Germany’s Newest Far-Right Party

by Thomas Klikauer and Danny Antonelli

Werte Union
Source: screenshot of German Public TV News – 17th February 2024

Surrounded by menacing and bullish looking security guards, the former boss of the domestic intelligence agency BfV [a kind of west-German Stasi] and outspoken anti-Semitic right-wing extremist, Hans-Georg Maaßen founded yet another new far right political party at the end of February 2024. His party is called Werte Union or Values Union.

Just like disgruntled ex-CDU man Alexander Gauland, who founded the AfD to challenge the CDU, Maaßen’s one-man show also wants to challenge Germany’s traditional right – the conservative CDU.

Unlike the eleven-year-old Neo-Nazi AfD, the newly founded Values Union is also challenging Gauland’s Neo-Nazi AfD.

Maaßen’s new party runs under the outdated Cold War CDU slogan “Freedom instead of Socialism.” It is driven by a kind of McCarthy-style “reds under the beds” paranoia.

This phenomena has been known ever since Hofstadter’s 1964 seminal Harper’s Magazine article on political paranoia.

Strangely, for the founding of his party, Maaßen and his few followers gathered on a small boat on the river Rhine near Remagen. It was a rather isolated location with no journalists or public allowed.

His one-man-show – with fascist-adjacent reactionaries – wants to attract far right voters to the right of Germany’s traditional conservatives, the CDU, the party of Merkel and now Merz.

Unsurprisingly and unceremoniously, Hans-Georg Maaßen was instantly and unanimously elected party chairman – as one would expect for a carbon copy of a would-like-to-be mini-Führer on Germany’s extreme right.

Actually, Maaßen’s original plan was to return to the former capital of Germany – the city of Bonn – to set up his party. After all it is the city where he was a law student and later worked in Germany’s ministry of the interior from 1991 onward under the secret slush fund run by the CDU and linked to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Kohl’s ideological successor – Angela Merkel – appointed Maaßen boss of Germany’s domestic spy agency, the officially named Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

Maaßen was forced out in 2018 after he falsely doubted the existence of Neo-Nazi riots in Chemnitz. Not coincidentally, Chemnitz is also the hometown of Germany’s worst post-WW II Neo-Nazis killer squad, the NSU. Maaßen has a history of dismissing German Neo-Nazi terrorism.

In the meantime, the do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence ser­vices are investigating its former boss as a person of interest who may be linked to right-wing extremism. Just a few weeks after it was founded, Maaßen’s Values Union started doing what it was setup for, using online platforms to attack the CDU and its party leader Friedrich Merz. Both the party and its leader are prime targets of Maaßen’s Values Union.

Its posts on Facebook and X (Twitter), talk of Merz going the “wrong way.” And that the CDU has lost track of what it once was: working “in the tradition of the CDU of Adenauer and Kohl.”

To camouflage its right-wing extremism, the Values Union “officially” announced that it stands “for freedom, for the rule of law, and for Germany’s constitutional order of the Basic Law.” This is important for three reasons:

  1. Democracy: the Values Union needs to show Germany’s domestic intelligence that it is a democratic political party even though it subscribes to radical authoritarianism and is seeking a military dictatorship.
  2. Academics: the Values Union also needs to pretend, for the unsuspecting, naïve, and easy to con scholars and academics, that it is a democratic party. This is done precisely so that no unfavorable report on the party will ever appear in a scholarly journal. This should work well, as it did in the case of the AfD; and finally:
  3. Voters: the Values Union needs to convince the voters it wants to attract from the Germany’s conservatives (e.g. CDU) – and all potential future voters from other parties – that it is just another conservative party. This too should work quite ell, since many conservatives aren’t too concerned about democracy. They are concerned about power and how to get it – even via a Machtergreifung (power grab), if need be.

The website of the Values Union is structured in such a way that it reflects the above outlined three key points. Beyond that, Maaßen confirmed that “we just want to go back to the future.”

Anyone who has seen the classic film will know that is code for “30 years back into the past” if not even further back, beyond the lost war to a time when one party ruled the entire nation with an iron will.

He also said, that the future is bound by values. On the surface this seems to mean recycling the values that once made “old Germany” strong, that is, made the old CDU strong. But that is also a ruse, given his penchant for anti-democratic rule by one.

The Maaßen party plan does not aspire to cope with the problems facing us today and, above all, those we will face tomorrow: the uninhabitable earth, the 6th mass extinction as expressed by the UN’s Guterres, “we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”

The Maaßen party plan is to oppose “climate neutrality targets for 2050, arguing against what it views as ideologically driven energy policies. Instead, it advocates for the revival of low-cost base-load [coal] power plants and the potential reactivation of decommissioned nuclear facilities.”

