January 17, 2016: Attack on refugees in Germany

On this day in 2016 a man wearing a swastika-emblazoned helmet and “Hitler moustache” attacked two Afghan refugees on a ski slope in Altenberg, Germany.

DRESDEN, GERMANY – The debate over immigration levels in Western countries has been heated: this does not excuse an attack on the most vulnerable in our society.

It is both hard and easy to make fun of Adolf Hitler. The regime he led and the massacres he authorised are of course no laughing matter. At the same time, satirising Hitler has become accepted.

Two recent-ish attempts to do so have caught my eye. The first is the 2015 film Look Who’s Back which shows Hitler waking up in 2014 in Berlin. This was a brilliant, albeit risque, film which shows the dictator trying to regain popularity and power.

Then there is John Cleese in Fawlty Towers. If you have not seen this short series by the Monty Python alumnus you are indeed missing a lot.

The fact that neo-Nazism is a growing threat, and not just in Germany, is very disturbing. This faction of what is more largely called right-wing extremism (RWE) is virulently anti-Semitic, just like its forebearers.

And anti-immigrant.

On this day in 2016

A man wearing a swastika-emblazoned helmet and “Hitler moustache” attacked two Afghan refugees on a ski slope in Altenberg, Germany. He walked up to two men, insulted them and hit the younger man in the head using his helmet, causing him to fall to the ground. He continued to torment the pair until a passer-by intervened, at which point he left, but not before performing a Nazi salute.

Neo-Nazis are modern day losers pining for the past where they held power in Germany and started WWII. They have a presence in many Western nations, which I find odd as all those countries fought AGAINST Nazi Germany in the 1940s. Oh well, sometimes life defies logic.

Immigration is a contentious issue in the West as people debate acceptable levels. I happen to believe that immigration is good for us here in Canada from an economic perspective, and that we have a moral imperative to help the most vulnerable. Still, there are at least two sides to the discussion on how many immigrants to take.

What that debate cannot descend into is the use of violence against refugees and immigrants. We most certainly do not need a reappearance of neo-Nazis, here in Canada, in Germany, or anywhere else for that matter.

Better they are thrown on the ash heap of history where they belong.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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