Predecessors and successors are not always friends. But rarely do they despise each other as much as Thomas de Maizière and Horst Seehofer. No wonder that de Maizière's book triggers new controversy.
Of course, that will not be a dispute; but the two are just too similar. Thomas de Maizière, former Minister of the Interior, has written a book on governing. And Olaf Scholz, current Minister of Finance, comes to a clear conclusion in his introductory speech. "Very beautiful" "Thomas" described the craft of the politician; he describes the burdens on the family as "pleasantly relaxed". In general, Maizière "a very fine guy," says the Federal Minister of Finance. Therefore he was sitting here and immediately agreed to introduce this book.
A tidy Thomas de Maizière, a friendly laudator – that's how it should look to the outside. In addition de Maizière reminds of how brittle they are often perceived. "I a paper clip, you Scholzomat" – so loud rash public classification. In fact, they both stand for the serious effort to serve the country not with foam, but with conscientious work.
So that could have been it with this appearance. But although de Maizière makes every effort to spread this message, there is another theme that resonates this afternoon. And that breaks with everything that the book and its presenters embody.
There is a charge that has hurt him deeply
This refers to the refugee crisis, the dispute over it and thus also the criticism, which moored to the former Interior Minister since the difficult months of summer 2015.
De Maizière has known for a long time that some things did not go well in this crisis. He knows full well that communicative mistakes made life difficult for him – and that failures before the crisis shook the country in the crisis.
But while the criticism charged him, but never met his heart, there is a charge that has deeply hurt him since these difficult months. It was the talk of the "rule of injustice", formulated and pushed to the extreme by the then Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer.
Seehofer has turned this accusation equally against Angela Merkel and against her then Interior Minister. He never really took him back. And de Maizière has long renounced a decided return coach. But he could not and did not want to hold back with this book.
It has become no side-long Suada against Seehofer. Instead, de Maizière calls Seehofer's attack of that time short and concise. It's just a single word. But that has it all.
Seehofer calls de Maizières claims "objectively wrong"
Anyone who has experienced the Maizière Prussian man of duty more than superficially knows that there is little that would make one like him harder. Distinguishing – that's the message a duel had to follow at dawn. With life-threatening consequences.
During the book launch, he does not like to talk much about it. Yes, that's a tough word, says de Maizière. He chose it that way. Otherwise, he would not say anything more. The word, says the message, is enough.
How deep the ditch between the two is can also be studied on the opponent. Instead of tacitly ignoring the retired de Maizière, Seehofer reacted unrestrained and within minutes. As soon as de Maizière's book was on the market at the beginning of the week, Seehofer explained that although he knew the work only from what is publicly cited. Nevertheless, it was clear to him that de Maizière's allegations were "objectively wrong".
Now there may be authors and publishers who hold a dispute over text passages for a particularly skilful PR strategy. At de Maizière, however, that might not have been the strongest driving force.
The conflict is based on two decisions taken in the summer of 2015. Firstly, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided to suspend the implementation of the asylum procedure elsewhere in the EU for several months in response to the massive influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrians to this group , Where some (like Seehofer) suspected a breach of law, the others (such as de Maizière) stated that this would explicitly allow the Dublin rules on the reception and distribution of refugees in the EU for exceptional situations.
On the other hand, the then Minister of the Interior decided to introduce controls at the borders but not to reject refugees. There were different legal interpretations, especially in the deciding Federal Ministry of the Interior. Therefore, de Maizière decided politically for a waiver of border closures, because he thought that images of hard police operations against refugees could not be the policy days or even weeks answer to the public.
And then there was a third dispute that was not really public in the hot months of fall 2015, but plays a role in the book and Seehofer's replica. De Maizière reports that in the most difficult weeks there were also the district councilors on the German-Austrian border (many of the CSU) who asked in Berlin to let the refugees into the country and then register – for fear of huge ones Refugee camps in the immediate vicinity of the border.
The dispute with Seehofer will probably never dissolve
For de Maizière and his house this was obviously an important reason to register people first in the country. Seehofer, on the other hand, claims that this is not true at the request of the district councils. A book planned for April in Cotta-Verlag contradicts Seehofer's thesis, however – and apparently also refers to requests that came in the fall of 2015, of all things from Seehofer's State Chancellery.
The dispute between the two will probably no longer be resolved. There are hardly two politicians whose basic understanding of the role of a politician so far apart. The 69-year-old Seehofer has always understood politics as an office for great messages and symbols, for conflict and passion. The 65-year-old de Maizière sees this differently for thirty years. He wants to organize, pacify, rationally govern – and considers all the great symbolism that has always made a Seehofer, questionable and sometimes even dangerous.
As he says in the book presentation: "To believe that you govern well, when you have a good idea or make a great speech is wrong." It takes more than a few big headlines. Seehofer does not have to take that personally. But he would not be wrong if he did anyway.