“Niedrige Beweggründe”

Low motivations, base motives.

Germany’s new justice minister (and consumer protection minister, since that office was moved to the justice department under the new coalition) is Heiko Maas (S.P.D.). In January 2014 he refused to legalize dragnet surveillance in Germany as written into the new government’s coalition agreement, saying he wanted to wait until the European Court of Justice’s upcoming decision. Surprisingly, this worked, thus pivoting or at least pausing one aspect of the grosse Koalition’s “respectlessness” toward data protection, as writer and activist Julie Zeh called it.

Now Mr. Maas has announced he wants to redefine murder and manslaughter in Germany’s penal code, saying the current laws include Nazi-era language such as “low motivations” that was intended to describe not an act but an actor, a murderer as imagined by Hitler’s jurists, furthermore using “morally loaded attitude attributes” [moralisch aufgeladene Gesinnungsmerkmale]. Among other problems, defining crimes by the person instead of the deed is out of step with the system now used in Germany’s criminal laws.

In 1941, he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Nazis changed the country’s definition of murder to include the following:

[W]hoever, because of a lust for murder, to satisfy sexual urges or otherwise because of low motivations, dastardly or cruelly (…) kills a person

[“wer aus Mordlust, zur Befriedigung des Geschlechtstriebs, aus Habgier oder sonst aus niedrigen Beweggründen, heimtückisch oder grausam (…) einen Menschen tötet“]

Mr. Maas said the courts did Germany a service by even figuring out how to apply such a bad law. He announced that a group of experts will set to work to provide a good foundation for the upcoming discussion in parliament, “whose job it is now to give the courts better laws.”

(NEE driggah   bev EGG grin dah.)

Parteiengesetz

“Political parties law,” which defines some German election rules.

An Armistice Day article in Spiegel.de on the continuance of the neonazi-legacy N.P.D. party’s temporary loss of government political party financing due to “chaotic bookkeeping” mentioned some interesting aspects of German public financing of political parties and the parties’ reporting obligations. Under the Parteiengesetz, the German government gives all parties that receive at least 0.5% of the vote in Bundestag or European Union elections, and/or 1% in state elections, 85 eurocents for each vote received in E.U., Bundestag and German state parliamentary elections. That is reduced to 70 eurocents per vote >4 million votes. “Also, for each euro a party receives as a membership fee or donation, up to 3300 euros, the government pays another 38 eurocents.”

This money is paid to the parties in quarterly installments.

Spiegel.de said the N.P.D.’s financial trials began in 2007 when a Thuringian N.P.D. official named Golkowski was caught using fake donation receipts in order to get more matching funds from the government. This may have been going on since the 1990’s. The error was compounded by the so-called “chaotic bookkeeping” in that year’s year-end reporting that should have been glass-clear in order to avoid more trouble but in which party treasurer Köster apparently misplaced almost 900,000 euros by using the wrong tables at one point. As per the Parteiengesetz, the N.P.D. had to return the inappropriately obtained donation-matching funds (almost 900,000 euros) and pay a fine double that amount. Accordingly, the Bundestag announced the N.P.D. would be fined 2.5 million euros for the malfeasance, but in December 2012 the supreme constitution court in Karlsruhe, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, reduced the fine to 1.27 million euros because, they said, the Bundestag had overlooked the fact that the radical right-wing party had provided “coherent/conclusive explanations” [“schlüssig erläutert“] of some of the points they were accused of. In May 2013, in response to the N.P.D.’s accelerated appeal to the supreme constitutional court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht said the government would have to pay the N.P.D.’s 15 May 2013 and 15 Aug 2013 quarterly payments “in advance” until a final court decision in the main hearing on the fine’s legality; this financed the party until at least the 22 Sep 2013 Bundestag election.

On 11 Nov 2013, the Bundesverfassungsgericht announced that the neonazi party’s fine would not be cancelled more yet and their 15 Nov 2013 payment can now be stopped. Although the N.P.D. had filed an accelerated appeal to the nation’s highest court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht said the party had not exhausted its relevant appeals in Berlin. The N.P.D. said they need this money now more than ever, with the E.U. Parliament election coming up.

Spiegel.de’s chart shows government contributions to the N.P.D. from 2003 to 2011. Red bar numbers represent government contributions in millions of euros. Beige bar numbers are government funding’s percentage of total N.P.D. income that year.

(Pot EYE en gezz ETZ.)

Achtung, die Historiker kommen

“Here come the historians.” For about a year now, reported tagesschau.de, historians have been studying the influence of ex-Nazis within post-WWII German federal ministries other than the Foreign Service (which a historians commission already investigated from 2005 to 2010 at Joschka Fischer’s instigation). At Justice, for example, historians found nearly half the top bureaucrats after WWII had a Nazi past or “eine sehr starke NS-Belastung,” “a quite strong Nazi load.” The head of the Chancellery (Adenauer’s chief of staff) for ten years after the war had helped write the “race laws” in the 1930’s, for example.

Marburg historian Eckart Conze said Joschka’s initial investigation found more Nazis worked at high positions in the Foreign Office e.g. in 1951–52 than in 1937–38.

To uncover more NSDAP-related sins of omission and commission in West German legislation, regulation and adjudication, the historians want to continue the project by churning through thousands of relevant documents that have not yet been read through in this investigation.

(OCHH toong,   dee   hist OR ick ah   COM men.)

Mumiensturm

“Storm of mummies.” Joschka Fischer was in the German Green Party the first time it managed to join a ruling federal coalition. He became foreign minister (Secretary of State). Years later it turned out the Foreign Office (State Department) had a cadre of elderly and/or retired diplomats who objected to the new government’s decision to stop publishing obituaries of colleagues who had been former nazis, egregious former nazis in the case they chose to start a ruckus over, in the foreign ministry’s small in-house magazine.

Joschka convened an international “Historians Commission” that spent five years researching the history of ex-nazis in the post-WWII German foreign service. They brought sunlight to a problem that had been made possible by, among other things, the fact that FO was the only cabinet ministry allowed to manage its own document archive and thus control and rewrite its own history; all the other cabinet ministries had had to submit their documents to a central federal government archive. Joschka was particularly irked by the following issue as well: there had been a few brave German diplomats during the 1930’s and 40’s who tried to resist the nazis; most were killed for their troubles; and they tended to be communists. After the war, many of the diplomats with a nazi past or who supported post-nazi colleagues pretended to have been in the resistance. Right wingers hiding behind the communists, Joschka called them. He also called their obituary-based revolution a “mummies storm” like in the Brendan Fraser movies.

(MOOM ee en SHTOORM.)

Durchhaltefilme

“Holding-out films.” Carry-on films in England. Late-WWII Nazi propaganda films that encouraged people to keep struggling in the face of Nazi-imposed adversities. Most have been rightfully tossed on the rubbish heap of history; one is still watched and is a feel-good equivalent of The Wizard of Oz. 1944’s Die Feuerzangenbowle, named after a hot schnapps punch prepared by setting beet sugar afire. Heinz Rühmann and some old friends are drinking punch and make a wager that they can go back to high school and enjoy schoolboy pranks.

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