Rebecca Pates
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Julia Leser
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Wolf packs
Pogroms, pillories and riots
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People do not vote for the AfD because they are Eastern German, but the narrative of a colonised and ‘left-behind’ East near a demographic collapse – threatened by an ‘invasion’ of ‘criminal foreigners’ and the return of ravenous wolves alike – is being taken up by a variety of parliamentary and non-parliamentary far-right entrepreneurs who frame “the East” as the real, genuinely German Germany. Whilst they consider the West as ‘lost’ to cultural decadence and ‘Islamisation’, the East has become a screen of projection for the far right’s visions of ‘national rebirth’ and as the future vantage point for ‘reconquering’ Germany. The rise in nationalist sentiment has manifested in an increase of racist attacks and far-right demonstrations. The summer of 2018 saw the comeback of one of the worst aspects of life in the East: the return of public affrays, pogroms and racist demonstrations that had been so common in the early 1990s just after the peaceful revolution. One of the aims of far-right splinter groups is to take over the public sphere in Eastern Germany by taking over urban spaces through highly visible ‘peace marches’ (against migrants), ‘silent marches’ (on the occasion of violence by refugees) and demonstrations commemorating ‘the slaughter of Dresden’ in 1945. Pogroms are not always publicly organised, however, though they are never as spontaneous as their defenders claim. They are demonstrations of power, they are intended to undermine the state’s monopoly over the legitimate use of force and they serve to intimidate the left and liberal members of civil society. We show that the political standing of Saxony, and of the Eastern German states in general, remains complicated.

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The wolves are coming back

The politics of fear in Eastern Germany


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