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Neonazi Terrorism in Germany

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  • kato
    replied
    German regional minister resigns over far-right links to gun purchase

    A German regional minister has resigned following criticism over a gun he purchased from someone with suspected links to a far-right group.

    Lorenz Caffier admitted to the purchase last week, but faced backlash after saying it was a "private matter". On Tuesday, Mr Caffier said he no longer had the "necessary authority" to continue as interior minister for the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It comes as Germany's government ramps up its efforts to combat the far right. In a statement, Mr Caffier criticised the media's "uninhibited reporting", insisting he was stepping down to "protect" his family, employees and others around him. He also said suggestions that he was linked to far-right groups himself hurt him "deeply".

    Mr Caffier has admitted to buying a pistol for hunting purposes in 2018 from a man dubbed Frank T, who operated a shooting range. The facility was used to train police special forces, but was also frequented by suspected members of far-right group Nordkreuz. Nordkreuz (German: Northern Cross) is a so-called "prepper" organisation whose followers train for doomsday scenarios like the collapse of national order. Several members have had links to the police and military, and the group has been accused of preparing to carry out political assassinations. As interior minister, Mr Caffier was responsible for overseeing all police and intelligence operations against groups like Nordkreuz. He said that, at the time, authorities were unaware of Frank T's alleged links to the group. Frank T has also denied the allegations, and investigations by public prosecutors are ongoing.

    In July 2017, a whistleblower spoke to German authorities about the activities of Nordkreuz and mentioned Frank T's involvement, according to local news outlet Tagesschau. However the testimony presented "no actual evidence of right-wing extremist activities" by Frank T. Mr Caffier admitted that, "from today's perspective," he should not have bought the gun from him, but stressed that "it wasn't the acquisition that was a mistake, but my handling of it". During recent years, the government has sought to clamp down on the emergence of far-right groups around the country, particularly in the police and military. In June 2017, inspections were ordered on all military barracks when Nazi-era memorabilia was found at two of them. Earlier this year, Germany's defence minister also ordered the partial dissolution of the elite KSK commando force due to right-wing extremists in its ranks.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54980145

    Last week Caffier presented the annual Domestic Intelligence Report for the state for 2019, which is the first one to name Nordkreuz, its terrorist plans and its connections to police officers. Caffier admitted to the press this week that Frank T., who he bought the gun from, was a member of Nordkreuz that was at the time known to the Interior Ministry.

    Caffier stepping down as Interior Minister came after the Minister-President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as his boss ordered him to issue a statement of explanation about the gun deal in parliament, which he "saw himself unable to do".

    The step to remove himself from the cabinet may also have had to do with additional allegations of tax fraud and some illegal real estate deals and connected changes to land development plans back when he was mayor of Usedom 10 years ago.

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  • kato
    replied
    400 police officers plus SWAT teams from multiple states today searched 18 estates in 11 different counties of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, after being tipped off on a group of 19 people having met in a building in Baden-Württemberg while wearing Wehrmacht uniforms and carrying weapons.

    Two of the 19 accused - men and women between age 27 and 77 - have previously been under observation by domestic intelligence. Police is still investigating whether the group was possibly a militia or a reenactment group.
    Media has been pretty quick to jump to a comparison to "Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann", a neonazi militia engaged in similar activities that was outlawed in 1980 and members of which committed the terrorist attack on Oktoberfest that year (with 13 dead and 211 injured).

    Items seized in the raid included computers, vehicles, uniforms, weapons, ammunition and grenades as well as drugs. The amount of weapons recovered in three counties in Baden-Württemberg was sufficient to fill multiple trucks. An EOD team had to perform controlled explosions of two explosive devices.

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  • kato
    replied
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/01/w...iltration.html

    Body Bags and Enemy Lists: How Far-Right Police Officers and Ex-Soldiers Planned for ‘Day X’

    Germany has woken up to a problem of far-right extremism in its elite special forces. But the threat of neo-Nazi infiltration of state institutions is much broader.

    By Katrin Bennhold

    Published Aug. 1, 2020
    Updated Aug. 4, 2020

    GÜSTROW, Germany — The plan sounded frighteningly concrete. The group would round up political enemies and those defending migrants and refugees, put them on trucks and drive them to a secret location.

    Then they would kill them.

    One member had already bought 30 body bags. More body bags were on an order list, investigators say, along with quicklime, which can be used to mask the stench of buried corpses.

    On the surface, those discussing the plan seemed reputable. One was a lawyer and local politician, but with a special hatred of immigrants. Two were active army reservists. Two others were police officers, including Marko Gross, a police sniper and former parachutist who acted as their unofficial leader.

    The group grew out of a nationwide chat network for soldiers and others with far-right sympathies set up by a member of Germany’s elite special forces, the KSK. Over time, under Mr. Gross’s supervision, they formed a parallel group of their own. Members included a doctor, an engineer, a decorator, a gym owner, even a local fisherman.

    They called themselves Nordkreuz, or Northern Cross.

    “Between us, we were a whole village,” recalled Mr. Gross, one of several Nordkreuz members who described to me in various interviews this year how the group came together and began making plans.

    They denied they had plotted to kill anyone. But investigators and prosecutors, as well an account one member gave to the police — transcripts of which were seen by The New York Times — indicate their planning took a more sinister turn.

    Germany has belatedly begun dealing with far-right networks that officials now say are far more extensive than they ever understood. The reach of far-right extremists into its armed forces is particularly alarming in a country that has worked to cleanse itself of its Nazi past and the horrors of the Holocaust. In July the government disbanded an entire company infiltrated by extremists in the nation’s special forces.

    But the Nordkreuz case, which only recently came to trial after being uncovered more than three years ago, shows that the problem of far-right infiltration is neither new nor confined to the KSK, or even the military.

    Far-right extremism penetrated multiple layers of German society in the years when the authorities underestimated the threat or were reluctant to countenance it fully, officials and lawmakers acknowledge. Now they are struggling to uproot it.

    One central motivation of the extremists has seemed so far-fetched and fantastical that for a long time the authorities and investigators did not take it seriously, even as it gained broader currency in far-right circles.

    Neo-Nazi groups and other extremists call it Day X — a mythical moment when Germany’s social order collapses, requiring committed far-right extremists, in their telling, to save themselves and rescue the nation.

    Today Day X preppers are drawing serious people with serious skills and ambition. Increasingly, the German authorities consider the scenario a pretext for domestic terrorism by far-right plotters or even for a takeover of the government.

    “I fear we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg,” said Dirk Friedriszik, a lawmaker in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where Nordkreuz was founded. “It isn’t just the KSK. The real worry is: These cells are everywhere. In the army, in the police, in reservist units.”

    Nordkreuz was one of those groups elaborately preparing for Day X. The domestic intelligence service got a tip in late 2016, and prosecutors started investigating in the summer of 2017. But it took years before the network, or a small sliver of it, came before a court.

    Even now, only one member of the group, Mr. Gross, has faced charges — for illegal weapons possession, not for any larger conspiracy.

    Late last year, Mr. Gross was handed a 21-month suspended sentence. The verdict was so mild that this year state prosecutors appealed it, kicking the case into another protracted round of deliberations.

    Of some 30 Nordkreuz members, only two others, a lawyer and another police officer, are currently under investigation by the federal prosecutor on suspicion of plotting terrorism.

    The outcome is typical of the authorities’ handling of far-right cases, extremism experts say. The charges brought are often woefully narrow for the elaborate plots they are meant to deter and punish. Almost always they focus on individuals, not the networks themselves.

    But the obstacles to prosecuting such cases more aggressively point to another problem making the German authorities increasingly anxious: Infiltration of the very institutions, like the police, that are supposed to be doing the investigating.

    In July the police chief of the western state of Hesse resigned after police computers had been repeatedly accessed for confidential information that was then used by neo-Nazis in death threats. It was in Hesse that a well-known neo-Nazi assassinated a regional politician last summer in a case that woke many Germans to the threat of far-right terrorism.

    Some Nordkreuz members were serious enough that they had compiled a list of political enemies. Heiko Böhringer, a local politician in the area where the group was based, had received death threats.

    “I used to think these preppers, they’re harmless crazies who’ve watched too many horror movies,” Mr. Böhringer said. “I changed my mind.”

    Mr. Friedriszik, the state lawmaker, tried for years to focus public attention on the building danger of the far right, but found himself a voice in the wilderness.

    “This movement has its fingertips in lots of places,” he said. “All this talk of Day X can seem like pure fantasy. But if you look closer, you can see how quickly it turns into serious planning — and plotting.”

    Northern Cross

    The shooting range in Güstrow, a rural town in a northeast corner of Germany, sits at the end of a long dirt path secured by a heavy gate. Barbed wire surrounds the area. A German flag flutters in the wind.

    “This is where it all started,” Axel Moll, a local decorator and Nordkreuz member with a hunting license and gun cabinet at home, told me when I was touring the area earlier this year.

    Mr. Gross, the police officer, was a regular at the range. He had been a parachutist and long-distance reconnaissance officer in the German army before his battalion was absorbed by Germany’s elite special forces, the KSK. He never joined the KSK but knows several men who did.

    Another regular was Frank Thiel, a champion in handgun competitions and sought-after tactical shooting instructor for police and military units across Germany.

    In the fall of 2015, as hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Germany, the men were appalled. In their eyes, Germany faced a potential invasion from terrorists, a possible breakdown of its welfare system, maybe even unrest.

    And their own government was welcoming the migrants.

    “We were worried,” Mr. Gross, 49, recalled in one of several conversations with me this year.

    In late 2015, while conducting a shooting workshop for the KSK in southern Germany, Mr. Thiel learned about an encrypted, countrywide chat network to share privileged information about the security situation in Germany, and how to prepare for a crisis.

    It was run by a soldier named André Schmitt. But everyone knew him as Hannibal.

    Who wanted in?

    Soon some 30 people, many of them regulars at the shooting range in Güstrow, joined the northern chapter of Mr. Schmitt’s network, avidly following his updates. It was not long before Mr. Gross decided to create a parallel group so they could communicate and meet up locally. Members lived in towns and villages in the region, shared far-right sympathies and considered themselves concerned citizens.

    By January 2016, this network had become Nordkreuz.

    There were two criteria for joining, Mr. Moll recalled: “The right skills and the right attitude.”

    Mr. Gross and another police officer in the group were members of what was then an emerging far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, now the third largest force in the national Parliament. At least two others in the group had visited the Thule Seminar, an organization whose leaders had a portrait of Hitler on their wall and preach white supremacy.

    Nordkreuz held meetings every few weeks, on the floor above a gym owned by one member or in Mr. Moll’s showroom, where the two of us also talked. Sometimes they had a barbecue. Other times, they invited guest speakers.

    Once a retired military officer came and talked about crisis management, Mr. Moll recalled. Another time they invited a “Reichsbürger,” or citizen of the Reich, a movement that does not recognize the postwar German state.

    Over time, Nordkreuz members recalled, their group morphed into a close-knit brotherhood with a shared ambition that would come to dominate their lives: preparing for Day X.

    They began hoarding enough supplies to survive for 100 days, including food, gasoline, toiletries, walkie-talkies, medicine and ammunition. Mr. Gross collected 600 euros from each member of the group to pay for it. In all, he amassed more than 55,000 rounds of ammunition.

    The group identified a “safe house,” where members would decamp with their families on Day X: a former Communist vacation village deep in the woods.

    The place was “ideal,” Mr. Moll said. There was a stream providing fresh water, a small lake to wash themselves and clothes, a forest with wood to build and deer to hunt, even an old septic tank.

    Didn’t all this seem a little far-fetched to them? I asked.

    Mr. Moll smiled at my “Western naïveté.”

    The region where they live is nestled between the former Iron Curtain and the Polish border. Members had grown up in the former East Germany.

    “Under Communism, everything was scarce,’’ Mr. Moll explained. ‘‘You had to get creative getting things through certain channels. You could not rely on things being in the supermarket. You could say we’re used to prepping.’’

    And, he said, they had already seen one system collapse. “You learn how to read between the lines. It’s an advantage.”

    Through 2016, as hundreds of thousands more migrants arrived in Germany and a number of Islamist terrorist attacks took place in Europe, the planning got more serious.

    Mr. Gross and other Nordkreuz members traveled in the fall to an arms fair in Nuremberg and met Mr. Schmitt, the special forces soldier running the nationwide chat network, in person.

    Members of the group learned how to rappel down the tower of a disused fire station. Two pickup points were designated as Day X meeting spots. Two fully functioning operating theaters were built as makeshift field hospitals, in a basement and a mobile home.

    “The scenario was that something bad would happen,” Mr. Gross told me. “We asked ourselves, what did we want to prepare for? And we decided that if we were going to do this, we would go all the way.”

    Body Bags and Quicklime

    The question investigators are now scrutinizing is what did it mean to “go all the way.”

    Mr. Gross insisted to me that the group was only prepping for what they saw as the day that the social order would collapse, for Day X. He said they never planned any murders, or intended to cause any harm.

    But at least one member of the group portrays a more ominous story.

    “People were to be gathered and murdered,” Horst Schelski told investigators in 2017, according to transcripts of his statement shared with The New York Times.

    Mr. Schelski is a former air force officer whose account is disputed by the others. It pivots on a meeting he said took place at the end of 2016 at a highway truck stop in Sternberg, a small town about 40 minutes west of the shooting range the men frequented.

    There, at a coffee stand that today resembles little more than a shed facing a bleak parking lot, Mr. Gross met with a handful of other men, in what had become a concentrated cell within Nordkreuz.

    Among the others present were two men now under investigation on suspicion of plotting terrorism. Under German law, they cannot be fully named. One was Haik J., who like Mr. Gross was a police officer. Another was a lawyer and local politician, Jan Henrik H. Both declined to speak with me.

    Jan Henrik H. was described by other members as particularly fervent and hateful. On his birthdays, he held a shooting contest on a field behind his house in Rostock, a nearby city on Germany’s northern coast, Nordkreuz members recalled.

    The winner got a trophy named for Mehmet Turgut, a Turkish street vendor killed in Rostock in 2004 by the National Socialist Underground, a far-right terrorist group.

    Mr. Gross was the most recent winner.

