The stork sticking its beak into the German far right

 

Berlin

He wrote a book called Mein Krampf (My Cramp), sports a toothbrush moustache and a rigid side parting and infuriates members of Germany's main neo-Nazi party with his satirical take on the Teutonic far-right.

The character in question is Storch Heinar, an anti-Nazi cartoon stork, whose image has appeared more than 5,000 times on anti far-right campaign posters in north-eastern Germany where state elections will be held on Sunday. The stork posters proclaiming "Stork Power instead of Nazis" have been deliberately placed beside the campaign placards of Germany's neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD).

The lampooned NPD is furious. Party workers have made frenzied efforts to rid the region's big cities of stork posters to avoid further ridicule. Hundreds of Stork Power placards have been ripped from lampposts in the port of Rostock. "We are on the home stretch. The stork is giving his all to keep out the extremist idiots," says creator and Social Democrat politician, Matthias Brodkorb.

Storch Heinar began life as a satirical anti-Nazi figure whose aim was to debunk the "Thor Steiner" clothing frequently worn as a status symbol by members of far-right and skinhead groups. Heinar's Hitler moustache and Mein Krampf biography is complemented by his penchant for steel helmets and egg nogs and a rabid intolerance of frogs.

Mediatex, the company which owns the "Thor Steiner" label, tried to get "Storch Heinar" banned for belittling its products. But last year a court in Bavaria threw out the case after a judge ruled that he could see no reasonable grounds for the complaint. Aping the language of Adolf Hitler, Storch Heinar boasted afterwards: "The enemy has been destructively defeated."

Storch Heinar has since gone from strength to strength. The cartoon character has toured Germany with his own rock band: "Storchkraft" (Stork Power). T-shirts and badges bearing his image are best-sellers. He has even travelled the country promoting Mein Krampf.

The Social Democrats' decision to use the stork for their election campaign in the north east is a new development, but has gained popular local support. Benjamin Weiss, a Rostock hotel owner, grew so irritated by the NPD's xenophobic propaganda in a region that depends heavily on tourism that he joined the "Storch Heinar Division" and organised his own team to put up some 300 stork posters around his hotel. "I am fed up with seeing my guests welcomed to Rostock with slogan such as: 'Tourists welcome – foreigners out,'" he said.

The NPD has parliamentary seats in the east German states of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Pomerania. The government's bid to ban the openly racist organisation was rejected by Germany's constitutional court in 2003 after it emerged that intelligence service moles were the source of incriminating evidence against the party.

The NPD's chances of retaining its north-east seats are considered so narrow it is toughto make an accurate prediction. "The far right gets particularly annoyed by humorous initiatives," said Gudrun Heinrich, a political scientist at Rostock university. "Because it doesn't know how to deal with them."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory