Rightist 'waits for word from Baghdad'

February 17, 1991|By Ian Johnson | Ian Johnson,Special to The Sun

BERLIN -- Paul's day begins at 6 a.m. with a two-mile run. Even in the big city it is quiet in the woods, with only the crunching of the dry leaves to disturb his thoughts of fighting for Iraq.

"Saddam Hussein is just a man who is fighting for the freedom of his people. He's a man who is fighting against huge numbers of imperialistic powers, among them -- no, above all -- the Israelis," said Paul, 28, an unemployed mechanic who did not want to give his last name.

It is icy cold in Berlin and few are out jogging, a fact that gives Paul satisfaction. Germany is a great country, Paul said, but the people here have grown flabby. Mr. Hussein, however, is a man who stands up to the Americans, British and French, the three countries that, not coincidentally, occupied the western parts of Germany and Berlin for 45 years.

Besides the pleasure of striking a blow against the hated Allies, Paul also takes comfort in not being alone. Leaders of radical right and neo-Nazi organizations estimate there are up to 500 young Germans training for combat in the desert. None of them know how they are going to get to Iraq or what they will do when they arrive, but all are eager to go because of a firm belief that Iraq deserves help and that the participating Western countries are decadent.

But the radical right parties may have another aim in sending their rowdier members to the Persian Gulf: money. Harold Neubauer, a German member of the radical right Europa Rechte Party in the European Parliament, said at a recent conference of German radical right parties that Iraq might be a good ally

in the future. He denied that the cash-strapped parties, which have been losing voter support, could expect financial support for showing sympathy but said that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "might support projects beneficial to us all."

Anyway, he said, everyone knows why there is war.

"The war is for American economics. Talk of freedom is a big swindle."

But more attractive to the radical right than ideology or money is Mr. Hussein's vow to destroy Israel.

"If the Americans really wanted to fulfill U.N. resolutions, then they should have bombed Israel a long time ago," he said.

Others try to give a more sophisticated spin to their arguments. Michael Kuehnen, Germany's best-known neo-Nazi, said the world should be divided into spheres. According to him, Europe would stay white, Africa black and the MiddleEast Arabic.

"We have common ideals [with Iraq], namely the establishment of large areas, which would be founded according to the local people and their own traditions and cultures," said Mr. Kuehnen, 35.

Israel doesn't fit into his view of a homogenous Middle East, so Iraq's dictator should be supported in his war on the Jewish state, Mr. Kuehnen said.

Although radical right groups from several European countries, including France, support Mr. Hussein, the German right has special reasons for supporting his land claims. Several radical right newspapers, including the National Zeitung, compare Iraq's claim on Kuwait to German claims on land lost to Poland after World War II, calling Kuwait the "Silesia of Iraq."

Paul doesn't concern himself with fancy theories. His trainer, a former West German army non-commissioned officer, has him and about two dozen other men from the Berlin area on a rigorous program. On private property, they drill in hand-to-hand combat, first aid, survival skills, trench digging, basic military tactics and how to use assault rifles, which the men buy for $140 from hard-up Soviet soldiers. Live ammunition is seldom used, but the men are learning familiarity with the weapons, he said.

"Now is the big chance to do something positive for what I believe. I'm just waiting for the word from Baghdad," Paul said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.