Right-Wing Extremism

Xenophobia Has Economic Consequences

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Mounting xenophobia in former East Germany means it is failing to attract enough skilled workers, a trend which could further slow the region’s development.

  • Facts


    • The commissioner for former East Germany, SPD politician Iris Gleicke, has called for an investigation into xenophobia in the former GDR and its economic consequences.
    • Xenophobic movements such as PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, have gained strong followings in some regions of Germany including the East.
    • Unemployment is higher than average in former East Germany and some posts for skilled workers cannot be filled because people don’t want to move there.
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Asylfeindliche Aufmärsche in Brandenburg
Xenophobia has economic consequences. Source: DPA [M]

Right-wing enemies of the state are emerging from the shadows of criminality with increasing boldness.

To anyone who cares about constitutional order, this must be evident ever since the series of murders by the far-right NSU terrorist group emerged in 2011.

Not a day goes by without worrying news reports about “Reich citizens,” PEGIDA followers, hooligans, the “identitary movement” and arch-conservatives gone crazy.

On German unification day in 2016 in Dresden, 200 demonstrators, most of them followers of the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement, insulted our country’s leadership, shouting “away with Merkel,” “traitors to the people” and “get out of here!” Apparently, you can now insult the chancellor or president without the police intervening. That isn’t only the case in Eastern Germany, but it’s especially true there.

The government has now commissioned a study about right-wing extremism and its economic impact in Eastern Germany. What it will find can already be described today. Xenophobia, right-wing extremism and intolerance are endangering economic development. Who wants to work or invest in a German state and be surrounded by people with such a crude worldview?

If you talk to anyone who knows anything about the scene, it’s already obvious what’s to follow. Look at what’s happening in neighboring countries like France and Austria. There you see right wingers holding rallies and demonstrations under the slogan “Battle for the Streets.” These range from vigils by a dozen extremists to large demonstrations with several thousand participants. Then there are the anniversaries of the Allied bombing of certain cities or holidays like May Day  when right-wing extremists mobilize regional and nationwide marches.

Last year, the far right held 690 rallies in Germany, the highest number since reunification. The overall number of right-wing demonstrations was even higher. Last year, more than 80 percent of far-right demonstrations centered on the issues of asylum, immigration and Islamization. With the far-right radicals, respect for the authority of the state has given way to pure hatred. What is ludicrous about all this is that in the Eastern German states – with the exception of Berlin – the share of foreigners is very low, but the hate persists.


To contact the author: sigmund@handelsblatt.com.

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