    Mr. Schelski told the police that Jan Henrik H. kept a thick binder in his garage with the names, addresses and photos of local politicians and activists whom he considered to be political enemies. Some had sought to help refugees by seeking real estate to turn into shelters.

    Much in the file came from publicly available sources. But there were also handwritten notes with information obtained from a police computer.

    As they drank coffee at the truck stop, Jan Henrik H. turned the conversation to “the people in the file,” whom he said were “harmful” to the state and needed to be “done away with,” Mr. Schelski later told the police.

    Jan Henrik H. wanted advice on how best to transport their captives once they had been rounded up. He asked Mr. Schelski, a major in the state reservist unit, how they could get them past any checkpoints that might be created in a time of unrest. Would uniforms help? Army trucks?

    After that meeting, Mr. Schelski told the police, he distanced himself from the group.

    By then, the intelligence service was already watching. Some eight months after the truck stop meeting, the authorities conducted the first in a series of raids on the homes of several Nordkreuz members.

    Over two years, the raids and intelligence work uncovered weapons, ammunition, enemy lists, and a handwritten order list for Day X that included the body bags and quick lime.

    I asked Mr. Gross about the body bags. He told me they were “multipurpose vessels,” usable as cheap waterproof sleeping bag covers or for transporting large items.

    The disclosure that the group had identified political enemies has rattled Mr. Böhringer, the local politician. In 2015, two police officers came to sketch his house after he started receiving death threats.

    “We want to know where you can get in, where you sleep, so that we can protect you,” they told him.

    He said he wasn’t too concerned. But in June 2018, Mr. Böhringer was called to the police station. The homes of two Nordkreuz members had recently been raided, one of them a policeman based in his hometown: Haik J., who had been at the truck stop meeting.

    “They showed me a handmade sketch of my home,” Mr. Böhringer said. “‘Do you recognize this?’ they had asked.”

    “It was the exact same sketch that those officers had made in my home,” he said.

    “I had to swallow pretty hard,” he recalled. “The very people who said they wanted to protect me then passed this on to people who wanted to harm me.”

    “They didn’t just want to survive Day X, they wanted to kill their enemies,” he said. “It was concrete, what they were planning.”

    Meeting with Marko

    The first time I knocked on Mr. Gross’s door, in the village of Banzkow, about an hour’s drive from the shooting range, we ended up talking outside for two hours.

    The second time, it started raining and he invited me into his red brick farmhouse on “Liberation Street,” named for Germany’s liberation from the Nazis at the end of World War II.

    In the hallway his old military badge and uniform were on display. A large map of Germany in 1937 dominated the wall. Images of guns were ubiquitous. On refrigerator magnets. On mugs. On a calendar.

    It was the same home that the police had raided years earlier, in August 2017, and found more than two dozen weapons and 23,800 rounds of ammunition, some of it stolen from police and military stockpiles.

    Another police raid in June 2019 uncovered another 31,500 rounds of ammunition and an Uzi submachine gun. This time they arrested him.

    In court, it took prosecutors almost 45 minutes to read the list of cartridges, guns, explosives and knives they had found. He was only charged with illegal weapons possession. In the ongoing terrorism investigation he is a witness, not a suspect.

    “It’s pretty astounding,” said Lorenz Caffier, the state’s interior minister, who used to shake Mr. Gross’s hand at the annual special forces workshop in Güstrow. “Someone who hoards that much ammunition at home, is close to far-right tendencies and also makes extremist comments in chats is no harmless prepper.”

    “Marko G. has a key role,” he said.

    Prosecutors have traced the illegal ammunition in Mr. Gross’s home to a dozen police and military depots across the country, indicating possible collaborators. Several of the units shot in Güstrow.

    “We don’t know how it got from there to him,” said Claudia Lange, a prosecutor.

    Three other police officers are being investigated on suspicion of helping Mr. Gross. Asked during the trial, Mr. Gross said he did not remember how he got the ammunition. When I met him, he stuck to that line.

    But otherwise he was not shy about sharing his views.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel belongs “in the dock,” he said. The multicultural cities in western Germany are “the caliphate.” The best way to escape creeping migration was to move to the East German countryside, “where people are still called Schmidt, Schneider and Müller.”

    A copy of Compact, a prominent far-right magazine, with President Trump’s face on the cover, lay on a shelf. A selection of the president’s speeches had been translated into German in the issue. “I like Trump,” Mr. Gross said.

    As far back as 2009, some fellow police officers had voiced concerns about Mr. Gross’s far-right views, noting that he had brought books about the Nazis to work. But no one intervened, and he was even groomed for promotion.

    “There is no danger from the far right,” he insisted. “I don’t know a single neo-Nazi.”

    Soldiers and police officers are “frustrated,” he told me the third time we met, ticking off complaints about migrants, crime and the mainstream media. He likens the coverage of coronavirus to the censored state broadcaster during Communism. Instead, he says, he has a YouTube subscription to RT, the Russian state-controlled channel and other alternative media.

    In that parallel universe of disinformation, he learns that the government is secretly flying in refugees after midnight. That coronavirus is a ploy to deprive citizens of their rights. That Ms. Merkel works for what he calls the “deep state.”

    “The deep state is global,” Mr. Gross said. “It’s big capital, the big banks, Bill Gates.”

    He still expects Day X, sooner or later. Riots linked to an economic meltdown. Or a blackout, because the German government is shuttering coal plants.

    Nordkreuz members never told me, nor the authorities, the location of the disused vacation village that was their safe house for Day X.

    The safe house is still active, said Mr. Gross, who at the height of Nordkreuz’s planning had boasted to a fellow member that his network contained 2,000 like-minded people in Germany and beyond.

    “The network is still there,” he said.

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  • kato
    replied
    NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/31/w...ronavirus.html

    Far Right Germans Try to Storm Reichstag as Virus Protests Escalate

    Germany has handled the pandemic well and its government enjoys high public trust. But the minority opposing coronavirus rules includes a far-right faction that worries officials.


    By Katrin Bennhold

    Aug. 31, 2020

    BERLIN — It was shortly after 7 p.m. when a self-described healer got on stage outside the German Parliament and urged the jeering crowd of protesters to storm the building: “There is no more police!” she shouted. “We have won!”

    What followed was a scene many Germans thought had been confined to their history books: Hundreds of far-right activists waving the black, white and red flag of the pre-1918 German Empire that once inspired the Nazis broke through a police barrier and tried to force their way into the building.

    It took only a few tense minutes before the police, though vastly outnumbered, managed to push them back. But Saturday’s events marked an alarming escalation of the protests against Germany’s response to the pandemic that have grown steadily bigger and — on the fringes at least — angrier.

    Strikingly, that outpouring of anger comes at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is enjoying high levels of trust and popularity, and the great majority of Germans approve of its virus control measures. Germany has managed the pandemic well, keeping the number of deaths low, reopening schools and pumping billions of euros into welfare programs that so far have kept unemployment at bay.

    Small as they are in numbers, though, the group who tried to take over the historic Parliament building, the Reichstag, prompted shocked responses and grim comparisons to Germany’s past.

