The Domestic Politics of German Unification

By Christopher Anderson; Karl Kaltenthaler et al. | Go to book overview

cert in Berlin was held under the motto, "I am a foreigner." In Cologne, demonstrators carried placards that read, "Dear foreigners, please don't leave us alone with these Germans." 19 In November 1992, at a mass rally of 350,000 persons in Berlin, marred by leftist protests against government policies, President Richard von Weizsäcker said: "We should never forget what caused the failure of the first republic in Germany. Not because there were too many Nazis too soon, but because for too long there were too few democrats."20

The president's warning was an implicit plea for tolerance toward foreigners in Germany. Polls taken in 1991 indicate that 60 percent of German respondents show support for foreigners living in Germany. The 40 percent opposed resent the increased outlays for refugees and the perceived largescale abuse of the right to political asylum. 21

The government will have to tackle the question of immigration of foreigners from Eastern Europe and Third World countries with sensitivity and fairness. Germany (and other West European countries) contends that it can admit only a limited number of people. But legally admitted immigrants should be integrated and assimilated and gain full rights, including the vote in local elections and eventual citizenship. German government efforts, limited so far, to help shore up the economies of East European countries so that people may build up an existence at home rather than emigrate to Germany and elsewhere, is a step in the right direction.

In sum, if current economic and social problems in Germany are eased, participatory democracy is encouraged, and more deep-seated causes for the perpetuation of right-wing extremism are addressed, and if the perpetrators of violence are severely punished, then there is hope that the democratic system of the new Germany will be strengthened rather than weakened.


Notes
1.
The "Bielefelder Rechtsextremismus-Studie" by Wilhelm Heitmeyer, cited in Die Zeit, May 29, 1992.
2.
For a yearly list of rightist (and leftist) groups and parties, see the annual reports, entitled Verfassungsschutzbericht, of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesverfassungsschutz).
3.
See Die Republikaner: Parteiprogramm 1990. Bonn, 1990. Also personal interview with Bavarian REPS official, Munich, December 10, 1990.
4.
Bartholomäus Grill in Die Zeit, February 17, 1989; quoted in Castner and Castner, 1989: 33.
5.
EMNID poll of West Germans, East Germans, and Israelis commissioned by Der Spiegel, January 13, 1992.
6.
Der Spiegel, January 20, 1992, p. 44. West Germans were more antiSemitic, pro-rightist, and hostile to foreigners than East Germans.
7.
New York Times, November 30, 1990.
8.
On immigration, see Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), Innenpolitik

-111-

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