Angry Germany points to the past
Saturday 11 January 1997
"It is disgraceful and irresponsible to draw such historical parallels which are completely out of touch with reality," said Michel Friedman, a board member of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. "It's totally off the mark. Today we have a democracy and a state based on the rule of law. Then it was a dictatorship."
The "open letter" from 34 leading American entertainers, published as an advertisement in the International Herald Tribune, drew fire from opposition and government alike. Klaus Kinkel, the Foreign Minister, accused Scientologists of "distorting history".
Rudolf Scharping, the leader of the largest opposition group, the Social Democrats, said: "This letter is not acceptable, especially because of the scandalous comparison of today's Germany with Hitler's fascist rule." The commentators agreed that the letter, addressed to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, was in bad taste. "They picked the highest address in Bonn and the lowest point in German history," wrote the daily Die Welt. "The result is the nastiest public attack against the Federal Republic."
The republic will survive, but the Church of Scientology's days in Germany may be numbered. Edmund Stoiber, the Prime Minister of Bavaria, promised yesterday to "go after this organisation" with renewed vigour. Bavaria has already banned members of the sect from state jobs and the teaching profession, a measure which the conservative government in Bonn wants to implement nationwide. Scientologists, believed to number about 30,000 in Germany, are also excluded from all leading parties and several trade organisations.
These measures are already the most repressive in Europe, but the government has mooted further restrictions which would in effect drive the sect underground. There are proposals to place the Church of Scientology under observation, to be watched by an office which keeps track of all extremist groups.
This kind of vigilance is indeed a legacy of the Nazi era, but not in the way that the Hollywood stars understand. Under the Federal Republic's constitution, all organisations which aim to subvert democracy are proscribed. To Germans, the Scientologists' mind-bending techniques and their habit of radiating their propaganda through prominent personalities smacks of Nazism.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
Syrian teenager Usaid Barho reveals how he escaped from Isis using a suicide vest
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national Company that manu...
£13000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Maintenance Assistant is requ...
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...