BERLIN – The German Green Party’s legislative action to label Israeli products from the West Bank has cast a spotlight on the role that former Nazis played in creating the party.
Academic and journalistic research over the past five years shows the key role of Nazi figures in the party’s founding and development.
After strong similarities were revealed between an initiative by Germany’s neo- Nazi NPD party last year in a state parliament to demarcate Israeli products and a Green Party federal initiative in the Bundestag to impose a similar system on Israeli goods, critics pointed to the “Brown” — the color symbolizing Nazism – roots of the Green Party in an effort to explain the punitive measure directed at Jewish businesses.
The popular pro-Israel website Lizas Welt tweeted last month, “Not sure what the Greens actually have against Nazis. They even sometimes copy from them.”
Lala Süsskind, former head of Berlin’s Jewish community and chairwoman of the NGO Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism, termed the Green Party initiative hostile to Jews at an event last month.
Dr. Martin Kloke, an expert on contemporary German anti-Semitism, urged the Greens in a blog post on Die Achse des Guten (The Axis of Good) to critically examine and work through their “ambivalent role in the history of leftist German anti- Zionism and anti-Semitism.”
Dr. Clemens Heni, a leading German researcher on modern anti-Semitism, told The Jerusalem Post that Werner Vorgel, a former member of the Nazi Party and of its SA stormtroopers, “was among the first elected members of the Greens to the Bundestag in 1983.”
After the media exposed Vogel’s background, he resigned from the Bundestag.
Heni said that leading Green Party politicians at the time did not object to Vogel’s membership in the party.
Heni added that the founders of the Greens welcomed August Haussleiter, who, as co-founder of the Greens in 1979, played an important role in the party’s development. Haussleiter was active in Hitler’s Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 and praised the German Wehrmacht in 1942. He stoked anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiments in post-World War II West Germany, said Heni.
Baldur Springmann, a former member of the SA, also played an important role in the nascent phase of the German Green party. He left the party in 1980.
Heni said that Henning Eichberg also played an important role in the founding the Green Party in the southern German state of Baden-Wurttemberg in 1979, although he did not choose to become a member. Eichberg had closes ties with former Nazi anti-partisan specialist Arthur Ehrhardt of the SS.
When asked about the role of former Nazis in the creation of the Green Party, Michael Schroeren, the party’s spokesman in the Bundestag, wrote the Post by email that such allegations are absurd and queries along these lines lead nowhere.
The history of the Green Party and Nazism has added greater scrutiny to the role of Green MPs toward Israel.
The Green Party MP Kerstin Müller, who is slated to head the party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation branch in Tel Aviv, helped handmaiden the initiative in the Bundestag to label Israel products.
Germany’s Jewish community has slammed her views toward Israel and the security of the Jewish state over the years.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany said in 2010 Müller displays an “intolerably paternalistic tone” toward Israel and toward Jews in Germany. That year, she supported an anti-Israel parliamentary resolution and attacked the council in a letter because its leadership criticized the resolution. The resolution rebuked Israel for its interception of the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which tried to break Israel’s legal blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The Post obtained a copy of Müller’s letter blasting Germany’s Jews for criticizing the resolution. In it, Müller writes that the Central Council’s criticism of the parliamentary resolution as “one sided and taking sides against Israel” is indefensible.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center considers Müller’s appointment to run the Böll Foundation in Tel Aviv as scandalous in light of her activities against the Jewish state.