From A World to Win News Service:

Germany: Art World Figures Take a Stand Against the “Renationalization of Culture”

| Revolution Newspaper |


November 16, 2018. A World to Win News Service. The last month has seen the emergence of a powerful and passionate movement among thousands of artists and other cultural figures and institutions in Germany against “German nationalism.” In opposition, many have adopted what they call the “immigrant flag,” the glittering gold and silver rescue blankets given to people rescued at sea.

This is an important counter-current to the legitimization of fascist politics underway in Germany since the entry of the new fascist party, the AfD (Alternative fur Deutschland), into the Bundestag (parliament), including through the extreme nationalist positions being taken by mainstream politicians and leaders in the country’s governing coalition headed by Angela Merkel.

Much of recent political debate has focused on Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a life-long extreme reactionary (he voted against a law prohibiting men from raping their wives two decades ago) who defended the September neo-Nazi-inspired anti-immigrant riots in Chemnitz. More than 8,700 artists, curators, art gallery owners and others signed a petition demanding his ouster, calling his anti-immigrant position “outrageous” and “provocative, backward and undignified toward humans.” Their statement said he and others like him shared a great deal of the blame for the AfD’s rise. (Since then Seehofer has resigned, not in response to pressure from below but as part of tumultuous and complex maneuvering among the traditional parties provoked by the AfD’s electoral success. His rival partner in the governing coalition, Chancellor Angela Merkel, announced that she will bow out of her position.)

Especially over the last year, fascists have been targeting cultural institutions, sometimes violently. In October the Foundation that runs the Bauhaus Dessau, the building that housed Germany’s most famous arts school until it was shut down in 1933 as one of the inaugural acts of repression by the Nazi regime, canceled a scheduled televised concert by an anti-fascist punk rock group. This was a capitulation to demands from Seehofer’s party and street fascists who threatened to repeat a 2017 neo-Nazi action in front of the building. A petition launched by an architectural publication was signed by a hundred of Europe’s most prominent architects, artists, museum directors and other luminaries. It calls the Foundation’s surrender—with the pretext that it wants to be considered “apolitical”—an alarming danger to culture throughout Europe, and points out that the original Bauhaus decision to brand itself as “apolitical” in the face of Nazism did not save it when the Nazis came to power.

After that, leading cultural organizations in Berlin—including theaters, art spaces and the agency responsible for the city’s museums—put out a joint declaration that begins, “As creators of arts and culture in Germany we do not stand above things. Rather we have both feet firmly on the ground—the very ground upon which one of the worst state crimes against humanity was committed.” The statement is dated November 9, a day today’s Nazis celebrate as the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” in 1938 when Nazi-led attacks on synagogues and Jewish-owned shops heralded the genocide against the Jews. While condemning attacks on cultural institutions seen as agents of a vision of society based on pluralism and tolerance, the statement goes on to say that that even more dangerous than threats and physical assaults on the “freedom of art” is the attempt to bring about a “renationalization of culture.”

Similar pledges to build and support actions against today’s heirs to the Nazi regime were put out in Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfort and Darmstadt.


On March 17, 2017, A World to Win News Service (AWTWNS) announced its transformation into a more thorough-going tool for revolution based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Read its “Editorial: Introducing a transformed AWTWNS” here.


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