Courtesy of NYT:
Just before hundreds of far-right activists recently tried to storm the German Parliament, one of their leaders revved up the crowd by conjuring President Trump.
“Trump is in Berlin!” the woman shouted from a small stage, as if to dedicate the imminent charge to him.
She was so convincing that several groups of far-right activists later showed up at the American Embassy and demanded an audience with Mr. Trump. “We know he’s in there!” they insisted.
Mr. Trump was neither in the embassy nor in Germany that day — and yet there he was. His face was emblazoned on banners, T-shirts and even on Germany’s pre-1918 imperial flag, popular with neo-Nazis in the crowd of 50,000 who had come to protest Germany’s pandemic restrictions. His name was invoked by many with messianic zeal.
It was only the latest evidence that Trump is emerging as a kind of cult figure in Germany’s increasingly varied far-right scene.
“Trump has become a savior figure, a sort of great redeemer for the German far right,” said Miro Dittrich, an expert on far-right extremism at the Berlin-based Amadeu-Antonio-Foundation.
Mr. Trump’s appeal to the political fringe has now added a new and unpredictable element to German politics at a time when the domestic intelligence agency has identified far-right extremism and far-right terrorism as the biggest risks to German democracy.
The authorities have only recently woken up to a problem of far-right infiltration in the police and military. Over the past 15 months, far-right terrorists killed a regional politician on his front porch near the central city of Kassel, attacked a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle and shot dead nine people of immigrant descent in the western city of Hanau. Mr. Trump featured in the manifesto of the Hanau killer, who praised his “America First” policy.
In Germany, as in the United States, Mr. Trump has become an inspiration to these fringe groups. Among them are not only long-established hard-right and neo-Nazi movements, but also now followers of QAnon, the internet conspiracy theory popular among some of Mr. Trump’s supporters in the United States that hails him as a hero and liberator.
Germany’s QAnon community, barely existent when the pandemic first hit in March, may now be the biggest outside the United States along with Britain, analysts who track its most popular online channels say.
Great, so instead of sharing our hope and progress with our German neighbors we are now sharing conspiracy theories and fascism.
Adolph Hitler would be so proud.