In 2014, Hermann Ploppa, journalist and author from Germany, published a book entitled “Die Macher hinter den Kulissen. Wie transatlantische Netzwerke heimlich die Demokratie unterwandern” (The string-pullers behind the scenes. How transatlantic networks are secretly subverting democracy). As early as in 2008 the author attracted attention by a book that was not in line with the mainstream: “Hitlers amerikanische Lehrer. Die Eliten der USA als Geburtshelfer des Nationalsozialismus”(Hitler’s American teachers. US elites as midwives of Nazism). During a visit to Switzerland, there was the opportunity to talk with the author about his new book. The book comprises about 200 pages, and naturally in an interview one can address only a few aspects. The interview may stimulate the reading of the book.
Current Concerns: Mr Ploppa, you have written a new book. What are the core ideas of your book?
Hermann Ploppa: The central topic of the book is that organisations in Germany, which cannot be challenged by the public, change the political paradigm and the political agenda. They do so by bypassing the public. Passing by electoral decisions of citizens and the majority of the population, they determine political agendas and paradigms.
On the one hand, this concerns domestic policy, social policy. Up to two thirds of the population repeatedly say in surveys: We want a system that combines the advantages of capitalism and socialism. In fact, we see an ever increasing economisation of all areas of life. We are experiencing a pressure to rethink and understand everything in economic terms, even in the social sphere.
The other field concerned is foreign policy. Polls have repeatedly shown that Germans want an independent German foreign policy which is friendly but distances itself from the power blocs. The people would like to see the interests of the German people realised by an own catalogue of measures. In fact, however, it happens that our foreign policy is
becoming more and more adapted to the US-American interests, going as far as getting under noticeable pressure to offensively represent US interests in the Ukraine crisis against Russia, something that we cannot justify from our own objective interests.
This did not happen from one day to the other.
Current Concerns: In your book you go back into history for decades.
Ploppa: Yes, we are talking about an intergenerational elite project which was developed in the USA. Cristallisation point of this development is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Foreign Affairs Council, which aims at remoulding the entire reachable world according to the US model and integrating it into the American Pax Americana. All this has happened since 1921 – intensified after the Second World War by various branch organisations in over 170 countries around the world. In Germany for example, there was first the “Atlantic Bridge” (Atlantikbrücke), which established the contact between the German elites and those of the United States, and, secondly, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (DGAP) which in the Anglo-Saxon countries is called “German Council on Foreign Relations” and which in turn is the one think tank that provides expert reports for the US hegemony.
Current Concerns: The subtitle of your book says that it is about a secret undermining of democracy. If I take the German “Grundgesetz” (Basic Law) as a standard of German democracy: Why are the activities of these networks compatible to the German Grundgesetz”, and why do you say that everything is done in secret?
Ploppa: Since the French Revolution, it is self-evident – and it is so in all Western democracies and particularly in the central European democracies – that all policy measures which are taken should be decided and enforced by politicians as representatives of the people’s will, that they should reflect the majority will of the population and should take into account what the population wants.
On the other hand it is about the public, the necessity of transparency. Everything that is discussed and that is implemented, must be open to the people’s scrutiny. They must be able to verify, who represented something and how and why he did so. If now – circumventing all this – decisions are taken, for which in a procedure of democratic majority decision you would never get a majority, it is already as much as clandestine infiltration. And that is incompatible with the “Grundgesetz”.
Current Concerns: You have already pointed out in answering the first question that radical freemarket concepts are being enforced…
Current Concerns: Can you give examples that clearly show us: Here did transatlantic networks ensure that radical free-market concepts were enforced in Germany?
Ploppa: The most obvious example is that first of all our legislation in Germany was changed in such a way that foundations may retain a lot more money, that they now can develop an abundance of power by which they are able to dictate the agenda to the politicians. A famous example is the Bertelsmann Foundation. The Bertelsmann Foundation is the “power of the two hearts”. On the one hand there is the media group Bertelsmann with the TV channel RTL or the magazine Stern, etc., on the other hand there is the foundation, and the two assist each other in order to advance certain agenda items.
