Nina Hoppe über Franz Vranitzky ("Vranz") und seine politische Vorbildwirkung und Nachhaltigkeit

The co-pilot 

I admit I was very worried. A plane crash in the middle of Europe, involving an airline I regularly fly with. I was alarmed and unsettled by it. Thought it could have happened to me too. Thought of the passengers. Hoped for their sake it was caused by a loss of cabin pressure. Was relieved when it turned out to be human error. Relieved? Yes – and from that point on sickened.

I read the first theories about the cause of the crash as early as Wednesday morning. Raised by the NYT in the European night. And speculation was soon rife: airline experts on TV, self-appointed airline experts in the form of frequent flyers on social media, the first hints of a suspected suicide. The name of the co-pilot was already winging its way to Europe from the US. Lufthansa withheld the names of the entire crew to protect their friends and family, and made reference to the fact that no final cause was anywhere near being established.

The matter became “pressing”

Then the French Public Prosecutor held a press conference and spelt out the name of the co-pilot. Several times. So everyone could write it down. I followed the live feed of that press conference and was horrified to learn the possible motive for the crash. But much more horrified by the way in which the private sphere of a supposed suicide victim was being treated.

The French and German media in particular fought for the latest findings, expressing no outrage that such highly sensitive data was being disclosed by the investigating authorities and played out in the media. The hounding of the co-pilot and, by association, his family/friends/neighbours/relatives had begun – in both the digital and analogue arena. This included headlines unworthy of any civilised society, accompanied by mumblings about the right of the public to be kept informed. The tabloid press was once again in its element. The nationalistic, flag-waving debate over Germany and Greece seemed almost intellectual by comparison with this witch-hunt. The media once again failed as the fourth estate, in both the digital and analogue sense. Why does Facebook routinely censor images of naked breasts but chose not to delete photos of the co-pilot? Due to ratings? Or, as they are now called, “clicks”? Alarming too how some public broadcasters behaved in Germany, lowering their standard of reporting to the depths of the tabloid press – and not for the first time either. The Edathy case was the most recent proof of this trend.

Depression as social stigma

Not only that, ever since then “depression” as an illness has been portrayed as a stigma and a socially irresponsible condition. Any person suffering from “such a” disorder should not be allowed to be a pilot. The control mechanisms failed. The employer failed. New, to my mind, seemingly useless measures such as the presence of two people in the cockpit at all times were immediately put in place to demonstrate rapid responsiveness. And Lufthansa has now installed its own administrative unit for monitoring its pilots. At the same time, people suffering from this illness are being sent the following signals: you are not perfect, look out! From now on you will be treated differently because you have a mental illness. And it will probably not work in your favour. … A new form of social isolation looms – and one that will only exacerbate such health conditions.

But what does this show us? It shows that we, as a civil society – mistakenly believing ourselves to be self-assured and enlightened – are nothing of the sort. We now suddenly want controls and supervision to protect ourselves from harm. We are voyeuristic about the way in which the private sphere of a dead man is dragged through the mud in public as a result of the investigations. We want and demand absolute security and transparency. But we will not achieve it. As long as people are people, there will always be some residual risk, which nothing and nobody can contain. At the same time, we oppose wholesale storage of data, the NSA and the surveillance state.

Perhaps we should take this opportunity to have a closer look at the importance of protecting our private sphere and how far we as a society already were before the digital wave and the media-cracy turned us into their plaything. Let us begin with ourselves – and shame others into doing the same.


Nina Hoppe about Germany that appears to be politically more and more isolated due to its economic strength in the EU. A plea.

Germany – Sine ira et studio*

*without anger or bias

Already in the days of Caesar and Tacitus, the Germanic people have been the subject of interest. In his work Germania, Tacitus praised their strict mores and moral standards in contrast to the degeneracy of Roman life. Nevertheless “the Germans” were always the subject of attack. Till this day, and Angela Merkel. Why?

