‘Anti-Germans’ in the German ‘Linksjugend’
Jean Frey gives his impressions of the nature and role of the so-called ‘Anti-Germans’ on the German left.
As I became politicised, in particular within Linksjugend, the youth organisation of Die Linke, I came across these militant nationalistic and pro-war activists at an early stage. I first had personal experience of BAK Shalom members at the federal conference of the Linksjugend last year in Berlin. BAK Shalom is a faction which describes itself as “a working group against anti-Semitism [sic], anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism and regressive anti-capitalism within the Linksjugend”. Its political work focuses mainly on supporting Israel’s apartheid politics and action against the “Muslim threat”, and denouncing every criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.
Their justification for this unconditional solidarity with Israel is in line with those who claim that Germans, with their Nazi heritage, have a special responsibility for the safety of all Jewish people around the world and that this can only be achieved through a strong Israel. (Personally, I fight against every form of anti-Semitism just as strongly as I oppose anti-Muslim racism, sexism, homophobia and all other types of discrimination, as is absolutely natural for every leftwing person.) Their allegations of anti-Semitism have not only been totally untruthful, but have severely damaged the left and led to a big smear campaign against Die Linke within the German mainstream media, whilst giving the bourgeois parties further material for denunciation.
At the federal congress in Berlin, the left within the Linksjugend called on BAK Shalom to withdraw support for the ‘Stop the bomb’ campaign or else face exclusion from the youth organisation. It was pointed out that a campaign which is supported by people like Henryk Broder, a journalist who works for various Springer papers and is well known for his anti-Muslim vitriol, can hardly be progressive. That part of the motion calling on BAK Shalom to withdraw was accepted after a debate where the tension between the left and the ‘anti-Germans’ was very noticeable. Delegates from the eastern German Länder in particular were quite supportive of BAK Shalom – members from eastern Germany are more likely to support coalitions with bourgeois parties and to abandon essential left principles in general.
However, when it came to the second part of the motion, many were very reluctant to vote for the exclusion of BAK Shalom should they refuse to comply with the decision of the congress. At first I could not understand this contradiction, but then a comrade explained to me that this might be because of a false understanding of left pluralism within the Linksjugend, which is often mistakenly justified by Rosa Luxemburg’s statement that “freedom is always the freedom of dissenters”. But what did she actually mean by it? Was it really in her interest to defend nationalistic, bellicose and bourgeois forces within the left? I do not think so.
Rosa Luxemburg provides a glowing example of how fight for left ideals, for which she finally paid with her life. Using her for pseudo-left purposes can only soil her memory and political legacy, but this is what the ‘anti-Germans’ continuously do.