"The most dangerous books are those, no one one has read, but about which everyone has an opinion. "
DEUTSCHLAND SCHAFT SICH AB: Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen
by Thilo Sarrazin
ONLY AVAILABLE IN GERMAN
Sarrazin's book, Deutschland Schaft Sich Ab [Germany Abolishes Itself], caused a storm of protest when it first appeared in 2010. Despite this, his ideas met with widespread approval generally among the German public. The first edition sold out within days and the book then became difficult to obtain. Those who shouted the loudest in objection were regularly exposed as not having read it, despite consistently trying to discourage others from doing so either. Written before the current massive influx of immigrants, (something Sarrazin estimates will cost the German taxpayer in excess of €1.5 billion), the political establishment in German was outraged. Many of the newcomers, according to latest prognostications, are likely to be life-long recipients of welfare benefits. The most popular selling political author in recent years, Sarrazin has touched a raw nerve denouncing post war immigration and multiculturalism as dismal failures. Germany's élite ought to have seen it coming. He was long known for his outspoken comments and was reprimanded a number of times for expressing his views whilst serving in public office. He was censured for his remarks on the social and educational reputation of Berlin. Suggesting cuts in social payments, he reckoned those in receipt of benefits could eat well on less than €4 a day were they to be more careful with their money. As a result of such remarks, Mr Sarrazin was suspended from his job at the Bundesbank by Christian Wulf, the Federal President. (Wulf resigned as president in 1012 when facing charges of alleged corruption as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, but from which he was acquitted by the Hanover regional court in 2014.)
Significant is that the book did not come from the right of politics. Sarrazin was a longstanding member of the SPD of almost forty years. However, he had become an embarrassment and in August 2010 an investigation was launched into whether he could remain in the party. Although initially the party quickly decided they would expel him, by the end of the same week the headquarters were besieged with over 4000 emails and hundreds of phone calls expressing outrage at his treatment. By April 2011, it was decided that he could stay, but he was warned by key committee chairman Sebastian Edathy that should he not curb his comments the party would look at his membership again. [Edathy's own membership of the SPD was later to come under scrutiny. He resigned 'for health reasons' in February 2014, just two days before his home and offices were searched on allegations of the possession of child pornography. The suspicions are that someone gave him warning of the coming raids. His eventual trial was halted and he was not convicted of the charges.] To rid themselves of Sarrazin would be no easy matter for the SPD. Even the leadership of the conservative CDU, Merkel's party, and the sister party in Barvaria, CSU,were taken to task over critical comments made about Sarrazin's book and the censures by the Chancellor herself and the letters and emails of protest piled up. Peter Hauk, the state parliamentary floor leader for the Christian Democrats in Baden-Württemberg made clear: "In my opinion, it's not enough to simply criticise Mr Sarrazin. Nine out of ten letters that I presently receive say that Thilo Sarrazin is right."
Sarrazin has much to say about immigration and the failure to integrate or assimilate. Germans tend to remember the words of the current Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visiting in 2008, who said: "No one can expect you to subject yourselves to assimilation, because assimilation is a crime against humanity." The author also has much to say about the falling standards of German education particularly in larger cities in the north and Berlin and also in technical universities throughout the country. He has much to say on demographic issues: the rapid increase in the numbers of immigrant births and the declining birthrate among Germans. "The Turks are conquering Germany the way the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: with a higher birth rate." Many of these matters are not things politicians particularly want to hear about.
In the book, Thilo Sarrazin makes clear his acceptance of a restrictive immigration policy that allows highly skilled workers into the country. He is a supporter of reducing state welfare benefits, something bound to have set him on a collision course with his own Social Democratic Party. He says: "I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the State that provides welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls." This sentiment will find more than an echo in the UK. He goes on to say with respect to Islam, "No other religion in Europe makes so many demands. No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare State and crime. No group emphasizes their differences so strongly in public, especially through women's clothing. In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid." Sarrazin's demands are for stringent welfare reform. His calculations demonstrate that at the current rate their population growth may well overwhelm the German population in a couple of generations.
Thilo Sarrazin’s reflections on eugenics are even more controversial. A nation will have generally more or less gift, intelligence or intellectual ability according to its genetic makeup. He offers the Jews as an example of a highly gifted people. In view of the no so distant German past, this mixture of Jews and eugenics is highly sensitive and emotive. His assertions may or may not be true. I must leave this for others to judge. For me, culture and history are more formative than my parent’s genes, although certainly they cannot be set to one side and on a national level one will feed the other. This would be ‘nurture’ or ‘nature’ on a national level.
In some instances, the author may be accused of hyperbole, nevertheless, wherever we stand on these issues, Thilo Sarrazin's arguments must be heard and cannot be disposed of by a torrent of invective language and abuse. Let those who have opposing arguments bring them, let us hear them, but those who have nothing useful to say beyond abuse ought rather to keep quiet than make their ignorance public.
From the Introduction:
“In the economic and socio-political very successful decades since the Second World War, Germany has had pride in the industriousness and efficiency of her citizens in the continually increasing standard of living and the ever-growing welfare state. The four great economic crises ― 1966/67, 1974/75, 1981/82 and finally 2008/09 did little harm to this pride and trust in the solidarity of her own economic and social model. … This basic optimism and the decades of almost unclouded success have, however, clouded the clarity of vision of Germans for the jeopardy and rotting process within society. … ‘Germany Abolishes Itself’ what an absurd fear many will think. …
For decades, no one dared to speak of the consequences of the fall in the birth rate, if one did not wish to be suspected of following popular ideology. This has now changed as the generation of eighty-year-olds are fearful for their pension. But it is 40 years too late. Speaking of the burden of uncontrolled immigration was always tabu, and under no circumstances was anyone permitted to say that people are different ― or intellectually more or less gifted, lazier or more industrious, having more or having less moral character ― or that with all the education and equal opportunity nothing has changed. …
It has been the tendency of political correct discourse to take from people the responsibility of their own actions by pointing to the circumstances around them that has made them failures:
― If a student cannot follow the lessons in class, then it must be the lack of education in the home.
― If children from fairly ordinary circumstances are visibly overweight due to lack of physical activity, then it is not due to the neglect of parents, but the family is socially deprived.
― If the children of one-parent families experience learning problems, then society is to blame for not providing the single parent with sufficient support. However, we need to ask what social circumstances and individual dispositions can lead to there being so many single parents and what can be done about it.
― If Turkish immigrants even of the third generation cannot speak German properly, then an enmity towards immigrants surrounding them is to blame. But why then, one must ask do we not see the same difficulties in every other immigrant group? …”
From the book cover:
“Thilo Sarrazin analyses the urgent problems of our country and shows how we can find our way out of the crisis of the welfare state. He describes the dramatic demographic shift of the last decade; he warns of a social system that offers too few incentives to live a self-determined life; he tackles the problem of immigration and lays out how the German education system has made the situation worse rather than better.”
Born in 1945, Thilo Sarrazin is one of the foremost political thinkers in Germany today. As an economist, leading official and politician, he was responsible for the conception and carrying through of the German monetary union, he built up the legal and professional supervision of the audit institution in the national finance ministry. He was also on the board of the German Railways Network. Between 2002 and 2009 he was a finance senator in Berlin and then for a year and a half he was a board member of the German Bundesbank.
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