PEGIDA demonstration
© AP
Right-wing movement PEGIDA draws 25,000 people to the streets in Dresden
The reports coming from Germany these days can be confusing: we hear stories about the staggering numbers of refugees pouring into the country, about refugees disappearing without a trace, about Germany being the only country actually living up to its responsibility to provide shelter for these people who fled the chaos that the West created with its perpetual war in the Middle East, wild theories that claim the "so-called refugee crisis" is entirely manufactured in order to "invade" Europe in general and Germany in particular, while providing a cheap labor force for the corporate elites, and even warnings of an impending civil war in Germany.

However, the most important thing people need to understand about the current situation in Germany is the widespread and increasing hatred towards refugees and Muslims that is infecting people's minds in the very country that gave rise to the Nazis and one of the darkest episodes in human history. Incidentally, in light of the Paris attacks that have propelled the "Muslim terrorist" narrative back into the headlines, we should all remember that one of the seminal events that led to the rise of the Nazis and their final solution for the Jews was the burning of the Reichstag by the Nazis that was then blamed on 'Communists'. As they say, history repeats - same song, different verse.

So what's the atmosphere on the ground in Germany? First, there are indeed large numbers of refugees in the country, which naturally poses a lot of logistical problems: where can they live, which government agencies are responsible, what about medical treatment, language barriers, registration, heating, food, etc.? What about all the legal procedures that are supposed to take place with asylum seekers (including deportation, which always has been subject of debate in Germany), when the numbers are so high and under conditions of general chaos?

These are obviously great challenges, and those tasked with facing those challenges report a lot of mismanagement of the situation. Tellingly, a lot of the work is actually done not by the government, but by the many volunteers who distribute clothes, provide language classes, help with bureaucracy and so on. Needless to say, with such a large group of people, along with the majority of peaceful and traumatized refugees, there will also be thugs, criminals and pathological types of all sorts. Naturally then, there are reports of crimes and violence committed by some of the refugees (notice however that many of the more horrific tales are based entirely on rumors fueled by racism, most of which turned out to be hoaxes). On the other hand, there are very frightening incidents of right-wing violence against the refugees, from beatings to setting fire to refugee camps.

Hitler and the refugee crisis

Article about Hitler above the headline "Refugee crisis made matter for the boss" - Freudian slip?
And this is where the public debate and political climate in Germany gets really disturbing.

There is much talk among the average German citizen about "those Muslims" and how evil they are, how they "throw their trash on our streets", how they "rape blonde German women", how they are violent and criminal, how they should "drown in the Mediterranean", how they are parasites that plunder our social system, how they drive good German citizens into poverty and misery. Does that ring a bell?

While many of those who say such things are not (yet?) organized and still careful as to what they say in public, there is also a growing movement that openly takes to the streets in their thousands: PEGIDA ("Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West"), which was founded by a convicted criminal with connections to Germany's biggest media empire.

Recently, this organisation managed to infiltrate and take over a relatively new EU-skeptic party, the AfD ("Alternative for Germany"), which, according to recent polls, would get 10.5% of the votes if an election were to be held now. That would make them the third largest political party in Germany. They also managed to absorb or overshadow the much saner "new peace movement" that brought together many people of different backgrounds to protest against imperialism, Germany's policy in Ukraine and NATO's endless wars.

Despite their rampant racism and right-wing slogans, PEGIDA and AfD vehemently deny any accusation of being "Nazis" and instead call themselves "citizens" who are seeking "freedom" and who fight against the corrupt government and media that supposedly try to destroy Germany by welcoming all those refugees. While it is true that the "Nazi accusation" has been used extensively in the past to silence any critical voices, this shouldn't prevent us from calling a spade a spade. You see, it's not just the Western elites who use nice-sounding words like "freedom and democracy" to justify their inhumane actions. It's the so-called opposition, too. Clearly, the minds of these people are twisted and they show a stunning lack of compassion. We should ask ourselves how this could happen, especially since we Germans watched a very similar scenario play out about 80 years ago.

Fear-mongering everywhere

Propaganda against refugees

Mainstream: "the Afghans are coming", "the storm", "overrun", "we need to build a fortress Europe"
Just as it was in the 1930s, there is a lot of dissatisfaction among the German population, and for obvious reasons: unemployment, the decline of the welfare state, low incomes, a grim future for the middle class, a growing underclass, rampant corruption and a loss of trust in the political process, to name a few. The obvious target of this growing sense of dissatisfaction should be the government, or more precisely: the ruling elites. And to some extent, this is what is happening - you will find excellent articles posted on blogs and alternative news sites and a lot of critical and intelligent discussion.

Sadly however, more and more people are beginning to blame the elite, not for their obvious corruption and mismanagement, but for "doing nothing against those refugees", effectively channeling their anger towards a scapegoat that is a victim of the very same insane and cruel Western government policies. This, of course, is exactly how "they" like the population: divided and looking elsewhere. How can people be so easily fooled? To answer that question, we should take a look at the messages from both the mainstream and the right-wing "alternative" media.

The mainstream media's opinion about the refugee crisis reflects what Angela Merkel and the government are saying: that it is a good thing and the duty of all Germans to welcome the refugees and that "we will work it out". But we notice that the media also issues warnings about alleged ISIS terrorists among the refugees, which of course creates great confusion among the people - "so I should welcome these refugees into my neighborhood, and at the same time I should fear them because crazy head-choppers are among them??"

There is also a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle fear-mongering about the "dramatic consequences" of the crisis, with the tabloids using words like "refugee storm" and "overrun". The German media has been covering the refugee crisis pretty much 24/7 - a veritable bombardment of scare-mongering and manipulation which contributes to a sense of fear and helplessness among the population, which is exactly where the government want us. As a result of this "shock strategy", or "pounding of the paranoia switch", as psychologist Martha Stout terms it, people become so afraid and confused that they are susceptible to accepting the most horrendous ideas and actions, most notably the blind hatred towards Muslims and refugees spread by the tabloids in concert with the right-wing 'alternative media'.

anti-refugee propaganda in the German right-wing media

"Alternative" media: "final destination: civil war", "longing for violence - terror within the refugee camps", "dossier: caliphate Europe"
On the other hand, those who manage to oppose this kind of rampant hatred and racism will be drawn even more into the 'safe harbor' of the so-called "quality" mainstream media, and essentially react by shutting out reality - just as Sebastian Haffner described in his brilliant book Defying Hitler, in which he recounts the rise of Nazism from the perspective of an ordinary German.

According to Haffner, people governed by fear but not ready to join the frenzy will "withdraw into their private lives" and pretend that everything is fine as long as they can manage, while ignoring the signs that become more obvious every day. And this is exactly what is needed for the rise of a totalitarian state: people of conscience paralyzed at home, a mob on the streets shouting angry slogans, and everyone in panic. At that point, it doesn't really matter who steps in as 'the savior', whether he crushes the mob (and the genuine opposition with it) or leads the mob to victory, because the result will be the same - a totalitarian police state, backed by the same elites that created this whole situation in the first place by their plundering of the economy, corruption and endless wars for profit.

Right-wing propaganda, disguised as "criticizing the system"

But we can't blame the mainstream media alone for this grim development. In fact, it seems that elements of the "alternative media" that are now supporting right-wing groups such as PEGIDA are doing most of the fear mongering that poisons the minds of the gullible. Like elsewhere, many people in Germany who realize that our government and media are corrupt to the core and who are afraid and confused, start looking for answers elsewhere. They start reading certain "alternative" publications and websites, which seemingly give voice to their doubts, fears and confusion, while at the same time pushing a paranoid, heartless and inhumane agenda, which is readily accepted by the intimidated mind.

The problem is that these "alternative" news sites - having attracted an audience through their exposure of the corrupt system have begun to shift to the far right of the political spectrum, and are threatening to infect everyone questioning the "official truth" with fear-driven, xenophobic and ultimately heartless and cruel ideologies. No matter what elaborate theories these people come up with to defend their fear-based views, what their message boils down to is: get those damn Muslim refugees who destroy our beloved, culturally-advanced country out of here, close the borders and use the army and police to keep 'em out!

