Karlsruhe Dialogues 2009

Right-Wing Extremism in Europe today

Dr. Michael Kohlstruck



Dr. Michael Kohlstruck was born in 1957 and is political scientist. After he had studied philosophy, political science and German he did postgraduate studies about qualitative methods in social sciences. Afterwards, Kohlstruck did research on education and youth as well as on contemporary history in Bremen, Berlin, Potsdam and Aachen. Since 2002 he works at the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung at the Technische Universität Berlin, where he deals with the violence of youths and with right-wing extremism. His focus lies on the political sociology and right-wing extremism, the research of youths, contemporary history and political culture, about which he has published a great number of works.

In the year 2008, his article “Rechtspopulismus und Rechtsextremismus. Graduelle oder qualitative Unterschiede?” was released within the volume “Populismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart”, published by Richard Faber and Frank Unger. He and Andreas Klärner are the editors of the book „Moderner Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland“, which was released in 2006. On the occasion of the communal meeting of the Institut für Gemeinwesenberatung in Brandenburg/Germany and the Bündnis für Demokratie und Toleranz, Kohlstruck formulated several theses about the use of history as a means of propaganda by right-wing extremist groups, for example the exploitation of public facilities or memorial places.

In his opinion, the involvement of places, persons and occasions in right-wing extremist politics of remembering do not follow historical, but current criteria of relevance. Today’s strategic considerations of the activists are crucial, as events such as deployments seem to have important functions for the inner cohesion and the expression of the right-wing extremist movement. For local communities, concrete public relations are important to show a connection between the democratic, and as such positive, activities and the name of a place or a region.

ZAK asked Dr. Michael Kohlstruck to answer the following question:

What Can Citizens do Against Right-Wing Extremism? 

"Right-wing extremism in itself is an attack on the idea and the reality of human rights, of democracy and social justice. Who strengthens human rights, democracy and social justice, at the same time helps making right-wing extremism weaker. Even more important than voicing one’s commitment to said principles is to apply them in one’s personal everyday life, education and working environment. "