The silent murder of Walter Lübcke



On June 2 this year, Walter Lübcke, a regional politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was found dead in his home. Lübcke was found with a bullet wound in the head, suggesting a sniper had shot him on the veranda of his private residence. The long-time politician and president of the regional council of the central German city of Kassel in the state of Hesse since 2009, who represented the CDU in the area for more than 30 years, has been described in local news reports as a broadly popular figure with a common and people-oriented approach.

While police investigations are still ongoing, many commentators believe that a political motive for the killing is not to be ruled out. In fact, Lübcke was famous for his pro-immigrant stance. In 2015, following the influx of refugees from war-torn Syria and Iraq, Lübcke argued during a public meeting, facing representatives of a local branch of the anti-Muslim Pegida-movement: “You have to stand up for your values. If you don’t share those values, then anyone is free to leave this country if they don’t agree.” Following these statements, he received death threats and even his private address was published on the far-right blog PI News, which is being investigated by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s secret service.

In addition, members of the Reichsbürger movement, an organization that rejects the legitimacy of the German state and believes it is still occupied by the Allied powers, criticized Lübcke’s defense of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pro-immigration policy. Only this year in February, footage of his remarks from October 2015 was re-shared by right-wing bloggers.

Even following the killing of Lübcke, far-right accounts on social media celebrated his death. Germany’s minister of interior, Horst Seehofer, called this behavior a “decline of human morality.” While the police are still investigating, bigger questions should be addressed: Where is the outcry? Where is the public debate about right-wing extremism, anti-Muslim discourse and violence?
As many critical commentators have argued in the past, most famous TV programs that debate current issues, such as Maischberger-Talk on the public German TV station, are not only debating the role of Islam in Germany extraordinarily often, but they are also discussing these issues in a biased and one-sided manner. Imagine if some Jihadist motive would have been revealed to the public following the murder. No doubt that on the very same day, TV panel programs would start inviting so-called Islam experts to discuss the threat of violent Islamism and headlines would feature articles on the same topic. But when a murder stands alone against anti-immigrant and racist views that are disseminated by leading anti-Muslim blogs, there is widespread silence. Is the German public half blind?

While some TV producers such as Frank Plasberg from the famous TV panel discussion “Hart aber Fair” (Hard but Fair) argue that they won’t invite super far-right politicians such as Alexander Gauland anymore, the problem is not so much the invitation of right-wing actors alone but rather that the discourse itself has shifted so much to the extreme that the far-right’s political claims have become normalized. They don’t have to be there physically to get their political views spread in mainstream media.

Even more problematic is the silence; the absence of discussions following the murders of politicians who defend the values of tolerance and are targets of racism from the organized far-right.

* Senior scholar at Georgetown University’s The Bridge Initiative and research scholar in the Department of Political Science at the University of Salzburg



2 replies

  1. No, I disagree it is not the absence of discussions about right-wing parties in Germany, the problem is that the absence of discussions about Germany`s internal problems like the continously increasing taxes & fees while public services and salaries are decreasing. We are suffering for many crisis that are simply ignored by the government for many years, such as no affordable accommodations, salary dumping by foreigners, banking sector rescue cost, relocation of jobs to APAC and Eastern Europe, health care crisis, education crisis, law enforcement crisis, jurisdiction crisis, no secure pension schemes anymore, reduced welfare & unemployment support, not enough elderly care, no kindergarten places, bad maintenance of infrastructure etc. etc. …and the corporations and rich elites refuse to bear their fair share of tax burdens.

    German people are told frequently, Germany is doing fine. But people know it is not true at all. The corporations might gain top profits but profits are not distributed within society anymore. In fact, Italian private households are more wealthy than Germans…nevertheless we have to transfer money to Italy because Italians and Greeks are not willing to pay taxes. Public assets are privatized (e.g. social housing) to improve liquidity nevertheless debts of communities are rising.

    To put it in a nutshell, The German government is proud on the so called “Black Zero” (which means no increase of public debts) but the German tax payer has to bear the burden of increasing cost without getting any return. There are so many broken promises…and mismanagement due to corporate lobbyism and international politics.
    Germany is the major paymaster for everybody.
    Criticism is silenced. People are also frustrated because they are not able to participate in politics and cannot follow any of the old political parties anymore because they do not represent the will of the people. I feel the same. Most Germans agree with parties just ref. specific topics but they cannot suppport the entire political party & programs.

    That is the reason why the right wing party AfD appeared in 2016. And why the liberal environmentalist, green party is growing and might get majority share (and not the right-wing!). Germany is very unique. We are the only country with a leading green party that might exceed the governing SPD/CDU soon.

    The refugee crisis is utilized to mobilize frustrated people. Refugees and illegal migrants are utilized as scapegoats. But this is just half of the truth. In fact, the criticism is correct. The migration from 3rd countries but also intra-EU is worsening the crisis in Germany.
    And it is the right of the people to question policies of the German government that is frequently blackmailed internationally and exploited by global corporations.

    In my view, it is high-time to discuss a future concept of the German society without any restriction by “political correctness”.
    Public media like ARD, ZDF, etc. are abused to educate people in line with the governments policies. People know this approach because in contrast to other countries without free education, Germans are still quite educated and informed.

    It is the right of the bio Germans to decide how their tax money is used (e.g. we are not happy about increasing budget, EU & NATO membership is also subject to discussion) and how much and whom they want to support – not limited to migration issues.

    The self-censorship has poisoned German society in my view. And it is not acceptable to insult different opinions by calling them Nazi or right-wing extremists.
    Or by excluding politicians from media channels. I don`t follow Mr Gauland but he is not so far right like you let him look like. Basically, we cannot exclude anybody in a democracy.

    No, right wing parties & policies in Germany and Europe are intensively discussed in Germany but unfortunately it is ignored that their criticism is justified very much.
    Their conclusions and root-cause analysis might be wrong (for populist reasons only, I assume) but they highlight the correct problems. They are talking the uncomfortable truth.
    I appreciate their voice as opposition but I would never ever support right-wing politics.
    In a democracy, the people have to discuss the whole range of opinions to find consensus. If everybody is unhappy, the compromise is acceptable – even if it is probably painful.

    As the Eastern Germans during protests said: We are the people. And we want to have a say. I think, the right-wing shift can be stopped if the government listen to the people and do their job, they are paid for by the tax payer…which is serve the will of the people.

  2. I`d like to add that the opinion poll April 2019 showed the biggest concern of Germans…They doubt that their government is trustworthy and qualified enough to solve their problems. They feel betrayed, infantilized, exploited and fed with lies – across all political parties.

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