German Pirates in hot water over Nazi comparison

BERLIN Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:24pm IST

A delegate shows a voting card during an extraordinary meeting of the Pirate Party (Piraten Partei) in Dortmund April 15, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

A delegate shows a voting card during an extraordinary meeting of the Pirate Party (Piraten Partei) in Dortmund April 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ina Fassbender

Related Topics

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

BERLIN (Reuters) - A prominent member of Germany's Pirates, a new party now ranking third in opinion polls and set to enter parliament next year, has compared his group's meteoric rise to that of Adolf Hitler before 1933, sparking protests across the political spectrum.

"The ascent of the Pirate Party is proceeding as swiftly as the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazis) between 1928 and 1933," Martin Delius told Monday's edition of the weekly news magazine Spiegel. He then tweeted his remark.

The 29-year-old former software designer later apologised and withdrew from an election for the Pirates' executive board, but resisted calls to quit his post in the Berlin city assembly.

The Pirates, whose platform is based on internet freedom and more direct participation in politics, came out of nowhere last September to win seats in the city government of the capital. They are due to hold a national conference this weekend.

An offshoot of a party founded in Sweden, they have tapped into a rich vein of discontent with established parties. Recent opinion polls suggest the Pirates have now overtaken the Greens to become the third biggest party with about 13 percent support, behind only Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling conservatives and the main opposition Social Democrats.

But the Pirates, who are mostly made up of young men with a keen interest in computing, lack tact and experience and have been accused by other parties of misogyny because of their lack of women members, as well as being devoid of political content.

Worse still, in a country whose history means there is no tolerance in mainstream politics of neo-Nazi sympathies or anti-Semitism, they have suffered the embarrassment of having two members outed as former members of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).

XENOPHOBIA

The NPD also taps into disillusionment with mainstream politics but espouses xenophobic views and disagrees with the German constitution.

It is also suspected by police of links to a small far-right cell discovered late last year that carried out a decade-long murder campaign against foreigners.

The two members with an NPD past resigned late last year, but the Pirate's federal chairman Sebastian Nerz said there were "almost certainly a few more Pirates who used to be NPD".

Reacting to Delius's comment, Nerz told the top-selling Bild daily: "Everyone should think properly about what he says, about the historical analogies he draws and what effect they may have."

In a commentary, Bild said parties without an understanding of history had no place in parliament.

A candidate for the Pirates in a regional election in May in Schleswig-Holstein told Delius on Twitter: "You have not made my life any easier just now."

Other parties, which have watched the Pirates' rise with unease, jumped on Delius's gaffe.

Claudia Roth, leader of the Greens, who have suffered particularly from the Pirates' success, called the remarks an "outrageous transgression" that could not be excused by the party's lack of experience.

Senior Social Democrat lawmaker Thomas Oppermann said the "tasteless" comparison showed the Pirates had yet to clarify their view of far-right militancy.

One Pirate candidate recently criticised Israel in a Youtube clip. Bild quoted the blog of another, Bodo Thiesen, as suggesting that Germany had acted in self-defence in 1939 in attacking Poland because the Poles had ordered a general mobilisation.

(Reporting by Gareth Jones and Alice Baghdjian; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

FILED UNDER:

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Racial Unrest

Racial Unrest

Protests in Ferguson dwindle, mass arrests at California rallies.  Full Article 

Protest Leaders Banned

Protest Leaders Banned

Hong Kong student leaders banned from Mong Kok protest site.  Full Article 

Suicide Attack

Suicide Attack

Suicide bomber kills five in attack on British embassy car in Kabul - officials.  Full Article 

Nuclear Deal

Nuclear Deal

Iran Supreme Leader says not opposed to extension of nuclear talks.  Full Article 

Myanmar Reforms

Myanmar Reforms

Dinner with Suu Kyi? - No thanks, say Myanmar military.  Full Article 

Opinion Poll

Opinion Poll

Majority of Russians believe their troops are not fighting in Ukraine - poll.  Full Article 

Political Deal

Political Deal

UK edges towards federalism with Scotland powers deal.  Full Article 

Ebola Epideimic

Ebola Epideimic

Number of Ebola cases nears 16,000 as Sierra Leone loses ground - WHO.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage