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Likes for Antisemitism: The Alternative für Deutschland and Its Posts on Facebook


Abstract and Figures

The Alternative für Deutschland’s (AfD) entry into the German Bundestag in September 2017 represented a shift in post-1945 German political tradition and the social acceptance of a party from the far right. During the election campaign, the AfD relied heavily on the social media mostly using Facebook to spread its agenda. This research on the AfD’s attitude toward National Socialism, the Holocaust and antisemitism on Facebook shows that the party utilizes antisemitic stereotypes to defame political opponents and that further, the AfD instrumentalizes events from the Third Reich to elevate perceived positive aspects and strives to rehabilitate certain facets of National Socialism. The article first shows how the AfD uses Facebook to spread its unfiltered political views. Then, three case studies posted by the AfD will be analyzed. Additionally, the comments under the Facebook posts are taken into account to show how their followers perceive antisemitic posts made by AfD officials.
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Likes for Antisemitism: The Alternative für Deutschland and Its
Posts on Facebook
Monika Hübscher
On August 12, 2019, it was made public that a
member of a group of AfD followers would be
charged for incitement of the people and distur-
bance of the dead. He is accused of denying the
existence of gas chambers and the relativiza-
tion of Nazi crimes during a visit to the former
Sachsenhausen concentration camp. At the
time of the visit, the man was an official guest
of Fraction Leader and Member of Parliament
Alice Weidel.1 This incident presents an oppor-
tunity to look back at similar events to trace how
the AfD became what it is today: a party openly
shunned and criticized by the Jewish commu-
nity, despite all its efforts to present itself as “a
natural political home” for Jewish people.2
Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)
was founded as a response to the Euro Crisis
but only became a successful party during the
so-called Refugee Crisis in 2015. The AfD was
elected to the German parliament (Bundestag)
with 12.6% of the vote, thus far exceeding
the 5% electoral threshold. Such a high result
represented a breach in Germany’s post-World
War II political history, considering percep-
tions of the AfD that range from populist to
radical right-wing. The success of the AfD has
sparked a public debate about national identity,
national pride, racism, the normalization of
antisemitism and the memory of the Holocaust
in Germany. During the election campaign,
the AfD relied heavily on social media, espe-
cially Facebook, to spread its agenda. While
political parties’ official statements and publi-
cations adhere to a certain standard, such as
conforming to the constitution, Facebook
e Alternative für Deutschlands (AfD) entry into the German Bundestag in September
2017 represented a shift in post-1945 German political tradition and the social acceptance
of a party from the far right. During the election campaign, the AfD relied heavily on
the social media mostly using Facebook to spread its agenda. is research on the AfD’s
attitude toward National Socialism, the Holocaust and antisemitism on Facebook shows
that the party utilizes antisemitic stereotypes to defame political opponents and that further,
the AfD instrumentalizes events from the ird Reich to elevate perceived positive aspects
and strives to rehabilitate certain facets of National Socialism. e article rst shows how
the AfD uses Facebook to spread its unltered political views. en, three case studies
posted by the AfD will be analyzed. Additionally, the comments under the Facebook posts
are taken into account to show how their followers perceive antisemitic posts made by
AfD ocials.
Keywords antisemitism, social media, Alternative für Deutschland, German politics
JCA 2020 (DOI: 10.26613/jca/3.1.41)
Monika Hübscher
12 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
offers the possibility for politicians to share
their opinion in an unrestrained way. But,
unlike in other platforms such as traditional
interviews, where a given opinion could result
in critical questions or responses, the AfD has
full control of their content on Facebook. Thus,
Facebook is a useful tool to examine the more
uncensored attitudes of the AfD towards the
memory of the Holocaust, National Socialism
and antisemitism. For this research, Facebook
posts from the AfD’s official Facebook account
and the public profiles of senior figures of the
party will serve as the primary sources. The
analysis of these case studies shows enduring
antisemitism within the AfD, the importance
of social media as a tool of disseminating such
ideologies, and that German society at large
continues to struggle with the remains of
National Socialism. Additionally, both social
media and the AfD have contributed to a
normalization of antisemitic transgressions. In
its gravest consequence, antisemitism has mani-
fested in real-life physical violence, as in the
recent assault on a synagogue on Yom Kippur
in Halle, Germany, in which two people were
murdered in the course of the attack.
Primary Sources
The data was collected between January and
mid-September 2017, prior to the elections
in Germany. The four cases chosen offer a
rich historical context for my analysis. These
comprise two caricatures from AfD leaders’
official Facebook profiles: one posted by Frauke
Petry, speaker of the AfD at that time, and
another posted by Björn Höcke, chairman of
the AfD fraction in Thuringias state parliament
Höcke’s post is interesting due to his past
as a history teacher and, thus, the expected
familiarity with the history of visual antisem-
itism. The scandal of this meme lies within
the fact that despite his assumed knowledge,
he chose to post it, and it remains on his
Facebook account to this day. Höcke is a
radical agitator in the AfD who repeatedly
draws attention to himself through scan-
dals. In the years 2016 and 2017, he tried
to participate in the memorial service for
the victims of the Holocaust in the memo-
rial of the Buchenwald concentration camp,
even though he had been officially banned
Table 1. Characteristics of primary data sources.
Name Position Date Post Reactions
(former Likes)
Comments Shares Views*
Chairman of the
AfD fraction of the
Thuringia state
22.02.2017 Meme /
981 485 425 -
Former speaker
of the AfD; left the
party in 2017
01.04.2017 Meme /
3,038 413 1,085 -
Member of the
German parliament
20.07.2017 Vlog 572 92 346 14,592
Co-Leader of the
AfD; Member of the
German parliament
09.09.2017 Video 151 38 164 9,646
Source: Author’s own compilation.
Likes for Antisemitism
JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 13
before. Additionally, in 2016, the sociologist
Andreas Kemper conducted a language anal-
ysis of Höcke’s speeches and publications and
found that Björn Höcke has written extreme
right-wing articles with ethnonationalist
and antisemitic content under the pseud-
onym Ludolf Ladig.3 Just ten days before the
International Holocaust Memorial Day, on
January 17, 2017, Höcke provoked a media
outcry with a speech that he gave in Dresden.
In his speech, he referred to the “Memorial to
the Murdered Jews of Europe” in Berlin as a
memorial of shame. He continued by saying
that Germany’s culture of memory is a “stupid
coping culture” that needs a 180-degree
turnaround of its politics of memory of the
Holocaust and National Socialism. He further
called for a lively culture of memory, which
above all focuses on the great achievements of
German ancestors.4
While Björn Höcke and his extreme faction
have gradually radicalized the AfD, Frauke
Petry stood for the moderate wing of the party.
Because of their seeming differences, their posts
are essential for this analysis as both still opted
to publish a caricature that featured antisemitic
stereotypes. In an interview for the Israeli news
in 2016, Petry rejected the claim that the AfD
is particularly attractive to people with antise-
mitic tendencies and vowed that Germany has
a specific responsibility in handling antisemi-
tism. Further, she stated that when antisemitism
appears within the AfD, it is dealt with accord-
ingly and described her unsuccessful pursuit to
connect to the Jewish population in Germany
and Israel.5 During her tenure, she was actively
involved in attempts to remove Höcke from the
AfD for his antisemitic antics and ultimately
indicated the radical right-wing tendencies of
the party as her reason to leave it. All of these
factors contrast with her Facebook post which
contains a caricature with antisemitic features
and thus make it an interesting case study.
Although she has since left the AfD, Frauke
Petry’s tenure as AfD Chairwoman falls into
the timeframe of the research and thus her post
remains significant.
This article also presents analysis of a video
blog (vlog) posted by Beatrix von Storch,
Member of the Bundestag, on her official
AfD profile. Von Storchs positions regarding
National Socialism are particularly valu-
able for this analysis since she is the AfD’s
Commissioner for Antisemitism. Von Storch
is regarded as a socially conservative Christian
activist who opposes legal equality for same-sex
couples as well as abortion rights and reli-
gious freedom for Muslims. From her point
of view, Muslims and Islam are the sole source
of antisemitism, so to her the AfD is the only
German party that has precise positions against
antisemitism, accomplished vis-à-vis their anti-
Islam agenda.
The last example to be analysed below is a
speech given by Alexander Gauland, chairman
of the AfD in Brandenburg’s Landtag and
Member of the Bundestag and thus a senior
figure, representing the viewpoints of the AfD.
Gauland, a former CDU member, plays a signif-
icant role in the party’s radicalization, with
connections to Germany’s far-right members
and organization. Although he does not
have an active social media account on his own,
he is regularly featured in posts from the profile
of the AfD in the German parliament and the
post which is subject of this analysis was derived
official Facebook profile of der Flügel, a radical
wing within the AfD.
All four representatives are popular figures
within the AfD and well-known in the general
public and media. Thus, their output sheds
light not only on their agenda but on what
has become acceptable in public discourse and
German society after the Holocaust. Therefore,
this article presents analysis of these cases in
both their historical and direct context, paying
specific attention to language and linguistic
devices, as well as to their treatment of themes
such as the Holocaust, National Socialism, and
Monika Hübscher
14 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
The AfD on Facebook
The AfD is the most successful political party
on social media in Germany. The official
AfD profiles have high numbers of followers,
but they also mobilize the most users on the
social networks.
A study from Hohenheim
University about the use of social media by
political parties and candidates in the 2017
election campaign in Germany has shown that
62.2% of the participants got their political
information from social media. These social
Media users actively noticed AfD content and
perceived the appearance of AfD politicians as
particularly strong, rating the strength of the
AfD’s social media impact at 55,1%, making
it the second strongest party, only narrowly
behind the CDU/CSU (58,4%).
by Trevor Davis from the George Washington
University (2019) indicates that the AfD is
“Germany’s first Facebook party,” which has
a much higher output than any other German
party on Facebook, reminiscent of the level of
the final stage of US presidential campaigns.8
Moreover, his study suggests that around
80,000 Facebook accounts that have freneti-
cally disseminated and liked AfD content are
social bots and not real humans that have been
employed to boost the party’s visibility on the
social network.
Another study conducted
between 2013 and 2015 has shown that AfD
supporters in particular perceive the content on
their newsfeed on Facebook as very homoge-
The social media appearance of the AfD
is generally characterized by its distinguishing
design. More than 75% of their contributions
were posts with similar structure: a quote, a
picture of the quoted person, and the AfD logo
that has high recognition value. Further, the
AfD was a trendsetter in posting short videos
online in which they spread their message, a
tactic they have used quite extensively.
