Far-right party reacts to Germany’s World War I commemorations

EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

World War I re-enactors from the UK and Germany take part in centennial commemorations marking the 1914-1918 war.

Far-right party reacts to Germany’s World War I commemorations


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Alexander Gauland, the leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party lashed out at Chancellor Angela Merkel for taking part in an event marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I organised by the “winners” of the war on November 11 in Paris.

Merkel was in France with other heads of state for centennial commemorations marking the 1918 armistice that ended the four-year war that left nearly 30 million dead. In his public address to Merkel, Gauland accused the victorious Allies of re-writing history in order to shed a better light on the victors.

His words were chosen carefully and were likely a calculated attack on the modern German state’s conscious attempts to avoid putting an emphasis on “winners and losers” in the context of 20th century Europe.

The event, which was attended by most of the heads of state who participated in the 1914-1918 war,  was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who went to great lengths to call for more multilateral coordination and to denounce the recent rise of populist-fuelled nationalism in Europe and the United States.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive for the ceremony marking the centenary of the end of WWI at the Elysee Palace in Paris, November 11, 2018. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive for the ceremony marking the centenary of the end of WWI at the Elysee Palace in Paris, November 11, 2018. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

The AfD, which is a rabidly Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant party, entered the German parliament in 2015. Initially, the party was seen as a protest movement against European bank bailouts but has since morphed into a more rigidly nationalist political entity.

The movement’s co-leader, Alice Weidel, is now under investigation for receiving €130,000 in campaign donations from Switzerland ahead of the national 2017 elections. Germany allows political parties to receive funds from non-EU countries only if the lower house of parliament has been informed and if the funds come from German citizens living abroad and if the total amount is more than €50,000.

Members of Germany’s far-right, dating back to the rise of the Nazi party in the early 1930s have long contended that the then-German Empire was not defeated by the Allies – which was led by the British Empire, France, Italy, and the US – but instead agreed to a cessation of hostilities while the German Army was still deep inside France and continued to occupy Belgium and Luxembourg.

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