Specific items on the Bertelsmann Foundation’s agenda are the privatisation and economisation of public services. There is, for example, the project “School & Co.” in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia which in the meantime includes more than 250 schools that are organised like independent businesses. This aims at ultimately being able to operate schools according to economic criteria and some day, if possible, making profit and probably listing them on the stock market. The same happened in the university system. The “Centre for Higher Education” (CHE) of the Bertelsmann Foundation promotes, also in cooperation with the West German Rectors’ Conference, the privatisation of universities all over Germany, i.e. the downsizing of public funding and replacing it by external funding. In Germany the same applies to the Bertelsmann foundation’s “Center for Hospital Management”. They conceptually prepared, for example, the privatisation of the university hospitals in Giessen and Marburg. Privatisation was implemented, and then the hospital became the property of Fresenius Medical Care, that is a private company aspiring to make profit.
Current Concerns: For the average citizen, the Bertelsmann Foundation is first of all a purely German affair. How can you say that this foundation has something to do with transatlantic networks?
Ploppa: In fact, the Bertelsmann Foundation does not directly operate as a pro-American organisation. It is located in Gütersloh and originated from a Protestant mail-order bookselling business. But one must add that some organisations, some foundations that are not quite so closely involved in transatlantic networks and foundations, are thinking in a more American way than the Americans themselves. This is a very amazing phenomenon. The Bertelsmann Foundation itself, however, also works in Washington, has an office in Washington, where it closely networks with transatlantic US organisations.
Current Concerns: Does the CEO of the group, Liz Mohn, hold a seat in such a transatlantic network?
Ploppa: Liz Mohn keeps more or less out of the whole business. These are rather her former subordinates like Mr. Middelhoff, who in this respect were more noticeable, but she herself keeps out of the business. Rather, she is the coffee-girlfriend of Angela Merkel. People speak of the ‘Feminate’: Friede Springer, Angela Merkel and Liz Mohn as a Triumfeminate – in allusion to the Roman Triumvirate. For the networks themselves there are others whom they have the work done.
Current Concerns: You have mentioned the radical-liberal market concept as a part of the network policy. Can you say more about foreign policy?
Ploppa: I would like to draw your attention to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), whose president Volker Perthes, a renowned orientalist – at a meetng of the Council on Foreign Relations – proposed to take action against Iran by implanting the computer worm Stuxnet into the Iranian nuclear power plants control systems. In this way he actively participated in the US war against Iran.
Current Concerns: Let us distance ourselves a little from Germany and look at the overall European situation. Is there even such a thing as a European-wide transatlantic network?
What about the EU? What role does it play for US interests in Europe?
Ploppa: First of all, the US and European elites were and are brought together by the Bilderbergers on a purely social level. Already since 1954. The Bilderbergers are also considered the string-pullers behind the European unification. Or rather, even behind the Bilderbergers there was already an American initiative. Furthermore, the project of European integration is a top-down project. The geopolitical interests of the United States after the Second World War were to shut Western Europe off, to conclude a political land consolidation. The United States thought that the Soviet Union was on the verge of seizing Western Europe – by means of cultural hegemony. Therefore – starting out from the CIA – they pumped money into Europe in a controlled way, also via US under cover
organizations such as the American Committee for a United Europe, and then drove forth seeming grassroots movements in Europe such as the Europa Union giving this geopolitical project of the USA, the character of a popular movement.For several years something new has been added now: via the construct European Union pressure is being put on the nations to think and plan in a radical liberal-market manner. And as can be seen from many papers, it is all about a favourable investment climate for corporate groups. This is the EU’s very official doctrine, and – according to the principle of EU law dominating national law – is then imposed on the democratically elected governments. This is a deeply non-democratic process.
