In Germany, the taboo of patriotism is fueling far right’s rise

As the far right rises across Europe, its ascent in Germany has seemed among the most alarming and puzzling.

For decades, Germany was thought to be inoculated against far-right politics by its history with Naziism and the Holocaust. But today, Germany is experiencing a resurgence of the right — driven, at least in part, by its effort to overcome past misdeeds by suppressing any vestige of nationalism.

Since World War II, trying to define the German national identity, much less celebrate it, has been taboo. Doing so was seen as a possible step toward the kind of nationalism that once enabled the Nazi regime. Flags were frowned upon, as was standing for the national anthem.

But spurred by a sense of lost control over the country’s borders, economy and politics, many Germans are reaching for a shared identity but finding only an empty space. Into that vacuum slipped the Alternative for Germany, known by its German initials, AfD, the nation’s fastest-growing party with recent polls showing support at 12 percent, ahead of some mainstream parties.