Trump viewed as savior figure by Germany’s neo-Nazis

By | September 7, 2020

The New York Times reports:

Just before hundreds of far-right activists recently tried to storm the German Parliament, one of their leaders revved up the crowd by conjuring President Trump.

“Trump is in Berlin!” the woman shouted from a small stage, as if to dedicate the imminent charge to him.

She was so convincing that several groups of far-right activists later showed up at the American Embassy and demanded an audience with Mr. Trump. “We know he’s in there!” they insisted.

Mr. Trump was neither in the embassy nor in Germany that day — and yet there he was. His face was emblazoned on banners, T-shirts and even on Germany’s pre-1918 imperial flag, popular with neo-Nazis in the crowd of 50,000 who had come to protest Germany’s pandemic restrictions. His name was invoked by many with messianic zeal.

It was only the latest evidence that Trump is emerging as a kind of cult figure in Germany’s increasingly varied far-right scene.

“Trump has become a savior figure, a sort of great redeemer for the German far right,” said Miro Dittrich, an expert on far-right extremism at the Berlin-based Amadeu-Antonio-Foundation.

Germany — a nation generally supportive of a government that has handled the pandemic better than most — may seem an unlikely place for Mr. Trump to gain such a status. Few Western nations have had a more contentious relationship with Mr. Trump than Germany, whose leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, a pastor’s daughter and scientist, is his opposite in terms of values and temperament. Opinion polls show that Mr. Trump is deeply unpopular among a broad majority of Germans.

But his message of disruption — his unvarnished nationalism and tolerance of white supremacists coupled with his skepticism of the pandemic’s dangers — is spilling well beyond American shores, extremism watchers say.

In a fast-expanding universe of disinformation, that message holds real risks for Western democracies, they say, blurring the lines between real and fake news, allowing far-right groups to extend their reach beyond traditional constituencies and seeding the potential for violent radicalization. [Continue reading…]

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