Current Concerns: You mentioned Germany’s relationship with Russia. Can we say that those transatlantic networks might become an existential threat for us?
Ploppa: By all means. The Ukraine crisis shows this clearly. It became obvious at once that the German media, who shortly before had referred to Putin as a partner worth discussing, began to attack him even below the belt and demonise him. If you seek the guilty party, you will soon realize that all the initiators of this campaign belong to transatlantic networks. The attacks against Putin and Russia were simultaneously launched in all the mainstream media. One should expect that in a liberal media landscape one newspaper takes a stance rather in favour and the other rather against Russia, and the third might be neutral. However, only one opinion could be heard. That was the point, however, when it became too much for the readership, for the hitherto loyal subscribers of
Der Spiegel, Die Zeit or “Süddeutsche Zeitung” many of them cancelled their subscription and said: We do not accept this one-sidedness. Der Spiegel had also launched a survey, initiated a forum, with a leading question from the outset: How can we stop Putin? This forum was shut down again after a few hours, because it did not bring about the desired result, namely attacks on Putin. Indeed, the majority of the people spoke out in favour of a differentiated approach towards Russia. Obviously transatlantic networks are exerting an extensive influence on German and European policies, in a manner and with results that are not in the interest of the Germans and the Europeans as well. In no way, indeed.
Current Concerns: What can we do to make a difference? So that the citizens’ concerns will be heard?
Ploppa: With foreign policy in view, we must emphasise, for example, that the emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are interesting markets for Germany. The fact that these countries are interesting partners and that we are cut off from them, if we unilaterally side with the US and as a consequence the whole Asian, the Eurasian sphere will no longer exist for us as an opportunity for growth. That has already been understood in parts of the entrepreneurship. There were even forums where speakers clearly favoured opening up to the BRICS countries. At the moment we are amazed at hearing sounds from the federal government and from the CSU, which we have not been heard for a long time: Mr Putin was yet an important, indispensable partner in the fight against terrorism. That is to translate by: We cannot do without the Russian gas and oil, and we also have the market for convenience products in Russia, for example. There is hope that the good sense of local entrepreneurs will gradually carry more weight and gets a stronger hearing. With regard to the entire population, we need to continue networking.
Current Concerns: What made you write your book?
Ploppa: In 1998, many people hoped that the Schröder/Fischer administration would do much better, that they would in fact act more peacefully and also more socially than the previous governments. Both hopes did not come true. The exact opposite occurred. It makes you wonder why. Why can the traditional means of parliamentary democracy not enforce a change of policy? Why does it always take a completely different direction? I became curious and wanted to know what organizations they were actually members of, all of them. Then it became rapidly obvious that Joschka Fischer had long been involved in transatlantic networks. Without the massive support of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the media group Bertelsmann Fischer and Schröder would never have become suitable for ministerial offices. In the last debates before the election, an amazing harmony could be observed between Fischer and the former Christian democratic defense minister Volker Rühe. Rühe was an advocate of “Bundeswehr“ missions abroad and unlike his Chancellor Helmut Kohl in favour of the war against Yugoslavia.Hardly were they in government, Joschka Fischer continued where Hitler had had to stop, namely at the bombing of Belgrade. In the meantime Fischer became co-founder of the European Council on Foreign Relations. It would indeed have been nice if there had also been a Council on Foreign Relations, that would have been able to provide a counterbalance to US Hegemony instruments based on a European, a genuinely European interest; but the opposite was the case. It became another branch of the transatlantic discourses and paradigms. For me, all that led to the fact that first of all I had to inform the public, since otherwise you just do not get anywhere.
Current Concerns: Mr Ploppa, thank you very much for the interview.
This Interview had been conducted by Karl Müller, editor of the magazine Zeit-Fragen from Switzerland. This version is a translation of Zeit-Fragen for the English edition “Current Concern” from October 18th 2015, No. 26.