The Consensus President


BERLIN (Own report) - An extreme rightwing journal is celebrating the agreement on Joachim Gauck as the next German president. Whereas the outgoing president Christian Wulff made headlines with "platitudes about Germany being 'a multi-ethnic republic'," Gauck's "statements were sober," for example on the question of "migration," praised the ultra-rightwing weekly "Junge Freiheit." Gauck had in fact expressed his approbation of Thilo Sarrazin, the SPD politician, known for his racist statements against "Turks and Arabs." The next German president also raised eyebrows when he spoke out on the question of the German-Polish border, the resettlement of ethnic Germans and the Shoah. He considers that the "excessive exaltation" of the "German Judeocide to become something unique," sometimes begins to take on a quasi-religious "dimension of absoluteness," which he says must be rejected. In about four weeks, with the votes of the parliamentarians of nearly all of the parties in the Bundestag, Joachim Gauck is supposed to be elected the eleventh president of the Federal Republic of Germany - with a cross-party consensus.

Cross-Party Consensus

Since the resignation of German President Christian Wulff, almost all of the parties represented in the German Bundestag have agreed to elect Joachim Gauck, the Protestant pastor and former director of the Commission for the Stasi Archives, to be Wulff's successor. When the Federal Assembly is convened, March 18, in Berlin's Reichstag to decide on the next German President, Gauck can count on 90 percent of the votes. The future German president will differ in a number of aspects from his predecessor, who resigned last week.

Political Correctness: Disliked

Diametrically contrary to Christian Wulff, his predecessor, Gauck joined in the debate on the racist theses of the social democrat, Thilo Sarrazin. In his book published in the fall of 2010, Sarrazin ranted against "Turks and Arabs." He contended that the migrants in the German lower classes are very costly to the German state and of little value. Wulff contradicted this anti-Muslim agitation, which was causing an uproar, in his October 3, 2010 German Unification Day speech, with the observation that Islam is part of Germany. He even began his resignation statement by admitting that it is "a matter of great concern to him" that everyone "who lives here with us in Germany" should feel "at home" in the republic - "regardless of his or her origins."[1] Gauck, on the other hand, contended that Sarrazin "showed courage." "He publicly addressed a problem that exists in the society more directly than the politicians." From this success, "the political class" could learn that "their politically correct way of talking" does not come across to the majority in this society.[2]

Archive the Question of Guilt

Gauck is best known as the one who combats "totalitarian systems." The next German president applies this label to the racist political approach of the extreme right as well as to the egalitarian communist ideas of the left, placing the Nazi system, with its crimes against humanity almost on the same level as the socialist countries, including the GDR. He is quoted saying that there are similarities "in the effects of state terrorist rule on the population."[3] Gauck was one of the initial signers of a June 3, 2008 "Prague Declaration" that affirms, among other things, that there are "substantial similarities between Nazism and Communism," in terms of their "crimes against humanity."[4] This "Prague Declaration" has been sharply criticized by Jewish associations for its relativizing the crimes against humanity committed during the Shoah. "Certain circles of East Europeans have developed a sort of 'Holocaust envy'," Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, is quoted saying, "they would love to have the crimes of communism prosecuted as severely as those of the Nazis." However, they seek to establish an entirely disproportionate equation that only leads to exonerating the Germans, "because when everyone is guilty, no one is guilty."[5] The "whole question can then be archived."

