Karlsruhe Dialogues 2009

Right-Wing Extremism in Europe today

Prof. Dr. Birgit Rommelspacher



Prof. Dr. Birgit Rommelspacher was born in Rammingen near Ulm/Germany in 1945. She studied psychology in Bonn, Münster, Cincinnati/Ohio (USA) and Munich as well as philosophy and social and economic history in Munich. In 1980 she received her Ph.D. in psychology and education at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and habilitated at the Technische Universität Berlin in 1991. Rommelspacher worked as a scientific assistant at the State Institute of Early Childhood Research in Munich, at the German Youth Institute Munich and at the Freie Universität Berlin.

From 1988 to 1990 she was visiting professor for educational and teaching science at the Technische Universität Berlin. Since 1990 she is professor for psychology with focus on interculturality and gender studies at the Alice Salomon Academy Berlin, where she was prorector from 2000 to 2002. She is emeritus since October 2007. Rommelspacher deals with right-wing extremism and with the biographies of dropouts for many years.

At the Alice Salomon Academy of Berlin she analyses projects concerning the prevention of right-wing extremism and of criminal acts, which have been committed in this context, especially in the new federal lands of Germany. She published the book “Anerkennung und Ausgrenzung. Deutschland als multikulturelle Gesellschaft” in 2002, which is about interculturality and right-wing extremism, and her book “Der Hass hat uns geeint. Junge Rechtsextreme und ihr Ausstieg aus der Szene” in 2006, which deals with dropouts from the scene.

In the year 2007 her article “Der Rechtsextremismus und die ‘Mitte’ der Gesellschaft. Ein dominanztheoretischer Ansatz“ (in: Bündnis90/Die Grünen: Rechtsextremismus in NRW. Herausforderungen für Gesellschaft und Politik) appeared, which is about right-wing extremism in the middle of society.

According to Rommelspacher, the prevention of right-wing extremism has to become a self-evident part within the political culture. This prevention should not be limited to models and special projects, but has to be the base of work in all institutions and has to be integrated in their mission statement. The aim must be to achieve an open and plural society, in which all ideologies concerning inequality do not have any chance to develop.

ZAK asked Prof. Dr. Birgit Rommelspacher to answer the following question:

What can citizens do Against Right-Wing Extremism? 

"Right-wing extremism is alluring because it pretends to resolve social contradictions in a simple way, for example with regard to the conflict between the established citizenry and immigrants, or between the demands of the competent and powerful and the socially disadvantaged or handicapped. That is why the most important strategy against right-wing extremism, in my opinion, is to become aware of one’s own ambivalent positions regarding these issues and to be committed to a just, democratic and humane society. "