    “The fact that Nazis with imperial war flags try to storm the Bundestag recalls the darkest period in German history,” Robert Habeck, the co-leader of Germany’s Green party, told the Funke media group.


    “It is intolerable that the Reich flag should fly again at the German Parliament,” said Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party.

    Germany’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called it “an unbearable attack on the heart of our democracy.”

    Some 38,000 protesters from all over the country flocked to the German capital last weekend, the biggest number since the marches started in April. It was an eclectic crowd. There were anti-vaxxers like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., anticapitalists, esoterics, ordinary citizens angry at having to wear face masks — but also about 3,000 members of the far-right scene.

    “We have everything from Hare Krishna fans to Adolf Hitler fans on the streets,” said Matthias Quent, an expert on far-right extremism and the director of an institute that studies democracy and civil society. “It’s a very disparate crowd but what unites people is an angry discontent with the establishment. It’s a mix of populist and egoist outrage.”


    The far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, has tried to exploit the pandemic in the same way it used the refugee crisis in 2015, when the government accepted more than one million migrants into the country, to feed a narrative of impending crisis and government failure.

    The migrant wave helped propel the AfD into Parliament in the last election, but the issue has lost much of its political potency, as the resettlement has been broadly deemed a success. And with its own lawmakers and voters deeply split over the country’s coronavirus measures, the party has seen its share of the vote dip below 10 percent in recent polls.


    In all, only 9 percent of Germans support the protests, polls suggest. And only one in 10 Germans say they disagree with virus-prevention measures like the requirement to wear masks on public transport, in stores and in public buildings including schools and libraries.

    Almost eight in ten Germans said they would like to see greater compliance with pandemic controls, and some 28 percent said the measures were not strict enough.


    “They shout ‘We are the people,’ but they’re not,” Mr. Quent said of the protesters who swarmed the Reichstag.

    “In Germany, like many other European countries, we see that far-right parties are losing ground, that there is growing trust in incumbent governments,” Mr. Quent said. “In the short term the pandemic can’t be exploited by far-right parties.”

    If the economy deteriorates further and unemployment rises, that equation may change, he said. Already, the AfD and more extreme far-right groups are trying to capitalize on the discontent as they begin positioning themselves for what may be a much uglier political scene some months from now.

    What worries officials and extremism experts more immediately is that even if the far right is a minority at the protests, it is radicalizing. Among those calling on supporters to join the protest on Saturday were Björn Höcke, an AfD firebrand, and Martin Sellner, star of the extremist Generation Identity movement, both of whom have been classified as far-right extremists by the domestic intelligence service.

    Message boards are flush with far-right conspiracy theories and prepper groups, which have long fantasized about a crisis so deep that it would lead to the collapse of Germany’s liberal order. Ahead of Saturday’s protest, which the city government had tried to block before being overruled by a court, several public groups on the messaging app Telegram had called for a “storm on Berlin.”


    Some had posted photos of themselves and their weapons. “That is very unusual for Germany,” Mr. Quent said.

    The authorities are on high alert. Over the past 14 months, far-right terrorists have assassinated a regional politician on his front porch near the central city of Kassel, attacked a synagogue in Halle, in the east, and in February, killed 10 people in the west, in Hanau. Even before the pandemic hit Germany, far-right extremism and far-right terrorism had been officially identified as the biggest danger to the country’s democracy.


    At a same time, senior intelligence officials have expressed concern about far-right extremists infiltrating Germany’s security services. Cases of far-right extremists in the military and the police, some hoarding weapons and explosives, have multiplied alarmingly in recent years. In July, the government disbanded an entire company of the KSK, the country’s special forces, because it was infested with far-right extremists.

    At the coronavirus protests on Saturday, far-right activists actively courted police officers deployed to secure the march, urging them to switch sides.

    There have been several cases of police officers joining such protests, according to Robert Andreasch, a journalist who has been documenting their appearances. Two active police officers, a retired officer and one who was recently suspended were speakers at the rally on Saturday, one of them referring to a “so-called pandemic” and urging protesters to seek information outside the “mainstream media.” Another spoke of “mask slavery.”

    Meanwhile, it was three police officers who stood their ground on Saturday at the entrance to the Reichstag, the historic Parliament building, and held off the angry mob. A video of the three men pushing back against the demonstrators for several minutes before reinforcements arrived has gone viral in Germany.

    It also ignited an uneasy debate about how to better protect the Reichstag. It is a point of pride that the building dedicated to “The German People,” as the inscription above its portico reads, remains open to those very people.

    The best-selling tabloid Bild has called the police officers who protected it “heroes” and on Monday, President Steinmeier received them at his residence to officially thank them.

    “Far-right extremism has deep roots in our society,” Mr. Steinmeier said. “It is a serious danger.”
    Last edited by kato; 01 Sep 20,, 20:59.

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  • kato
    replied
    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Is there an physical center for these neonazies? A city or region?
    East Germany, focused on Saxony. AfD gets 21-28% in all East-German states, and borders on majorities in some Saxonian villages.

    In West Germany you get the traditional 5% extremists throughout the population (that have always been there), with the additional effect that specifically Russian-German immigrants overwhelmingly vote AfD and therefore skew results upwards to 7-15% depending on local population share.

    While of course the hard-right scene is not quite congruent with the AfD party their results do give some indication on areas in which public hard-right expressions are considered more acceptable.

    Originally posted by tantalus View Post
    Interesting. Where do you draw the 15 rule of thumb from?
    Observation of hard ceilings in elections.

    My rule of thumb is:

    5% extremist
    10% edge
    15% conservative
    10% traditional
    5% leaning

    on either side of the spectrum (right/left).

    You can place most parties in Europe in some way on which sections they appeal to.
    Last edited by kato; 01 Sep 20,, 20:04.

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  • tantalus
    replied
    Originally posted by kato View Post
    About 15% of the population is far-right, same as in any other country. While there are considerable "conservative" elements within Merkel's CDU that seek more cooperation towards the far right edge, breaching that gap, so far party discipline tends to overrule that. That's also the main difference to other EU countries such as France or Italy - where the far right has successfully penetrated into conservative circles, eradicating traditional political right parties and integrating at least half their populace.

    And that's where it gets difficult:

    Merkel withdrawing from politics next year is problematic for the CDU as the principal right wing party in Germany since it erodes that party discipline. In particular in East Germany state CDU parties are flirting with AfD on the extreme-right edge in semi-open violation of official party politics since about last year, often trying for the prospect of taking over government power in those states in a right-wing coalition or tolerated minority government. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the minister of defense, herself conservative and originally tagged as her preferred successor by Merkel, laid down her candidacies for the succession posts in February, citing exactly the "unsettled relationship towards AfD in parts of the CDU" as a reason for that. Since then these internal fights within the CDU have become more pronounced, with hard-right elements demanding a "reorientation towards the right" and Merkel allies openly threatening expulsion of such elements or - in the case of Bavaria's CSU - a break-up of the government coalition.

    However that's all political. Extreme-right shenanigans like these incidents don't really have any support within the traditional right. They're simply that: extreme fringe. Neonazis, sovereign citizens, conspiracy theorists all getting together and using Corona as a tool to drum up latent followers. Even "proper" AfD politicians are trying to publicly distance themselves from these guys in the aftermath.
    Interesting. Where do you draw the 15 rule of thumb from?

