Germany is an interesting country (among other reasons) because, although it is a liberal democracy, there are still certain things you’re not allowed to be or say. You’re not allowed to be a Communist or Nazi, for example; both these parties are outlawed. You’re not allowed to publish Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
However, there is an important exception where you can at least say whatever you like – if you happen to be a member of parliament (either the houses of the federal parliamant – the Bundestag or Bundesrat or of any of the state parliaments), and you’re speaking either on the floor of that parliament or in one of its committees. In those places, it seems about the worst that can happen in response to something impolitic you might say is that part (or, I guess, all) of your audience may decide to walk out on you.
This happened recently in the parliament of Saxony – a German federal state, or Bundesstaat, in what used to be Communist East Germany, whose capital is Dresden. That is, a number of Saxon lawmakers left the parliamentary assembly last January, in response to some remarks on the floor by Holger Apfel, fraction-leader there for the NPD. The Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (National Democratic Party of Germany – sorry, you’ll have to find the link to their website yourself if interested) carries the “right-extremist” label, at least from one credible source, and that is Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung. That paper recently reported on this incident, which was touched off by Apfel’s characterization of the destruction of Dresden in February, 1945, by allied bombers as a “bomb-holocaust,” and of the Allies as “mass murderers” (No Charges Against NPD-Chief Due to “Bomb-Holocaust”). (more…)