Just consider this recent cover from Compact Magazin:
Compact Magazin fear-mongering

"Final destination: civil war – jihadists among the refugees"
It reads "final destination: civil war - jihadists among the refugees". And of course you can see evil Jihadi threatening our picturesque German cities (notice the church?). The funny thing is that medieval houses like the ones depicted here are mostly empty and mere tourist attractions these days, courtesy of a changing lifestyle propelled by consumerism, big corporations and sub-urbanization. So the poor Jihadi here probably couldn't do much damage there since the "picturesque German life" people are supposed to associate with this image is largely a fantasy anyway.

Now you would expect this blatant fear mongering nonsense from some nutty extremist right-wing group, but the editors at Compact are actually not that stupid: they have published a lot of good material on many political topics in the past and are highly critical of the German government and the mainstream media, including their stance towards Russia and Germany's status as a US-colony. So besides those fear-mongering covers, they use sophisticated half-truths cloaked in intellectual and legal discourse to spread their message of fear and heartlessness.

For example, during a conference that Compact organized with a list of speakers that reads like a who's-who of the German and even international "alternative scene" (including Thierry Meyssan, Ron Paul and Andreas von Bülow), one of the speakers, professor for constitutional law Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider, apparently said the following, according to kopp online, another alternative news site turned refugee-basher:
Professor for constitutional law Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider shed some light on the legal aspects of our missing sovereignty. He began his speech with a hammer stroke: "The opposition between politics and the people has become insurmountable!" For him, Merkel's unauthorized policies in the asylum crisis are breaking current law.

As a result, he argued that the freedom of the citizens has been infringed. He criticizes that the government favors moralism over the law. Its fight against the right has become a fight against the law. "Germany is not an immigration country!", the professor shouts, under thundering applause.
Maybe it's just us, but pictures of famous German politicians from the 1930s come to mind when we imagine this scene. And notice the twisted thinking when it comes to "moralism" - apparently, this professor considers a functioning moral sense as something strange and favors strict law-and-order, no matter the situation. Notice also how he lulls his audience into his way of thinking: he begins with a true-enough statement, that there is a huge gap between the politicians and the population that is "insurmountable", thus preparing the ground for black-and-white and "either you're with us or against us" thinking. A "hammer stroke" indeed - on people's brains! Then he comes up with his blatant paramoralisms and right-wing slogans, and people - based on their deepest fears - start forming the thought in their minds that when they don't want to be on the side of the establishment and their media (which is understandable), then this is the alternative, this is the solution. They are safe. The refugees are the problem.

Later in the article about this conference, things get even more absurd:
After the final panel about the topic of "perspectives for a German freedom movement", Compact philosopher Peter Feist summarized a few central thoughts of the day:

1. The termination of the duty to obey - as has been carried out by many soldiers and officers in the GDR in order to make possible the peaceful revolution - is the key to topple the system!

2. "There is no contradiction between legality and humaneness" - What is legally right, cannot be inhumane! [...]
These statements are, in fact, an invitation for people to fully submit to their deepest fears and forget all healthy moral standards and empathy: you don't need to obey the government which tells you to care for those refugees. But hey, the Law is the Law, the Law says we don't need to care for those refugees, and Law trumps morality - therefore, if you feel threatened by these refugees, feel free to give 'em hell!

Of all people, we Germans should be familiar with this twisting of ethics that makes people excuse the most brutal behavior by referring to whatever is convenient. Wasn't it the standard excuse of the Nazi enablers that they "just acted according to law" and "just followed orders"? And now we are supposed to accept some legalistic nonsense to justify the rejection of suffering human beings that the West exploited and bombed for decades to finance our oh-so-great German way of life!? Please! The sad thing is that you will find countless mind-twisting tirades of a similar kind on these sites, mixed with the right amount of truth of course, and they are all designed by pathological types to lull people into blaming the weakest - the Muslim refugees - and creating fantasies about a non-existing German utopia. It's sickening.

