Historian links Germany's new Left Party to Nazis

10th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 August 2005, BERLIN - Germany's new Left Party, which polls show will win 12 per cent next month's general election, draws on a concept of 'National Socialism' from the Nazi era, a prominent German historian alleged on Wednesday. "This is not an accident - it's intentional," said Goetz Aly who recently published a book arguing that Hitler's Nazis won allegiance by creating a huge social welfare state funded by property stolen from the Jews and people in Third Reich-occupied Europe. A leader of the Left

10 August 2005

BERLIN - Germany's new Left Party, which polls show will win 12 per cent next month's general election, draws on a concept of 'National Socialism' from the Nazi era, a prominent German historian alleged on Wednesday.

"This is not an accident - it's intentional," said Goetz Aly who recently published a book arguing that Hitler's Nazis won allegiance by creating a huge social welfare state funded by property stolen from the Jews and people in Third Reich-occupied Europe.

A leader of the Left Party, a rebel former Social Democratic (SPD) chairman Oscar Lafontaine, said in a speech last month that German workers had to be protected to prevent foreigners stealing their jobs.

"The state is obligated to prevent family fathers and women from becoming unemployed because 'Fremdarbeiter' (foreign workers) are taking away their jobs by working for low wages," said Lafontaine at a rally in the eastern German city of Chemnitz near the Czech border.

Germany's Brockhaus dictionary says the term 'Fremdarbeiter' is a Nazi expression used to describe foreign and often slave labour brought to Germany during World War II.

"In Lafontaine's propaganda of the past weeks, elements of the National Socialist concept can very clearly be recognised," said Aly in a Handelsblatt newspaper interview.

He added that angry reactions of the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) showed the far-right now viewed the Left Party as serious competiton.

The newly-founded Left Party is a merger of former East Germany's neo-communists and a smaller western German movement, the WASG.

Aly noted that many of Germany's tax loopholes and social welfare policies originated under the Nazis.

For example, the fiercely defended tax-free status of bonus pay for work on Sundays, holidays and night shifts dates back to 1940 - and was imposed after the Nazi invasion of France, he said.

"Because National Socialism under Hitler was a continuation of German social welfare policy, big chunks of it were taken over by the successor states (West Germany and East Germany), cleansed of racist elements and then further developed," said Aly.

Aly said that Germans for the past century had repeatedly demanded social and financial equality.

"In our national history one can unfortunately see again and again that Germans - in case of doubt - always give up freedom in favour of equality," he said.

Polls show the Left Party at around 12 per cent, meaning it is almost certain to win parliamentary seats in Germany's September 18 election. Under German election law a party must get at least 5 per cent of the vote to enter the Bundestag.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose SPD badly trails conservative opposition challenger Angela Merkel, has ruled out any coalition with the Left Party.

Schroeder is said to detest Lafontaine who quit as SPD leader and as German finance minister in 1999 amid complaints that the Chancellor was not a team player and refused to listen to his views.

Earlier this year Lafontaine quit the SPD and joined the WASG.

DPA

Subject: German news

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