Herold Peters-Hartmann is the chairman of the AfD (Alternative for Germany party) in Würzburg. In a video by MuslimTVDE, a project by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, he offers his perspective on Jews in Germany: They supposedly have "a lot of influence" is something that can be heard there among other things. Again and again, the AfD tries to position itself as a valiant fighter against antisemitism. But just recently, a study from Leipzigshowed that antisemitic views are widespread among the voters of the radical right-wing party.
By Stefan Lauer 3 March 2020
"We have blocks here, on the one hand we have the Christians, then we have another block that has a lot of influence.” – Herold Peters-Hartmann (AfD) during an interview (source: YouTube - MuslimTVDe)
“We have a problem here. We have a very big problem in Germany. We have blocks here, on the one hand we have Christians, then we have another block that has a lot of influence. Economically, culturally. These people are in the Jewish block. From the Jewish faith. Then we have the Muslims,” says Herold Peters-Hartmann, the chairman of the AfD in Würzburg to the camera. These recordings are not covert. Peters-Hartmann stands in a public square in Würzburg and shares his views publicly. He even keenly repeats his assertions when questioned by the incredulous YouTuber “No, they have a lot of power, a lot of influence.”
“We have a problem here. We have a very big problem here in Germany.”
The story that the AfD official is telling is not new. It is about the alleged “Jewish world conspiracy” that is behind everything. This story can already be found in the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, probably the most potent antisemitic work of the 20th century. It was published in Russia in 1903. The pamphlet purports to be a secret log of a meeting of Jewish conspirators. Only a few years later, the protocols were exposed as a fake, but to this day anti-Semites consider them as genuine. Historian Wolfgang Wippermann said on Deutschlandfunk: “The conspiracy theory about the elders of Zion has been established as the central ideology of global antisemitism. The Germans imported that from Russia.”
“Economically, culturally. These people are in the Jewish block. From the Jewish faith.”
The conspiratorial fairy tale was extremely “successful”. It was rampant in the early Soviet Union and became the basis for the eliminatory antisemitism of National Socialism. It is being retold to this day whereby Jews allegedly control the media, the financial sector, real estate, politicians and so on. This has, however, nothing to do with reality.
The openness with which the AfD official presents his theses to camera shows how “normal” this form of antisemitism is in German society. Every two years, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's “Mitte” (centre) study shows the proportion of the population that holds anti-Jewish views. In 2019, for instance, 21.6 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that “many Jews are trying to take advantage of the past of the Third Reich today”. And a good eight percent also believe that “Jews in Germany have too much influence”.
The problem with antisemitism in Germany is big, but it is apparently even bigger in the Alternative for Germany. Just a few days ago, on February 25, the University of Leipzig published figures that show that AfD voters support anti-democratic statements more than voters of democratic parties – the study is available for download here. For example, the numbers on beliefs in conspiracy theories. Roughly 35 percent of AfD voters agree with the statement that “most people do not realize the extent to which our lives are determined by conspiracies that are secretly concocted”. 43 percent believe that there are “secret organisations” which “have a great influence on political decisions”. Even 60 percent of the radical right-wing party voters agree when it says “Politicians and other leaders are just puppets of the powers behind them”. Conspiracy ideologies almost always have an antisemitic component, the “Jewish world conspiracy” is frequently somewhere in the background.
But even when it comes to overt antisemitism, AfD voters are far ahead of all other voters. Over 50 percent can “well understand that some people are uncomfortable with Jews”. Almost 60 percent agree that “due to Israeli politics” Jews are “increasingly unappealing”. The figures are also clear in the case of antisemitic victim blaming. Over 70 percent of AfD voters agree with this statement: “It makes me angry that the displacement of Germans and the bombing of German cities are always viewed as lesser crimes”.
The Würzburg AfD chairman’s statement fit into this picture. He, too, reproduces the age-old story of the mighty Jews holding the strings behind the scenes. The fact that the party leadership describes itself as “the only bulwark against antisemitism” is nothing more than lip service.