December saw the launch of a new German news magazine, as Zuerst or "First" hit newsagents' shelves across the country, as well as those in Austria, Luxembourg and South Tyrol, with an initial print run of 90,000. Like other monthly publications of its type, Zuerst's 84 pages are filled with articles concerning the economy, current affairs, travel and culture. Flick through the magazine and you would be forgiven for aligning the publication with established news magazines Spiegel or Stern - the very ilk of which it is infact competing against. Take a closer look and it becomes clear that the publication is offering an altogether different message.
Taking off where Nation & Europa left off, Zuerst is stepping into the shoes of Germany's oldest right-wing extremist magazine, which closed at the end of 2009. Making no attempt to disguise this fact, publishing group Lesen & Schenken has dubbed the launch "the media event of 2009" in its press release, which highlights the magazine's intentions to "rise above political correctness" and "serve German interests - and not those of foreigners". Dietmar Munier, the magazine's publisher, told far-right Internet portal Gesamtrechts that Germany is facing times of trouble owing to mass immigration, a "probably record-breaking reproduction" among foreigners and "the loss of its own ethnical identity". Chillingly, he stated that the magazine provides an opportunity to "neatly put the screws" on Germany.
The magazine claims to simply be offering its German speaking readers a different take on national affairs, something it calls a "luxury" in a market well stocked with publications left of the centre. That, perhaps, seems reasonable. But then again, when you take into consideration the fact that this "different take on national affairs" is from the perspective of a man (Munier), who describes his country as nothing more than a "left-wing loony bin of really old 68ers who sit in positions of power", then it becomes clear that the publication might be wandering onto shaky ground - having already been labelled a vehicle for far-right propaganda by its critics.
Described by Mathias Brodkorb of the anti-Nazi organisation Endstation Rechts "as ambitious as it is risky", those who wait with baited breath to watch the publication trip itself up sooner rather than later, may have to wait a while yet: Munier described the launch of Zuerst as "the remodelling of Nation & Europa in order to make it weatherproof for the 21st century". Circulation figures for the magazine, though not yet available, will make for interesting analysis when the time comes.