On Facebook, the AfD is connected to the
New Right, indicted by ties to the far-right
initiative Ein Prozent, the extreme-right
Compact magazine, the PEGIDA movement
and the Identitarian movement11 that are under
observation by the police for the Office for the
Protection of the Constitution. The connection
is visible when they share and like each other’s
content, for example when the Facebook profile
of Ein Prozent shares content from the AfD
Saxony-Anhalt.12 The AfD is profiting from its
alliance with right-wing radicals and was able
to increase their followers after the founder,
Bernd Lucke, left the party.13 Several AfD poli-
ticians have been reported or have already been
sentenced to pay a fine for incitement of the
people on Facebook. One AfD politician from
Saarland was sentenced after baiting against
In cooperation with researchers of polit-
ical language the Financial Times conducted
research to detect words and phrases closely
associated with the ideological language of
National Socialism in the Facebook posts of
the AfD. They found that between May 2015
and 2016, there was a 1,100% increase in
the use of terminology such as Volksverräter
(“traitor to the people”) in the posts of the
This clearly indicates the increasing
radicalization of the party as expressed on
In addition to the AfD’s widespread use of
Facebook, party officials also have accounts on
Twitter, Instagram and the English-language
free speech social network Gab, which is used
extensively by radical right-wing extrem-
ists, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the
Gab was made infamous following
a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania after which it was found that the
shooter openly posted his violently antisemitic
intentions. Although the AfD’s Gab accounts
have been largely inactive, the mere existence
of these profiles paired with the party’s recent
meeting and collaboration with personali-
ties associated with the alt-right, such as Milo
Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon, are further
indications of the direction in which the party
is headed.17
Likes for Antisemitism
JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 15
To provide additional evidence demon-
strating the radical turn in the direction of the
party, I will now shift focus to some specific
examples of how the AfD propagates its antise-
mitic agenda on social media.
Björn Höcke and Frauke Petry: Caricatures with
Stereotypical Anti-Jewish Attributes
Although the antisemitic caricatures of Jews
from Der Stürmer, an antisemitic newspaper
published in Germany from 1923 until 1945,
belong to the cultural memory of the Holocaust
in Germany, such depictions have a much longer
tradition.18 Since the Middle Ages, discrimina-
tory depictions of Jews have existed in the form
of basalt reliefs.
These representations were reli-
giously motivated and implied the Jews were the
Antichrist, marking the beginning of the associ-
ation of alleged physiognomic attributes of Jews
as a mirror of inner qualities, namely, wickedness
or malignancy.
Through the nationalization
and militarization of the German empire, cari-
catures of deformed “Jewish” bodies appeared,
which implied the Jews were unfit for military
service (Wehrunfähigkeit).21 With the invention
of the Jewish race by the anthropologist Johann
Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840), arose the
assumption of a particular shape/distinctiveness
of the nasal bone of Jews. By comparing the
shape of the skull and the angle of the face, the
allegedly Jewish head was compared with that of
Africans and, in accordance the prevailing racial
theory at the time, equated with primates.22
Soon these stereotypical Jewish physiognomic
representations and the negative internal values
they implied were portrayed in connection with
enemy images such as liberals, social democrats,
or communists. In the nineteenth century, anti-
Jewish caricatures depicted physiognomic and
professional stereotypes, such as financiers or
bankers, which expanded the stereotype of the
Finanzjudentum (the belief that Jews rule the
global financial market).23 Constantly repeated
physiognomic stereotypes include an oversized,
hooked nose; thick lips; big ears and black hair
or curls.24 The existing literature on antisemitic
caricatures refer to such stereotypical depictions
as visiotypes. Among the stereotypical depic-
tions of professional groups are the finance and
economic sector but also the fields of medi-
cine and law.
Further, Jews in caricatures
were associated with capitalism, liberalism, and
the domination of the stock market and the
press; and they were equated with social demo-
crats.26 “Jewish” attributes are used to criticize
contemporary society and provide grounds for
political agitation.27
In the caricatures of Der Stürmer, Jews were
blamed for all political, economic, and social
grievances. Der Stürmer newspaper was an
important propaganda material used by the
National Socialists and had printed anti-Jewish
caricatures on the title page since 1925. The cari-
catures illustrated by Phillip “Fips” Ruprecht
resorted to the stereotypical physiognomic
representations of racial theory. The hooked
nose and the beaded lips were, by constant repe-
tition in the publications, soon depicted and
ultimately perceived as substantially Jewish.
Anti-Jewish portrayals from the centuries-old
image repertoire of the Jewish assassination of
Jesus, the medieval myth of ritual murder and
the Jewish usurer up to the NS-era notion of
the Verjudung28 of culture and politics were all
portrayed in Der Stürmer.29
The physiognomic stereotypes were comple-
mented with simple recriminations and explana
tions about how the world works. For example,
in many Stürmer caricatures, Jews were accused
of sexual crimes and, thus because of racial
defilement, a threat to the German people. A
continuously repeated motif was also that of the
Jew as a sub-human and as the personified devil
and, due to the so-called “Jewish internation-
alism,” a Jewish world conspiracy was declared.30
The AfD’s experience with posting cari-
catures on Facebook spans back to as early as
2014 with an antisemitic depiction of the British
Jewish banker, Baron Jacob Rothschild, posted
on Facebook by former state parliamentarian
of Brandenburg, Jan-Ulrich Weiss. The post
Monika Hübscher
16 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
showed a photograph of Baron Rothschild
next to a caricature. The text, which repeats
common conspiracy theory tropes around the
Rothschild family, said that the Rothschilds
own every bank, finance both parties of every
war, and control the media and government.
Although recently removed from office after
conviction on unrelated charges, Weiss was then
acquitted by the Federal Court of Arbitration
(Bundesschiedsgericht) and also cleared of the
indictment of popular incitement because of
a lack of clear antisemitic content. The court’s
decision is difficult to understand because the
text, which refers to the idea of the Jewish
world conspiracy, is prototypically antisemitic.31
Although further incidents have also remained
largely unpenalized, this was ultimately just the
beginning of the AfD’s experience with posting
antisemitic caricatures on Facebook.
On the official website of the AfD, there is a cate-
gory for caricatures. The images caricature politicians
like Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union),
Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union), Christian
Lindner (Free Democratic Party), and Martin
Schulz. As the only Social Democrat, Schulz is
clearly marked with anti-Jewish attributes.32
The following two examples, based on posts
by Petry and Höcke, are particularly interesting
because they concern Martin Schulz, who is
not Jewish. They illustrate how the AfD uses
antisemitic stereotypes to defame their political
On 22 January 2017, Björn Höcke posted
a meme that includes text and a caricature
that is supposed to depict the then-chancellor
candidate of the Social Democratic Party
(SPD), Martin Schulz.33 The meme is mainly
done in red, it being the color of the Social
Democrats, and shows Martin Schulz’s
head on a bottle. The accompanying text
describes in a sarcastic way that despite his
lack of qualifications for the Privatwirtschaft
(“private sector/economy”), Schulz is still the
chancellor candidate of the SPD. The word
Privatwirtschaft stands out in the text because
it is highlighted in bold letters.
Martin Schulz’s head is altered with antise
mitic stereotypical attributes. He is portrayed
with exaggerated thick lips and a hooked nose.
The caricature only exaggerates features on
Schulz that are associated with antisemitic depic-
tions, such as the nose and the lips, and thus, the
caricature is subtle and covertly antisemitic. The
wine bottle, which refers to Schulz as a recov-
ered alcoholic, dehumanizes him by replacing
his body with an object.
Figure 1. AfD Facebook post of a meme caricaturizing political opponent, Social Democrat Martin Schulz,
with stereotypical antisemitic features.
Likes for Antisemitism
JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 17
Although the caricature does not have a
manifestly antisemitic purpose, it implicitly
applies anti-Jewish attributes to Schulz’s face.
Because these are associated with inner values,
such as a malicious character, this post relies
on a concept that comes from the tradition of
antisemitic caricatures.34 Thus, the image seeks
to discredit Schulz by implicitly associating him
with negative stereotypes of Jews.
The standardized pictorial representation of
Jews, which has been impressed in the visual
memory of the Germans, especially during the
time of National Socialism, ensures their recog-
nizability and can therefore also be applied to
Further, that Martin Schulz is carica-
turized with antisemitic stereotypes also springs
from the reversal of the tradition of equating
Jews and Social Democrats in the nineteenth
Although the caricature’s accompanying text
is quite sarcastic, the word Privatwirtschaft stands
out. Especially in connection with words such
Figure 2. Bjorn Höcke’s Facebook post of a meme representing political opponent, Martin Schulz, with
stereotypical Jewish physical attributes.
Monika Hübscher
18 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
as “economy”, antisemitic cartoons point to
their historical tradition. The word Wirtschaft
is a trigger word, since antisemitic ideology has
always suggested that Jews are either the ruler
and the beneficiary of the economy or respon-
sible for the economic crisis.37
By posting this caricature, Höcke instru-
mentalizes antisemitic stereotypes, such as the
hooked nose, thick lips and the trigger word
Wirtschaft to defame the SPD chancellor candi-
date. It might be expected that such a post
would lead to a public outcry against antisem-
itism or even for the deletion of the meme,
however, this post encouraged quite a different
Interestingly, the majority of the 241
comments below Höcke’s post are negative reac-
tions towards the ridicule of Schulz’s recovery
from alcohol addiction and his lack of Abitur
and university degree. Some commenters call
Höcke a history distorter (Geschichtsverfälscher)
and a liar and refer to the fact that he is a
history teacher. Others call Höcke inhuman
and one commenter calls him “Göbbels-like”
(Göbbelsverschnitt), and thus they demonstrate
their refusal to accept the image. Although the
majority of the commenters take issue with
the text and not the depiction of Schulz, two
comments refer to the caricature itself and
express that it resembles those from Der Stürmer,
an antisemitic tabloid from the World War II
period. Commenter 1 asks whether the carica-
turist was “dug out from Der Stürmer,”
Commenter 2 says that the caricaturist’s grand-
father probably worked for Der Stürmer and is
thus referring to the tradition of anti-Jewish
stereotypes.39 Another remark from Commenter
3 writes that Julius Streicher, the publisher of
Der Stürmer, would have been proud of Björn
Still another commenter wonders what
the features in the caricature remind him/her
of.41 It is not possible to understand from this
comment whether it criticizes or supports the
caricature and the underlying message, however,
it does draw attention to its connection to anti-
Jewish stereotypes. Even the commenters who
attest that the caricature bears a resemblance to
those from Der Stürmer accept the stereotypical
depiction to a certain extent—for example, they
do not ask for its removal.
The overall lack of outrage against the antise-
mitic depiction might result from internalization
of the hooked nose as a typically Jewish attribute
into common knowledge. Thus, through the
constant repetition of anti-Jewish depictions
throughout history they have been memorized
and are now regarded as “normal.
the changes to Schulz’s face are subtle but by
only exaggerating features that are in line with
antisemitic stereotypes and by also exaggerating
them in the tradition of antisemitic images,
the negative intention becomes clear. However,
because the aim of the caricature and the accom-
panying text is to attack Schulz’s personality, the
stereotypical physical depiction does not play a
prominent role in the comments.
Frauke Petry, then party leader of the AfD
(Parteivorsitzende), also posted a caricature on
April 1, 2017.
After the election on September
24, 2017, Petry left the AfD and established the
conservative party Die blaue Partei, the Blue
Party.44 Despite that she is no longer officially
associated with the AfD, it is worth looking into
Petry’s post above all because she set the tone
for what was acceptable during her time as the
party’s leader.
The caricature depicts the then SPD chan-
cellor candidate, Martin Schulz, blowing
bubbles. There are five bubbles, each
containing words: “more,” “more salary,” “more
pension,” “more subsides,” “more justice.”
There is another bubble that already burst
which says: “more SPD voters.” The repetition
of the word “more” emphasizes excess and thus
is portraying Schulz as unrealistic, fleeting, and
greedy. One of the peculiarities of Facebook is
its fast pace when providing information. Thus,
users have the habit to just scroll through the
information provided in their Facebook feed.
Because this caricature comes with a rather
long text, it can be assumed that the majority
of followers disregard the text and focus on the
Likes for Antisemitism
JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 19
picture. Also, in order to read the complete
text accompanying images, readers are often
required to open the whole post by clicking
on “show more”—therefore it is not automatic
that the text will be read in full or given equal
priority to the image.
If the caricature stands alone, it shows
Martin Schulz with the antisemitic stereotypes
like the hooked nose and thick lips, dressed in
a suit and blowing bubbles. It then appears as
if he wishes all the things in the bubbles, such
as more salary, more pension and subsidies,
for himself. According to the caricature, the
bubbles symbolize the unsubstantial nature of
his claims—promises unfulfilled, which depict
him as a liar. The accompanying text discusses
how the “populist” Schulz gives “promises of
salvation” (Heilsversprechen) although those are
just the “social-populist bubbles of the SPD”,
referring to the bubbles in the caricature.
The comments under Petry’s post differ dras-
tically from those under Höcke’s, although both
show Martin Schulz with antisemitic stereotypes.
Almost every comment agrees with the caricature
and further shares a range of negative opinions
about Schulz, suggesting for example that he is a
liar or a traitor. Several comments associate Schulz
with a world conspiracy that rules the economy.
For example, Commenter 5 replies with an
image that shows a worker and his manager.
While liquid, as a metaphor for money, is
flowing out of a pipe into the mouth of the
management, only a few drops fall into
the mouth of the worker, who sits under
the pipe. The pipe is labeled “profit” and the
water drops are called “salary.” The manager
sitting at the end of the pipe, receiving the
profit is depicted with a hooked nose, huge
mouth and his head disproportional to his
Commenter 6 implies that Schulz is
part of a financial conspiracy including the
European Union (Brüssel) and a Jewish invest-
ment banking firm.
Commenter 7 posts
a meme and declares that Germany is not
Figure 3. Frauke Petry’s Facebook post of a meme depicting political opponent, Martin Schulz, with
stereotypical antisemitic attributes.
Monika Hübscher
20 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
a democracy and that the Jewish investment
banker and philanthropist George Soros has
decided that Schulz will become the next chan-
cellor.47 Commenter 8 advises everyone to not
believe one word that Schulz is saying and posts
a meme with Schulz’s face and a quote that says
that the new Germany only exists for the sake
of Israel.48 Although this is a real quote which
derives from an essay written by Avraham Burg
for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz,49 it is taken
out of its original context and is instrumental-
ized here to insinuate that because of its Nazi
past, Schulz deliberately indebts Germany to
the state of Israel.
The examples have shown that although
Petry and Höcke belong to two different
wings within the AfD, both instrumentalize
antisemitic stereotypes to defame political
opponents. Further, the two examples show
that the visual language of antisemitic stereo-
types has been internalized so that on the one
hand, they can be successfully put to work,
and on the other hand, they are being recog-
nized. The reception of the caricatures by the
commenters has shown, with three exceptions
where commenters have responded negatively
by pointing out its resemblance to caricatures
from Der Stürmer, that stereotypical antisemitic
depictions are widely accepted, and their use is
Beatrix von Storch: The Stauenberg Plot
Although there were many different types
of resistance within German society against
the Nazi regime, such as Jewish Communists
(Baumgruppe) and groups within the Protestant
and the Catholic Church (Bekennende Kirche
and Martin Niemeier), youth movements
(Edelweisspiraten) and student movements
(Die Weiße Rose), as well as conservative elites
(Kreisauer Kreis) and military resistance (Beck-
Goerdeler Gruppe), it was still a minority of the
All attempts to resist the Nazi
regime failed because they never gained popular
support from the German people, and most
members of the resistance were brutally perse-
cuted, tortured and murdered.
One resistance attempt that has become part
of the culture of the memory of the Holocaust
in Germany is the Stauffenberg plot, a military
attempt to overthrow the National Socialist
regime. Among the main driving forces of the
coup attempt on July 20, 1944 were General
Olbricht, Major General Tresckow and Colonel
Schenk von Stauffenberg. Tresckow, a conser-
vative officer, was from the outset an oppo-
nent of Hitler for moral reasons, and under his
influence, Stauffenberg joined the resistance in
Tresckow was convinced that Hitler’s
assassination had to be carried out even without
a chance for his death and a political change but
as an act of conscience and as a sign of resistance
to the world, which influenced Stauffenberg to
eventually carry out the assassination attempt.52
Although the conspirators’ attitude towards the
persecution of the Jews remains unclear, their
actions were nevertheless for ethical reasons,
motivated to preserve the moral identity of
the army.
The ideal of a resistance out of
conscience has also been picked up and used by
Beatrix von Storch.
On July 20, 2017, the Memorial Day of the
Stauffenberg Plot, von Storch uploaded a vlog on
her official AfD profile page on Facebook which
has been widely viewed, liked, and shared. While
all the mainstream parties posted or published
something on the Holocaust Memorial Day
in 2017, the AfD did not mention it. Thus,
it was surprising that despite the AfD’s point
of view that there is an exaggerated focus on
National Socialism in Germany, not only Storch
but several AfD members on Facebook shared
their thoughts about the Stauffenberg plot. For
example, Thomas Rudy, member of the AfD
in Thuringia’s Landtag, posted a meme which
shows a portrait of Stauffenberg with the accom-
panying words “The real Antifascism didn’t have
coloured hair.54
In her speech in the vlog, von Storch is
insinuating that the AfD is a resistance move-
ment against the current German government,
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comparable with the Stauffenberg plot against
the Nazi regime. This viewpoint is common for
the AfD, and their stance as a political resistance
against the “establishment” is not only mani-
fested in their program but also serves as the
main motivation for AfD voters.
The AfD’s resistance perspective is high-
lighted in a speech from Beatrix von Storch,
in which she compares the Stauffenberg plot
with other events of the German freedom tradi-
tion, such as Liberal Revolution of 1848, the
Workers’ Revolt of 1953, and the Freedom
Revolution of 1989. Von Storch points out that
the Stauffenberg plot was a revolt of conscience
against Nazi tyranny and that the lesson that
can be learned from it must be protected and
defended by every generation. The following is
a transcript of the two-minute speech posted
on Facebook:
The 20th of July, the day of the Stauffenberg
plot is a special date in our history. It is an
important day in our German freedom tradi-
tion. In addition to the events of July 20,
1944, the great events of this freedom tradition
were the liberal revolution of 1848, the 1953
workers’ revolt in the GDR, and the freedom
revolution of 1989. On July 20, 1944, the
conspirators around Claus Graf Schenk von
Stauffenberg had dared a rebel of conscience.
Their attempt to eliminate the National
Socialist tyranny has failed. But their sacrifice
was not in vain. They have set a signal. They
have left us a long-lasting message for all times.
Never again should violence and terror triumph
over democracy and freedom in Germany.
Never again should freedom of expression and
civil rights be suppressed in Germany. Never
again should we blindly follow a political lead-
ership and put the state above our conscience.
Yes, we can learn from our history. We can learn
that we must have the courage to use our own
mind as the great enlightenment philosopher
Emanuel Kant said. That we are guided by the
spirit of freedom and not by the worship of
power. That we should be free citizens and not
submissive subjects. We need civic sense and
not blind obedience. This is the message of the
men of the 20th of July and that is the lore
of our German freedom tradition. Freedom
is a precious commodity, and each generation
is recalled to nurse it, to preserve it, and to
defend it.55
Von Storch gives her speech in front of an
image of the courtyard of the Bendlerblock,
the site where Stauffenberg and his followers
were executed, and which today serves as the
“German Resistance Memorial Center”. The
image is not coincidental—the AfD has contin-
uously claimed to be a victim of discrimination
and baiting from the media and the left. For
example, Alice Weidel left a TV debate with
representatives of other parties in the middle
of a discussion because she felt she was treated
unfairly and also the Berliner AfD filed a legal
complaint against the justice senator because
they felt discriminated against.56
Von Storch uses the pronouns “we” and “us”
throughout her speech without specifying who
she is addressing and thus is implying that she
specifically speaks to AfD sympathizers and not
“we, the Germans”. This intentional ambiguity
serves to divide “us” from “them” and unify that
“us” around the AfD’s message. The inclusive
“we” also makes her more relatable, making the
intended audience feel like they are “part of it.
Von Storch makes use of language that
resembles that of a resistance movement against
a dictatorship. Several phrases closely resemble
wordings that were used in the leaflets of the
White Rose: “Blindings folgt es [das Volk] seinen
Verführern . . .”
(“Blind, they [the people]
follow their seducers”), “Geistesfreiheit” (“the
spirit of freedom”), “. . . die persönliche Freiheit,
dass kostbarste Gut . . .
(“the personal freedom,
the most precious commodity”).
In her speech von Storch does not provide
any historical context around the plot except
for the reference to the nationalsozialistische
Gewaltherrschaft (“National Socialist tyranny”)
and the date of the coup, July 20, 1944. She does
Monika Hübscher
22 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
not mention World War II, the racial ideology
that was crucial in making National Socialism
tyrannical, nor the Holocaust. She does not
mention other resistance movements or the
victims of National Socialism and the Holocaust,
as is traditional on the memorial day of July 20
in Germany. If von Storchs speech would have
aimed to commemorate the resistance against
the Nazi regime, she would have mentioned
other movements, such as the famous White
Rose and with it, she would have referred to the
victims of the Holocaust because in their leaflets,
the members of the White Rose mentioned the
murder of the Jews. Instead of referring to the
historical events around the Stauffenberg plot or
other resistance movements, von Storch is inte-
grating the plot into the German freedom tradi-
tion, which consists of events in which German
people revolted against the political system, and
subsequently successfully created change within
the country. Without the historical context of
the Holocaust and its victims but with reference
to former revolts, it appears as if the Germans
had been the victims of National Socialism.
Von Storch urges her listeners, the inclu-
sive “we,” to never again let violence and terror
triumph over democracy and freedom and to
never again allow freedom of speech and civil
rights to be suppressed and a political leader-
ship followed blindly. With that, von Storch
is insinuating a comparison with the current
situation and government in Germany as mani-
fested in the AfD party program: violence and
terror from refugees and Muslims taking over,
the lack of freedom of speech in Germany, and
German citizens as silent followers of a polit-
ical elite and oligarchy.
Subsequently, she is
equating the resistance against a dictatorship
with the resistance against a democracy. This
equation is common for the AfD, also on their
social media accounts. In January 2017 the
Berlin state court forbade a meme that had
been posted on the Facebook profile of the AfD
district Nürnberg-Süd/Schwabach due to copy-
right infringement. The meme depicted Sophie
Scholl and was headlined “Sophie Scholl würde
AfD wählen” (“Sophie Scholl would vote AfD”).
The text in the meme was a famous quote from
Sophie Scholl in which she says that there is
nothing more dishonorable than to be ruled by
a dark clique without resistance.60
Seeing the AfD’s political opposition as a
resistance equal to the resistance against the
Nazi regime is mitigating its exceptional status in
German history. Not mentioning the Holocaust
and thus not putting the Stauffenberg plot into
its historical context allows von Storch to insin-
uate that the current government is undemo-
cratic and that the AfD is a resistance against
it. This relativization and distortion of facts is
reflected in the comments below her Facebook
post. All these posts and her speech co-opt
German heroes that resisted NS to the political
purposes of the AfD. By claiming the AfD is
in the same freedom tradition and that these
historical heroes would support the AfD today,
they are manipulating societal understanding of
these figures to increase support for their polit-
ical agenda.
In the comment section below her post
some commenters express their feeling that
Germany currently has tendencies of a dicta-
torship61 or even is a dictatorship.62 Another
commenter asks whether von Storch is insin
uating that Germany is currently a dictator-
ship.63 Commenter 4 replies to Commenter 3
that indeed, Germany is a dictatorship
controlled by Brussels (the European Union),
or that there is less freedom in Germany now
than in 1944.
Commenter 5 agrees and writes
“We need more Stauffenbergs, or we have to
show courage ourselves.
Commenter 6
expresses outrage that von Storch is not refer-
ring to Stauffenberg as a traitor.67 Commenter
7 addresses von Storch directly and says that
the time has come to “join” Stauffenberg and
to “overthrow the Chancellor.68 Some more
comments follow, which express understanding
that von Storch is referring to the current
German government in her speech and also
express the wish for a violent act, as in the
Stauffenberg plot, to overthrow it.
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The comments show that the language of
resistance that von Storch employs by instru-
mentalizing the Stauffenberg plot is inciting.
The commenters share the AfD’s viewpoint
that the current German government needs to
be opposed with resistance and in reference to
Stauffenberg, even with violent resistance.
With this case study, I have shown how
Beatrix von Storch narrates the Stauffenberg
plot, neglecting the historical context of different
resistance movements and the Holocaust. When
she talks about what lessons can be learned from
the plot she is talking to an exclusive group and
employing language that resembles the resistance
against National Socialism, equating it to the
current democratic political system in Germany.
The AfD’s stance as a resistance against an
imagined dictatorship is also reflected in the
comments below her post.
While von Storchs vlog exemplifies the
instrumentalization of the Stauffenberg plot,
the next case study focuses on the legend of
the clean Wehrmacht and how it is intertwined
with German national identity in a speech
by Alexander Gauland that was published on
Facebook by the extreme right wing of the AfD.
Alexander Gauland: Speech at the Kyhäuser
Between 1935 and 1945, approximately twenty
million German men served in the Wehrmacht.
Because a father or son in almost every family
had been drafted, the Wehrmacht had the char-
acter of a “peoples army” in the German collec-
tive memory.69
In the war against the Soviet Union, the
Wehrmacht leadership revoked central points of
martial and international law that Germany once
ratified. This led to a war of destruction, marked
by war crimes against the civilian population
at the hands of the Wehrmacht.70 There is a lot
of documentary evidence of such war crimes:
photographs of shootings or hangings taken by
soldiers and also letters from the front in which
soldiers depict the scope of the crimes.
although the official Wehrmacht records from
the front are “clean,” the Einsatztruppen reports
describe the willingness of the Wehrmacht to
cooperate in war crimes such as shootings of
Soviet commissars and commanders, killing
prisoners of war and providing support for or
directly participating in the murder of Jews.
Only a few months after the military command
of the Wehrmacht announced its “honourable
on May 9, 1945, leading generals
released a memorandum stating its role in World
War II. They created an image of the “clean
Wehrmacht” by declaring that the persecution
and murder of the Jews had taken place under
the Reichsführer SS alone; that the soldiers them-
selves, despite participating in war crimes, were
detached from NS ideology, and thus able to
maintain a degree of innocence.74 In the 1960s
and 1970s, historians’ critical examination of
the role of the Wehrmacht showed a contradic-
tory image compared to its “clean” legend in the
collective memory of the Germans. The results
of the historical research evoked no response
in the public sphere, but veterans’ organiza-
tions protested against the “defamation” of
the Wehrmacht institution and the reputation
of its soldiers.
Widely publicized discussions
on the legend of the clean Wehrmacht were
brought to the public through the Historikerstreit
(1986–87), Daniel Jonah Goldhagens book,
Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans
and the Holocaust, in 1996, and the travelling
exhibition War of Annihilation—The Crimes of
the Wehrmacht Between 1941–1944, launched
in 1995 by the Hamburg Institute for Social
Research, which showed the Wehrmacht’s
involvement in acts of killing outside of regular
warfare in Eastern Europe. The positive image of
the Wehrmacht that had been created in several
stages was challenged by the vast photographic
evidence demonstrated in the exhibition, which
around 900,000 people visited.76
Nevertheless, an attempt to revive a positive
image of the Wehrmacht was made by Alexander
Gauland on September 2, 2017. Gauland gave
a speech at the 3rd annual Kyffhäuser meeting
of the radical wing of the AfD, called der Flügel.
Monika Hübscher
24 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
The Kyffhäuser in Thuringia is a monument
to German nationalism and today serves not
only as a tourist attraction but also as a famous
meeting point for right-wing nationalists. The
video of the speech was posted on the Facebook
page of der Flügel and widely dissemninated.
Der Flügel is the radical right-wing fraction of
the AfD, initiated by Björn Höcke (chairman
of the AfD in Thuringias state parliament),
André Poggenburg (chairman of the AfD in
Saxony-Anhalt’s parliament), and Hans-Thomas
Tillschneider (member of the AfD in Saxony-
Anhalt’s parliament).77 Tillschneider is also the
founder of the Patriotische Plattform, which
recently came under the attention of the Federal
Office for the Protection of the Constitution due
to extreme right-wing positions and its connec-
tion to the Identitarian movement, which is
already under observation by state security.
Among the speakers at the meeting were those
mentioned above and also Jörg Meuthen and
Alexander Gauland, the focus of this analysis.
The meeting at the Kyffhäuser is a closed event
for AfD members only and especially those who
are close to der Flügel or the Erfurter Resolution.
In his speech, Gauland states that Germans
can be proud of the accomplishments of the
soldiers of both World Wars, and he mitigates the
time of National Socialism and the Holocaust
by using euphemisms. After Gauland’s state-
ments became public, he reiterated in press
conferences and interviews that 95% of
Wehrmacht soldiers had not been involved in
war crimes and that he was only repeating what
Francois Mitterrand, French President at the
time, said in May 1995 in his 50th anniversary
speech.79 While Mitterrand spoke in his speech
of his personal experience with German soldiers
during WWII and the speech itself had a
different context,
Gauland shifts the blame
to the criminal system and exonerates the
Wehrmacht soldiers and thus continues repeating
the myth of the clean Wehrmacht.
The trivialization of National Socialism or
a positive identification with the Wehrmacht
can be found in several social media outlets
or interviews with the AfD. Alice Weidel, for
instance, posted a video of an interview which
she gave to the online magazine Vice. When she
was asked how she explains National Socialism
to her children she replied that her children
know that Hitler was the worst because in the
card game Tyrannen-Quartett which she plays
with them, Hitler is the highest card.81 During
the latest Bundeswehr scandal in which the
Ministry of Defense von der Leyen consid-
ered renaming army bases after generals of the
Wehrmacht, the Patriotische Plattform posted a
meme on its website and on Facebook depicting
a Wehrmacht soldier on a horse and written
next to it “Schlagkraft statt Vielfalt, wir stehen zu
unsere Truppe” (“Impact instead of diversity, we
stand with our troops”).82 The accompanying
text describes how the Wehrmachtausstellung
(“Wehrmacht exhibition”) singled out specific
war crimes in order to discredit the entire
Gauland himself has stated in an interview
with the German daily newspaper Zeit in April
2016, that Germans do not defend their identity
as much as other nations because of Auschwitz,
that Auschwitz as a symbol has destroyed a lot in
the German people and that Hitler has broken the
backbone of the Germans. He continues by
saying that while the British and the French
confidently show national pride, Germans have
to ask whether they are allowed to do that.
These themes are reflected in his speech on
Facebook, which will serve as the main subject
of analysis.
The following is an excerpt of the most rele-
vant quotes from Gauland’s 18-minute speech
posted on Facebook:
. . . To our historical memory belong,
Stauffenberg and Rommel, Mars-la-Tour,
Sedan, Cambrai and the slaughterhouse of
Verdun. . . . Who cleans up our history, destroys
our identity. Yes, we have dealt with the crimes
of the twelve years. . . . No nation has so clearly
cleaned up with a false past as that of Germany.
Those twelve years do not have to be held
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JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 25
against us. They no longer affect our identities
today, and that is what we are talking about. If
the French are rightly proud of their emperor,
and the British of Nelson and Churchill, we
have the right to be proud of the achievements
of German soldiers in two world wars. . . . 85
In his speech, Gauland equates the battle-
fields of World War I (namely Mars-la-Tour,
Sedan, Cambrai, Verdun) with the achievements
Stauffenberg and Erwin Rommel, both famous
Wehrmacht generals in World War II. Moreover,
owing to the omission of the Holocaust and
the reference to Stauffenberg and Rommel as
representatives of the resistance against Hitler,
Gauland is inflating apparently positive aspects
of the time of National Socialism. That next to
Stauffenberg, the AfD also considers Rommel
as a part of the resistance becomes visible in a
blog entry on the Patriotische Plattform, initi-
ated by Gauland’s Co-speaker Hans-Thomas
Tillschneider, which states that Rommel
died because of his resistance against Hitler.
Although Rommel had been accused of plot-
ting against Hitler and was subsequently forced
to take his own life, there was always a myth
about Rommel and his alliance with Hitler,
which has been widely debated among histo-
rians. Due to conflicting information, Rommel
was suspected of belonging to the resistance and
subsequently sentenced to death. He accepted
the option offered to kill himself. Soon after his
death, there were still contradictory statements
about Rommel’s membership in the resistance.
Especially his wife spoke out against belonging
to the resistance because she wanted to protect
Rommel’s legacy from being overshadowed
by betrayal of the Führer.
In the course of
the rehabilitation of the Wehrmacht, Rommel
became a symbol of the “better military tradi-
tion” and was associated with the resistance.
Wehrmacht generals, who wrote about Rommel,
created an image of him as a sharp leader and
resistance fighter.
This image changed in the
1980s when historians began to debate the role
of the Wehrmacht in the Holocaust, in which
Rommel was perceived by some as a war crim-
inal. Although Rommel indeed opposed Hitler
in a field report asking him to end the war, he
had also been a convinced National Socialist.89
Rommel exemplifies not only the ambiguous-
ness of the military resistance but also of how
Germans dealt with their Nazi past.
Although the AfD claims that German
history is confined to the time of National
Socialism, as manifested in their party program,
Gauland says that to not acknowledge the
achievements of the Wehrmacht means to clean
history and thus destroy German identity, which
is a contradiction. With the phrase Geschichte
säubern (“cleaning history”) he is using ideolog-
ical language that was coined by the Nazis. The
word säubern is inappropriate in the context
of history and resembles the euphemistic
language of Third Reich in which säubern and
Säuberungsaktion referred to a purge, meaning
the deportation or murder of unwanted persons,
such as political opponents and Jews.90
Gauland’s depiction of National Socialism
and the Holocaust as Verbrechen dieser 12 Jahre
(“crimes of those twelve years”) is a concealing
narrative aimed to trivialize historical facts. By
not stating what those crimes were and who
was committing them, he is concealing the
Holocaust and, even more so, he is leaving it
open to interpretation from his audience as to
what those crimes might have been. The use of
euphemisms such as Hitlerei and Hitlerismus
instead of direct references to National Socialism
and the Holocaust is common for Gauland
and serves as a form of both trivialization
and rejection by holding only Hitler respon-
Although Gauland talks about falsche
Vergangenheit (“wrong past”), it lacks any histor-
ical context.
Through the use of the euphemistic miti
gation “those twelve years,” the true historical
context vanishes and allows viewers to inter-
pret the Wehrmacht positively.
Gauland tries to adapt the historical facts to his
interpretation in order to justify the pride for
Wehrmacht soldiers and to portray himself as
Monika Hübscher
26 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
a victim.93 The idea of the Germans as victims
here can be seen in the expression that Germany
is reproached with National Socialism and the
Holocaust, “Man muss uns diese 12 Jahre nicht
mehr vorhalten” (“One does not have to reproach
us with those twelve years”) and forced to accept
them as part of their national identity: “Sie betr-
effen unsere Identität nicht mehr und wir sprechen
das auch aus” (“They no longer affect our iden-
tity and we also express that”). By saying that
“those twelve years” do not affect the German
identity anymore, Gauland expresses a wish
to put an end to the contemporary memory
of National Socialism and the Holocaust, thus
reigniting the debate of the Historikerstreit in
the 1980s. Gauland counters this imagined
reproach of collective guilt by interpreting the
Wehrmacht as the collective innocent when
he expresses that Germans have the right to
be proud of the achievements of the soldiers
of both World Wars.
Despite the fact that
Germany lost both wars, he also disregards
the Wehrmachts involvement in war crimes
and the Holocaust. Furthermore, aware that
being proud of Wehrmacht soldiers is a breach
of the German collective memory of National
Socialism and the Holocaust, he states that the
AfD is not afraid of expressing such pride. By
expressing pride for Wehrmacht soldiers who
committed horrendous crimes, Gauland is not
only undermining years of research and public
education about the crimes of the Wehrmacht,
but he is further ridiculing its victims. Implicitly,
with the exoneration of the Wehrmacht, and
thus with the ideology of National Socialism
and the Holocaust, Gauland is expressing
antisemitic attitudes.
By using euphemisms
Gauland is trivializing National Socialism and
the Holocaust, which subsequently results in
the rehabilitation of National Socialism via the
There are several commenters that thank
Gauland for his great speech. Two other
commenters reacted to the video by posting links
to websites that educate about the crimes of the
Wehrmacht.97 Commenter 3 writes that a deep
gratitude for the sacrifice and fortitude of the
World War soldiers is self-evident.
4 expresses outrage about the fact that the “AfD
wants to be proud of two offensive wars, millions
of dead people and concentration camps while at
the same time disregarding any sense of respon-
sibility, awareness of history, and a consciousness
of the extraordinary guilt.”99 Commenter 5 also
posts a link to an online article about a book
by the historian Sönkel Neitzel in which he,
together with social psychologist, Harald Welzer,
analyzed conversations between Wehrmacht
soldiers that describe the rape and murder of
In a reaction to this comment,
Commenter 6 writes that the blame is always
on the evil Germans, although the soldiers of
the allies had also raped many German women
during the “liberation” but no one is talking
about that.101 To sum up, by thanking Gauland
for his speech, people indirectly agree with the
content of it without referring to any special
details. Only 5 of 42 commenters disagree with
Gauland’s speech by opposing his image of the
Wehrmacht with historical facts about their
Based on this Facebook post one can see
that Gauland marginalized the time of National
Socialism with the example of the Wehrmacht
and equated it with other events in German
history. He rehabilitates the Wehrmacht by
omitting the historical context of the Holocaust.
Contrary to this, Gauland states that National
Socialism no longer belongs to German identity.
I will now turn to the conclusions drawn from
the findings in my analysis.
The present study sought to examine the
AfD’s attitude towards National Socialism,
the Holocaust and antisemitism by analyzing
Facebook posts of its senior political figures.
Unlike every other party in the German parlia-
ment, the AfD does not reference the impor-
tance of combating antisemitism in their party
program, nor does it present guidelines about
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JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 27
how to deal with antisemitism within the party
despite that it has been an internal problem
since its inception. On the contrary, analysis of
the Facebook posts by Frauke Petry and Björn
Höcke depicting caricatures of Martin Schulz has
shown that the AfD utilizes antisemitic stereo-
types to defame their political opponents. The
comments under the caricatures show a tendency
to reproduce antisemitism which is accepted by
administration of the AfD Facebook profile.
With it, the AfD takes part in the acceptance
and normalization of antisemitism in political
and social discourse.
The AfD has a conflicting relationship
towards the Holocaust and National Socialism.
The party seeks to disregard the cultural memory
of National Socialism and the Holocaust and
argues that it has a disproportionate position
in Germany’s education and remembrance
tradition, as manifested in the party program.
The AfD instrumentalizes events of National
Socialism to elevate perceived positive aspects,
such as the resistance against the Nazi regime
by the conspirators around Stauffenberg, as
presented by Beatrix von Storch. Further,
by framing the Stauffenberg plot outside of
its historical context and by concealing the
Holocaust, such examples insinuate that the
AfD is a resistance movement against a regime,
namely the current German government. This
political posturing by the AfD not only under-
mines the democratic system in Germany but
also has an inciting effect, as the comments
under the post by von Storch reflect. Since
von Storchs post is about a violent attempt to
overturn the government in 1944, which some
commenters suggested should also occur now,
the inciting effect should not be underestimated
in a country where verbal and physical attacks
against refugees, migrants, Muslims, Jews, and
politicians are daily news.
Even when the time of National Socialism
is the topic, the concealment of the Holocaust is
symptomatic for the AfD and as such it remains
markedly invisible in all areas: from the party
program and public speeches to Facebook posts.
References to the Holocaust as the mass murder
of European Jews are the exception. The case
study of Gauland’s speech exemplifies how the
AfD tries to rehabilitate aspects of National
Socialism, here the Wehrmacht, by comparing it
to other events in German history and excluding
the Holocaust. By expressing pride for the
Wehrmacht, the victims of the Holocaust are
indirectly ignored. This not only testifies to an
inability to empathize with the victims of the
Holocaust but repeatedly violates the dignity of
those who were murdered. This deliberate indi-
rectness has antisemitic tendencies and comes
close to the definition in German law that pros-
ecutes the downplaying of acts committed under
the National Socialist regime and the violation
of the dignity of the victims by approving, glori-
fying, or justifying National Socialist rule.
While this study focuses on posts by senior
figures of the AfD, the research phase on
Facebook has shown that trivialization and
rehabilitation of National Socialism and the
Holocaust, as well as antisemitism as a singular
phenomenon, increase in profiles and groups
at lower ranks in the hierarchy of the AfD. It
not only increases in occurrence but also in its
bluntness and severity. Thus, research is needed
to give an insight into how the attitude towards
National Socialism, the Holocaust and antisemi-
tism differs between the local groups of the AfD
on Facebook and how this reflects on education
about the Holocaust throughout the German
states. Further, research about the commenters
could shed light on how the AfD’s attitude
towards National Socialism, the Holocaust and
antisemitism is received.
Facebook teaches political parties how to
improve the circulation of their agenda—disre-
garding its content and thus, giving them a lot
of power to influence societal discourse. In this
analysis specifically, Facebook greatly empowers
the AfD to shape the cultural memory of
National Socialism and the Holocaust. Thus,
this phenomenon begs for interdisciplinary
academic workshops and committees which
support and advise social media providers and
Monika Hübscher
28 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
governments on how to deal with antisemitism,
the rehabilitation of National Socialism and the
trivialization of the Holocaust. Due to the high
impact that social media has on politics and
society today, the findings from this research
underline the necessity for monitoring and
restriction. Although in 2017 Germany initi-
ated laws called NetzDG that regulate freedom
of speech online to combat hate speech, moni-
toring the vast amount of content on Facebook
seems an impossible task. Thus, the German
government needs to hold Facebook account-
able and demand strategies from the company
itself, particularly restrictions regarding the
use of social bots that, for example, artificially
create likes for posts with content that trivializes
National Socialism, thus implying its acceptance.
Because of the freedom that Facebook gives its
users and the major role it plays in shaping soci-
etal discourse about the memory of National
Socialism and the Holocaust, researchers on
antisemitism must pay attention and integrate
it into their scholarship.
This paper was developed from my master’s thesis
research at the Weiss-Livnat International MA
Program in Holocaust Studies at Haifa University.
I especially would like to express my gratitude to
Prof. emer. Moshe Zimmerman (The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem) for his support.
1 Alexander Fröhlich, AfD-Anhänger wegen Volksverhetzung in KZ-Gedenkstätte angeklagt, Der Tagesspiegel,
August 12, 2019, accessed September 13, 2019,
2 “Beatrix von Storch: Juden haben in der AfD eine ‘natürliche politische Heimat’,” Focus Online, October 7, 2018,
accessed September 13, 2019,
von-storch-juden-haben-in-afd-ein-natuerliche-politische-heimat_id_9717272.html. For in-depth analysis on this
topic see also: Marc Grimm, “Antisemitismus und Pro-Israelismus in der AfD,” in Antisemitismus in Geschichte und
Gegenwart: Laupheimer Gespräche 2018, ed. Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg (Heidelberg: Heidelberg
Universitätsverlag, 2019), 116–120.
3 Andreas Kemper, . . . Die neurotische Phase überwinden, in der wir uns seit siebzig Jahren befinden: Zur Differenz von
Konservativismus und Faschismus am Beispiel der ‘historischen Mission’ Björn Höckes (AfD), Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
Thüringen, January 2016, 31–45, accessed November 4, 2017,
4 Björn Höcke, “Gemütszustand eines total besiegten Volkes, Der Tagesspiegel, January 19, 2017, accessed November
5, 2019,
5 “Seeing World—Interview with Dr. Frauke Petry, Leader of the Right-Wing Party ‘Alternative for Germany’,” Can
11—Israeli Broadcasting Corporation, November 27, 2016, accessed October 22, 2019,
6 Marco Saal, “Bundestagswahlkampf: AfD mobilisiert die meisten Nutzer im Social Web,Horizont, September 20,
2017, accessed September 11, 2019,
7 Markus Voeth, Auswertungen Bundestagswahl 2017—Einsatz von Social Media im Parteien- und Kandidaten
Marketing, Lehrstuhl für Marketing und Business Development, Universität Hohenheim, 2017), accessed September
11, 2019,
8 Jörg Diehl, Roman Lehberger, Ann-Kathrin Müller, Phillip Seibt, “Facebook Frenzy: How the German Right Wing
Dominates Social Media,Spiegel Online, April 29, 2019, accessed September 11, 2019,
Likes for Antisemitism
JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 29
9 Trevor Davis, Matthew Hindman, Steven Livingston, “Facebook Isn’t Ready for 2020,The Washington Post, August
14, 2019, accessed September 15, 2019,
10 Thorsten Faas und Benjamin C. Sack, Politische Kommunikation in Zeiten von Social Media (Bonn: BAPP, 2016), 38.
11 For in-depth Analysis on the Connection between the AfD and Far-Right German Organizations see Andreas Kemper,
“AfD, Pegida and the New Right in Germany,” in The European Far Right: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
(Oslo: PRIO Cyprus Centre, 2015), 43–48.
12 André Poggenburg: Mann des Volkes, Ein Prozent für unser Land, October 28, 2017, accessed September 11, 2019,
13 Monitoringbericht 2015/16: Rechtsextreme und Menschenverachtende Phänomene im Social Web, Amadeu
Antonio Stiftung (Berlin), 2016, 12,
14 “ Volksverhetzung: AfD-Politikerin muss 2700 Euro zahlen, Focus Online, October 11, 2017, accessed September 11,
15 David Blood and Haluka Maier-Borst, “Rightwing Populist AfD Dominates German Twitter, New Study Shows,
Financial Times, September 19, 2017, accessed September 11, 2019,
16 Yuchen Zhou, Mark Dredze, David A. Broniatowski, and William D. Adler, “Gab: The Alt-Right Social Media Platform,
John Hopkins University, 2018, accessed October 13, 2019,
17 Stefan Lauer, “Von Impfgegnern, Aliens und gefallenen Alt-Right Ikonen,Belltower News, May 17, 2019, accessed
September 11, 2019,
18 See Sander Gilman, The Jew’s Body (New York: Routledge, 1991).
19 Eduard Fuchs, Die Juden in der Karikatur (München: Verlag Albert Langen, 1921), 111.; Thomas Gräfe, Juden-
feindliche Karikaturen im 19. Jahrhundert,” in Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Judenfeindschaft in Geschichte und
Gegenwart: Literatur, Film, Theater, Kunst (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015), 218; Jasmin Weibl-Stockner, Die Juden sind
unser Unglück (Münster: LIT Verlag, 2009), 238–39.
20 Gräfe, Judenfeindliche Karikaturen, 220; Dan Diner, “Verschwörung,” in Enzyklopädie jüdischer Geschichte und
Kultur ( Stuttgart: Verlag JB Metzler, 2011–2015), vol. 6, 275; František Graus, Judenfeindschaft im Mittelalter,
in Antisemitismus: Von der Judenfeindschaft zum Holocaust, ed. Herbert A Strauss and Norbert Kampe, vol.
213 of Schriftenreihe der Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung,
1984), 38.
21 Julia Schäfer, “Verzeichnet: Über Judenbilder’ in der Karikatur als historische Quelle,Jahrbuch für Antisemitismus-
forschung 10 (2001): 147; Fuchs, Die Juden in der Karikatur, 153–56.
22 Fuchs, Die Juden in der Karikatur, 161–62; Rainer Erb, “Die Wahrnehmung der Physiognomie der Juden: Die Nase,
in Das Bild der Juden in der Volks-und Jugendliteratur vom 18. Jahrhundert bis 1945, ed. Heinrich Pleticha, vol.
7 of Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Akademie für Kinder-und Jugendliteratur Volkach e.V., (Würzburg: Verlag
Königshausen und Neumann, 1985), 113–15.
23 Gräfe, Judenfeindliche Karikaturen im 19. Jahrhundert, 218.
24 Regina Schleicher, Antisemitismus in der Karikatur: Zur Bildpublizistik in der französischen Dritten Republik und
im deutschen Kaiserreich, 1871–1914 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2009), 50.
25 Gräfe, Judenfeindliche Karikaturen im 19. Jahrhundert, 219.
26 Fuchs, Die Juden in der Karikatur, 248–49; Gräfe, Judenfeindliche Karikaturen im 19. Jahrhundert, 220.
27 Schäfer, “Verzeichnet,” 139.
28 The word verjudet means “dominated by Jews” or “under Jewish influence” and was a common antisemitic slogan to
depict the SPD and other political parties or institutions in the late nineteenth century. See Karl-Heinz Brackmann
and Renate Birkenhauer, NS-Deutsch: “Selbstverständliche” Begrie und Schlagwörter aus der Zeit des Nation-
alsozialismus (Straelen: Straelener Manuskripte Verlag, 1988), 190.
Monika Hübscher
30 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
29 Carl Eric Linsler, “Stürmer-Karikaturen, in Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Judenfeindschaft in Geschichte und
Gegenwart: Literatur, Film, Theater, Kunst (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015), 478.
30 Waibl-Stockner, Die Juden sind unser Unglück, 253; Linsler, Stürmer-Karikaturen, 477–80.
31 Armin Pfahl-Traughber, “Die AfD und der Antisemitismus. Eine Analyse zu Positionen, Skandalen und Verhaltens-
weisen,Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung 25 (2016): 279–282.
32 “Alternative Karikaturen,” Alternative für Deutschland, accessed September 11, 2019,
33 Björn Höcke, no title, February 22, 2017, accessed September 11, 2019,
34 Cp. Pfahl-Traughber, Die AfD und der Antisemitismus, 272.
35 Gräfe, Judenfeindliche Karikaturen im 19. Jahrhundert, 219.
36 In the eyes of the antisemites, Social Democratic parties were verjudete Parteien. See: Karl-Heinz Brackmann and
Renate Birkenhauer, NS-Deutsch, 190.
37 Dan Diner, Verschwörung, 272–77.
38 Commenter 1: “Wo haben Sie denn den Karikaturisten ausgegraben, beim Stürmer? BTW: Als jemand der noch
keinen einzigen Euro (sorry Reichsmark gibts nicht mehr) in seinem Berufsleben verdient hat, der nicht aus dem
Steuersäckel kam, wäre ich an Ihrer Stelle etwas vorsichtiger mit Verweisen auf Erfolge in der Privatwirtschaft.”