The "Holocaust Religion"

As a matter of fact, back in 2006, Germany's future president had already publicly announced his conspicuous position on the Shoah, saying that he sees "a tendency toward sanctifying the Holocaust," as seen "through the German Judeocide being exalted to a uniqueness that surpasses rationality and analysis."[6] Evidently "certain milieus in post-religious circles are in search of the dimension of absoluteness, in search of the element of trembling in the face of the unspeakable." But this "trembling" could also have been provoked by "the absolute evil" and is "paradoxically of psychological benefit." The German far right also makes reference to the allegation that the commemoration of the Shoah contains religious elements. When, in early 2009, a bishop of the Catholic Society of Saint Pius X, was strongly criticized in public for having put the Holocaust into question, the ultra-rightwing weekly, Junge Freiheit, wrote that "currently the mightiest demon" is "the civil religion, in which Auschwitz replaces God," the Holocaust "has been stripped of its concreteness and its context" and "heaved to the realm of an enigma, necessitating priestly mediation."[7] Soon thereafter, an author in another far-rightwing media organ declared, in reference to criticism of anti-Semitic tendencies in the Catholic Church,[8] that he considers it "questionable" that "the head of the Catholic Church should be expected to make a kowtow to the negative shrine, the Holocaust."[9] That author is a member of the editorial board of a journal, officially published under the auspices of the Bundeswehr University in Munich. ( reported.[10])

Wannsee Conference and Stasi Headquarters

Gauck grabbed the spotlight once again in one of his more recent public statements, liable to put strain on German-Polish relations. Gauck wrote, in regards to the GDR's 1950 recognition of Poland's western borders that "the communists," by "approving the westward relocation of Poland and, by the same token, the loss of the German eastern territories" had merely given in to "Stalin's territorial demands." "The indigenous as well as the resettled consider the loss of the homeland a great injustice that the communists have even cemented, when, in 1950, they recognized the Oder - Neisse Border as the new German-Polish national border."[11] Just a few years ago, during the uproar over Erika Steinbach, president of the League of Expellees (BdV), and her plans to establish a "Center against Expulsions," which was strongly criticized by Poland, Gauck officially took Steinbach's side. Berlin, "where one finds various 'Topographies of Terror,' such as the Wannsee Conference, the Stasi Headquarters, and the former seats of brown and red despotic governments," is an appropriate site for a "Center against Expulsions."[12]

Mature Germany

Gauck repeatedly declared, "the Germans" would be well advised to change their way of dealing with their country's history. "I ask myself how much longer do we Germans intend to nurture our culture of chagrin," he argued in the fall 2010.[13] When, in 2006, he was asked in an interview if today "the majority of Germans" are "mature" enough to turn toward their own victims, toward patriotism," he answered "this is my opinion."[14] The consensus candidate, who will soon be named President, is looked upon with sympathy also by circles on the far Right. "Contrary to the platitudes of a 'multi-ethnic republic,' with which [former President] Wulff played down the pressing problems of immigration and integration of foreigners, Gauck is known for his sober remarks,"[15] writes the extreme rightwing weekly, Junge Freiheit: "Wulff's overdue resignation and Gauck's designation as the next president" are "two positive political decisions."

[1] Rücktrittserklärung. Schloss Bellevue, 17. Februar 2012
[2] Gauck attestiert Sarrazin "Mut"; 30.12.2010. See also Herrschaftsreserve
[3] Daniela Dahn: Gespalten statt versöhnt; 10.06.2010
[4] Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism. June 3, 2008
[5] Vergangenheitsbewältigung - nein danke; WDR 5, 21.08.2011
[6] Joachim Gauck: Welche Erinnerungen braucht Europa?
[7] Thorsten Hinz: Der Super-Vatikan; 13.02.2009
[8] see also The Pope and the Anti-Semites, Die Antithese zur Moderne (I) and Die Antithese zur Moderne (II)
[9] Larsen Kempf: Holocaust-Religion? 12.05.2009
[10] see also Eingeschränkte Demokratie
[11] Stéphane Courtois et al.: Das Schwarzbuch des Kommunismus. Unterdrückung, Verbrechen und Terror, München 1998
[13] "Mutige Politiker ziehe ich vor"; 30.09.2010
[14] Gauck: Erinnerung an Vertreibung leugnet nicht den Nazi-Terror; 31.08.2006
[15] Dieter Stein: Joachim Gauck wird ein guter Bundespräsident; 19.02.2012