“WE ARE NOT RADICALS, ONLY EUROPE HAS LOST ITS COMMON SENSE.”
Translated by Peter van Liempt
Tomorrow, 17 June, a large patriotic rally will be held in Berlin by the Identitarian movement from all over Europe. Endscape will be present and will report on it.
Identitarians combine Conservative views with activism-based modus operandi, normally characteristic of radical Leftist movements. Identitarians are clearly stating their reluctance to become a political party, but in reality they are extremely politicized. They are not racist, but oppose mass immigration and Islamization, they might look like hipsters, but behave quite differently. Robert Timm, a spokesman for the Identitarian movement in Berlin and Brandenburg told us about himself and his associates.
WHAT WE TRY TO DEVELOP IS A HEALTHY PATRIOTIC MOVEMENT.
– Robert, first of all, could you briefly tell us what the Identitarian movement is?
– If we talk about the history of the movement, it started in France, in 2002 as the youth wing of the Bloc Identitaire, which then transformed into Generation Identitaire. In Germany the Identitarian movement emerged in 2012, at first it was a group of young people who decided to devote themselves to patriotic activism. Now it has become more or less a professional non-governmental organization. As for ideology – we are patriots that are opposed to mass immigration and Islamization. What we try to develop is a healthy patriotic movement.
It’s widely known that many people in Germany try to stay away from patriotism, as in the minds of modern society it always seems to be conflated with Nazism, so, we explain that it is actually not so. We’re not trying to turn the clock back, but we want to protect the values and principles that have accompanied us throughout history. Such as, for example, borders and nationality, the concepts some desperately try to abandon now, but which are vital for our future. We also criticize what is often termed as “global capitalism”, not as such, but as a system that has emerged now because it involves a lot of problems, including large-scale immigration. We are critical of the European Union, but not of Europe as cultural identity. Now we’re interacting with people from other European countries, because we have common problems that we must solve together. However, we’re clearly scared of what the EU has now become.
What we do is mainly activism. We act with the tactics and strategy of meta-politics; we can be compared to “Greenpeace” in this regard, only more patriotic. How many of us is there now – is difficult to say. The Identitarian movement is kind of a club that you can join, but not all activists officially became members, participating only in separate activities. Officially, we have about 1,000 people in Germany, but not all are engaged in activism and support the monetary contributions. If we talk directly about the participant’s shares, there are about 300-500 people.
WE WERE A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE
– Tell us about your activities, please.
– The most famous of them – the action at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where we hung a banner «Sichere Grenzen – Sichere Zukunft» ( «border security – a secure future”).
It was a rebirth of the Identitarian movement in Germany, because from 2012 to 2016 it was difficult to call for action, information about us was limited to a few news stories and only small articles. We were a small group of people, mainly communicating on the Internet and sometimes attending strange events. The situation changed dramatically in 2016, not only because of the action at the Brandenburg Gate and our other activities, but this event was widely covered in the media. We began to give interviews, and everyone who has anything to do with politics now knows who we are. I myself took part in this action, and it is also one of my favorites. As for our other events, then, for example, a couple of weeks ago our activists went to Italy, rented a small boat and tried to block the ships that transported illegal migrants from Africa to Italy. Now we are fundraising to repeat the action on a greater scale, to rent a larger boat and really prevent illegal traffick, which is often painted as a “humanitarian project.” We collected 50,000 euros in three weeks, and that’s pretty cool.
I GREW UP WITH A LEFTIST BACKGROUND
-How did you personally join the Identitarians?
– I grew up in East Berlin, but did not witness the Socialist period, as I was born in 1991. But my parents grew up in Socialist Germany and my grandparents spent most of their lives there. My grandfather even calls himself a Marxist. So for the most part I grew up with a Leftist background. Up to the tenth grade, I went to a school, where there were a few immigrants from Vietnam, and I only had positive experiences with these people. The media reported a lot about multiculturalism, and I thought, “Okay, having one Vietnamese guy in my class – this is what multiculturalism is.” Then I went to school in another district, Kreuzberg, where there were a lot of immigrants or children of migrants – about 60%, mainly Muslims (Turks as well as other Arabs). They could not be compared to the Vietnamese in any sense, and I started having problems and conflicts with them.
During one of the lessons, for example, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who later moved to Israel was invited to talk to our class. Our students, whose parents were from Palestine, began to rudely interrupt him by crying out loudly, even though he was trying to tell us some important stories about his youth. However, the teacher didn’t do anything to stop the brutal disrespect, on a man who was already 80 years old at that time. After that, I as a member of the Student Council participated in a meeting, which was also attended by teachers and I said that for such behavior these students should be expelled from school. But one teacher, also a Muslim, said that if we expel them, they grow even more radical, and we can’t allow this to happen. The absurdity of the situation is, that if there was a German student in their place, I’m sure he would have been expelled immediately. And this is just one of many cases.
You know, some people in Germany have even started to invent their migrant past, so as not to be called Germans. Referring to their grandparents, who many years ago came from, let’s say, Poland, they call themselves “Polish migrants.” When I enrolled into university, there were a lot of students who fought for liberal rights and adored multiculturalism, but they mostly came from small villages and towns, and simply had no idea what was going on in the big cities. Looking at what was happening around and what the media was reporting, I soon realized that the world had gone crazy. I was looking for my own path, and read a variety of blogs and one day stumbled upon Martin Sellner’s YouTube channel which explained what the Identitarian movement was, and it wasn’t a neo-Nazi gang dressed in disguise, these people looked the same as I did. And then I said to myself, “Yes, that’s what I’ve been searching for.”
THERE IS A VERY LARGE GAP BETWEEN THE CONSERVATIVES AND THE REAL EXTREMISTS
– Identitarians indeed don’t look like neo-Nazis, but because you are against multiculturalism and mass migration, you are constantly accused of racism. What is your response to this?
