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Germany

German Activists Compare European Fiscal Pact To Infamous Nazi Law

The approval of European bailout measures has been widely criticized. But a German branch of the global activist group Attac went the next step, comparing the fiscal response to a 1933 law that paved the way for Hitler's regime.

Hitler's Reichstag speech in 1933 promoting the bill (German Federal Archives)
Hitler's Reichstag speech in 1933 promoting the bill (German Federal Archives)

BERLIN - Condemnation has spread in Germany over a left-wing activist group's campaign that compares the European bailout agreement to the 1933 law that paved the way for Adolf Hitler's dictatorship.

The Aachen regional group of the international global justice movement Attac sent out postcards in which the euro zone's European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and fiscal pact were compared to the 1933 Nazi Enabling Act.

Kerstin Griese, a Social Democratic Party (SPD) member of Germany's federal parliament, told Die Welt that the the Attac campaign attack demonstrated a lack of historical knowledge and "banalizes Nazi terror."

Even opponents of the fiscal pact disapproved of the comparison. "One should always ask oneself if historical comparisons --particularly with German history-- are helpful," Free Democratic Party (FDP) parliamentarian Frank Schäffler, who is known as the "Euro Rebel," told Die Welt: "I believe such comparisons are wrong."

The national Attac group has distanced itself from the campaign in Aachen, in western Germany, which was conducted without consulting them, spokeswoman Frauke Distelrath said. She added that he believed "the comparison to 1933 is incorrect..."

Distelrath said that although the German federal parliament's approval last Friday of the fiscal pact put Germany "on a course to a new order that we do not consider legitimate" and as such is a "frightening precedent," the situation cannot be compared to 1933.

Attac has 27,000 members in Germany. The organization is structured in such a way that regional groups largely act autonomously.

The so-called Enabling Act (officially, the "Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation") passed on March 24, 1933 effectively made it possible for Hitler to pass laws without their being approved by parliament.

Read the full story in German by Miriam Hollstein

Photo - German Federal Archives

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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