As a German I have often asked myself how a country can fall. My country of birth fell far beyond the deepest abyss. How else could one describe what happened: a European country that developed an industrial-scale killing machinery designed to eradicate lives. Millions of them.
I have never found growing up in a country with that history easy. But that is, of course, not the point at all: this history is not a story about my feelings. It is the story about a murderous fascist regime and the lives it extinguished. This fact must never be forgotten.
If anything, I think it's good that I felt uneasy growing up in Germany. It's what forced me to frequently confront the question I began with: How could Germany get to the point of carrying out systematic mass murder? Like questions about other atrocities, eg in Rwanda, this too
has no simple answer. We can cite ideology; some undoubtedly were willing executioners while others chose to look away. Ultimately, the story is complex, its outcome always tragic. But one point is clear: the downfall of Germany did not begin with genocide—that is where it ended.
At this point in this thread (at the very latest), some will say that 1930s Germany is not 2020. They are right: it is impossible, and would be wrong, to draw direct parallels with a decade that is nearly a century removed from ours. I am not suggesting that we do.
But historical developments can inform how we interpret what is happening today. Understanding them can help us make sense of the present. And that is what we must try because there is nothing normal about what happened in Parliament last night. Nothing familiar.
It was brazen for the UK Government to announce the intention of breaking international law with the Internal Market Bill. For a majority of Parliamentarians to support that, however, is not just brazen; is not simply a dark moment. It is as pitch black as it gets in a democracy.
What if not respect for the rule of law is a responsibility that we can all unite behind? As others have rightly noted, this is not about Brexit or even the union. It is simply about what is right and wrong. The answer to that question does not come in a limited and specific way:
it comes only in the way of what is right. Breaking the law is not right. I have now witnessed the country I chose to make my home dismantle itself for 4+ years. Sometimes slowly, often at speed. Dismantle what it stood for; dismantle every standard in the land; its reputation.
Lies - normalised. Hatred - normalised. The proroguing of Parliament - normalised. Forcing over three million people, neighbours, colleagues, friends and family, to apply to stay or face deportation - normalised. No deal - normalised. Now the breaking of the law is next in line.
The problem is that each normalisation plays with fire and eventually that fire becomes uncontrollable. If trust in politicians, in institutions and the rule of law is further undermined, there is a real danger of collapse. Mr Cummings may well rejoice at the thought of that,
but nobody else should even contemplate it. Look at the US to see what happens when democracy itself becomes hollowed out to the point that post boxes are being removed to prevent people from voting and white supremacists are praised by the President.
But it can't happen in the UK, right? Of course it can. There is no magic shield. We know of far right vigilantism on the Kent coast and hotels around the country, asylum seekers being hounded. We know of the British Union of Fascists' flag being openly displayed on Trafalgar Sq.
We know of the deliberately manufactured ‘culture war’ about the Proms that was designed solely to create further division; we know of the accusations of 'wokeness'. And then remember too how peace in Northern Ireland is being jeopardized without even the blink of an eye.
This would be bad enough on its own, but now couple it with the Covid crisis. This is the UK’s perfect storm. And that brings me back to Germany’s downfall. Its initial trigger was not genocide nor concentration camps; it was not Nazi ideology. It was Germany's own perfect storm.
It developed for different reasons specific to the German national story - one reason why we must not blur or confuse it with what is happening in the UK now; that would be both ahistorical and wrong. But there is one thing I need everyone to understand: Germany's perfect storm
might well have passed, but it consolidated instead. There were different factors, but a vital one was the hollowing out of democracy and the undermining of the rule of law. That is why, as a German, I ask every MP to understand that. I ask them to look at Hungary and the US to
see what that can mean in 2020. This is not about parallels, its about common patterns. Recognizing them and understanding them in their context helps us. I truly hope MPs in the UK will use that help to stop that perfect storm from consolidating here.
I cannot predict what its outcome would be if that fails - history no longer helps us with that. But Brexit is premised on stripping away rights that much we know. The possibility of that continuing unchecked does not bode well for anybody, no matter your political views. /end
PS: If the issue is that people tell you this is over the top/ scaremongering/ impossible here and now, ask them just one question: what is their red line, i.e. what would make them think a country is failing. This won’t work for all, but I’ve found it a good hook for discussion.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Prof Tanja Bueltmann

Prof Tanja Bueltmann Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @cliodiaspora

27 Aug
We need to be clear about what the Home Office video means. Yes, it attacks the integrity of the legal profession. Yes, that effectively undermines the rule of law. Yes, it's basically politicised anti-immigrant propaganda. Yes, it's a dog-whistle tactic to cause outrage. BUT ...
... what this really shows us is a further undermining of standards and established conventions. The Civil Service Code and propriety guidance apply, and in line with those the video is wholly inappropriate. Yet it's there. Whoever authorised this, and those who continue to ...
... undermine standards in ways shown here are playing with fire and nobody will be able to control it eventually. If trust in institutions, the Civil Service and the rule of law are further undermined, there is a real danger of a complete collapse. This game can only be ...
Read 10 tweets
13 Jun
For the last four years, I’ve been told that I don’t belong here, that I’m a threat to this country because I, as a German, am a “Nazi wh%re”, a “Nazi c%nt” etc ... told that by the types of people now standing close to the Cenotaph doing Nazi salutes.
The UK urgently needs to recognise what has been unleashed and normalised by Brexit because that is a vital context for what is happening today. Sure, EDL etc have been around for much longer, but the fact is that the far right has never been more emboldened.
PS: I’ve watched several videos, not just the one most widely shared. Plus eye witness accounts. There were Nazi salutes. Yet outright denial and many attempts to downplay are everywhere—and not just by the many bots who’ve crawled out to spread that narrative.
Read 5 tweets
10 Jun
Let me tell you something expressly as a German: For change to come & last, it isn’t enough to be horrified by past atrocities or outraged by defenses of slavers. The past must be confronted directly and collectively by the nation. To do that, people need to be willing to see.
That won’t be pleasant. It would likely be quite soul-destroying sometimes. But how else to even try and move forward? Germany’s approach is far from perfect (as the rise of the AfD etc shows for example), but Neil MacGregor is right with his assessment:…
Germany had a moment of ‘seeing’ in the 1980s. As I explained in a thread about my own upbringing and being a German, this also relates having a sense of collective responsibility (which, to add here, does not equal guilt; I don’t think it’s about that).
Read 12 tweets
28 May
I understand that this. But what this means fills me with dread and actually fear. We need to start talking about this and come up with better solutions. People on their own, those shielding etc can’t be left without proper human contact for potentially well over a year.
More if all goes wrong .... I’ve been concerned about this for some time. Partly because this is my own story, so it’s very immediate. But primarily because I can’t understand why nobody seems to be looking into this, discuss ideas etc. And don’t forget: there are also people
who don’t even have virtual tools for contact etc. That too is being neglected. /end
Read 4 tweets
9 May
Brexit has happened so yes, on the main goal we failed. But today, on #EuropeDay, let me remind you that you built the strongest pro-EU movement and network. That doesnt change anything about Brexit, but it still counts for a lot. Here are some of my favourite memories. [Thread] Image
People protesting for what they believe in. Image
People sharing the same values. Image
Read 17 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!