The co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany nationalist party dismissed the importance of the years the country suffered Nazi rule as nothing but a “speck of bird poop” in Germany’s history. Politicians from across the spectrum came out in full force to condemn the statement, saying it shows the true face of the AfD.
At a gathering of the anti-immigrant party’s youth movement, Alexander Gauland said that while Germans do have to take responsibility for the 12 years of Nazi leadership, he argued it was not worth spending too much time on the issue. “We have a glorious history and it, dear friends, lasted longer than those blasted 12 years,” he said. “Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.” Although the AP translates Gauland’s statement as “bird poop,” Reuters and DPA both use the less euphemistic “bird shit.”
The secretary general of the leading Christian Democratic Party, which is led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, was one of the many to condemn the statement. “Fifty million victims of war, the Holocaust and all-out war are for the AfD and Gauland just ‘bird shit.’ This is what the party looks like behind its civic mask,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wrote on Twitter. Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the Social Democrats, blasted Gauland for trivializing the era in history. “It is a disgrace that such characters sit in parliament,” he said. Katrin Göring-Eckardt of the Green Party, meanwhile, said the statement showed the importance of why it’s important to push back against a minority that is filled with hate.
The meteoric rise of the AfD has raised concerns because it can no longer be described as a fringe party considering it is the third-largest in parliament and now the largest opposition party.