Shadows of Germany’s Authoritarian Past

Over fifteen thousand “acts of hatred” occurred in Germany in 1992, ranging from the desecration of Jewish graves with swastikas to fire bombings. While in 1993 this figure has decreased somewhat, the number of punishable crimes committed by right-wing offenders in Germany increased by 14 percent from the previous year.* To grasp the full dimensions of civil strife and political extremism in Germany, one must understand the current context and the historical backdrop. Much, although certainly not all, of the civil unrest and rightist violence in Germany in the last few years has taken place in the newly reconstituted German states (tinder) that once formed the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The legacies of the GDR-the structure of its youth groups, its militaristic and closed society, and its negative brand of nationalism-are in no small way responsible for the social problems Germany faces.

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