39 Commenter 2: “Tja. Immer, wenn ich denke, tiefer kann selbst so ein Mensch wie Björn Höcke nicht mehr sinken, dann
gehen Sie hin und beweisen mir das Gegenteil. Ich wette, der Opa des Karikaturisten, dem wir diese geschmacklose
Gemeinheit verdanken, hat schon für den ‘Stürmer‘ gezeichnet. Absolut widerlich.
40 Commenter 3: “Julius Streicher wäre stolz auf Höcke. Allen anderen bleibt nur fremdschämen.
41 Commenter 4: “An was erinnern mich nur diese Züge?”
42 Werner Bergmann and Rainer Erb, Antisemitismus in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Ergebnisse der empirischen
Forschung von 1946–1989 (Opladen: Leske und Budrich, 1991), 114–35.
43 Dr. Frauke Petry, “Die sozialpopulistischen Seifenblasen der SPD,” April 1, 2017, accessed September 11, 2019, https://www.
44 Rebecca Staudenmeier, “Ex-AfD chief Frauke Petry unveils new conservative ‘Blue Party’, Deutsche Welle, October 13,
2017, accessed September 11, 2019:
45 Commenter 5: “Das ist so und bleibt so! Und wer das ändern will . . .
46 Commenter 6: “Das hat er von Goldman & Sachs in Brüssel gelernt.
47 Commenter 7: “Picture.”
48 Commenter 8: “Picture.”
49 Avraham Burg, “Say a big ‘Thank you’ to Martin Schulz,” HAARETZ, February 14, 2014, accessed September 13, 2019,
50 Peter Steinbach and Johannes Tuchel, eds., Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus, vol. 323 of Schriftenreihe
der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 1994); Gerd R. Ueberschär,
Für ein anderes Deutschland: Der deutsche Widerstand gegen den NS-Staat 1933–1945 (Frankfurt am Main:
Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, 2006).
51 Hans Mommsen, Alternatives to Hitler: German Resistance under the Third Reich (Princeton: Princeton University
Press 2003), 403.
52 K laus-Jürgen Müller, “Über den ‘militärischen’ Widerstand,” in Steinbach and Tuchel, Widerstand gegen den Nation-
alsozialismus, 279.
53 Mommsen, Alternatives to Hitler, 406.
54 Thomas Rudy, “20. Juli 1944, July 20, 2017, accessed September 13, 2019,
55 Der 20. Juli, der Tag des Stauffenberg Attentates ist in unserer Geschichte ein besonderes Datum. Es ist ein wich-
tiger Tag in unserer deutschen Freiheitstradition. Die großen Ereignisse dieser Freiheitstradition waren neben den
Ereignissen des 20. Juli 1944 die liberale Revolution von 1848, der Arbeiteraufstand in der DDR von 1953 und die
freiheitliche Revolution von 1989. Am 20. Juli 1944 haben die Verschwörer um Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg
Likes for Antisemitism
JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 31
einen Aufstand des Gewissens gewagt. Ihr Versuch, die nationalsozialistische Gewaltherrschaft zu beseitigen ist
gescheitert. Doch ihr Opfer war dennoch nicht für umsonst.
Sie haben ein Zeichen gesetzt. Sie haben uns für alle Zeit eine dauerhafte Botschaft hinterlassen. Niemals wieder
dürfen in Deutschland Gewalt und Terror über Demokratie und Freiheit triumphieren. Niemals wieder dürfen
in Deutschland Meinungsfreiheit und Bürgerechte unterdrückt werden. Niemals wieder dürfen wir blind einer
politischen Führung folgen und den Staat über unser Gewissen stellen. Ja, wir können aus unserer Geschichte
lernen. Wir können lernen, dass wir den Mut haben müssen, uns unseres eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen, wie der
große Aufklärungsphilosoph Emanuel Kant sagte. Das wir uns vom Geist der Freiheit leiten lassen und nicht von
der Anbetung der Macht. Das wir freie Bürger sein sollen und keine willfährigen Untertanen. Das wir Bürgersinn
brauchen und keinen Kadavergehorsam. Das ist die Botschaft der Männer des 20. Juli und das ist die Überlieferung
unserer deutschen Freiheitstradition. Freiheit ist ein kostbares Gut und jede Generation ist erneuert dazu aufgerufen
sie zu pflegen, sie zu bewahren und sie zu verteidigen.
56 Alice Weidel, “Stellungnahme zur Sendung ‘Wie geht’s, Deutschland? ’, ” September 5, 2017, accessed September
13, 2019,; “Vorwurf: Diskriminierung von
Kandidaten: AfD reicht Klage gegen Justizsenator Behrendt ein, RBB24, May 19, 2017, accessed September 13, 2019,
57 “Fünftes Flugblatt der Weißen Rose verfasst von Kurt Huber nach einem Entwurf von Hans Scholl Januar 1943,”
Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, Bundesarchiv, R 3018/NJ 1704, Bd. 32, accessed September 13, 2019,
58 “Sechstes Flugblatt der Weißen Rose verfasst von Kurt Huber, Februar 1943,” Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand,
Bundesarchiv R 3018/NJ 1704, Bd. 32, accessed September 13, 2019,
59 “Heimlicher Souverän in Deutschland ist eine kleine, machtvolle politische Oligarchie, die sich in den bestehenden
politischen Parteien ausgebildet hat. Sie hat die Fehlentwicklungen der letzten Jahrzehnte zu verantworten. Es
hat sich eine politische Klasse herausgebildet, deren vordringliches Interesse ihrer Macht, ihrem Status und ihrem
materiellen Wohlergehen gilt. Diese Oligarchie hat die Schalthebel der staatlichen Macht, der politischen Bildung
und des informationellen und medialen Einflusses auf die Bevölkerung in Händen. Programm für Deutschland:
Wahlprogramm der Alternative für Deutschland für die Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag am 24. September
2017, Alternative für Deutschland, 8, accessed September 13, 2019,
60 Jenny Kallenbrunnen, “AfD darf ihr umstrittenes Sophie-Scholl-Werbeplakat nicht mehr nutzen, Stern, January 26,
2017, accessed September 13, 2019,
61 Commenter 1: “Und am 20. Juli 2017 muss man feststellen, dass wir hinsichtlich Freiheit für den angeblichen Souverän
(dt. Volk) in der Geschichte der BR Deutschland einen historischen Tiefststand ‘erreicht’ haben. ‘Rechtsstaatlichkeit’
und ‘Demokratie’ liegen in Trümmern.
62 Commenter 2: “. . . eine Diktatur aus Brüssel.
63 Commenter 3: “Also leben wir laut ihrer Meinung in einer Diktatur? Oder wie kann man das verstehen?”
64 Commenter 4: “. . . ja (commenter 3) richtig erkannt . . . eine verkappte diktatur ist das system das diese stasifratze
hier einleitet . . . und 80% der bürger sind noch dümmer und gehorsamer als je zuvor!”
65 Commenter 5: “Das Problem besteht darin, dass Deutschland jetzt weniger frei ist als 1944.“
66 Commenter 6: “Wir brauchen ein paar Stauffenberg‘s, oder selber MUT beweisen.
67 Commenter 7: “Liebe verehrte Frau v.Storch, nun, es mag sein, dass Sie diesen Tag, als einen besondern Tag ‘der
Geschichte dieses Landes’ herausstellen möchten, bedenken Sie aber 1). dass sich das Deutsche Reich im Krieg
befand und die Gesetze damit eine besondere Bedeutung hatten. 2). dass sich—auch in keinem anderen krieg-
führenden Land dieser Welt—‘erlauben durfte’, im Sinne des Feindes zu agieren, hier in diesem Moment nicht
von Verrat zu sprechen, entzieht sich meiner derzeitigen Vorstellung von Vaterlandstreue. Nun, man mag über die
politische Einstellung der damaligen Regierungspartei—aus heutiger Sicht—unterschiedlicher Meinung, aber
während des Krieges, im Sinne des feindes zu agieren, halte ich schon für sehr grenzwertig! Zumal, die Politiker des
Monika Hübscher
32 Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism
Dritten Reiches—was hinsichtlich der vielen inzwischen freigegeben Dokumente offensichtlich ist—viele Schritte
unternommen hatten, einen Krieg zu vermeiden.
68 Commenter 8: “Dann wird es Zeit Frau Beatrix von Storch, dass Sie sich dem Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg
anschließen und die Kanzlerin stürzen!”
69 Wolfram Wette and Deborah Lucas Schneider, The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 2007), 202.
70 Christopher R. Browing and Jürgen Matthäus, The Origins Of The Final Solution: the Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy,
September 1939–March 1942 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 213–243.
71 Wette and Schneider, The Wehrmacht, 198–99; Browning and Matthäus, The Origins Of The Final Solution, 265.
72 Wette and Schneider, The Wehrmacht, 219.
73 Ibid., 204; Verbrechen der Wehrmacht: Dimensionen des Vernichtungskrieges 1941–1944 (Hamburg: Hamburger
Edition, 2002), 639.
74 Wette and Schneider, The Wehrmacht, 208.
75 Verbrechen der Wehrmacht, 681.
76 Bill Niven, Facing the Nazi Past (London: Routledge, 2004), 120–42.
77 Hajo Funke, Von Wutbürgern und Brandstiftern (Berlin: Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, 2016), 69.
78 “Patriotische Plattform: Verfassungsschutz nimmt AfD-Gruppe ins Visier, Spiegel Online, June 2, 2017, accessed
September 13, 2019,
79 Cornelie Barthelme, “AfD Spitzenkandidat Alexander Gauland: ‘Seid nicht zu empfindlich’,” Frankfurter Neue Presse,
September 21, 2017, accessed September 13, 2019,
80 Francois Mitterrand, “Zum 50. Jahrestag des Endes des Zweiten Weltkrieges—Staatsakt in Berlin am 8. Mai 1995—
Ansprache des französischen Staatspräsidenten, Die Bundesregierung, May 12, 1995, accessed September 13, 2019,
81 “Wie erklären Sie Ihren Kindern den Nationalsozialismus? Wieso setzen Sie sich nicht für andere Homosexuelle
ein? 10 Fragen an Alice Weidel, AfD, AfD Greiz-Altenburg, September 17, 2017, accessed September 13, 2019,
82 “S chlagkraft statt Vielfalt—wir stehen zu unserer Truppe,” Patriotische Plattform, May 15, 2017, accessed September
13, 2019,
83 Bern Ulrich and Matthias Geis, “Hitler hat den Deutschen das Rückgrat gebrochen,” Zeit Online, April 28, 2016,
accessed September 15, 2019,
84 “Die Rede des stellv. Bundessprechers der AfD und Vorsitzenden der AfD-Fraktion im Brandenburgischen Landtag Dr.
