Racism in Germany

Megan MacRae

When reviewing how Europe, Germany in particular, treated migration, race, and democratization during the last two decades, a significant piece of information to explore is the change in perceptions around racism. This week’s readings, especially the piece from Christopher A. Molnar, illustrate the moral challenges Germany experienced after World War II.

What struck me most from this week’s material was the conversation surrounding a shift in Germany from biological racism, to cultural racism. Molnar does a significant job at highlighting how Germany’s perceptions towards race, migration, and democratization stemmed from a shift in racist attitudes among Germans. Molnar explains that unlike the racism that was prevalent in the Third Reich, postwar Germany experienced a racism that was based on cultural differences, rather than divergences between bloodlines. Among the various letters explored in the article, there were also government actions to limit the number of foreigners in the postwar country. Either through legislation, or financial efforts, it was clear that rise in foreigners living in the country made many Germans feel unsafe. This led some to believe that if Germany was to remain occupied by foreigners, the nation would collapse and a civil war could breakout, causing mass murder and extreme chaos. 

What I find most concerning about these apocalyptic thoughts is that they are born from a nation that had just reunified after a history of horror and death. I understand that the type of racism present in 1990’s Germany was different than the racism enforced by the Nazi’s, but I would have thought that a country, which had just been torn apart by racism in general, would have worked to avoid the same type of laws and belief systems that caused the country to collapse 50 years prior. I believe that I am over-simplifying the situation, but it is just something that came to mind after I finished the reading. 

One Reply to “Racism in Germany”

  1. Though you make some great points on the shift of racism from biological towards cultural, I think another key point to catch from the readings was the widespread reality of these feelings. The anti-Muslim sentiments in Germany were present all around, not exclusive to the far-right. I felt this was especially reflected in Helmut Kohl (whose party, the CDU is somewhat center-right) also showing similar values.

    I certainly agree with your last point, its scary that Germany has not gone to greater lengths to curb the prevalence of racism and far-right ideas, but perhaps association with the Nazi past is more closely tied to the anti-Semitic perspective.

    Great points!

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