That kind of a plan is likely to lead Germany into the abyss of Dante’s global inferno. It is unlikely to lead Germany into any kind of pleasurable future.

The Values Union is already the second new party this year founded by a prominent person. The Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht was the first. With the emergence Maaßen’s Values Union and BSW, many people are wondering “is there a trend towards extreme parties?” “Is this a replay of the final days of the Weimar Republic?”

That scenario ended in creating the most hellish places our Earth has ever seen, Auschwitz and a total of over 44,000 concentration camps.

Yes. You read that number correctly. 44,000. These camps included the killing camps: “The first one, which opened in December 1941, was Chelmno, where Jews and Roma were gassed in mobile gas vans.

In 1942, the Nazis opened the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka killing centers.” One might even speculate that Maaßen’s Values Union is the closest party to Weimar’s anti-democratic Deutschnationale Volkspartei (DNVP), German National People’s Party, who aided and abetted the eventual overthrow of democracy.

During the 1930s, the DNVP presented the Volksgemeinschaft that sought to eliminate all social classes in favor of the Aryan Volk and was dedicated to a strong leader.

The DNVP was one of the main authoritarian parties of Weimar Germany (1918-1933). The DNVP moved to the radical right after coming under the control of press baron Alfred Hugenberg in 1928.

This was turbo-charged by the ultra-militaristic Stahlhelm. In 1933, the DNVP was very thrilled join Hitler’s coalition government.

With the Values Union being a kind of “new DNVP” on the horizon, it appears as if Germany has become part of the worldwide right-wing trend in recent years. This means that Germany’s large parties have been losing a substantial amount of voters.

This magic trick has been accompanied by a fragmentation of Germany’s political landscape, filling the political space with more smaller and often rather marginalized parties that siphon off the discontented and ill-informed from the mainstream parties. Maaßen and his Values Union are another indicator that these small parties are proliferating, but not necessarily getting stronger individually.

The Values-Union DNVP-remake wants to participate in the upcoming state elections in Thuringia, Saxony, and Brandenburg in September this year. Registration deadlines for the European elections in June 2024 have already expired, so that contest is out of the question this time around.

In the 3 eastern states the party is likely to position itself to the right of the CDU – similar to the DNVP in the early 1930s. In those 3 states it will compete with the AfD, BSW and a plethora of smaller local parties.

The most dangerous for the fragmentation of the right-wing vote are parties like the anti-vaxxer dieBasis; the group of right-wing parties under the BfT banner aka the Free Voters Thuringia; the BD alliance that has members in all of Germany, and the BVB/FW which is an amalgam of Free Voters and others in Brandenburg.

The Values Union also wants to show a face of itself that smiles as if it is a willing partner of the CDU. Like the DNVP of the 1930s that was talking to Hitler’s Nazi party, Maaßen has announced that he will be “willing to talk” to the Neo-Nazi AfD as well.

Maaßen’s plan is to bleed away voters from both parties and fill the gap between the conservative CDU and the Neo-Nazi AfD.

Maaßen lives in a political hallucination. The gap between the not-so-progressive CDU, which he thinks has left the path of conservative values, and the outright Neo-Nazi AfD is not really a chasm. It’s more like a small crack, perhaps a fault line. Maaßen publicly opines that the AfD has become a bit too radical.

This is obviously a subterfuge-like positioning, because for strategic reasons Maaßen still sees both the CDU and the AfD as potential partners that will enhance his own political standing.

The Values Union seeks to capture Germany’s petit bourgeois, conservatives, free market believers, national liberals, and the even more ideological libertarians, positioned on the conservative side of Germany’s classic social democrats (SPD). He also imagines he will be able to attract voters from the SPD’s conservative side, the so-called Helmut Schmidt fringe.

A decade ago this fringe received a boost with Thilo Sarrazin’s right-wing propaganda piece that – again – insinuated the Decline of the West, a popular theme of German reactionary thinking ever since Oswald Spenger.

Representing all these various kinds of posturing are Maaßen’s equally toxic bedfellows, Alexander Mitsch, a former Vice Admiral, Kay-Achim Schönbach (German militarism is never far off when its far right assembles), and the former CDU member of Germany’s parliament and former electrician Albert Weiler.

The draft of the founding program of the Values Union includes statements that are also available in very similar language in the program of the Neo-Nazi AfD. This too is not new. In the 1930s the DNVP had similar language to Hitler’s Nazi party. Historically, much of this is nothing new.

