Frauke Petry interview opens discussion on 'Völkisch' as an acceptable term in Germany

Published by carolyn on Sun, 2016-09-11 15:32

Frauke Petry as photographed by Die Welt for their interview.

By Carolyn Yeager

IN AN INTERVIEW WITH WELT AM SONNTAG NEWSPAPER, the chief of the Alternative for Germany party came to the defense of the much-maligned adjective völkisch [meaning popular; of the people, national]. Naturally the liberal German media is tearing into her. They call the word racist because it was used by the National Socialists. It stems, of course, from the word Volk [the people; nation], in common usage still today and fully acceptable.

The "National Observer" newspaper was run by Josef Goebbels after it was purchased by Adolf Hitler in the 1920's.

Petry, to her great credit (my admiration for her knows no bounds!), has called for this word to be rehabilitated with the positive connotation it holds for the German people. To me, this interview is reminiscent of what has taken place in the U.S. the last few days over Hillary Clinton's denunciation of Trump supporters as “deplorables,” some of whom are “irredeemable.” Not exactly the same, but it brings up the same questions and issues.

Following is my poor translation of the significant part of the interview at Die Welt today. A little that I found too difficult, I left out.

Welt am Sonntag: It seems as if the AfD are very careful in selecting their staff. Do you give a test for your candidate, for example, in terms of ethnic Gedankenguts? [From National Socialism: propagation of N-S ideology -cy]

Petry: As long as officials are elected democratically and don't lose their authenticity (? not clear) ... And what is bad in the concept of "people"?

Welt am Sonntag: "Populist" too.

Petry:  I know. But what does "ethnic" say to you?

Welt am Sonntag:  There was, for example, the Nazi newspaper "Volkischer Beobachter."

Petry:  My problem is that the ostracism of "ethnic" does not stick with just that term, but the negative connotation is expanded to the word "nation." Only a few years ago, there was a reluctance to speak aloud the words "people" and "nation," even in AfD circles. "Folkish" is ultimately an associated attribute.

Welt am Sonntag:  The term "ethnic" is historically contaminated. It is not a matter that you say it is just a word. Words are not innocent per se. What do you have against such a view?

Petry: If there is a party that deals with history, it's the AFD. I am fully aware that words have connotations. Connotations change, and to insist on connotations from the outset politically, I think is wrong. For example, one could not speak the word Deutschland in the GDR. [The former Soviet East German state -cy] We should ultimately regain a relaxed, non-critical, thus normal handling of our nation and the concept of "people" and derived terms.

Welt am Sonntag: ... by the term "ethnic"?

Petry: I do not use this term, but it displeases me that it is constantly used only in a negative context.

Welt am Sonntag: The context of the term happens to be negative.

Petry: Then I ask you: What is for you specifically negative about the term "ethnic" when it has to do with the fact that it is about the people?

Welt am Sonntag
: "Völkisch" is racist taken over by aggressive ...

Petry: So ... "ethnic" is racist. This is an unacceptable shortcut.

Welt am Sonntag: The term is deeply racist.

Petry: Then we should work to ensure that it has again a positive connotation. To connote people with racism, I think this is wrong.

Welt am Sonntag: ... we did not say that people and racism are one.

Petry: But you play with that and as such it reaches the public.

Welt am Sonntag: The term "ethnic", there was "Death to Judah."

Petry: And today we have a Federal Minister of Justice [the feeble Heiko Maas -cy], who praises a band that sings "Die, Germany" and "Germany is dirt". And migrants who bawl on the street "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas." It would be nice if we find ourselves in the middle. And this center is the ordinary people. I believe that we have an urgent need to develop a healthy relationship with identity and people, as do all others in the world also.

The entire interview is very interesting and shows the courage and spunk of Frau Petry. She really has it all together. But she said she didn't expect her party to do as well in Berlin on the 18th as it did in Mecklinburg-Pommerania due to a different environment. Sure, Berlin is full of foreign-born and communists ... like Vienna.

I also like that when she stated the party's main topics for the 2017 National election campaign, she mentioned family first ... after an end to the Euro project and illegal immigration, of course. AfD makes encouraging and supporting the German family a top priority. Just as the National Socialists did. Laughing


Frauke Petry, AfD


In Berlin yesterday, a 58-year-old man was hit in the head with a bottle by a passing bicyclist while putting up an AfD sign ahead of the election on Sunday. Then, instead of coming to his aid, passers-by just berated him for supporting AfD.

On Saturday, another man was attacked while campaigning for AfD.