The Corner

National Security & Defense

Free to Speak Out? Many Germans Doubt It

I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this Corner that Angela Merkel was recently awarded the Roosevelt Foundation’s “Four Freedoms Award” for, amongst other stupendous achievements, “her moral leadership of Germany and Europe during the refugee crisis”.


The Roosevelt Foundation in Middelburg, the Netherlands, and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York present the annual Four Freedoms Award which is named after the four freedoms President Franklin D. Roosevelt named in a speech in 1941 and which all people should enjoy. They are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Top of the list: Freedom of speech.

Turn now to an article in the National Interest by Malte Lehming, an editor at Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel. It ends like this:

The skeptics of today’s refugee policy—the term “concerned citizens” is now being used as a term of aspersion by the pro-refugee faction—are not represented by any party in parliament, but are announcing themselves with increasing vigor in the media and in opinion polls. Still, according to a poll by the Allensbach Institute, nearly half of all Germans are afraid to voice their opinion about the refugee crisis. Germany, you could say, is divided once again. One side has fear of Überfremdung (over-foreignization), of Islam, of radicalization, of limitless immigration. Their opponents have opened their hearts to the refugees and believe in their ability to integrate into German society.

Is suppression at play here? That would revive a nasty theme in German history. After the Second World War, the crimes of the Third Reich were suppressed. During the Cold War, many did not want to acknowledge the crimes of the Communists. Are Germans now suppressing what awaits their country thanks to the high number of immigrants?

So, at least according to one poll, “nearly half of all Germans are afraid to voice their opinion about the refugee crisis”.

The number is actually 43  percent. And, if you turn to a report on that poll in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,  the writer explains that those Germans feel that they cannot express themselves freely on this issue: that they must be very careful (“sehr vorsichtig”) about what they say.

“Freedom of speech”. 

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