The vicious debate around claims that Hubert Aiwanger—the leader of the Freie Wahler party and deputy head of the Bavarian government—circulated antisemitic pamphlets as a high schooler almost 35 years ago illustrates how shallowly tensions over historical memory are buried in Germany and how quickly they can resurface.
Since Donald Trump’s shock victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election many commentators have compared his rise with the victory of the anti-EU Leave campaign in the referendum over the U.K.’s EU membership the same year. Yet too often such comparisons have ignored huge differences between these political earthquakes.
The surge of support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party to over 20 percent in recent polls has led to growing concern over the future of democracy in Germany. Yet even as momentum builds for the AfD, a far-left movement is more quietly preparing their own campaigns to dismantle the country’s political status quo.