    Leave a comment:


  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Kato,

    Is there an physical center for these neonazies? A city or region?

    Leave a comment:


  • kato
    replied
    About 15% of the population is far-right, same as in any other country. While there are considerable "conservative" elements within Merkel's CDU that seek more cooperation towards the far right edge, breaching that gap, so far party discipline tends to overrule that. That's also the main difference to other EU countries such as France or Italy - where the far right has successfully penetrated into conservative circles, eradicating traditional political right parties and integrating at least half their populace.

    And that's where it gets difficult:

    Merkel withdrawing from politics next year is problematic for the CDU as the principal right wing party in Germany since it erodes that party discipline. In particular in East Germany state CDU parties are flirting with AfD on the extreme-right edge in semi-open violation of official party politics since about last year, often trying for the prospect of taking over government power in those states in a right-wing coalition or tolerated minority government. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the minister of defense, herself conservative and originally tagged as her preferred successor by Merkel, laid down her candidacies for the succession posts in February, citing exactly the "unsettled relationship towards AfD in parts of the CDU" as a reason for that. Since then these internal fights within the CDU have become more pronounced, with hard-right elements demanding a "reorientation towards the right" and Merkel allies openly threatening expulsion of such elements or - in the case of Bavaria's CSU - a break-up of the government coalition.

    However that's all political. Extreme-right shenanigans like these incidents don't really have any support within the traditional right. They're simply that: extreme fringe. Neonazis, sovereign citizens, conspiracy theorists all getting together and using Corona as a tool to drum up latent followers. Even "proper" AfD politicians are trying to publicly distance themselves from these guys in the aftermath.

    Leave a comment:


  • tantalus
    replied
    Originally posted by kato View Post
    About 2000 neonazis tried to storm the Federal Parliament building yesterday, with about 300-400 being successful in overrunning a police line of about 200 officers. They were held back at the entrance gate by three Berlin state police officers (including one without riot gear) as a last external line of defense using batons. They were relieved by about 250 officers clearing the steps to the parliament with pepper spray a few minutes later. The three, for their defense of the parliament, were formally honoured by Federal President Steinmeier today.

    Neonazis were also desecrating the nearby memorial for the holocaust of Sinti and Roma with their presence, including flags.

    The incidents occured during rallies by about 38,000 right-wing extremists throughout the city. During these, 33 police officers were injured, including some at the parliament. 316 people were arrested, most of them during a pro-Putin rally by about 3000 neonazis in front of the Russian embassy.
    How significant is the far right in germany compared to other eu countires in your estimation?

    And how much distance do the political right put between themsleves and the extremists?

    Just hoping to get a broad sense on the lay of the land.

    Leave a comment:


  • kato
    replied
    About 2000 neonazis tried to storm the Federal Parliament building yesterday, with about 300-400 being successful in overrunning a police line of about 200 officers. They were held back at the entrance gate by three Berlin state police officers (including one without riot gear) as a last external line of defense using batons. They were relieved by about 250 officers clearing the steps to the parliament with pepper spray a few minutes later. The three, for their defense of the parliament, were formally honoured by Federal President Steinmeier today.

    Neonazis were also desecrating the nearby memorial for the holocaust of Sinti and Roma with their presence, including flags.

    The incidents occured during rallies by about 38,000 right-wing extremists throughout the city. During these, 33 police officers were injured, including some at the parliament. 316 people were arrested, most of them during a pro-Putin rally by about 3000 neonazis in front of the Russian embassy.

    Leave a comment:


  • kato
    replied
    Originally posted by astralis View Post
    NYT had a very good article today about far-right infiltration into KSK. would be happy to hear your thoughts.
    Ahead of you, posted this yesterday as a separate thread: http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/showthread.php?t=67411
    (basically explaining what is being done to handle the problem in KSK, and a bit on why)

    For some thoughts on the article:

    In my opinion it blames the AfD a bit too much, portraying it a bit as if they had fostered the Hannibal Network.

    However, the Hannibal Network pretty much predates it - its foundation lays with Uniter e.V., an association of "former members of elite security forces" founded in 2012 by the mentioned Andre E.. Uniter served to connect groups of dubious provience, from security guards to former soldiers and police officers to ... whatever the PC term for mercenaries is. The Hannibal Network formed within it in 2015 with the refugee crisis as an initial spark, and - beyond its terrorist plans - served as a forum for militant prepper groups. Some of these groups have been found. Others probably haven't. Some members may have worked for or been members of AfD. Some groups were quite serious about their plans, others probably weren't. All very widespread.
    Last edited by kato; 03 Jul 20,, 21:31.

    Leave a comment:


  • astralis
    replied
    kato,

    NYT had a very good article today about far-right infiltration into KSK. would be happy to hear your thoughts.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/03/w...nazis-ksk.html

    As Neo-Nazis Seed Military Ranks, Germany Confronts ‘an Enemy Within’

    After plastic explosives and Nazi memorabilia were found at an elite soldier’s home, Germany worries about a problem of far-right infiltration at the heart of its democracy.

    By Katrin Bennhold
    July 3, 2020
    Updated 1:24 p.m. ET

    CALW, Germany — As Germany emerged from its coronavirus lockdown in May, police commandos pulled up outside a rural property owned by a sergeant major in the special forces, the country’s most highly trained and secretive military unit.

    They brought a digger.

    The sergeant major’s nickname was Little Sheep. He was suspected of being a neo-Nazi. Buried in the garden, the police found two kilograms of PETN plastic explosives, a detonator, a fuse, an AK-47, a silencer, two knives, a crossbow and thousands of rounds of ammunition, much of it believed to have been stolen from the German military.

    They also found an SS songbook, 14 editions of a magazine for former members of the Waffen SS and a host of other Nazi memorabilia.

    “He had a plan,” said Eva Högl, Germany’s parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces. “And he is not the only one.”

    Germany has a problem. For years, politicians and security chiefs rejected the notion of any far-right infiltration of the security services, speaking only of “individual cases.” The idea of networks was dismissed. The superiors of those exposed as extremists were protected. Guns and ammunition disappeared from military stockpiles with no real investigation.

    The government is now waking up. Cases of far-right extremists in the military and the police, some hoarding weapons and explosives, have multiplied alarmingly. The nation’s top intelligence officials and senior military commanders are moving to confront an issue that has become too dangerous to ignore.

    The problem has deepened with the emergence of the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which legitimized a far-right ideology that used the arrival of more than a million migrants in 2015 — and more recently the coronavirus pandemic — to engender a sense of impending crisis.

    Most concerning to the authorities is that the extremists appear to be concentrated in the military unit that is supposed to be the most elite and dedicated to the German state, the special forces, known by their German acronym, the KSK.

    This week, Germany’s defense minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, took the drastic step of disbanding a fighting company in the KSK considered infested with extremists. Little Sheep, the sergeant major whose weapons stash was uncovered in May, was a member.

    Some 48,000 rounds of ammunition and 62 kilograms, or about 137 pounds, of explosives have disappeared from the KSK altogether, she said.

