Opposition MP irks Germany with Nazi parallel

SDS lawmaker Branko Grims.
SDS MP Branko Grims talks to the press after the party's referendum challenge against three government laws failed. Photo: Bor Slana/STA

A senior member of the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) has triggered a rare rebuke from Germany after a defeat his party suffered in a referendum on 27 November prompted him to compare the situation in Slovenia to that in Germany the year that Adolf Hitler rose to power.

MP Branko Grims expressed doubt as to whether people were fully aware of the choices they were making as he commented on the results of the referendum, saying that “the situation in Slovenia is getting increasingly similar to that in Germany in 1933” because the media managed to turn the campaign into ideology and personal prejudices.

“As a German Embassy we have some knowledge of German history and allow ourselves a short comment,” the German Embassy in Ljubljana said in a statement on 28 November entitled 2022 Slovenia Is Not 1933 Germany before proceeding to list what took place in Germany in 1933.

“The year 1933 started with Adolph Hitler assuming power. He immediately announced the Germanisation of Eastern Europe as the goal of his foreign policy. In 1933 Germany built the first concentration camp in Dachau where 41,500 prisoners would die.

“The 1933 Enabling Act removed the separation of powers in the German Reich, abolished fundamental rights, boycotted Jewish companies and prohibited trade unions. 20,000 books by undesirable authors were burnt. The German Reich left the League of Nations and retreated from the international community. Hitler’s Nazi party NSDAP became the only approved party in the Third German Reich,” it said.

Meanwhile, Slovenia is a country “firmly rooted in the EU” where “everyone can freely express their opinions, choose from a broad spectrum of parties at elections, freely choose their religion, vote at referendums without pressure or fear”, which has “nothing in common with the Germany of 1933”.

“Such comparisons are not only unfounded but also dangerous, they downplay the events that followed the National-Socialist’s rise to power,” it said.

Diplomatic missions very rarely publicly comment on current political events in the host countries, making the statement by the German Embassy unusual.