Jaak Madison, the only Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) member at the European Parliament (EP), used a Nazi term – originally used to camouflage the Holocaust – against immigrants in Europe.
Madison, elected to the EP in May, posted an article on his Facebook page on 1 August about a murder committed by a Syrian immigrant in Stuttgart, Germany, and added a comment: “New Europe and new Germany – one day an Eritrean pushes little boys and their mothers in front of a train, the other day a Syrian cuts a Kazakh with a sword. Let’s be tolerant and open, right? Die endgültige Lösung ist erforderlich.”
A Nazi term to persecute and murder Jews
“Die endgültige Lösung ist erforderlich” (“the final solution is required”) was used by the Nazis as a designated term for the “final solution” to persecute and murder Jews. From 1941, this euphemism was intended to camouflage the Holocaust – a genocide of six million Jews – externally, to ideologically justify it internally.
After some reaction in the Estonian media and a condemnation by a veteran Estonian MP, Enn Eesmaa (Centre Party), Madison took to social media again on 2 August to comment on the matter – in which he stood by his words and launched a strong verbal attack on those who criticised and condemned him.
He called his critics “extreme left” and “not exactly of the highest intelligence”. “I try to explain in the simplest possible terms the elementary: I do not want (I speak only for myself) concentration camps or the Holocaust. I want a definitive solution to the migration crisis that is destroying Europe and its history and culture,” Madison said. “I would like the European external border to be hermetically sealed against illegal migration. I want all illegal migrants to be sent back to their countries of origin. I wish that Islamic radicals would not have the opportunity to carry their tentacles across Europe, and I wish Europeans would not agree, but act.”
Enn Eesmaa, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Estonian parliament, strongly condemned Madison’s use of the Nazi phrase. “Whatever the context – and used intentionally or unintentionally – the use of such a term that understandably hurts a large part of humanity, and is internationally and unequivocally condemned, is wrong,” Eesmaa said in a statement.
Eesmaa added that as an MEP, Madison does not only represent his party, but Estonia as a whole. “The impression people get when one uses such terms, doesn’t merely impact him, but all of us – it’s something we must avoid. Therefore, such use of the term can only be unequivocally and strongly condemned,” he said.
“We must learn from history not to repeat the past mistakes. The mistakes of the past include blaming the entire nation for the actions of the few. This is the wrong way to go. There are other ways to convey your message and I hope a member of the European Parliament understands it,” Eesmaa said.
Longtime Nazi sympathiser
It’s not a first time Jaak Madison has flirted with the Nazi terms and ideology. He justified the practices of the Nazi regime in a private blog post before the Estonian parliament election in 2015 – just before he was elected as an MP for the first time. “In my eyes, fascism is an ideology that consists of quite a few positive and necessary nuances to preserve the nation state,” he said.
Madison was elected to the European Parliament on 26 May. He gathered 22,823 votes and became the first EKRE party member to become an MEP.
EKRE is a radical and populist party that first entered the Estonian parliament in 2015, winning seven seats. In the 2019 election on 3 March, the party more than doubled their seats and currently has 19 MPs. The party was subsequently invited to form the current government with the populist Centre Party and conservative Isamaa. The party’s leading figures, including Madison, have over the years stood out for their use of xenophobic, racist and homophobic rhetoric.
Prime minister Jüri Ratas (Centre Party) and EKRE’s leaders, father and son Mart and Martin Helme, have so far not commented on the matter. Madison was not available for further comments at the writing of this article.
Cover: Jaak Madison at the torch march organised by EKRE on 24 February 2015. Photo by DJ Sturm, under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0.