Blaming the victim and killing empathy

A very good example of what this sort of twisted thinking can lead to is this article by a German, which pretty much sums up the attitude of those influenced by the "alternative media" right-wing demagogues. Here is an excerpt that exemplifies the fear-driven black-and-white thinking described earlier:
... I am of course talking about the so-called "refugee crisis," but because even this name is working against us, I will call it what it really is—a war against Europe by means of invasion. It is now vitally important to call things by their right name, because this distinguishes friend from foe.
...
The national railroad company is ordered to offer special trains free of charge for the "refugees," bringing them into every corner of Germany the fastest way possible while delaying regular trains.

Vacant houses and apartments are confiscated by force and given over to the "refugees" free of charge. Every "refugee" given rental housing is paid for by the communities, as much as 500 Euros per person per month. This is a big opportunity for some scumbags to make money really fast, by making, ill and elderly Germans homeless.
...
I find myself in a nightmare unable to wake up. Most people feel helpless and unwilling to accept the sad truth: we have been betrayed by everyone (except perhaps the police and the military) we entrusted with our safety and our hopes for the future. Even though the end of the global economy in its current form seemed a given to me, this kind of treason and ill intent to bring it all down took me by surprise. Among the twenty or so people I talked to about this in confidence, absolutely everyone is convinced that this is heading toward civil war—and fast! The only question remaining is whether the Germans start it, or the "refugees," or some other party. We are one major terror attack away from sheer chaos.
So the author of this article finds himself in a nightmare, which is understandable given the state of the world. He is afraid and seeks answers, which he finds in the "alternative" right-wing media. They basically give him a free pass to hate those refugees and blame them for his misery and indirectly call for the police and the military to solve the problem, no less! He even puts "refugees" in quotes, which indicates that he doesn't view any of them as deserving compassion and support, especially in the context of his tirade against those supposed criminals and parasites who make "ill and elderly Germans homeless".

As much as we sympathize with this person's nightmarish unease at the state of the world in general, and his local world in particular, how can one not see the parallels to Nazi propaganda in the 1930s? What's next - blocking Jewish stores refugee camps to prevent 'the Muslims' from getting in? Organizing militias to show those Jews refugees their place? Oh wait, that is already happening. The poisonous, delusional "theories" spread by the right-wing media are killing compassion and empathy wherever they mate with fear. It's disturbing in the extreme.

The author is right though with his observation that we are one major terror attack away from sheer chaos - this is because people like him are so confused, so invested in right-wing propaganda, that God knows who they will follow into the abyss once the fabric of German society is torn apart. But as explained earlier, the right-wingers are not the only ones intimidated by fear-mongering. On the other side of the spectrum, you have those still believing in the mainstream media, and as we know, these are subject to fear-mongering as well. So you have two opposed groups acting based on fear, plus hundreds of thousands of refugees: an explosive combination indeed. Imagine a terror attack carried out by (or blamed on) a refugee, and Lord knows what will unfold. What people like the author fail to understand is that even if there is such a thing as a "refugee conspiracy" (and yes, there are some serious questions as to how this crisis unfolded), it isn't designed to "destroy Germany", but to frighten and divide us, to poison our minds, hearts and souls so that we lose our compassion and critical thinking and willfully follow the next "savior".

Psychopaths are the problem, not refugees

Instead of buying into and spreading this nonsense, both in the mainstream media and in the alternative media, why don't people blame the banks for robbing us of countless billions of Euros that could have been used to solve the refugee crisis AND restore social welfare? Why can't they see that NATO and the West (including Germany) produced misery galore on the whole planet - both via bombing and shameless economic exploitation - so that it's only natural that this would come back to bite us at one point, "refugee conspiracy" or not?

Don't they see, feel, that we have an obligation to the refugees, those suffering human beings, not out of "pity", but because we caused their misery!? Why can't they see that their beloved German way of life is built on the ruins of other countries? Hell, why don't they realize that many Germans had become refugees themselves after WWII? Where is the empathy, where is the compassion for those human beings, Arab Muslims or not!?

