(By Ray D.)
IG Metall Defends Magazine Cover Despite Criticism
IG Metall, Germany's largest trade union, continues to stand firmly behind its recent depiction of American businesspeople as blood sucking parasites on the cover of the organization's magazine, 'metall.' A speaker for IG Metall, Georgios Arwanitidis, defended the magazine cover as "a good caricature" after it was sharply criticized by Guido Westerwelle, the Chairman of Germany's Free-Democratic party. Since then, the Chairman of IG Metall, Juergen Peters, a member of Gerhard Schroeder's SPD party since 1966, has also defended the magazine cover as an expression of artistic freedom.
IG Metall: "A Good Caricature"
The Magazine's Cover Reads: "US-Firms in Germany: The (Blood-) Suckers"
When this "metall" edition first appeared, we at Davids Medienkritik immediately brought you full coverage of both the cover and the inside story (View the article in PDF format/View the entire magazine in PDF format). Here is the inside title page:
Article Title Page: "The Plunderers are Here"
IG Metall: American Parasites Descending on German Companies, Briefcases in Hand...
IG Metall Illustration: An American Parasite Belches After Feeding on a German Firm
This is all the more unsettling considering that 'metall' is Germany's most widely-read union magazine, with a circulation of 2 million. Clearly though, the most frightening aspect of IG Metall's "good caricature" is how similar it is to other German caricatures from about 70 years ago (1, 2):
A Spider with a Jewish Star of David is the Blood Sucker in this Nazi-era Propaganda (Source: Calvin College website)
In fact, the Stürmer caricature above has almost exactly the same title as the modern-day union cover. The Nazi propaganda reads "Die Ausgesaugten" - "Those whose blood has been sucked out" - the IG Metall cover reads "Die Aussauger" - "The blood suckers."
And the 'metall' article's content is not much better. The opening paragraph reads:
"Blackstone, KKR, Investcorp - finance investors from America are slaughtering German companies. They buy the companies, only to sell them a bit later for profit. The American investors don't show any consideration for people, regions or traditions. Like flies they suck the money out of companies, then swarm out, repeating the same pattern. People are the ones who suffer."
FDP Chairman Guido Westerwelle Slams IG Metall
A major argument subsequently erupted in Germany when FDP Chairman Guido Westerwelle heavily criticized IG Metall and the depiction of American investors as mosquitos at his party's recent 56th annual convention.
Mr. Westerwelle Had the Following Harsh Words for IG Metall's Anti-Americanism:
"And ladies and gentlemen, just this on the topic of where we have arrived in the meantime. This here is the current magazine of the IG Metall, issued by the Chairman of the IG Metall, from Mr. Peters. I show you this not because it is red-green, instead I show you this because here on the cover page of the official organizational organ of the IG Metall, issued by the Chairman under the title "The (Blood-) Suckers" - inside, of course they talk about those who suck blood and the like - the investors, the entrepreneurs are portrayed as mosquitos, of course with a golden crown in their mouth that glistens. And this mosquito, the investors, that haunts and sucks the blood of one German company after the other - it is all described and illustrated in there - of course is wearing an American hat.
Ladies and gentlemen, I say this as a liberal with the greatest clarity: I am against hate of foreigners from the right, but I am also against hate of foreigners from the left ladies and gentlemen!" (extended applause)" (Audio Clip of Quoted Passage/Entire Speech)
Mr. Westerwelle's speech is certainly not to be taken for granted in a Germany where anti-American sentiment has grown very popular in the nation's mainstream media. The FDP leader was widely criticized for allegedly being overcritical of the unions.
According to SPIEGEL ONLINE, the SPD's General Secretary Klaus Uwe Benneter criticized Westerwelle's remarks as being "near anti-democratic populism." Green party representative Markus Kurth called Westerwelle's criticisms a "permanent lowering" of the niveau of political debate. Just looking at the 'metall' cover and article, one would think that the magazine's publishers have engaged in "anti-democratic populism" and a "permanent lowering" of the niveau of political debate. Apparently the SPD and Greens don't think so...welcome to the topsy-turvy political world of the German left.
June 15, 2005 in Frankfurt on the Main: IG Metall Boss Juergen Peters Greets the Bundeskanzler at the Union's New Headquarters
Update: Less than two weeks before his visit to the White House on June 27, 2005, Gerhard Schroeder attended the grand opening of the IG Metall's enormous new headquarters in Frankfurt on the Main as the guest of honor and keynote speaker.
IG Metall: Westerwelle's Critique "Grotesque and Ridiculous"
The IG Metall officially responded to Westerwelle with the following press release:
"6 May 2005 - IG Metall: The fallout of Westerwelle against the members' magazine 'metall' is grotesque and ridiculous
Frankfurt/Main - The IG Metall accused FDP boss Guido Westerwelle of seeking a distraction from the unpleasant state of affairs relating to the current capitalism debate with his attacks against the cover picture of the union magazine 'metall'. His critique is grotesque and ridiculous," said IG Metall spokesman Georgios Arwanitidis on Friday in Frankfurt.
The caricature on the cover page of 'metall' metaphorically highlights the problem of a particular firm strategy, particularly American firms, and thereby fulfills all the criteria of a good caricature. "The firms mentioned in the 'metall' title story in fact do come out of the USA," said Arwanitidis. At least because of that, the accusation of "hate of foreigners from the left" is absurd."
Mr. Westerwelle's critique "grotesque and ridiculous?" This from a spokesman who believes that the characterization of American businesspeople as parasites is "a good caricature?"
Here is the contact information for IG Metall and the editors of 'metall' for those of you who would like to contact them:
Email for 'metall" magazine: email@example.com
Email for IG Metall press office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email the director for PR at: email@example.com
Email the director for outbound communication at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email the legal council at: email@example.com
Telephone for 'metall' magazine
If calling from the USA: 011-49-69-6693-2445, Fax 011-49-69-6693-2000
If calling within Germany: 069-6693-2445, Fax 069-6693-2000
Telephone for IG Metall press office
If calling from the USA: 011-49-69-6693-2674, Fax: 011-49-69-6693-2870
If calling within Germany: 069/6693-2674, Fax: 069/6693-2870
'Metall' Magazine Mailing Address:
60329 Frankfurt am Main
Please feel free to publish your emails and letters to the staff of "metall" and their response (if any) in our comments section.
Today we also received an outstanding commentary from one of our readers on this entire situation. Just click the link below to read it...
"Spiegel ONLINE features an article today where a professor for linguistics takes a closer look at the infamous locust comments by Müntefering. Surprisingly enough, the article is reasonably unbiased and comes to the conclusion that the comparison was inappropriate, especially from a historic perspective.
What really caught my attention was a picture embedded within the article. It features the title page of the member circulation of Germany’s metal worker union.
At first I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and quickly checked the year on the calendar: was it 2005 or 1935? The picture is shockingly similar to the horrible caricatures that were published during the Nazi regime. The only thing still missing from this propaganda is exposed physical characteristics that are often attributed to the Jewish people by fascists.
This kind of propaganda from an organization that claims to adhere to the principles of freedom and democracy is completely intolerable. It is – sadly enough however – very much in line with the constant Anti-Americanism in Europe and especially in Germany that has gained widespread acceptance in the public discussion. Publications like this are again lowering the standards in the ongoing discussion and make the public much more accessible to more racist and communist propaganda.
I hope that many people are expressing their outrage – you can contact the IG-Metall online editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org, the director for PR at: email@example.com, the director for outbound communication at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and the legal council at: email@example.com."
For a good German-language piece on this situation, click HERE. (Hattip AS)