The Values Union says “we are for the dismantling of the party state and for the expansion of the rule of the people.” It fancies the introduction of plebiscitary elements such as the referendum. Similarly, the AfD says, “we want to give the people the right to vote against laws decided by parliament.” The current system of parliamentarian democracy is to be abolished or curtailed.

Working from the same fascist playbook as Trump, Putin and the AfD, Hans-Georg Maaßen locates the CDU as belonging to the much despised and hated “left-green camp” – the camp of Germany’s progressives and environmentalists. During the era of the DNVP (1930s), the imagined enemy was the communist party, the KPD.

Today this position is occupied by Germany’s environmentalist party, the (we can tolerate capitalism) Greens. The Greens are hated with a passion by the reactionary fringe of the CDU, Maaßen’s Values Union, and even more so by the Neo-Nazi AfD because they advocate critical thinking and implement actual programs that will benefit the environment.

Right-wing populists always need an enemy they can demonize and then eventually murder with no interference from a conscience. Even this is nothing new. Ever since Nazi party member Carl SchmittNSDAP Mitgliedsnummer: 2,098,860 – advocated the complete destruction of the enemy, all right-wing authoritarians have incorporated this credo into their canon.

Meanwhile, the authoritarian Hans-Georg Maaßen remains a highly controversial person. While Maaßen pretends to be a traditionalist and promotes himself as the guardian of the CDU of Adenauer and Kohl, he fails to recognize that this is not the 1950s (Adenauer) nor the 1980s (Kohl).

This appeal to a nostalgic past that never was is precisely what makes Maaßen a dangerous reactionary. He wants to turn the clock back a few decades – perhaps to even before 1945.

A grain of hope is that a party, whose foundation was decided by a few hundred mostly older white men, will not be able to cope with the challenges of the modern electoral marketplace.

Who really wants a disgraced former spook to be in charge of anything? Especially one with an outdated Cold War ideology who wants us all to live in the past. Without TikTok and YouTube? OMG!

Unfortunately, in election campaigns what once upon a time were actual nightmares are dressed up in new glittering costumes and sold as idyllic dreams of a once glorious past. Nihilist authoritarian parties can never formulate positive plans for the future.

Like the Sex Pistols proclaimed: there is No Future under fascist regimes. Nebulously, Maaßen and his Values Union promise a “change of direction in almost all central policy areas.”

Behind this fog of war lurks an authoritarian hard-core domestic policy and a rigid and reactionary social policy with little mercy for the weak. It is Hitler’s “Volksgemeinschaft 2.0.”

Of course to keep in goose-step with his fellow travelers on the right this includes a very restrictive immigration policy in which even minors should not receive any mercy. The AfD actually once advocated the shooting of refugee children at Germany’s borders.

There will also be pressure for the assimilation of immigrants. Either one fits into our Volksgemeinschaft or F*** off. It rings a bell very similar to the bell the AfD is ringing. It is also spiced up with strong positions against Islam, even actual hostility against the religion and its followers.

It conjures up images of the Abendland which has to be defended against non-Aryans. Here too, the Values Union is once again close to the AfD. It is almost like one can take an old speech by the 1930s DNVP or Hitler’s Nazi party and replace the word “Jew” with “Moslem.”

The people around Maaßen – and Maaßen himself – have no real problem with the Neo-Nazi AfD. Rather, there is a so-called “virulent criticism” of all positions to the left of those considered to be socialist, communist, and those Maaßen calls “left-wing extremist.”

Maaßen’s electoral strategy is that if the AfD were to come close to a majority of parliamentary seats in the upcoming eastern state elections, Maaßen’s Values Union (if they manage to get into any state parliament) would assist the AfD to get into power.

Just as the DNVP was once Hitler’s willing executioners, today, Maaßen’s Values Union will be the willing executioners that will get the Neo-Nazi AfD into power.

Indications are that there seems to be some political space opening up between the conservative CDU and the Neo-Nazi AfD. Maaßen’s reactionary Values Union is watering at the mouth with the hope that they can fill that space.

The upcoming state elections in Thuringia, Saxony, and Brandenburg in September of this year will show whether or not Maaßen’s calculated bid to establish a third political party on Germany far right will succeed.

Born on the foothills of Castle Frankenstein, Thomas Klikauer is the author of over 950 publications including a book on Alternative für Deutschland: The AfD – published by Liverpool University Press.

Danny Antonelli grew up in the USA, now lives in Hamburg, Germany and writes radio plays, stories and is a professional lyricist and librettist.

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