hits home a message that Germany is slowly losing its cultural identity and that mass immigration needs to cease.
One of the most common stickers seen around the town appeared to come from a strong Nationalistic group which might have links to Neo-Nazism. Their sticker reads, “Gegen Staat und Kapital, unsere Kampf bleibt National.” Directly translated meaning, “Against state and capital, our fight remains national.” At first, it seems a little confusing, but upon further research, it seems that their platform is indeed similar to that of National Socialism. They proclaim they are against the forces of Capitalism and Marxism but rather believe in a Socialist-Nationalist state for Germans.
Much like the town’s history, there was a strong left-wing presence as well. Most notably was the vandalism of the Nationalist AfD (Alternativ Für Deutschland) headquarters within Eisenach. Marxist vandals wrote a plethora of slogans on the windows. Two of the most common slogans read, “Fck Nzs,” and “Nzs Bxn.” While the first one is relatively self-explanatory, the second if written fully would be an order to punch “Nazis,” or at least those who they perceive as such. One of the most interesting slogans read, “AfD nach Dachau!” which means that the AfD should go to Dachau, a political prison camp in operation during the National Socialist rule. Lastly, the window bore a hammer and sickle, leading to the belief that this act was indeed committed by Marxist vandals.
Unfortunately, vandals also struck out at a memorial to German soldiers that fought in the First World War. This time, there were no words rather just spray paint presumably covering something. Spray painting over the years has been a common practice in Germany, but tagging a memorial is a step too far for some, especially when it was one so bloody and unfortunate as “The Great War.”
A less radical sticker, but crude nonetheless, was a feminist sticker extending a not so warm greeting to “sexists.” It reads, “Ich wollte mal einen gruss da lassen,” with a large middle finger positioned in its center. Meaning that its creator wanted to leave a greeting, which ended up being a middle finger. While perhaps not of the same caliber as the others, it still is a political message that, nonetheless, many deem to be outside the mainstream or amongst the sentiments of a radical view.
One of the last major, and somewhat ironic, stickers representing left-wing ideology was one relating Pokémon to migrants. It claims that “Kein Pokémon ist Illegal,” spreading a message of open borders to all, Pokémon and human migrants alike.
Politics in Germany, like most western countries, has been rather complex as of late. With the Nationalist AfD now the third largest party in the parliament and Angela Merkel’s last term on the clock, the future remains uncertain. During the 20s and 30s, Nationalists and Marxists fought brutal turf wars in the streets of post war Germany as topics such as a failing economy, Jewish migration, and national identity became popular. Today, Germany faces similar national debates of Islamic migration and questions of a national identity. While fighting in the street has not started, and might not any time soon, without a doubt, German society is in the throes of a looming tailspin. Eisenach, though small, is a clear microcosm for the start of this tailspin. If the German people, who seem to recognize this political divide, are unable to find a direction for themselves, then violence and vandalism may be the unfortunate externality.