    Germany’s military counterintelligence agency is now investigating more than 600 soldiers for far-right extremism, out of 184,000 in the military. Some 20 of them are in the KSK, a proportion that is five times higher than in other units.

    But the German authorities are concerned that the problem may be far larger and that other security institutions have been infiltrated as well. Over the past 13 months, far-right terrorists have assassinated a politician, attacked a synagogue and shot dead nine immigrants and German descendants of immigrants.

    Thomas Haldenwang, president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, has identified far-right extremism and terrorism as the “biggest danger to German democracy today.”

    In interviews I conducted over the course of the year with military and intelligence officials, and avowed far-right members themselves, they described nationwide networks of current and former soldiers and police officers with ties to the far right.

    In many cases, soldiers have used the networks to prepare for when they predict Germany’s democratic order will collapse. They call it Day X. Officials worry it is really a pretext for inciting terrorist acts, or worse, a putsch.


    “For far-right extremists, the preparation of Day X and its precipitation blend into one another,” Martina Renner, a lawmaker on the homeland security committee of the German Parliament, told me.

    The ties, officials say, sometimes reach deep into old neo-Nazi networks and the more polished intellectual scene of the so-called New Right. Extremists are hoarding weapons, maintaining safe houses, and in some cases keeping lists of political enemies.

    This week yet another case emerged, of a reservist, now suspended, who kept a list with cellphone numbers and addresses of 17 prominent politicians, who have been alerted. The case led to at least nine other raids across the country on Friday.

    Some German news media have referred to a “shadow army,” drawing parallels to the 1920s, when nationalist cells within the military hoarded arms, plotted coups and conspired to overthrow democracy.

    Most officials still reject this analogy. But the striking lack of understanding of the numbers involved, even at the highest levels of the government, has contributed to a deep unease.

    “Once they really started looking, they found a lot of cases,” said Konstantin von Notz, deputy president of the intelligence oversight committee in the German Parliament. “When you have hundreds of individual cases it begins to look like we have a structural problem. It is extremely worrying.”

    Mr. von Notz pointed out that Brendan Tarrant, who massacred 51 Muslim worshipers last year at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, had traveled Europe a year earlier and included an ominous line in his manifesto.

    “I would estimate the number of soldiers in European armed forces that also belong to nationalist groups to number in the hundreds of thousands, with just as many employed in law enforcement positions,” Mr. Tarrant had written.

    Investigators, Mr. von Notz said, “should take these words seriously.”

    But investigating the problem is itself fraught: Even the military counterintelligence agency, charged with monitoring extremism inside the armed forces, may be infiltrated.

    A high-ranking investigator in the extremism unit was suspended in June after sharing confidential material from the May raid with a contact in the KSK, who in turn passed it on to at least eight other soldiers, tipping them off that the agency might turn its attention to them next.

    “If the very people who are meant to protect our democracy are plotting against it, we have a big problem,” said Stephan Kramer, president of the domestic intelligence agency in the state of Thuringia. “How do you find them?”

    “These are battle-hardened men who know how to evade surveillance because they are trained in conducting surveillance themselves,” he added.

    “What we are dealing with is an enemy within.”

    Inside the ‘Shoot House’
    The air inside the “shoot house” smelled acrid, so many live rounds had been fired.

    I was standing in the shooting range on the outskirts of the sleepy German town of Calw, in the Black Forest region, having been invited early this year for a rare visit inside the KSK’s base, the most heavily guarded in the country.

    A camouflaged soldier with a G36 assault rifle crouched along a broken door frame. Two shadows popped up. The soldier fired four times — head, torso, head, torso — then went on to systematically eliminate two dozen other “enemies.” He did not miss once.

    The KSK are Germany’s answer to the Navy Seals. But these days their commander, Gen. Markus Kreitmayr, an affable Bavarian who has done tours in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, is a man divided between his loyalty to them and recognizing that he has a serious problem on his hands.

    The general was late for our interview. He had just spent four hours questioning a member of his unit about a party where half a dozen KSK soldiers were reported to have flashed Hitler salutes.

    “I can’t explain why there are allegedly so many cases of ‘far-right extremism’ in the military,” he said. The KSK is “clearly more affected than others, that appears to be a fact.”

    It was never easy to be a soldier in postwar Germany. Given its Nazi history and the destruction it foisted on Europe in World War II, the country maintains a conflicted relationship to its military.

    For decades, Germany tried to forge a force that represented a democratic society and its values. But in 2011 it abolished conscription and moved to a volunteer force. As a result, the military increasingly reflects not the broad society, but a narrower slice of it.

    General Kreitmayr said that “a big percentage” of his soldiers are eastern Germans, a region where the AfD does disproportionately well. Roughly half the men on the list of KSK members suspected of being far-right extremists are also from the east, he added.

    The general has called the current crisis in the unit “the most difficult phase in its history.”

    In our interview, he said that he could not rule out a significant degree of infiltration from the far right. “I don’t know if there is a shadow army in Germany,” he told me.

    “But I am worried,” he said, “and not just as the commander of the KSK, but as a citizen — that in the end something like that does exist and that maybe our people are part of it.”

    Officials talk of a perceptible shift “in values” among new recruits. In conversations, the soldiers themselves, who could not be identified under the unit’s guidelines, said that if there was a tipping point in the unit, it came with the migrant crisis of 2015.

    As hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from Syria and Afghanistan were making their way to Germany, the mood on the base was anxious, they recalled.

    “We are soldiers who are charged with defending this country and then they just opened the borders, no control,” one officer recalled. “We were at the limit.”

    It was in this atmosphere that a 30-year-old KSK soldier from Halle, in eastern Germany, set up a Telegram chat network for soldiers, police officers and others united in their belief that the migrants would destroy the country.

    His name was André Schmitt. But he goes by the nickname Hannibal.

    Hannibal’s Network
    In a house in rural western Germany, behind a curtain of iron chains and past the crossbow in the hall, a dungeonlike room bathed in purple light opens into a bar area. An oversized image of a naked woman dominates the back wall.

    It was there that I met Mr. Schmitt early this year. He gave permission for his name to be used, but did not want the location disclosed or any photographs.

    He left active service last September after stolen training grenades were found at a building belonging to his parents. But, he says, he still has his network: “Special forces, intelligence, business executives, Freemasons,” he said. They meet here regularly. The house, he says, is owned by a wealthy supporter.

    “The forces are like a big family,” Mr. Schmitt told me, “everyone knows each other.”

    When he set up his Telegram chats in 2015, he did so geographically — north, south, east, west — just like the German military. In parallel, he ran a group called Uniter, an organization for security-related professionals that provides social benefits but also paramilitary training.

    Several former members of his chats are now under investigation by prosecutors for plotting terrorism. Some were ordering body bags. One faces trial.

    Mr. Schmitt’s situation is more complex. He acknowledged serving as an informer on the KSK for the military counterintelligence agency in mid-2017, when he met regularly with a liaison officer. Today the military is paying for him to get a business degree.

    He himself was never named a suspect. German officials denied that they protected him. But this week the domestic intelligence agency announced that it was placing his current network, Uniter, under surveillance.

    The authorities first stumbled onto his chats in 2017 while investigating a soldier in the network who was suspected of organizing a terror plot.

    Investigators are now looking into whether the chats and Uniter were the early skeleton of a nationwide far-right network that has infiltrated state institutions. As yet, they cannot say. The New York Times obtained police statements by Mr. Schmitt and others in his network related to the 2017 case.

    Initially, Mr. Schmitt and other members say, the chats were about sharing information, much of it about the supposed threats posed by migrants, which Mr. Schmitt admitted to the police he had inflated to “motivate” people.

    “It was about internal unrest because of sleeper cells and worldwide extremist groups, gang formations, terrorist threats,” Mr. Schmitt told the police.

    The chats were popular among KSK soldiers. Mr. Schmitt said he counted 69 of his comrades in the network in 2015.

    A fellow KSK soldier, identified by investigators as Robert P., but known as Petrus, who ran two of the chats, told the police two years later that it might have been more than twice that: “I have to say, presumably half the unit was in there.”

    Soon the chats morphed from a platform for sharing information to one dedicated to preparing for Day X. Sipping mineral water, Mr. Schmitt described this as “war gaming.” He portrayed a Europe under threat from gangs, Islamists and Antifa. He called them “enemy troops on our ground.”

    His network helped members get ready to respond to what he portrayed as an inevitable conflict, sometimes acting on their own.

    “Day X is personal,” he said. “For one guy it’s this day, for another guy it’s another day.”

    ‘‘It’s the day you activate your plans,” he said.

    Chat members met in person, worked out what provisions and weapons to stockpile, and where to keep safe houses. Dozens were identified. One was the military base in Calw itself. They practiced how to recognize each other, using military code, at “pickup points” where members could gather on Day X.

    The sense of urgency grew.

    On March 21, 2016, a chat member, identified only as Matze, wrote about a pickup point near Nuremberg. There were, he wrote, “sufficient weapons and ammo present to battle one’s way on.”

    Later that year, Mr. Schmitt sent a message to others in the chat network. In the previous 18 months, he wrote, they had gathered “2,000 like-minded people” in Germany and abroad.

    When I met him, Mr. Schmitt called it “a global like-minded brotherhood.”

    He denies ever planning to bring about Day X, but he is still convinced that it will come, maybe sooner rather than later with the pandemic.

    “We know thanks to our sources in the banks and in the intelligence services that at the latest by the end of September the big economic crash will come,” he said in a follow-up phone call this week.

    “There will be insolvencies and mass unemployment,” he prophesied. “People will take to the street.”

    Pig Heads and Hitler Salutes
    One night in 2017, Little Sheep, the sergeant major whose weapons stash was uncovered in May, was among about 70 KSK soldiers of Second Company who had gathered at a military shooting range.

    Investigators have identified him only as Philipp Sch. He and the others had organized a special leaving party for a lieutenant colonel, a man celebrated as a war hero for shooting his way out of an ambush in Afghanistan while carrying one of his men.

    The colonel, an imposing man covered in Cyrillic tattoos who enjoys cage-fighting in his spare time, had to complete an obstacle course. It involved hacking apart tree trunks and throwing severed pig heads.

    As a prize, his men had flown in a woman. But the colonel ended up dead drunk. The woman, rather than being his trophy, went to the police.

    Standing by the fire with a handful of soldiers, she had witnessed them singing neo-Nazi lyrics and raising their right arm. One man stood out for his enthusiasm, she recalled in a televised report by the public broadcaster ARD. She called him the “Nazi grandpa.”

    Though just 45, “the Nazi grandpa” was Little Sheep, who had joined the KSK in 2001.

    In the three years since the party, the military counterintelligence service kept an eye on the sergeant major. But that did not stop the KSK from promoting him to the highest possible noncommissioned officer rank.

    The handling of the case fit a pattern, soldiers and officials say.

    In June, a KSK soldier addressed a 12-page letter to the defense minister, pleading for an investigation into what he described as a “toxic culture of acceptance” and “culture of fear” inside the unit. Tips about extremist comrades were “collectively ignored or even tolerated.” One of his instructors had likened the KSK to the Waffen SS, the soldier wrote.

    The instructor, a lieutenant colonel, was himself on the radar for far-right leanings since 2007, when he wrote a threatening email to another soldier. “You are being watched, no, not by impotent instrumentalized agencies, but by officers of a new generation, who will act when the times demand it,” it read. “Long live the holy Germany.”

    The KSK commander at the time did not suspend the lieutenant. He merely disciplined him. I asked General Kreitmayr, who took over command in 2018, about the case.

    “Look, today in the year 2020, with all the knowledge that we have, we look at the email from 2007 and say, ‘It’s obvious,’” he told me.

    “But at that time we only thought: Man, what’s wrong with him? He should pull himself together.”

    The Hallway of History
    The back door of the main building on the base in Calw leads into a long corridor known as the “hallway of history,” a collection of memorabilia gathered over the KSK’s nearly 25 years that includes a stuffed German shepherd, Kato, who parachuted from 30,000 feet with a commando team.

    Conspicuously missing is any mention of a disgraced former KSK commander, Gen. Reinhard Günzel, who was dismissed after he wrote a 2003 letter in support of an anti-Semitic speech by a conservative lawmaker.

    General Günzel subsequently published a book called “Secret Warriors.” In it, he placed the KSK in the tradition of a notorious special forces unit under the Nazis that committed numerous war crimes, including massacres of Jews. He has been a popular speaker at far-right events.

    “What you basically have is one of the founding commanders of the KSK becoming a prominent ideologue of the New Right,” said Christian Weissgerber, a former soldier who has written a book about his own experience of being a neo-Nazi in the military.

    The New Right, which encompasses youth activists, intellectuals and the AfD, worries General Kreitmayr. The lawmaker whose anti-Semitic comments led to General Günzel’s firing all those years ago now sits in the German Parliament for the AfD.

    “You have leading representatives of political parties like the AfD, who say things that not only make you sick but that are clearly far-right, radical ideology,” General Kreitmayr said.

    Soldiers were not immune to this cultural shift in the country, he said. Just recently a fellow general had become a mayoral candidate for the AfD. Several former soldiers represent the party in Parliament.

    Down the hill from the shoot house is the Green Saloon, a cross between a boardroom and a bar. It is dominated by a vast oil painting depicting KSK soldiers and their German shepherd successfully attacking a Taliban hide-out.

    It is a scene familiar to several soldiers who had gathered the day I was there. But the soldiers I spoke with questioned the strategy behind a war that has run for two decades with few concrete results, except an increase in migration at home.

    “My girls asked me: ‘Why do you have to go to Afghanistan when there are children from the Kundus in our class?’” recounted one officer. “I did not have an answer.”

    When he took a delegation of KSK soldiers to meet with political parties in Parliament, he asked them the same question. “They did not have an answer, either,” he said.

    Only one lawmaker made a clear statement, he said. He was from the AfD. “He said we should have left a long time ago,” the officer recalled.

    Leave a comment:


  • kato
    replied
    Bit too Turkish-German focused, but who cares:
    How Many Mass Shootings Will It Take for Germany to Confront Its Far-Right Problem?

