To understand the consequences of North
Korea’s connection with German neo-Nazi
organizations, they must be given closer attention. Let’s begin with the German neo-Nazi movement in general.
Neo-Nazi beliefs began to appear in the
aftermath of World War II, harbored in general by those who wanted to revive
Nazism because they believed in its ideals and principles. The ideology of
Nazism and its need to return to the spotlight was at the core of this school
of belief. Germany isn’t the only country that was (and is) afflicted; it is a
global issue, with many followers believing that “something needs to be done” to bring the Nazi political movement back to the world today.
After German reunification in the 1990s,
post-National Socialist groups gained more followers, mostly among the younger
generation in the former East Germany. They expressed an aversion to people
from Slavic countries (especially Poland), migrant workers and refugees,
applicants for asylum and people of other national backgrounds who moved from
the former West Germany into the former East Germany after Germany was
reunited. According to the 2012 annual report of Germany’s internal
intelligence service (Verfassungsschutz), at that time there were 26,000
right-wing extremists living in Germany, including 6,000 militant neo-Nazis.
As German reunification faded further into
history, so racism and ne-Nazism became more and more violent. In towns such as
Rostock, Moelln, Solingen, and Hoyerswerda,
the houses of immigrants and refugees were firebombed by neo-Nazis and a number
of people were killed – primarily women and children.
Riots in Rostock-Lichtenhagen marked a
watershed. From August 22–24, 1992 violent
xenophobic clashes took place in the Lichtenhagen district of Rostock, (East)
Germany, marking the worst mob attacks against migrants in postwar Germany.
Extraordinarily, despite stones and petrol bombs being thrown at an apartment
block where Vietnamese contract workers lived, no one was killed. At the height
of the riots there were several hundred militant right-wing extremists
involved, and about 3,000 neighborhood onlookers stood by and applauded.
These were the most dramatic cases, but
violence persists. At least 190 people – immigrants, non-whites, members of
social minorities (for example the homeless) and alleged dissidents are known
to have lost their lives to right-wing extremism since the fall of the Berlin
Wall, according to the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, a Berlin-based
organization that fights racism and anti-Semitism.
Even this is just the tip of the iceberg,
however, since hundreds of non-deadly, but still criminal, acts of right-wing
terror take place every year: security agencies counted more than 15,000 in
2010, of which 5% were violent.
And many of the actors , responsible for those
crimes, were/are sympathizers, followers and even members of organizations such
as the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Despite the fact that the
NPD is usually described as a neo-Nazi organization, and has been referred to
as “the most significant neo-Nazi party to emerge after 1945,” the
party is still a legal organization. One of its most active, prominent, but
also notorious sections is the national association of Saxony in eastern
And here we are back to our origin: North
Korea’s dubious friends. In summer 1998 – i.e. in the “glory days” of German neo-Nazi activism – a
delegation from the NPD party executive and the leaders of NPD/Saxony”
took up an invitation by ambassador Ri San Yu of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, German Voice (the NPD’s official
publication) reported in August 1998.
The motivations for the German neo-Nazis to
make nice with North Korea seem logical – aggressive nationalism, “the
cleanest race”, xenophobia, and so forth. However, Pyongyang’s motivations are much less obvious.
Given that – especially at that time – the
international media was reporting stories of crimes committed by German
neo-Nazis on a very regular basis, why would the self-proclaimed
“socialist” North Korea take this path? I believe there are three
possible explanations: 1. North Korea’s political representatives don’t care
about the beliefs of their interlocutors; 2. They are simply ignorant of the
international reality; 3. North Korea’s ruling Juche ideology is, in fact,
compatible with Fascism and Neo-Nazism.
To be continued…
* The views expressed in Guest Columns do
not necessarily reflect those of Daily NK.