And so we arrive at the real problem: heartless, greedy psychopaths in positions of power - including positions of power in the so-called alternative movements and their media. You see, those psychopaths in power - devoid of any empathy or moral feelings - don't need a "grand conspiracy" of flooding Germany with refugees to destroy our country; they manage the destruction just fine without such a thing, thank you. As Dr. Andrew Lobaczewski writes in Political Ponerology:
If such and many managerial positions are assumed by individuals [psychopaths] deprived of sufficient abilities to feel and understand most other people, and who also betray deficiencies in technical imagination and practical skills—(faculties indispensable for governing economic and political matters) this must result in an exceptionally serious crisis in all areas, both within the country in question and with regard to international relations. Within, the situation shall become unbearable even for those citizens who were able to feather their nest into a relatively comfortable modus vivendi. Outside, other societies start to feel the pathological quality of the phenomenon quite distinctly. Such a state of affairs cannot last long.
Isn't this exactly what we are witnessing - a totally incompetent government, unable to handle problems because of lack of empathy and a selfish, greedy attitude paired with corrupt networks that are about money and power instead of getting something useful done? Isn't it true that even in rich Germany, the middle class has been dwindling and struggling for decades now, the underclass is hopeless, and we are witnessing corruption galore? Clearly, this is not the refugees' fault!

So the current state of affairs is a win-win situation for the psychopaths with their drive for control and intimidation: either the government uses the right-wing movements with their heartless propaganda as an excuse to abolish freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, etc., de facto creating an open fascist police state, or those fear-mongering, empathy-killing right-wingers manage to get into power and implement their agenda of transforming Germany into a militaristic state that clamps down on "those refugees" (and probably anyone who stands in their way). Both scenarios are not attractive, to say the least. In order to stop this development, we must finally realize that this is not a conflict between left and right, between the government and the opposition, between the mainstream media and the alternative media, between the Green Party and PEGIDA, between Muslims and Christians or between the elite and the wannabe elite. It's an ongoing struggle between normal people with a conscience and psychopathic individuals with zero empathy and a reckless drive for power.

Unfortunately, those psychopaths - often intelligent, charming individuals - easily rise to high positions in the media and the government as well as in opposition movements, the alternative media and even charities and start spreading their twisted thinking, which then infects normal human beings. This leads to the process described earlier in this article: an infection of people with absurd theories that capitalize on their deepest fears and thus degrade them morally.

What we need to do is forget all these ideologies and dividing lines for a moment and begin to use our own minds, our own eyes, and our own hearts to assess the situation we find ourselves in, both politically and on a personal level. We shouldn't refrain from using our empathy to strive towards acting morally - towards all our fellow human beings, regardless of culture, religion or political background - just because some wacko demagogues told us that the refugees are "invading us" or that there are ISIS head-choppers among them. We shouldn't fight against each other, nor should we fight against the psychopaths directly. Instead, we should fight for a different world by turning away from the psychopaths and refusing to believe their twisted lies, no matter if they are in the mainstream media, in the government or in the so-called opposition movements. Unless we want to repeat the German experience under Hitler, we should remember Sebastian Haffner's words and not give in to our deepest fears:
Strangely enough, it was just this automatic continuation of ordinary life that hindered any lively, forceful reaction against the horror. I have described how the treachery and cowardice of the leaders of the opposition prevented their organisation from being used against the Nazis or offering any resistance. That still leaves the question why no individuals ever spontaneously opposed some particular injustice or iniquity they experienced, even if they did not act against the whole. (I am not blind to the fact that this charge applies to me as much as to anyone else.)

It was hindered by the mechanical continuation of normal daily life. How different history would be if men were still independent, standing on their own two feet, as in ancient Athens. Today they are yoked to the details of their work and daily timetable, dependent on a thousand little details, cogs in a mechanism they do not control, running steadily on rails and helpless if they become derailed. Only the daily routine provides security and continuity. Just beyond lies a dark jungle. Every European of the twentieth century feels this in his bones and fears it. It is the cause of his reluctance to do anything that could 'detail' his life - something audacious or out of the ordinary. It is this lack of self-reliance that opens the possibility of immense catastrophes of civilization like the rule of the Nazis in Germany.

- Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler