Eckhard Jesse

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eckhard Jesse (born July 26, 1948 in Wurzen ) is a German political scientist and extremism researcher .

From 1993 to 2014 he held the chair “Political Systems, Political Institutions” at the TU Chemnitz . In 2007, Jesse was chairman of the German Society for Political Science . Together with Uwe Backes from the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism , he has been the editor of the yearbook Extremism & Democracy and the series of the same name and founder of the Veldensteiner Circle for the study of extremism and democracy since the 1980s / 90s . Jesse and Backes are also authors of the three-volume standard work Political Extremism in the Federal Republic (1989). He was repeatedly called in as an expert and expert witness , including in the first and second NPD ban proceedings .

academic career

Jesse's father was an elementary school principal ; the family fled from the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1958 . After Jesse had first completed an administration apprenticeship, he made up the Abitur in 1971 on the second educational path .

Jesse then studied political science and history from 1971 to 1976 at the Free University of Berlin (graduate political scientist 1976). During this time he received a scholarship from the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (1972–1978). At the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science in Berlin , he was one of a group of students who were influenced by the "father" of modern political science Ernst Fraenkel . From 1978 to 1983 he was a research assistant at the University of Trier . In 1982 he became the party researcher Peter Haungs , his second supervisor was Erwin Faul , at the Division III with the award-winning political science dissertation choice between continuity and reform that the 1985 contributions to the history of parliamentarianism and political parties was taken to Dr. phil. PhD. He then worked as a university assistant at the University of Trier until 1989 . In 1989/90 the habilitation followed , which remained unpublished, on the subject of conflicting democracy in the Federal Republic. The example of the extremist decision of 1972 and the private lectureship at Faculty III of the University of Trier in political science.

Until 1993 he represented chairs and was visiting professor at the universities in Munich , Trier, Potsdam and Mannheim . From 1993 to 2014 he held the chair for Political Systems, Political Institutions at the Institute for Political Science of the Philosophical Faculty of the TU Chemnitz. From 2010 to 2012 he was the managing director of the institute, before that he was deputy director.

He is the liaison professor of the Hanns Seidel Foundation and supervised the doctoral programs “Political Extremism and Parties” (2002–2004), “Political and Party Development in Europe” (2008–2011; with Roland Sturm and Gerd Strohmeier ) and “Democracy in Europe “(Since 2013; with Roland Sturm). His academic students (80 doctoral students and 5 post-doctoral students) include: a. Andreas H. Apelt , Udo Baron , Farah Dustdar , Carmen Everts , Lothar Fritze , Alexander Gallus , Robert Grünbaum , Florian Hartleb , Falk Illing , Steffen Kailitz , Jürgen P. Lang , Sebastian Liebold , Tom Mannewitz , Helmut Müller-Enbergs , Viola Neu , Tim Peters , Birgit Rätsch , Thomas Schubert and Tom Thieme . Hanka Kliese began her doctorate with Eckhard Jesse.

2007–2009 he was chairman of the German Society for Political Science .

Jesse has been married to a teacher since 1983.


Jesse's main research interests are democracy , extremism and totalitarianism , as well as election and party research , the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany and the historical foundations of politics. Together with other researchers, he advocated the thesis that Marinus van der Lubbes was the sole culprit in the Reichstag fire of 1933.

Activities and memberships

Eckhard Jesse, Uwe Backes and Rainer Zitelmann were founders of the Veldensteiner Circle for the Research of Extremism and Democracy (1990), today the event is organized by Eckhard Jesse, Uwe Backes and Werner Müller .

In the 1980s he and his teacher, Peter Haungs, edited the series Contributions to Contemporary History at Colloquium Verlag . Together with Frank-Lothar Kroll , he has published the series Chemnitz Contributions to Politics and History ( Lit Verlag ) since 2007 and, together with Roland Sturm, since 2012 the series Parties and Elections (Nomos Verlag).

Jesse was chairman of the German Association for Political Science (2007).

In addition, he is or was a member of numerous scientific advisory boards, boards of trustees and board members. a. the Federal Foundation for the Processing of the SED Dictatorship , the Society for Research on Germany , the Ettersberg Foundation , the Saxon State Center for Political Education , the Dresden Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism, including the journal Totalitarianism and Democracy and the Journal for Intergenerational Justice .

Jesse is editor of the magazine MUT and permanent author of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (BpB). He also contributed extensive articles to the thirty-volume Coron Encyclopedia , a complete revision of the Bertelsmann Lexikothek , such as State in the Past and Present, The Democratic Constitutional State and Dictatorship, Extremism and Terrorism .

The CDU parliamentary group of the Saxon state parliaments appointed Jesse in 2012 as an expert in the NSU investigation committee there .

Cooperation with the protection of the constitution

Jesse appears as a speaker at events of the Federal Office and the State Offices for the Protection of the Constitution . His publications, some of which are expressly intended for use by the authorities, are purchased by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and are used in publications by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Yearbook Extremism & Democracy

Together with Uwe Backes from HAIT , Jesse has been publishing the yearbook Extremism & Democracy since 1989, as well as a series of publications with the same name, which are now standard works in extremism research. In 2001 the yearbook published a biographical portrait of the Holocaust denier Horst Mahler , which was created after Jesse's visit to Mahler.

NPD ban proceedings

In 2003 Eckhard Jesse was appointed by the Federal Constitutional Court as an expert for the first NPD ban proceedings. In a press release from Chemnitz University of Technology, his assessment at the time was presented as follows: “Because of the insignificance of the NPD, Jesse considers an application to ban a party to be inappropriate. Nonetheless, he regards a ban on this aggressive, anti- constitutional party as legitimate. ”In an interview, he expressed himself skeptically about the effect of an NPD ban:“ What all attempts to silence and ban the NPD have led to, we have in the Seen past. It still exists, and even decades later it was able to move into a German state parliament. ”In Jesse's view,“ the anti-constitutionality of the NPD […] is clearly given ”. However, if the prohibition procedure failed, he saw the danger that the NPD could “give the impression that it had a democratic Persil certificate”, and also expressed fundamental concerns about party bans that could give citizens the impression that “you are going to others Wise not done with the party ”.

In 2016 he was appointed as an expert in the second NPD prohibition proceedings before the Federal Constitutional Court.

Academic dispute and controversy

Research on extremism and the concept of totalitarianism

Jesse is considered one of the founding fathers of the extremism theory, which he describes as follows:

“The extremism theory assumes that the right and left-wing extremists are on the one hand far apart and on the other hand close together, like the ends of a horseshoe. There are enemy images that coincide, for example against America, against globalization, against capitalism. But there are also enemy images that are completely different, on the one hand the foreigners and on the other hand the state that is being fought. "

According to Jesse, the comparative concept of extremism makes it possible to grasp various anti-democratic currents of political and religious orientations without equating them in terms of content or danger.

The extremism theory co-developed by Jesse and the concept of totalitarianism are in competition with the fascism theory and are rejected by various sides. For example, the political scientist Richard Stöss criticizes that equating left-wing extremism and right-wing extremism by the term “totalitarianism” is not suitable for a differentiated analysis. There are serious differences between the two phenomena, in particular the originally anti-democratic stance of right-wing ideologies is concealed. The right-wing extremism expert and SPD politician Mathias Brodkorb , for example, defends Jesse's approach. The political scientist Armin Pfahl-Traughber criticized the theory of extremism in a “Critique of Criticism” that it was based on “misinterpretations and misunderstandings, but also… assumptions and distortions”. He therefore continues to use the term extremism.

After the state elections in Hesse in 2008 supported the decision of his former graduate student Jesse Carmen Everts , in the planned election to Prime Minister not for Andrea Ypsilanti and by the Left tolerated minority government after the Magdeburg Model to vote. The left shows “extremist traits”, which, however, are rarely discussed. Eckhard Jesse also endorsed the attempts initiated by the former Family Minister Kristina Schröder to establish prevention programs against left-wing extremism and Islamism, since Germany had “a problem with right-wing and left-wing extremism”.

Anthology on National Socialism

In 1990, Eckhard Jesse, together with Rainer Zitelmann and Uwe Backes, published the anthology The Shadows of the Past. Impulses for the historicization of National Socialism out . In this Jesse put forward the thesis that the German coming to terms with the past prevents "self-satisfied demeanor" and "big man-addicted saber rattling" and stifles "German tumultuous tendencies in the beginning", which he rates positively. At the same time he criticizes that coming to terms with the past can also take on a "negative dimension", which manifests itself in a lack of development of a natural national feeling and a fixation with the past. Criticism was triggered by the statement contained in an article that there had been a "modernization push" during National Socialism . Jesse also takes the view in the volume that anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism are sometimes "more phantom than reality". Jesse saw the reason for the increased attention in relation to this phenomenon, among other things, in the particular vigilance of Jewish associations in Germany: “Jewish organizations need anti-Semitism on a certain scale in order to be heard for their concerns and to better assert their legitimate interests . ”Other authors of the anthology demanded that Germany step out of the“ shadow of the past ”.

More criticism

The journalist Heribert Prantl sharply criticized Eckhard Jesse in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2010. On the occasion of Jesse's appointment as an expert in the first NPD ban proceedings, he accused Jesse of “playing down right-wing extremist activities”. He lacks the objectivity of expertise required for a judicial expert. He described the anthology on National Socialism co-edited by Jesse as a “standard work of moderate historical revisionism”. The journalist Sebastian Leber also accused Jesse in 2018 of acting in many cases rather one-sided and partisan. Political scientist Lars Rensmann and historian Wolfgang Wippermann see Jesse, Backes and Zitelmann close to the New Right . Rensmann criticizes some ideologems of Jesse and states that he had little fear of contact with Hans-Helmuth Knütter , who was assigned to the New Right , without, however, moving as far to the right as Knütter.

In the dispute with Armin Pfahl-Traughber , who saw an "erosion of the demarcation" between right-wing conservatives and fascists, Jesse found in 1996 that there was an insurmountable border between conservatism and right-wing extremism in the Federal Republic:

“(That is) mostly a problem of perception . [...] The defense mechanisms of the local political culture [...] work against the right (unlike in Weimar ) and in some cases in a rigorous manner that even powers of the constitutional arc that are above suspicion end up in a disreputable right-wing corner. The 'view to the right' is overly developed; the one to the left, however, is cloudy. "

As chairman of the doctoral colloquium, Eckhard Jesse refused to review Sebastian Maaß 's dissertation. According to Jesse, Maaß is practicing right-wing extremist apologetics in an unscientific manner.

Publications (selection)


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Eckehard Jesse in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  2. Uwe Backes, Alexander Gallus: Introduction . In: Eckhard Jesse: Democracy in Germany. Diagnoses and analyzes. Ed. And incorporated. by Uwe Backes and Alexander Gallus, Böhlau, Cologne a. a. 2008, ISBN 978-3-412-20157-9 , pp. 7-11, here: p. 7.
  3. Completed dissertations and habilitations with Eckhard Jesse ( Memento from December 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), TU Chemnitz, accessed on July 3, 2014.
  4. The keyword Jesse results in the online system of this BpB 1212 hits, status May 2012. He was the last to publish there in December 2011, status 05/2012.
  5. Brochure from the BfV on the symposium on images of enemies in political extremism on October 1, 2003 (PDF file; 1.03 MB)
  6. Examples: 11th autumn discussion of the LfV Hessen on November 15, 2007 ( Memento from April 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), LfV Thuringia brochure on the left-wing extremist violence symposium on November 4, 2010 (PDF file; 1.25 MB)
  7. Uwe Backes, Eckhard Jesse: Editorial 1989 for the yearbook Extremism & Democracy ( Memento from June 26, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  8. Bundestag printed matter 17/2992 of September 20, 2010 (PDF file; 67 kB)
  9. Examples: Constitutional Protection Report Brandenburg 2009 ( Memento from August 12, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF file; 6.11 MB) and Verfassungsschutz Report Berlin 2010 ( Memento from December 25, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 2.1 MB)
  10. Example: Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (ed.): Commemoration of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht - a traditional element of German left-wing extremism. Cologne 2008.
  11. Uwe Backes, Eckhard Jesse (ed.): Yearbook Extremism & Democracy . ISSN  0938-0256 (various volumes since 1989; published annually).
  12. Holocaust deniers on principle? Federal Agency for Civic Education, May 2008.
  13. a b “Sad sign of helplessness”. Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 17, 2010, accessed on September 15, 2018 .
  14. Alexander Friebel: Chemnitz political scientist supports the Federal Constitutional Court. Website of the TU Chemnitz, January 11, 2002.
  15. "The NPD harms itself". In: Die Welt , January 25, 2005.
  16. Autonomous Nationalists - When the Black Block Turns Brown. In: 3sat online. May 4, 2009.
  17. Eckhard Jesse in an interview: The term extremism is the opposite of the term democracy. In: Endstation Rechts , April 24, 2009.
  18. Richard Stöss: The extreme right in the Federal Republic. Development - causes - countermeasures. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1989, ISBN 3-531-12124-3 , pp. 18f.
  19. Mathias Brodkorb : Critique of Criticism - About the misunderstood extremism theory. In: Die Zeit , Störungsmelder , 23 July 2010. Printed in: ders. (Ed.): Extremistenjäger !? The term extremism and the democratic constitutional state (= end of the line right. Vol. 1). Adebor, Banzkow 2011, ISBN 978-3-9809375-7-3 , pp. 89-99 (preview) .
  20. To the quote and further to the “Critique of Criticism” Armin Pfahl-Traughber : Left-wing extremism - analytical category or political catchphrase? Definition of terms - criticism - criticism of criticism. In: Federal Center for Political Education (Ed.): Dossier: Left-wing extremism. September 8, 2014, here footnote 20.
  21. The ends do not justify the means. In: Tagesspiegel. November 10, 2008.
  22. Left- Wing Extremism - With Education Against Bambule . In: Spiegel online. May 25, 2010.
  23. Eckhard Jesse: Philosemitism, anti-Semitism and anti-anti-Semitism. In: Uwe Backes, Eckhard Jesse, Rainer Zitelmann (eds.): The shadows of the past . Ullstein Verlag, Berlin 1990, p. 546.
  24. Heribert Prantl: Federal Constitutional Court makes Bock a gardener. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. February 6, 2002.
  25. Heribert Prantl: Right-wing extremist violence: Why Chemnitz is not the Hambach Forest ( Memento from May 12, 2019 in the Internet Archive ). In: Tagesspiegel. 23rd September 2018.
  26. ^ Lars Rensmann: Democracy and the image of the Jews: Anti-Semitism in the political culture of the Federal Republic of Germany . VS, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-531-14006-X , p. 292.
  27. Jesse & Backes (ed.): Political extremism in the Federal Republic of Germany. Complete revised & updated new edition, series of publications, 272.Bpb, Bonn 1996, ISBN 3-89331-260-9 , p. 526 (also as a publisher's edition ). On the controversy: Rainer Benthin: On the way to the middle. Public Relations Strategies of the New Right. Campus, Frankfurt 2004, ISBN 3-593-37620-2 (also in Google books), p. 32. By Verfassungsbogen, Jesse means political normalism to the extent he has defined