BERLIN — Oct 12, 2018, 10:04 AM ET

German far-right party launches website encouraging kids to spy on teachers

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Politicians have harshly condemned a new online portal launched by Germany's far-right populist party, Alternative for Deutschland, or AfD, encouraging students to report on teachers who share political views.

The site, launched for the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg on Thursday, encourages students to speak up against teachers who criticize AfD, according to a justification from the AfD parliamentarian who launched it, Stefan Raepple.

It follows a website created to encourage reporting on educators in Hamburg that was launched in September and called "Neutral Schools Online." The project has drawn outrage from educators and politicians and led to comparisons of Germany under the Nazis when citizens were encouraged to report on one another.

PHOTO: Co-leader of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) Alexander Gauland speaks during a session of the German parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 12, 2018. Hayoung Jeon/EPA/REX via Shutterstock
Co-leader of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) Alexander Gauland speaks during a session of the German parliament 'Bundestag' in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 12, 2018.

German Justice minister Katarina Barley called the portal a "method of dictators" and cited it as an attempt to limit democracy.

"Anyone who incites students to spy on teachers brings Stasi methods back to Germany," she said in a statement on Twitter, referring to the East German secret police during a time where citizens were encouraged to report on one another. Similar tactics to promote suspicion among fellow citizens were used during the Nazi era.

Citing the "darkest chapter of German history" -- the period between 1933 and 1945 -- "what the AfD is supporting here, that children become informers and blacken their teachers, is absolutely a no-go," Helmut Holter, the president of the Culture Ministry, told German newspaper FAZ.

The portal in Baden-Wuerttemberg encourages going a step further than its Hamburg counterpart by encouraging users to publish teacher's names.

"For years, there have been left-wing ideological programs at Hamburg schools," Hamburg AfD politician Alexander Wolf said in a statement on the party's website.

His party aims to target teachers who allegedly violate the laws of educational neutrality, which were created after the Nazi era to avoid indoctrination.

The Hamburg school board harshly condemned the initiative.

"Students would be made into informers and unilaterally be instrumentalized for AfD’s concerns," the board's spokesperson, Peter Albrecht, told German newswire DPA. He added that it has long been possible to report neutrality breaches directly to the school system.

PHOTO: Protesters light fireworks during a far-right demonstration in Chemnitz, Germany, Aug. 27, 2018.Jens Meyer/AP
Protesters light fireworks during a far-right demonstration in Chemnitz, Germany, Aug. 27, 2018.


Yet, while the AfD lauded the platform as a success, it was also flooded with satirical contributions, including pizza orders and complaints about teachers using squeaky chalk, as reported the Hamburg Morning Post.

The AfD has plans to launch similar portals in eight other German states, including Berlin and Bavaria, according to German media reports.

Paraphrasing Hitler?

Amid the unrest over the AfD's websites, new Nazi-era parallels are being drawn.

The party's co-founder, Alexander Gauland, who has previously come under fire for minimizing the Holocaust, may have paraphrased Adolf Hitler in a newspaper article in the Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, or FAZ, published last Saturday.

Writing an ode to populism, Gauland decried a "globalized class" that moves from one city to the next, holding positions in mainstream organizations, including academia and the media. Such statements drew parallels to a speech Hitler gave in Berlin in 1933, where he spoke of a "small, rootless, international clique" that moved from one city to the next.

Antisemitism researcher and historian Wolfgang Benz wrote about the similarities between the two speeches in the German paper Tagesspiegel. According to Benz, it seemed "as if the AfD head had the 1933 speech of the leader on his desk when he wrote his contribution for the 'FAZ.'"

PHOTO: More than 400 initiatives call for a big demonstration under the slogan United Against Racism on Sept. 29, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany.Romy Arroyo Fernandez/Sipa via AP
More than 400 initiatives call for a big demonstration under the slogan 'United Against Racism' on Sept. 29, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany.

News - German far-right party launches website encouraging kids to spy on teachers

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  • snake

    The German racists want to bring back the Hitler youth of the 1930's as do the trumper evangelicals in the US.

  • SFprogressive

    Der Fuehrer lebt noch Adolf's ghost still hanging around,
    Just as in the US, the danger of nationalism always seems to be forgotten over a generation or two and people make the same mistakes again and again:
    Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it,
    Good luck world, it's starting again and I don't see that we'll be able to stop it,

  • Lawrence Wilson

    Sort of like Americas war on drugs, where kids were asked to snitch on parents & others who were using drugs. One might understand, even agree with, but it is best to leave our children out of our reporting programs.

  • tet1953

    Bombard the phone number, tie it up with nonsense calls.

  • P'Thizikil

    The East Germans did this, too. It seemed to backfire eventually.

  • ReviewTheFacts

    Straight out of the Nazi playbook. I'll bet Trump is taking notes. (or having someone take notes for him.)

  • Renate

    And you all think this is just in Germany? It's a canary in the cave.

  • RobertJohns

    A new version of the old East German Stasi, making everyone a spy against everyone else.

  • brickmette

    Once again, Germany gradually flirts with nazism. It's very familiar to them.

  • Nick

    I can't wait for the generation raised by the "greatest generation" to shuffle off this mortal coil.

  • ROBOTIX JONES

    From Germany to America, the far right is nothing but a group of pure hate.

  • JuPMod

    Wow. And this far-right party want students to publish the names of the teachers too. This will only give this group means to attack the teachers at their homes, etc. Pretty much like the Nazis did.

  • TexasVulcan

    Wow. Shades of 1930s...

  • cephalo

    If your philosophy can't survive without indoctrination, you need to abandon it for your own sake.

  • CaptnBlynd

    So reporting teachers who violate their laws in the classroom is a bad thing? They are not asking to students to spy. They are asking students to report crimes which are committed against them.
    I doubt I would agree with their politics bit I can agree with this.