A Frightening Dwarf? A Comparative History of the 1960s and Contemporary NPD

Greg Bianchi

Abstract


The Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) is arguably the largest far-right party in Germany. The far-right political spectrum is diverse and includes a number of formal
parties including the Republicans and Die Rechte as well as some informal street level organisations. The NPD was formed in the post-war years as a conglomeration of far-right
organisations and achieved some success in local elections and was expected to break the 5% barrier to gain representation in the Bundestag. As a result of this the NPD received a great deal of scrutiny by the media and during the 1970s and 80s declined in its influence.

In the contemporary era the NPD has gained growing popularity, in particular following the fall of the Berlin Wall. This article seeks to explain that the NPD has changed. Gone are the days of nostalgic former Nazis, desperately trying to rekindle the 1930s and early 1940s. The 1960s saw a rise in the fortunes of the NPD to the point where numerous domestic and international observers became convinced that the party would exceed the 5% threshold and enter the Bundestag in the 1969 election. In the end the party accrued 4.3% of the vote and following this high water mark fell into terminal decline. As the party’s support base began a mass exodus, many having been Wehrmacht veterans and former Nazi party activists, the party became a marginalised element in an ostracised scene.

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