One point that is interesting to note is that Germany is no longer feared in a political or military sense. This is a result of the European Union and its fathers such as Jacques Delors, Giscard d´Estaing, Helmut Kohl and Hans Dietrich Genscher. Its new power is economic in nature and apparently this is now much more alarming than anything experienced in the past. It is then only a small step further to compare the Germany of today with the atrocities and the policies of the Nazi era. Hence, mixing with a de facto economic position of power is the very emotionally-driven political threat which is supposedly emanating from Germany. This impression is enhanced too by remarks such as that made by Volker Kauder, parliamentary group leader of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU): “Europe is speaking German”.

Germany under attack

Yet the question I have is why the largest economy in the European Union should be condemned to perform less successfully than it is doing. Apart from the fact that Austria benefits greatly from this situation or, in other words, is very dependent economically on Germany, I would still like to know why, in a European Union, solidarity and mutual support (as in the example of Greece) are perceived as a threat.

Germany is making the European Union very strong, both politically and economically. The problem is, however, that Angela Merkel is not receiving unconditional support for her efforts to make the European Union an independent, self-assured community. The British and the French are looking more and more often towards America (although for different reasons), parts of Eastern Europe continue to be Russia-oriented. This Russia in turn is in no time at all developing a Eurasian economic area, in which the BRICS countries also find themselves. The sanctions imposed after the annexation of the Crimea, contrary to international law, were pushed for by Angela Merkel, though with the focus on strengthening Europe and not needing the USA as “the eternal big brother”. But the European Union is not finding its proper place in this global order, as the subject of political debate with an almost neurotic fixation is the threat emanating from Germany. However there would in actual fact be important issues to resolve: immigration policy, creating a European Union peace force (and thus independence from NATO), fiscal union, the TTIP debate.

Taking advantage of that, the ECB for instance is not exactly an ideal partner for the former Europe of SMEs and its decentralised customer banks (the strength of which especially in Germany is particularly pronounced). Let me remind you that Jens Weidmann, head of Deutsche Bank, was one of the biggest opponents of the ECB’s quantitative easing plan.

The regulatory requirements from Brussels also seem to be more or less a direct attack on the economically prosperous Germany: the Federal Republic managed to get through the financial crisis relatively unharmed through its regional banks such as savings banks (Sparkassen) and credit unions (Volksbanken) and, for example, gave its assistance to the ESM as the largest donor. Precisely these structures, however, stand in the way of a future EU capital markets union, and also in the way of EC President Jean-Claude Juncker’s investment programme.

Germany endangered

The risk is that, because of the purely power political reasoning and actions of the economic crisis states in the EU and the institutions outside and within the institutional framework, Germany is being made an outsider in the medium term, and thus the EU’s largest national economy is being destabilised. This will also considerably weaken Austria economically, which none of us would wish.

Germany is the opportunity for Europe and not its threat. However, care must be taken that a kind of new national chauvinism is not encouraged through the constant Germany bashing which then, as a self fulfilling prophecy, brings about exactly what everyone currently thinks they are seeing: Germany behaving in an authoritarian manner within the Union. That would be damaging for this wonderful political vision called the EU.


Nina Hoppe on the lifting of banking secrecy and what it means to the image of austrian politicians

Maria Theresia and bank secrecy

In the wake of the tax reforms, (though it is questionable whether the word ‘reform’ is even appropriate in this context), bank secrecy will apparently go by the wayside. Many would probably say that is no reason for concern. “After all, those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear”. But it is also a matter of our right to privacy and protection of the private sphere – the ordinary citizen’s claim to freedom from interference by the state.
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Nina Hoppe - Strategia. Politica . Media.


There he was somewhere in Southern Europe in spring 2014. In a region which tourists from Central Europe particularly enjoy visiting at that time of year for its mild climate, spring-like temperatures and bright sunshine. Only he wasn’t there by choice. He was on the run – from malice, humiliation and defamation: Sebastian Edathy. In 21st century Europe.
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Nina Hoppe about the criticism of woman to woman in matters of equality and the weakening of its protagonists

Gender equality: woman versus woman

The ancient Roman comic playwright Plautus coined the expression

homo homini lupus est (“man is a wolf to his fellow man”).

I’d like to adapt it to fit what is known as the “gender debate” –

femina feminae lupa est

because I have noticed for some time that women can be the greatest opponents to gender equality, and I’ve been affected by this myself. The latest example I’ve come across is a lead article by Martina Salomon in the Austrian newspaper Kurier.
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