Alexander Gauland anlässlich des 3. Kyffhäusertreffens des Flügels am 2. September 2017, Der Flügel, September
9, 2017, accessed September 13, 2019,
85 “. . . Zu unser historischen Erinnerung gehören Stauffenberg und Rommel, Mars-la Tour, Sedan, Cambrai und das
Schlachthaus von Verdun. . . . Liebe Freunde, wer Geschichte säubert, zerstört unsere Identität. Ja, wir haben uns
mit den Verbrechen der 12 Jahre auseinandergesetzt. . . . Kein Volk hat so deutlich mit einer falschen Vergangenheit
aufgeräumt wie das Deutsche. Man muss uns diese 12 Jahre nicht mehr vorhalten. Sie betreffen unsere Identität heute
nicht mehr und das sprechen wir auch aus. Wenn die Franzosen zu Recht stolz auf ihren Kaiser sind, und die Briten auf
Nelson und Churchill, haben wir das Recht, stolz zu sein, auf die Leistungen deutscher Soldaten in zwei Weltkriegen. . . .”
86 “Schlagkraft statt Vielfalt: Wir stehen zu unserer Truppe, Patriotische Plattform, May 15, 2017, accessed September
13, 2019,
87 Ralf Georg Reuth, Rommel: The End of a Legend (London: Haus Publishing, 2005), 64.
88 Ibid, 65.
89 Ibid, 68.
90 Brackmann and Birkenhauer, NS-Deutsch, 166.
91 Jung und Naiv, “Kein Schamgefühl: Gauland (AfD) über Hitlers Verbrechen an die Deutschen,” Bundespressekonferenz
May 8, 2017, accessed September 13, 2019,; Alexander Gauland,
“Die Rückkehr der Geschichte: Leugnen schafft Kulturunterschiede nicht aus der Welt,” Der Tagesspiegel, April 4, 2006,
Likes for Antisemitism
JCA | Vol. 3 | No. 1 | Spring 2020 33
accessed September 13, 2019,
92 Samuel Salzborn, “Von der offenen zur geschlossenen Gesellschaft: Die AfD und die Renaissance des deutschen
Opfermythos im rechten Diskurs, in AfD & FPÖ: Antisemitismus, völkischer Nationalismus und Geschlechterbilder,
Interdisziplinäre Antisemitismusforschung, vol.7, ed. Stephan Grigat (Baden-Baden: Noms Verlag, 2017), 36.
93 Rainer Becker, “Sprachliche Kontinuität von Menschenfeindlichkeit: Von der Sprache des Nationalsozialismus bis
zur Sprache der gesellschaftlichen Mitte heute, in Freilegungen: Spiegelungen der NS-Verfolgung und ihre Konse
quenzen, Jahrbuch des International Tracing Service 4 (2015): 250.
94 Samuel Salzborn, “Von der offenen zur geschlossenen Gesellschaft, 36.
95 Ibid.
96 Lars Rensmann, Demokratie und Judenbild: Antisemitismus in der politischen Kultur der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
(Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2004), 280.
97 Commenter 1: “”; Commenter 2: “http://www.zukun-
98 Commenter 3: “Für mich ist die Dankbarkeit für die gebrachten Opfer und die Ehrfurcht vor der Tapferkeit unserer
Weltkriegssoldaten eine Selbstverständlichkeit.
99 Commenter 4: “Was für ein ekelhaftes Arschloch der braune Greis. Will sich die Vergangenheit nicht mehr vorhalten
lassen, weil diese seine Identität nicht prägt, aber stolz auf die ‘Leistungen’ deutscher Soldaten in beiden Weltkriegen
will er dann doch sein dürfen?! Und die anderen Vollidioten jodeln und jubeln wie im Rausch! Die AfD will also endlich
auf zwei Angriffskriege, auf über 60 Millionen Tote, auf KZ-Lager, auf tausendfach ermordete Kinder und und und
stolz sein dürfen?! Mit Verantwortung, Geschichtsbewusstsein oder Bewusstsein für die Schwere der damaligen
Schuld soll man den AfDlern nicht mehr kommen?? Irgendwie widerspricht er sich selbst, nur merkt das vor lauter
Stolz weder er noch seine minderbemittelten Fans. Und ganz nebenbei erfährt man auch, dass dieser Haufen sich
mehr um Geschichtsverdrehung als um die Gestaltung der Zukunft dieses Landes und aller darin lebenden Menschen
kümmern will.. Entlarvend, mal wieder, nur wird es die blindwütigen Fans der braunen Truppe nicht kümmern. Umso
wichtiger sind die Vernünftigen und Anständigen.
100 Commenter 5: “Auf solche Soldaten ist Gauland stolz:
soldaten. . .
101 Commenter 6: “Und genau das haben auch die Siegermächte bei unserer ‘Befreiung’ getan. So viele deutsche
Frauen wurden vergewaltigt—von allierten Soldaten. Über diese Opfer spricht heute keiner, denn böse sind ja
nur die Deutschen.
... The use of social media by the Af D is central to their strategic communication and enables the party to use (combinations of ) audio-visual (videos), visual (images), and textual elements to get their message across. The Af D has a much higher content output on social media than any other German party (Davis et al., 2019), and their posts have a high recognition value not only due to the sensationalist, antagonizing, and defamatory language and imagery but also due to the majority of posts sharing a distinctive design (Hübscher, 2020;Davis et al., 2019, p. 3f.). ...
... Moreover, senior Af D politicians have trivialized the historical realities of World War II and the Holocaust by strategically using references to German resistance fighters and tried to reproduce the image of a morally uncompromised German military (Wehrmacht) while omitting the Holocaust (Hübscher, 2020, p. 27). With this posturing, Af D members aim to portray themselves as present-day moral resistance against an allegedly totalitarian regime under Chancellor Merkel, and try to rearticulate a positive relation to the actual criminal past of the German Wehrmacht (Hübscher, 2020). ...
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This chapter analyzes social media posts of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe on May 8, 2020. With the help of the mixed-methods software MaxQDA we developed a code system that identifies antisemitic cues. As a result of our analysis, we formulate a definition of tertiary antisemitism to extend the established concepts of primary and secondary antisemitism. In our research we find that the AfD uses social media strategically to communicate a revisionist interpretation of World War II and the Holocaust by employing antisemitic cues, rather than explicit expressions of antisemitism. Further we identify four rhetorical strategies present in the AfD’s social media communication that normalize, mainstream, and vindicate antisemitism.
... 2 Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (German: Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) 3 Alternative for Germany (German: Alternative für Deutschland) 4 Besides the anti-immigrantion and anti-Islam agenda of the party, one study recently examined strategic antisemitic online activities by AfD-politicians (Hübscher, 2020) and another study based on representative data found a higher level of support for antisemitism among AfD-voters (Schuler et al., 2020). 5 Attack on a synagogue with two casualties. ...
Europe is facing a new wave of antisemitism, which has grown in recent years. In 2019, the number of reported antisemitic crimes has increased in Germany. On the one hand, Muslim immigrants are suspected of so-called "imported Antisemitism". On the other hand, right-wing extremism still appears to be the main cause of most antisemitic crimes. Moreover, antisemitism may also be rooted in the left-wing spectrum hiding behind the criticism of Israel and its policies. To analyze the connections of antisemitic attitudes, data from a school survey of 6,715 ninth-graders are used. The results indicate a strong connection between right-wing attitudes and antisemitism as well as left-wing and Islamist attitudes and antisemitism. Higher values of antisemitism are also found among Muslims, but the main predictor of antisemitic attitudes is by far right-wing attitudes.
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This chapter provides an introduction to the research field of antisemitism on social media. It first outlines the role of social media’s technology and business model in amplifying antisemitic hate speech and then assesses existing counter-strategies such as hate detection through artificial intelligence, reporting and removal of antisemitic content, and counter-speech. After summarizing the small body of existing research that is focused on antisemitism on social media, the chapter identifies numerous research gaps, and highlights challenges researchers face. Overall, the chapter argues for a much-needed shift in antisemitism research toward social media content, and it concludes with concrete recommendations how to achieve it.
In the wake of the disastrous destruction and terror the Nazi regime brought to the world, German society generally guards itself against populism. Yet, with the success of right-wing populist movements all over Europe, Germany is once again confronted with the rise of right-wing attitudes, in particular with a right-wing populist party named Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD). After outlining the history of right-wing movements in Germany, this article focuses on the mediasphere of the AfD and gives a more detailed analysis of the rhetoric of two central AfD politicians: Björn Höcke’s “Dresden Speech,” delivered in January 2017, which can be seen as a model of populist rhetoric, and social media-based rhetoric of provocation by Alice Weidel. The case studies of these two politicians illustrate that political speech is of high importance within populist movements and explain the complex cross-media strategy used by the AfD to promote their ideology of exclusion and racism.
In 1939, the Nazi regime's plans for redrawing the demographic map of Eastern Europe entailed the expulsion of millions of Jews. By the fall of 1941, these plans had shifted from expulsion to systematic and total mass murder of all Jews within the Nazi grasp. The Origins of the Final Solution is the most detailed and comprehensive analysis ever written of what took place during this crucial period-of how, precisely, the Nazis' racial policies evolved from persecution and "ethnic cleansing" to the Final Solution of the Holocaust. Focusing on the months between the German conquest of Poland in September 1939-which brought nearly two million additional Jews under Nazi control-and the beginning of the deportation of Jews to the death camps in the spring of 1942, Christopher R. Browning describes how Poland became a laboratory for experiments in racial policies, from expulsion and decimation to ghettoization and exploitation under local occupation authorities. He reveals how the subsequent attack on the Soviet Union opened the door for an immense radicalization of Nazi Jewish policy-and marked the beginning of the Final Solution. Meticulously documenting the process that led to this fatal development, Browning shows that Adolf Hitler was the key decision-maker throughout, approving major escalations in Nazi persecution of the Jews at victory-induced moments of euphoria. Thoroughly researched and lucidly written, this groundbreaking work provides an essential chapter in the history of the Holocaust. © 2004 by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, Jerusalem, Israel. All rights reserved.
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