Teen’s Death a Political Weapon. Refugee killed a girl, 14. Germany’s far right saw opportunity in tragedy.

The New Yorker 1.28.2019

Letter from Germany

Hundreds of people are murdered in Germany every year. But the troubling circumstances surrounding Der Fall Susanna, the case of Susanna Feldman, helped create a cause célèbre, generating intense media coverage—and activating the major fault lines now running through the country. Far-right parties hailed her as a martyr. Horst Seehofer, the country’s interior minister, who has repeatedly clashed with Angela Merkel over the government’s policy on immigrants and refugees, invoked the case when he threatened to resign last summer, sparking one of the most dramatic political crises in the country’s postwar history. And conditions were already fraught. Germany’s once placid political system had, over the past five years, been thrown into chaos by the rise of a new populist party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Support for Merkel had rapidly weakened, and, in October, in part to avert rebellion within her own party, the Christian Democratic Union, she resigned as its chair and promised to step down as Chancellor by the next general election.


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