Et’s so easy to show concern and say never again. And in the case of Rostock-Lichtenhagen it is particularly easy, because in fact it is unlikely that such a case will repeat itself: a mob that acts violently against asylum seekers for days; Thousands of citizens standing by and applauding; a state that at times capitulates to hate. This is a unique scenery. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the riots 30 years ago a “disgrace for our country” during his visit to Rostock. Rightly so.
Steinmeier also described Rostock-Lichtenhagen as a “disaster with an announcement” and, in view of the hateful debates in the summer of 1992, referred to the responsibility of politicians: “The state should have been warned.” That’s what makes the incident less unique and that “Never again” to a cheap phrase.
Right-wing extremist ideas still exist today
The riots had not only been announced for days, Rostock-Lichtenhagen was also not the first racially motivated excess of violence in the Federal Republic after reunification. And neither did the last one. The series of murders in Hanau was only two and a half years ago. Most of the deeds announced themselves in one way or another – and yet could happen. This lesson from Rostock-Lichtenhagen was not learned.
Germany is not a racist country. But the extreme right-wing ideas that made the riots possible back then still exist today. It rarely expresses itself in brute force, but comes along more quietly, more subtle and more caring. Extremism experts are increasingly warning these days that right-wing extremists could hijack people’s concerns about the energy crisis and inflation for their purposes. In his speech, Steinmeier also referred to the fragile situation in which our society currently finds itself. This time, politics and a silent society must not be held responsible.