Do I Drink Enough Beer for the AfD?
by Karim Alaa El-Din | January 26, 2024
As political tensions rise in my native Germany, I can’t help but feel a sense of helplessness. Gone are the days when I could comfortably look down upon the UK for its messy politics and the strength of its far right. With the conservative CDU (Christian Democratic Union) and right-wing AfD (Alternative for Germany) polling at a combined total of over 50%, the shift towards the right is pronounced. I could write pages upon pages about the reasons for this (the weakened polling of incumbent parties, the handicap of the ‘debt brake’ the current government faces, the conflict between its three parties). That, however, has been done many times before, by people better versed in the political landscape than me. What I want to write about is something much more immediate – fear.
The fear my Arab dad describes whenever he thinks back to that holiday in rural East Germany. The fear shown by the few remaining survivors of the Holocaust, quiet but clear voices. The fear that captures my heart as I read about the neo-Nazi conference that took place on November 25th, 2023. Detailed by the investigative journalism collective Correctiv in a blood-curdling account, representatives of the AfD, including the then right-hand man of party leader Alice Weidel, attended a private and exclusive meeting where a secret Masterplan immigration was presented. If you think that sounds like an Anglicised echo of the Third Reich’s Endloesung in der Judenfrage, you would be spot on. But wait, it gets better: this meeting was held in a waterfront mansion a mere five miles from the infamous Haus of the Wannsee conference where said Endloesung was tabled.
Now, all these may be considered superficial similarities. Of course, there is no way the Masterplan itself has any resemblance to actual Nazi policies, one might assume. After all, the AfD is a buergerliche Partei, a civilized organization with roots in an anti-Euro campaign not unlike Brexit, not some Nazi hotbed like the long-since outlawed NPD (Nationalist Party of Germany). So what’s in this Masterplan?
‘[T]he masterplan’, […] centres around one key idea: ‘re-migration’.
It’s [the] idea of re-migration that should be the focus point of this gathering, [the organiser] says. Everything else – COVID restrictions and vaccinations, the issues of Ukraine and Israel – are all bones of contention on the right. Their stance on re-migration, however, is what unites them. [He] thinks it will be decisive in the question of “whether or not we in the West will survive.
- Correctiv article, ‘Secret plan against Germany’, released 15/01/2024, accessed 17/01/2024.
Here, remigration is used as a euphemism for deportation by the participants of this conference (violent neo-Nazi leaders, financiers of the far-right, and various AfD politicians), as there is no intent to make this process voluntary (as indicated in the definition of remigration). Of course, deportation is a term with much stronger Nazi connotations, whereas remigration is as yet unburdened.
While the idea of deporting foreigners is not a far-fetched concept in our modern political landscape (I’m looking at your Rwanda plans, Rishi), what’s new is the scope that was explicitly set at this gathering. Remigration should, according to attendants, extend not only to asylum seekers, but in fact those with leave to remain, and indeed German citizens of foreign origin who haven’t assimilated sufficiently. Of course, what counts as sufficiently assimilated would be decided by them. The weapon of choice? Dual citizenship. According to international law, codified in Article 16 of the German constitution, it would be illegal to revoke someone’s citizenship if that made them stateless. If they have dual citizenship, however, this protection does not apply. As a German of foreign origin with triple citizenship and a very Arab name, that brings me to the key question:
Do I drink enough beer for the AfD?
After all, beer, especially German beer, is a core part of the German identity. All jokes aside, of course all these plans are wildly unconstitutional, and the AfD has been quick to respond that all attending were there in a personal capacity, not representing the party. This is particularly important to them, as calls to have them banned due to unconstitutional intentions had been growing louder even before this conference was revealed. However, the excuse seems far-fetched, as the AfD attendants at the conference acted as if they represented party leadership. A dissolution of the party by Germany’s constitutional court is now perhaps more likely than ever.
In the end, whether the AfD is banned or not matters little to me. The people that make up the party, and those that vote for it, won’t go away. For a moment, the civilized mask slipped off and revealed the cruel beast that many have long suspected and only hoped wasn’t there. And it’s a terrifying one. Especially for those of us that thought themselves safe, hidden behind their little burgundy booklets with the scrawny eagle on the front. Those who, like me, in the end have nowhere else to go. I was born and raised in the same city in Germany, my native language is German, and I speak neither of my parents’ tongues. If they ever managed to revoke my citizenship, I would have nowhere else to go. Still, I would run, because I have been taught (by Germany’s own education system) what else can follow. My home is a mere hour’s drive from Bergen-Belsen, where so many died. I have seen the videos of what the British found upon liberation. I have stood between the grave mounds and the ruins of the barracks that had to be burned down because they were so infested with disease. I have seen the camps at Auschwitz too. The train tracks that lead straight to the work camp if you were strong, and straight to death if you weren’t. I have glimpsed but a fraction of the suffering that happens when people like that aren’t stopped. And I know that, if it was up to people like them, people like me are next to bear that suffering. What can we do to stop them? I don’t know, but for now, I will stick to drinking more beer, just to be safe.∎
Words by Karim Alaa El-Din. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.