Germany’s Nazi past comes back to haunt it, as far-right AfD surges in polls

March 18, 2024

Thonke, 59, had been following the rise of the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, with unease. But national polls camouflage an important division: the AfD has disproportionate support in the formerly communist and less prosperous eastern states of Germany. West German leaders made visits to Israel and apologized to the countries occupied by the Nazis, while schoolchildren were taken to see concentration camps or Holocaust memorials. Thonke, who works at Berlin’s water utility, grew up in Bavaria, which was part of West Germany before reunification in 1990. AfD’s Thuringia leader, Bjoern Hoecke, has at various times espoused revisionist views of Germany’s Nazi past.