Udo Voigt in front of the NPD Berlin headquarters in Köpenick on December 5, 2011. Photo by Maia Schoenfelder
Finding a job after 60 is not easy nowadays. But Udo Voigt’s recruitment prospects are less than nil. And it’s not just a matter of age. Graham Anderson met the infamous neo-Nazi and former NPD leader.
Europe’s 18 million and Germany’s 3 million unemployed have nothing to fear from the latest job seeker to join their ranks. “I’m completely unemployable,” boasts Udo Voigt, who turned 60 last April.
One in six Germans instantly recognise Voigt’s face, generally beaming down from posters bearing offensive slogans such as “Step on the Gas”. Or wishing headscarf-clad ladies riding a magic carpet “a good flight home”. Flanked by jackbooted party cronies and skinhead thugs, Voigt regularly led street demonstrations past Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial to mark historically sensitive dates such as the liberation of Auschwitz.
For 16 years, Voigt fronted Germany’s extreme far-right German National Democratic Party (NPD). But last November the brown bozo’s reign as party leader ended when comrades decided to dump his cynical, neo-Fascist blend of humour in favour of 41-year-old Holger Apfel’s platform of ‘serious radicalism’. Voigt’s call for Rudolf Hess to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, his praise of Hitler as a great statesman and his description of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial as providing great foundation stones for a new Reich Chancellery didn’t amuse party members anymore.
Since then, Voigt’s been receiving state unemployment benefits. A two-year cushion of approximately 80 percent of his former income as NPD chairman will keep Voigt off the streets for the moment. But after that? “Perhaps the Pirate Party could use the services of an experienced party chairman,” muses Voigt.
Hardly. After the Pirates recent faux pas of comparing their meteoric rise with that of Hitler’s in the 1930s and their own internal clashes with far-right elements, the last thing they need is a Nazi nut job leading them. Neither does Voigt’s vision gel with the Pirate’s political prism. In accordance with Hitler’s 1935 Nuremberg Race Laws, Voigt intends to send Germany’s 7 million immigrants – almost 10 percent of all Germans – back to their countries of origin. Voigt’s other keystone policies include re-establishing the Third Reich’s 1937 borders and abolishing Germany’s constitution to set up a ‘Volk’ economy – with German industry strictly harnessed to serve the needs of the Volk and the Volk to serve the state.
Not surprisingly, no recruitment agencies or headhunters have been vying for his white-power services. Despite Voigt’s diploma as an aviation engineer and his past in the German army, his brown-shirted past has definitely compromised his employment future.
He was already a nightmare employee for the military: Voigt was booted out of the German Air Force in 1984 after refusing to sever links to the NPD, of which he had been an active member since the age of 16. The Luftwaffe’s problem then became the German Reserve Forces’ headache. The Reserve spent the next two decades trying unsuccessfully to have Voigt kicked out of their cadre. Finally, time won: reservists are automatically demobbed at 60.
So far, Voigt’s solitary two job offers since he joined the dole queues last May have come from Germany’s Jobcenter: as a political analyst for Germany’s Liberal Party (FDP) headed by Vietnamese-born Philipp Rösler, and as a teacher for political science.
“Rösler’s a Viet Cong,” snorts Voigt. For him, working with Rösler – Angela Merkel’s economics minister – is automatically out of the question. As is a post teaching his brand of Volk economics. “Ridiculous job offers like these go to show just how incompetent and out of touch the Jobcenter is,” says Voigt.
He brags that he sent the Jobcenter a portfolio of newspaper clippings outlining his Aryan worldviews in order to avoid future “mishaps”.
For one, anything having to do with Israel or Judaism is a no-go zone for him. Voigt remains tightlipped on the Holocaust, wary not to transgress German law which forbids its denial, but praises Literature Nobel Prize winner Günther Grass’s recent anti-Israel poem, “What Must Be Said”.
Australia is also off Voigt’s employment radar. In 2001 Voigt’s visa application triggered an alarm in Australia’s automatic visa processing centre in The Hague. Voigt was barred entry on the grounds that he was either a persona non grata or involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction. “I’ll show you a WMD,” says Voigt defiantly, hauling out a bottle of Scotch from underneath his desk.
Alcohol issues aside, ongoing battles with German justice also limit Voigt’s availability. Last October, Berlin’s Moabit Central Court found Voigt guilty of public incitement after openly praising the SS in the Köpenick district council chambers during a sitting to celebrate Berlin’s liberation by the Red Army. Voigt received a 10-month prison sentence on probation.
In all, Voigt’s CV includes 38 court appearances. Voigt has been fighting charges of racial incitement since 2006, when the NPD’s Berlin World Cup match guide displayed a future 2010 German football team featuring a solitary white player. Bans from football stadiums and hotels also limit Voigt’s field of operations.
As Germany’s 16 states are deliberating whether or not to initiate a second attempt to ban the NPD, Voigt has kept himself busy lobbying the Federal Constitutional Court, which decides such matters. He even claims to have another ace up his sleeve – a High Court judge ready to prevent the ban. Germany’s most unemployable man is not ready to retire.
Jobcenter insiders say Voigt’s case will be shunted onto a dead-end siding until he turns 65 and can be removed from their books… and moved on to pension benefits.