    By Can Dündar
    12:55 PM EST
    Can Dündar is a Turkish journalist and former editor-in-chief of the newspaper Cumhuriyet, now living in exile in Germany


    What happened last week at the Midnight hookah bar – a modest lounge in the German town of Hanau, where a largely Turkish clientele often goes to relax in the evenings – should really be enough to change the debate in Germany. The debate about racism and intolerance, about violence, hate and terrorism, and about the ways that all these things have been fuelled by the nation’s political climate.

    It should have been enough for Germany’s leading politicians to consider the life and death of Gökhan Gültekin, the 37-year-old who worked at that bar in the Heumarkt, a neighborhood dotted with Turkish businesses. He had been busy this winter with preparations for his engagement party. Twice a week, he had taken his father for chemotherapy in the nearby city of Frankfurt. The media reported these facts about him because, on Wednesday night, a German man named Tobias Rathjen, 43, entered the Midnight bar and fired his SIG Sauer at the Turkish diners at a table, killing six. Gökhan was among the first victims.

    Three more died minutes later at the nearby Arena Bar, where Rathjen continued his rampage before going home to kill his elderly mother and, finally, himself. His massacre, and the raving and paranoid “manifesto” he left behind, has emblazoned in bullets one of Germany’s deepest problems, and one that has long been debated: What is behind the rise in racist terrorism here in the heart of Europe?

    The phenomenon itself is undeniable. In the 24-page screed that Rathjen left behind, he called for the extermination of the peoples of Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Syria, and the complete Arabian Peninsula. A video shot in his room addressed Americans: “Your country is under control of invisible secret societies… Wake up!” In his lonely life, he appears to have been part of a virtual community of hate, one linked to a series of recent attacks and arrests in European cities.

    The Federal Criminal Police Office, Germany’s equivalent of the FBI, has reported a five-fold increase in the number of ‘dangerous’ far-right extremists in the country since 2012. One such murder (which many Germans called a wake-up call) took place last summer, when Walter Lübcke, President of the Kassel District, was shot in the head at home by a right-wing extremist. Investigators later said he was targeted because of his support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy toward migrants and refugees.

    Then came another supposed wake-up call – an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue and the adjacent Jewish cemetery in the town of Halle, resulting in the deaths of two people on 10 October 2019. A week before the latest killing spree in Hanau, German police rounded up 12 far-right extremists in a dragnet that swept across six states. The suspects were allegedly preparing an attack on a mosque.

    But even after the Hanau massacre, it’s hard to see much evidence of Germany waking up to the deeper threat of white supremacism and racist violence. The nation has, of course, mourned the victims of the latest attack. The Berlinale Film Festival opened with a moment of silence last week. Over ten thousand people took part in a march against terror and Islamophobia in Hanau. Representatives of the town’s Islamic community marched alongside clergy from the churches and synagogues. At least on one level, the Hanau massacre helped bring about what the perpetrator’s bloody act was trying to prevent: Many Germans and Turks did get together against racism.

    But this unity will not be easy to sustain once all the funerals are over. Many of Germany’s two million migrants from Turkey live on tenterhooks. They feel intimidated by the attacks of the far-right, who use the Nazi salute, who carry forbidden swastikas and even sing the Horst Wessel Song, an anthem of the Third Reich.

    This is nothing new for the Turkish community, which arrived by the millions in Germany in the 1960s and 70s, mostly under a government program that allowed them to come as “guest workers.”

    But as famous writer Max Frisch stated: “They called for workers, and humans came.”

    The natives, and their government, were slow to accept the fact that many Turks were not to be treated as temporary guests. Their reaction has taken different forms over the decades since. Back in the 1990s, xenophobes in Germany would taunt Turkish immigrants at sports stadiums by waving plastic bags in the air, the flimsy type from inexpensive malls where immigrant families did their shopping. Many still remember those small humiliations, which were followed by growing acts of vandalism against migrants’ homes, shops, mosques.

    After the fall of the Berlin wall, racism unexpectedly thrived in the vacuum left by the collapse of the regime in East Germany. Millions of Germans experienced that transition to capitalism through the loss of their jobs, homes and social security. It’s not surprising that some turned their frustrations against foreigners, especially those who prospered in the newly unified Germany or relied on the support of its welfare system in hard times.

    These frustrations never really went away. Even in Berlin, arguably the country’s most liberal city, applications for housing or a job are routinely turned down when made in a foreign name – and accepted if signed by a German one. And despite the openness toward refugees that Merkel’s government has shown, racism is still growing on the street, and in the political arena.

    During regional elections held last year, the far-right party known as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) won nearly a quarter of the seats in the regional parliament of three German regions, becoming the second biggest party across most of the formerly communist East.

    Björn Höcke, the party boss in the region of Thuringia, declared that the AfD would continue on its march toward power in Germany. Those who doubted him were taught a lesson in February, when the AfD played a decisive role in choosing the regional leader in Thuringia.

    Germans were horrified to realize that racist politics, which had devastated Europe under the Nazis, and which they believed to have been buried too deep to ever rise again, were, in fact, beginning to stir.

    The generation of people who remember the woes of World War II are, for the most part, no longer around to tell their stories. The country that was once seen as a ‘land of migrants’ faces the risk of turning into an anti-migrant land. So far, any political strategy to prevent this growing threat seems well beyond the horizon.

    The generation of people who remember the woes of World War II are, for the most part, no longer around to tell their stories. The country that was once seen as a ‘land of migrants’ faces the risk of turning into an anti-migrant land.

    Germans who have foreign roots make up more than a quarter of the country’s population, yet all too often they do not feel truly at home in Germany. The fact that some of the victims’ coffins (including that of Gökhan Gültekin) were taken to Turkey for burial might well be a symptom of that alienation. During the funeral, the Turkish Ambassador to Germany said, ‘Racist Nazis! No matter what you do, the Turkish community in Germany is here to stay.’

    But under what conditions?
    https://time.com/5790404/hanau-germa...ooting-turkey/

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  • kato
    replied
    • Suspect has confessed in police custody, including the right-wing extremist political motive.
    • Guns were PA-Luty-style DIY weapons with 3D printed parts, he was additionally carrying 4 kg of homemade explosives in hand-grenade-sized packages.
    • Shootout with patrol car crew and perp being shot in the neck in front of the restaurant is confirmed.

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  • kato
    replied
    Facts:
    • Police have suspect in custody, currently assume he acted alone
    • Suspect is a 27yo German national from Saxony-Anhalt with a rather distinct lack of hair on his head.
    • Perpetrator was streaming the act live online (on Twitch, deleted by now - police has it) similar to the Christchurch attack
    • Police assumes a right-wing extremist political motive based on antisemitic and xenophobic statements (in English and German) in that video.
    • Perpetrator was apparently using an assault-rifle-styled semiautomatic shotgun, pipe bombs and molotov cocktails; he was wearing a helmet and body armor. Witnesses report he switched to an automatic weapon from the shotgun inbetween.
    • There are varying reports that the perpetrator was shot in Halle itself by police shortly after the attack on the restaurant (disputed).
    • He then fled with his car, which he switched by hijacking a taxi from a car workshop in a suburb (two injured). Police arrested him in that car on a highway, with varying reports stating an earlier intercept with shots fired (disputed) and subsequent highway chase and the car crashing 15 minutes later when a truck rammed it.

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