book cover imageDeutschland schafft sich ab: Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen
(Germany Is Doing Away with Itself)
by Thilo Sarrazin.
Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2010.

Rarely has a book caused so much controversy and upset in the cohorts of Germany’s well-to-do and politically Left elite as Deutschland schafft sich ab—a title that would be translated in English as “Germany Is Doing Away with Itself.” It was first published in 2010 and has sold over 1.5 million copies, making it one of the most successful books on contemporary politics of postwar Germany. The book might well have gone unnoticed had it not been for the prominence of its author, Thilo Sarrazin, an economist who at one time was a senior manager of Deutsche Bahn (Germany’s federal railway), the Finance Senator of Berlin, and an executive board member of Europe’s most powerful federal reserve bank, the German Bundesbank.

A swift glimpse at the index would lure the unsuspecting reader into believing that this book is yet another historical analysis of Germany, the German people, and Europe. Indeed, Sarrazin spends the first two of his nine chapters setting the background by giving historic accounts of society and state and building the basis for his arguments in the following chapters. His concluding ninth chapter can almost be read as a work of satire, independent from the other chapters of the book, as Sarrazin gives an account of two possible scenarios for a Germany a hundred years from now (“A dream and a nightmare”).

Sarrazin makes his key arguments based on the social and economic problems caused by immigration and the decline of the German birthrate, especially the uncontrolled immigration of largely uneducated migrants from the Muslim world. He claims that Muslim workers are disproportionally less integrated into the job market, hold fewer skills, and have the tendency to build subcultures that not only act independently but are in fact hostile to German culture as a whole. Many of his arguments and examples are drawn from his experience as a professional and politician living in Berlin, supplemented by secondary statistics and resources.

Throughout the book Sarrazin maintains the urgency of his title, arguing that unless restrictions to immigration, combined with reforms in schooling and education, are implemented immediately, Germany will abolish itself. When the book was first published in 2010, it was one of the first to openly criticize endemic political correctness and the systematic denial by government elites that the immigration of less qualified migrants (Sarrazin is a proponent of the immigration of well-qualified individuals) was a burden to German society. By talking about culture and ethnicity as a driving force in society, Sarrazin breaks the postwar taboo in Germany that forbids freedom of speech and quiets anyone who argues that the way some people live could be irreconcilable with Western values. The Left in particular was ready to condemn Sarrazin as racist—rallies and protests were organized and wherever Sarrazin went to promote his book he was received by an angry mob.

Sarrazin’s critics, however, have missed that he merely dared to put onto paper what many Germans think and did not dare to say: Parallel societies have been created within immigrant communities that are hostile to native German and Western values, and especially to democracy. These communities are draining resources from the state in the form of social welfare.

For the discerning American reader, this book may seem like much ado about nothing, as it captures the status quo of a declining Europe, a common topic in the American press. But for Europeans, and Germans in particular, Sarrazin’s book is a beacon of hope that Europeans might again acknowledge their own Judeo-Christian heritage and stand up for themselves against the Left-wing mainstream that fosters the destruction of the values that give Europe its unique identity. The Left continues to fight Sarrazin and his book; the greatest insult to them, however, may be the fact that Sarrazin was and remains a member of Germany’s Social Democratic Party. The book is a must-read.  

Thomas Spannring holds a B.A. honours degree in politics and an M.A. in European political and economic integration from the University of Durham in the UK. He is currently the president of a chemical company, and is based in Vienna and St. Louis.