Partei poopers

Not everyone laughing at German satire party’s Nazi-name stunt

Die Partei leader Martin Sonneborn accused of breaking taboos, seeking ‘provocation’

Martin Sonneborn (YouTube screenshot)
Martin Sonneborn (YouTube screenshot)

BERLIN — Germany’s satirical party Die Partei is fielding candidates bearing the surnames of key figures in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime for Sunday’s European elections, but the stunt has left some unamused.

The left-leaning party won a single seat in the European Parliament in 2014 elections for Martin Sonneborn, a former editor of the German satirical magazine “Titanic.”

In the new campaign, where Sonneborn is joined by comedian Nico Semsrott, Die Partei has campaigned with promises to “Make Germany Two Again” and “Punish Climate Change Deniers” by confiscating their driver’s licenses.

One of its pamphlets lists a group of Die Partei candidates whose surnames match those of Hitler’s top henchmen and senior Nazis, among them Joseph Goebbels, Rudolph Hess and Albert Speer.

Undated photo of Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of propaganda, delivering a speech. (Bengt von zur Muehlen/Yad Vashem Photo Archive)

The surnames are printed in large, eye-catching letters for candidates for Sunday’s election including Kevin Goebbels, Fabian Hess and Tobias Speer.

While some Facebook users found Die Partei’s latest stunt funny, others argued that to make light of any aspect of the Nazi era and related Holocaust crimes was breaking an important taboo.

“What we are seeing here is a swastika being smeared onto the ballot paper,” the liberal FDP’s candidate Alexander Graf Lambsdorff told media group RND.

“Sonneborn wants the provocation, he wants the misunderstanding.”

Karin Prien, Schleswig-Holstein state’s minister for education, science and culture as well as a speaker for the CDU party’s Jewish Forum, argued that European elections must not be used as a vehicle for satire.

“To claim that one wants to fight right-wing populists in this way is either naive, a lie or at least not very intelligent,” said Prien.

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