by our European Bureau
Aug. 18, 2004 (EIRNS)The Monday night demonstrations against the German government's austerity program, and for more jobs, dramatically expanded on Aug. 16, increasing from about 34 cities and 40,000 people a week before, to an estimated 150 cities and more than 100,000 people. Unless the government decides to withdraw its "Hartz IV" program of social service cuts, some rally leaders are promising that millions will march against the murderous "reform" in Berlin on Oct. 3, German Reunification Day.
This rapid expansion testifies to the farsightedness of Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the international LaRouche Youth Movement, who set off this process by calling for Monday rallies in a mass leaflet more than a month ago.
Zepp-LaRouche, who heads the BüSo party (Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität, Solidarity Civil Rights Movement), has now issued a Manifesto for the rallies, to spur debate among participants and Germany as a whole on a positive alternative to the Hartz IV program. She lays out seven principles for discussion, stating that the aim of the demonstrations is not to overthrow the government, but "to change its economic policies fundamentally," focussing on economic recovery based on credit creation, for modern infrastructure and for "reindustrialization," to be accomplished by replacing the collapsed world monetary system with one based on the New Bretton Woods proposal of her husband, Lyndon LaRouche.
In building the demonstrations, Zepp-LaRouche concentrated the efforts of the youth in Leipzig, the historic center of the Monday demonstrations which brought down the government of communist East Germany, but the numbers of rallies, and their numbers, are now mushrooming.
"We are the People, We Want Jobs," many of the picket signs read, in this new wave of demonstrations. The rallies are drawing both unemployed (mostly in the East), and political parties, all of whom are focussed on getting rid of the government "reform" that will crush the unemployed, in particular, but will create not a single job. Only the BüSo, however, is putting forward a program for state job creation in the area of badly needed infrastructure development, a program explicitly modelled on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in the United States to overcome the Depression of the 1930s.
Zepp-LaRouche is laying it on the line, to a population which is currently suffering over 10% unemployment, much of it long-term, and lacks hope. Don't make the same mistake we Germans made back in the 1930s, she warns, and let fascism come into being. Back the FDR solution which her BüSo party, and her husband Lyndon LaRouche in the United States, are putting forward.
Taking to the Streets
With more than 100,000 Germans taking to the streets, the turnout more than doubled, from last Monday's events. And in several cities, notably in Leipzig, two rallies were held at the same time.
By far the biggest rallies took place in Magdeburg (15,000), Leipzig (15-20,000) and Berlin (15,000), but there were numerous cities with a participation of about 3,000-5,000: Dessau, Halle, Schwerin, Chemnitz, Rostock, Gera. These cities are all in the East, and have very high unemployment rates.
An interesting pattern is also the number of small cities in which some people took a spontaneous initiative and pulled several hundred protesters on a short notice. These included Oranienburg (400), Pritzwalk (300), and Burgstädt (150).
In various places, non-Monday rallies are also being planned. A Tuesday rally will take place in Frankfurt/Oder and another in Görlitz (organized by the BüSo) on Aug. 18; on Thursday, Aug. 20, rallies will be held in Erfurt, Greifswald, Stralsund, and Neubrandenburg.
Hartz IV the Issue
This explosion of activity has taken the German government by surprise. Two days after the Aug. 9 rallies, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder pulled together an emergency cabinet meeting in order to discuss what to do about the popular uproar. At the conclusion of the two-hour meeting, Finance Minister Wolfgang Clement, who had arrogantly attacked the Monday demonstrations days before, announced concessions on the Hartz IV package, although the core of the package was left untouched. The government clearly hoped this would calm things down.
But they were wrong. Leading organizers of Monday rallies in several cities responded with critical remarks, saying that the concessions were totally insufficient. Andreas Ehrholdt, the initiator of the Magdeburg Monday rally movement, which mobilized about 12,000 citizens on Aug. 9, said on Aug. 12 that the protests would continue until Hartz IV was replaced by a policy that created new jobs. Protesting citizens did not want the government "to just throw a bone in front of them, like placating a beaten-up dog," Ehrholdt said. As can be seen by the huge turnout of 15,000 in Magdeburg Aug. 16, Ehrholdt delivered.
The pastor of the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, Christian Führer, also a veteran of the 1989 movement, said that the unemployed cannot be treated this way, and that the demonstrations will continue until Hartz IV in cancelled. In Leipzig, at least 20,000 citizens marched and demonstrated on Aug. 16.
Another former East German civil rights leader, Wolfgang Templin, came out in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung on Aug. 16, predicting that, come this autumn, "protests will become stronger and spread all throughout Germany," and that broader layers of the population would join. "Bread crumbs tossed out to the people" will not stop the ferment, he said. The protests will not be "normal protests against a normal reform. We have an emergency situation."
The BüSo Role
Every political leader in Germany is well aware that this burgeoning movement was catalyzed by Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the LaRouche Youth Movement, who continue to massively circulate leaflets for an alternative to Hartz IV, under the slogan "In Saxony, the economy must grow!," and to hold demonstrations in Leipzig and some other cities. Some of the nation's press, especially the Establishment paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, have decided to attack Zepp-LaRouche by name, others by reference to the slanderous "right-wing" label.
But on the street, the idea which LaRouche and the BüSo are putting forward is catching fire. Particularly notable to many is the fact that the LaRouche Youth Movement is an international group, bringing French, Germans, Swiss, Danes, Poles, and Americans to Saxony for the state's election campaign (the election is Sept. 19), and the anti-Hartz IV fight. Second, the LaRouche Youth readily capture the imagination of the population through their singing of Classical music (Bach, Beethoven), and of the Negro Spirituals associated with the U.S. Civil Rights movement.
For example, the LaRouche Youth report that on Aug. 16, demonstrators, wandering off from the larger "funeral procession" (the "official" demonstration), were dumbfounded by the contrast with the singing and the constant flow of ideas which characterized the BüSo demonstration, and many found it odd that the two demonstrations were separatethanks to the intervention of local political forces.
As the much-expected "Hot Autumn" approaches, such containment cannot be relied on.