Fraternity Brothers: Questionable Polish Borders


BERLIN/WARSAW (Own report) - The German Minister of Transportation, Peter Ramsauer (CSU) is member of a student fraternity that has ties to circles of the right extremist National Democratic Party of Germany - NPD. The umbrella fraternity "Deutsche Burschenschaft," (DB) not only has Minister Ramsauer as a member, but also two NPD members of regional parliaments. The alleged historical merits of Nazi criminals Hess and Hitler are debated in the DB's newspaper. The fraternity, in which Ramsauer is referred to as a "fraternity brother", places Poland's territorial integrity into question. In the next few weeks, Transportation Minister Ramsauer is due to reach a decision concerning Nazi victims in Poland, who are demanding reparations from his ministry for damages incurred during Nazi deportation carried out with the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" (German state railroad in WW II). Cabinet member Ramsauer is not alone. Hans-Peter Uhl is also a member of a fraternity with NPD ties. Uhl is the spokesperson for domestic affairs of the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary caucus in the German Parliament (Bundestag). Legislation concerning the surveillance of the country's right-wing extremists is among Uhl's functions.

Within the spectrum of the German cabinet, Ramsauer advocates far rightwing political standpoints. His political mentor is Otto Wiesheu (CSU), who until recently was a member of the presidium of the Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG - the German railroad), in charge of "political relations". As supervising minister in charge of the DB AG, Ramsauer is continuing Wiesheu's work.

Open to the NPD

Transport Minister Ramsauer not only supervises the DB AG, but is the legal successor of the "Deutsche Reichsbahn", which transported more than 3 million people to their deaths during the reign of the Nazis. Ramsauer, as the legal heir of the "Reichsbahn," has been called upon to make a decision concerning former Nazi deportees' demands to establish an aid fund for needy victims of German deportations by rail.[1] Ramsauer has a budget of 26.3 billion Euros - the third largest budget in Chancellor Merkel's cabinet. The victims' demands would come to at least a sum of 445 million Euros. It is unlikely that a compromise will be reached with Ramsauer, whose membership in an organization that is open to the NPD, could meet with the disapproval of the international victim associations.

Impermanent Nations

For decades Transportation Minister Ramsauer (CSU) has been a member of the Franco-Bavaria Munich Fraternity, one of the approx. 120 fraternities in Germany and Austria unified under the "Deutsche Burschenschaft" DB ("German Fraternity") umbrella organization. The DB is ethnically oriented. According to its constitutional principles, it is committed to "the free development of German ethnic identity in close fellowship with all sectors of the German people" - "regardless of national borders."[2] In the DB manual one reads that "by Germany, we mean the realm in Central Europe inhabited by Germans, including the regions from which Germans were illegally expelled."[3] They maintain that an "orientation of the fatherland concept on the state," is only of relative significance "because of the brevity and impermanence of states". In the "Manual" the consequence is explained with an explanation of international law regarding the November 14, 1990, Polish - German Border Agreement. According to this argumentation, Poland merely has a right to "tolerated use" of its western territories (the "Oder - Neisse Region,") "which possibly represents a sort of territorial sovereignty," while simultaneously "the territorial sovereignty over the eastern region continues to remain in Germany's hands."[4]

"Bombing Holocaust"

Alongside Transportation Minister Peter Ramsauer, there are six other parliamentarians in the German Bundestag, who are members of fraternities united within the DB whose manual publicly questions Poland's sovereignty. They include Patrick Kurth (FDP, Foreign Affairs Committee member), Peter Roehlinger (FDP, presidium member of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation) as well as Hans-Peter Uhl (CSU, spokesperson for domestic affairs of the CDU/CSU caucus in the Bundestag).[5] At the same time among the long-standing DB members are the Saxony regional NPD parliamentarians, Juergen Gansel and Arne Schimmer.[6] Gansel made a name for himself five years ago when he called the February 1945 allied bombing of Dresden a "bombing Holocaust". The two wings of the DB have existed for years and regularly mingle with one another in jointly sponsored events. The CSU domestic policy specialist, Uhl, has been engaged for the DB as a whole, both as a prominent speaker at fraternity celebrations and as author in the fraternity magazine "Burschenschaftliche Blaetter".

With the NPD

Last summer, the "Burschenschaftliche Blaetter" launched a debate on basic principles of the DB's further development. In the course of this discussion the magazine published in its current issue a debate including a prominent member of the NPD. The paper boasted that they succeeded to stop speaking "about" the NPD and start debating "with" a "fraternity member who is also in the NPD". The two conservative participants summed up their discussion: "we consider this (...) pertinent and direct form of debate to be the right way to clear up misgivings and perhaps even misunderstandings."[7]

Hitler's Successes

The discussion revolved in part around the question of the alleged historical merits of Nazi criminals Rudolf Hess and Adolf Hitler. Arne Schimmer, the NPD parliamentarian (member of the Fraternity Dresdensia-Rugia zu Giessen) claimed that because of Hess' fate "anyone, who has a sense for history," cannot "remain indifferent," he considers that it is "simply normal, that Rudolf Hess," Hitler's deputy, "alongside the many opponents, also had some fans." During the talk, Schimmer said that one must also take into consideration "the great successes" Hitler "achieved during his first seven years in power": "the ending of the allied occupation of the Rhineland" and "under Hitler the unification" of Austria as well as the "Sudeten Regions" "within the German Reich." Schimmer sees the NPD's demand for "a differentiated view of the Third Reich" as being "justified."[8] According to their own accounts, the DB members receive the "Burschenschaftlichen Blaetter" as a regular subscription "as part of their membership services." It is not known that the DB fraternity members Uhl and Ramsauer have been excluded from the subscription list.

[1] see also Sovereign Murder
[2] Kurzportrait der Deutschen Burschenschaft;
[3], [4] Handbuch der Deutschen Burschenschaft. Ausgabe 2005 zum 190. Jahrestag der Burschenschaft
[5] The following fraternity members are currently parliamentarians in the German Bundestag: Patrick Kurth (FDP, Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Germania Jena), Peter Roehlinger (FDP, Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Arminia auf dem Burgkeller Jena), Michael Fuchs (CDU, Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Germania Erlangen), Paul Lehrieder (CSU, Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Adelphia Wuerzburg), Joachim Pfeiffer (CDU, Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Alemannia Stuttgart), Hans-Peter Uhl (CSU, Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Arminia-Rhenania Muenchen) and Peter Ramsauer (CSU, Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Franco-Bavaria Muenchen)
[6] Juergen Gansel and Arne Schimmer are members of the Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Dresdensia-Rugia zu Giessen. Michael Hahn (member of the NPD Presidium of the Lower Saxony regional organization of the NPD) is a member of the Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Rhinefranken Marburg. Rigolf Henning (NPD member of the City Council in Verden) is a member of the Burschenschaft [Fraternity] Rugia Greifswald.
[7], [8] Fragen und Antworten zur NPD: Eine Diskussion mit Verbandsbruder Arne Schimmer (MdL); 13.01.2010