Germany facing its demons

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It was certainly the last trial of a still living Nazi who participated in the Shoah. The Hamburg court on Thursday sentenced Bruno Dey, 93, a former guard at the Stutthof concentration camp, to two years in prison. He was found guilty of complicity in the murders of 5,232 prisoners interned in Poland between August 1944 and April 1945.

Indeed, he was then only 17 years old, mobilized in the SS, then assigned to guard a death camp. It becomes one of the many small cogs that enabled the implementation of what the Nazi regime called “the final solution”, a plan for the industrial extermination of the Jews of Europe. And it is all the interest of this trial to have been able to show how this genocidal project, unique in history, could not see the light of day precisely because it was carried out by thousands of individuals carrying out small tasks, very segmented, which seemed to them quite normal and not at all criminal.

Today an old man, in his wheelchair, Bruno Dey still has trouble realizing his guilt. He testifies to never having held a leading role, never having murdered anyone with his own hands. Yet at the Stutthof, 65,000 Jews may have been shot, gassed or hanged because he was diligently guarding his watchtower.

Coincidentally, another trial was held the day before in Magdeburg: that of the far-right terrorist accused of the worst anti-Semitic attack in post-war Germany.

Yes, the trial of Stephan Balliet who stormed the Halle synagogue in full Yom Kippur prayer last October, before opening fire on kebab restaurants in the hope of killing as many Muslims as possible. And showed him the other side of anti-Semitism and racism, that of pure hatred, assumed, claimed, by not showing the slightest remorse before the judges. On the contrary, this 28-year-old young man with a shaved head and empty eyes claimed that if he had not been arrested by the police, he would then have targeted the Islamic cultural center of the city “for to commit a massacre “.

Would Germany be particularly affected by the radicalization of its extreme right?

So no, this is not a trend specific to Germany. The phenomenon is observed and it worries all Western anti-terrorist organizations, from Australia to the United States, and even in France. But Germany responds in a particularly firm way, without ever denying the problem, including when radicalization plagues institutions such as the police or the army.

The head of the regional police of Hesse, for example, was placed in early retirement on Tuesday, because he had not denounced some of his officers with too close links with the radical far right. And the Minister of Defense even disbanded one of the most prestigious units of the German army, the famous KSK commando of the special forces, which had become a nest of neo-Nazis. Chancellor Angela Merkel has made the fight against these abuses a priority of her policy, with zero tolerance.



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