In the week that Brazil reached the official mark of 550,000 deaths by covid-19, our president had a meeting that was at least eccentric, not to say totally macabre, with representatives of the far right German party, Alternative for Germany (Afd).
:: Brazil has over 1,333 dead by covid and surpasses the mark of 551,000 lives lost ::
One of the people received by Jair Messias, Beatrix von Storch, is the granddaughter of Johann Ludwig Schwerin von Krosigk, finance minister of none other than Adolf Hitler. Krosigk was convicted by the Nuremberg Court of war crimes.
Created in 2013, Afd rescues a past that many Germans would like to forget. Many, but apparently not all. I wonder what happened to the world since the second decade of the 21st century. Was it the 2008 crisis or was it the demonstrations sparked by social media that took extremists out of the ghettos in which they wallowed? Or both?
:: Bolsonaro’s meeting with German extremist exposes “global articulation of the far right” ::
The fact is that the story of genocide and the attempt to exterminate the Jews through the Holocaust, very well portrayed in books and films such as Sofia’s choice (Alan J. Pakula, 1982), Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993), Life is beautiful (Roberto Benigni, 1997), The pianist (Roman Polanski, 2002), among many others, seems not to move groups that appear increasingly shameless.
In the photo that circulated in the press and on social media, the smiling Bolsonaro beside Hitler’s minister’s granddaughter seemed to care neither about his kinship nor about the fact that the Afd is monitored in Germany, which, like Brazil, criminalizes the apology for Nazism.
This was the president that Brazil chose in 2018. A military man who has already been greeted by a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, who openly supports the 1964 dictatorship, fan of torturer Carlos Brilhante Ustra and who now appears embraced by heirs of Nazism .
It’s a profile that amazes anyone who has the slightest social sensitivity, critical spirit and, above all, knowledge about history, a subject that is sorely lacking in the collective consciousness of Brazilians.
When I try to understand what dragged us into this ditch, another movie comes to mind: the German The wave, by Dennis Gansel, released in 2008. In the film, Professor Rainer Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) teaches a course on autocracy for high school. The students, third-generation teenagers after World War II, doubt that a dictatorship could resurface in Germany. Rainer then makes an experiment with them to demonstrate how mass manipulation is capable of carrying out any political atrocity. He standardizes the students, creates a uniform and even an emblem for them. Motivated by the feeling of belonging to a group, teenagers gradually transform themselves and build an environment of coercion, authoritarianism and power based on violence.
:: Leader of neo-Nazi pro-Bolsonaro act in 2011 organizes motorcades in support of the president in SP ::
This is the spirit of this age. In other words, if we thought that the worst ghosts of the past were dead and buried, all it took was manipulation in the right dose for them to come back to haunt us.
In Brazil, contempt for history is part of this manipulation. And he paved not just the election but popular engagement around a politician with such repulsive attitudes as Jair Bolsonaro. The result of this endeavor is all around us: unemployment, high inflation, famine, misery, lack of control over the new plague and a growing rate of early deaths.
*Carolina Maria Ruy is a journalist and coordinator of the Union Memory Center.
Edition: Vivian Virissimo