– First of all, in our movement there are people with a migrant background too, so we can’t be racist. To get it right, you need to compare the political situation in Germany of the 1990s with that of now. In the 1990s, neo-Nazis and skinheads were a big problem, so people were afraid to vote for the national-conservative parties, such as the “German People’s Union” or “Republicans”. Subsequently, these parties eventually disappeared. There was a huge political vacuum between the CDU / CSU Party (Christian Democrats, currently in power) and, say, the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). People simply do not have the opportunity to express their conservative and patriotic views, in any other fashion but voting NPD (which is considered to be a neo-Nazi party). Until now, public pressure is so great that if you express sympathy to such parties, you immediately become a pariah. The situation began to change slightly, when “Alternative for Germany” (AfD), PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) and the Identitaran movement emerged. There are many people who aren’t extremists, but they are called so because there is a very large gap between the conservatives and the real extremists, and we feel it put upon ourselves.
– Identitarians are often called the Right hipsters, or “ibsters” (from Identitäre Bewegung – Ed.), What do you think about this? Why aren’t there more and more bright-minded, educated, and fashionably dressed Millennials in Europe who are beginning to worry about their identity?
– Well, everyone who is well dressed is for some unknown reason believed to be a hipster. Firstly, we Identitarians don’t accept anyone who wants to join us, you need to go through a selection, but it doesn’t matter how a person dresses. Education is really important, where it’s not so much about how many diplomas they have, (we have people from working class backgrounds too) – the main thing is that people understand what we do and why we do it. People are shocked that we look like ordinary people and share Right-wing views, but in reality it’s just a manifestation of common sense. Personally I do not think our views are extreme Right, it’s our society that lost the notion of what it means to be moderate, to adhere to healthy attitudes.
THE IDEA OF WHITE SUPREMACY DOES NOT SUIT US AT ALL
– And what about the American Alt-Right movement, with whom you have a lot in common? Donald Trump’s slogan, « Make America great again » – could it work for Germany?
– This is an interesting question. Yes, we have a lot in common with the Alt-Right: we are patriots, we are against mass immigration, and we embrace the memetic culture. But they are much more radical. If you listen to their leader Richard Spencer, who says that America must remain a country of White people, I as an Identitarian cannot accept this. For a long time indeed, North America was a continent that remained White, but now it’s not. Comparing the US and Europe in this regard is not entirely correct. Certainly, people in Europe and in the United States are against certain tendencies in the development of their countries, but the logic of the Alt-Right, and their idea of white supremacy («white domination”) does not suit us at all.
Of course, I was happy when Donald Trump won the election, not Hillary Clinton, but judging by the way Trump behaved after the elections, it became clear that he was not the hero, for which we fought. He’s in the midst of a lot of pressure and taking measures which some of his supporters do not approve, such as the Syrian strike, but it’s still good that he became President of the US. I must say that I observed how the German media covered the latest G7 summit, and constantly came across headlines about how bad Trump is, but there was almost not a single word about Angela Merkel. Maybe we should focus on our own policies, which have enough problems, and Trump is definitely not one of them.
WE ARE PROUD OF OUR RECOGNIZABLE STYLE
– It seems that you do not want to become a political party or closely cooperate with other parties. However, do you have any connection to the AfD – “Alternative for Germany”?
– Officially we have no connections, we do not work together, do not conduct joint activities. They do not invite us to their events, even though we call them to participate in our actions, but members of a party have certain limitations. People would just go crazy if they saw AfD members and Identitarians together on one photograph. But we will never hide the fact that we know each other and communicate; the patriotic scene in Germany is not dead. We as Identitarians also limit ourselves to certain topics, we are not a party, and so we do not need to answer questions related, let’s say, to taxes or the economy. We do not fully agree with the “Alternative for Germany”, although most of our people are going to vote for them in the upcoming election. It may be that the AfD will move towards a more liberal path later, or build a coalition with the Christian Democrats, but even so, we wouldn’t protest against them.
I’m one of the main critics of the “Alternative” among Identitarians, but not because they have so-called “radical views,” but because they don’t understand what meta-politics is, and how the media and social networks work. They spend so much money on promotion in social networks, but they don’t even have a basic idea that the general concept, the graphics, and the designs of their site look ridiculous. We, the Identitarians are proud that we have developed a recognizable style, and this is our advantage over our political opponents. Also, the AfD don’t know how to appeal to the younger generation. We worked with the “Young Alternative for Germany”, they meet up together in bars and drink beer, organize seminars and meetings, but young people want to be engaged in activism, they need to be involved into some action, and the party doesn’t offer them this.
WE ARE IDEALISTS
– You do a great job with the media and social networks, especially your videos, which are impressive. How do you do it?
– If you want to achieve something, be realistic about your resources. Unlike our opponents, we never had any funding, we aren’t affiliated with any political parties, we are not “Greenpeace”, which receives huge subsidies from foundations. It’s social networks that give us our infrastructure. If we organize an action 300-400 people might see it, but if we make a good video, then we’ll already have about 10.000 viewers. We make the videos ourselves; there are people in the movement who work in the media. If you are 16-17 years old and you are interested in politics, then you most likely will study something what has to do with the media. We do everything on our own, we never hire anyone, and we learn from each other by doing it ourselves.
Another reason why we stay in contact with people is fundraising. With social networks, we demonstrate that we’re ordinary people who go to university and work, and it arouses sympathy. In “Greenpeace”, their people are just on the payroll, what they do is just a job. But we are idealists, who organize everything in their spare time. We need money not to buy houses or stuff, but for the activities necessary to represent and promote our message, because it is important for us- and for you.