Schaeuble Evokes Nazi Past to Warn Against Populist Rhetoric

  • Finance minister says mustn’t make minorities scapegoats
  • Germany to hold national parliamentary election next year

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble evoked Germany’s Nazi past to warn modern-day populists against the dangers of mimicking the harsh rhetoric used in the U.S. election.

Speaking one week after Donald Trump shocked the world by winning the presidency, Schaeuble said during a panel discussion on the U.S. election and populism in Europe: “We’ve had enough of this in Germany, we don’t need this any more. We mustn’t make minorities the scapegoats of problems we can’t solve ourselves. Whoever starts this, ends up where we once were in Germany, at the end of German history.”

Wolfgang Schaeuble

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

The German elder statesman directed his comments at the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which has been draining support from Schaeuble’s own Christian Democratic Union in part over opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy.

AfD co-leader Frauke Petry last week on Facebook congratulated Trump on his election victory and criticized Merkel for reminding the U.S. president-elect of democratic values. Trump as the most powerful man in the world means that “political correctness is finished,” she said.

“People are tired of the euphemisms and the well-meaning whitewashing of reality,” Petry said in praise of Trump’s communication style. “They’re tired of being made feel guilty. They’re tired of political parties and the media trying to make them believe that their everyday experiences aren’t real.”

Merkel said on Thursday that governments everywhere need to work to “hold societies together.” Speaking alongside President Barack Obama in Berlin, she contrasted the East German pro-democracy movement that brought down the Berlin Wall with the populist surge in Europe and U.S.

“We can’t have a situation where people associated with certain groups now say, ‘We are the people and everyone else isn’t the people,”’ Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, told reporters.

Merkel, who has declined thus far to reveal whether she will run again for a fourth term next year, has called a press conference for Sunday where she may outline her future political plans. While her party has lost support, the CDU still leads in all national polls.

Commenting on the possibility of Trump shaking up the post-World War II order, Schaeuble said Germany “will survive” and agreed with others that “the office is stronger than the incumbent.”

“We have to get along with whomever the Americans elect,” he said . While it’s unclear who will be nominated as his future U.S. counterpart, “I’ll wait to see who it will be and then we’ll work together.”

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