SInce the anniversary of the murders in Hanau, which took place just over a year ago, my Berlin neighborhood has been covered in posters with simple but compelling drawings by Ferhat Unvar, Gökhan Gültekin, Hamza Kurtović, Said Nesar Hashemi, Mercedes Kierpacz, Sedat Gürbüz, Kalojan Velkov, Vili Viorel Păun and Fatih Saraçoğlu, the nine victims of the far-right terror attack that continues to shape German discussions of right-wing extremism. The posters have been part of a larger campaign committed to calling attention to and naming the victims of these crimes.
The campaign came to mind when news broke on Wednesday March 3 that Verfassungsschutz, Germany’s internal state security service, has placed the entirety of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party under observation. More than an empty formality, the move has concrete consequences for Germany’s largest opposition party in parliament, which must now expect to be monitored by confidential informants and have its mail intercepted and its phones intercepted. It is a radical step And it’s no wonder you’ve faced a number of legal challenges.
In fact, the Protection of the Constitution provisional permission had been granted to subject the party to constitutional court observation. But initial court approval depended on it remaining a secret. Since the news broke, the court has withdrawn its approval and the legal status of the observation remains unclear for the foreseeable future. Much of the party will remain under observation: AfD branches in much of the former East Germany have been surveilled for some time, and the party’s far-right was placed under observation in 2019. AfD legal actions and strong complaints have indicated, the news of last week constitutes a major change in the relationship between the party and the German state.
The basis of this change, according to German Media, is a file of approximately 1,000 pages consisting of material compiled by Verfassungsschutz from speeches and marketing materials from AfD, and evaluated by a team of lawyers and experts on right-wing extremism. More correctly, however, we must understand that these changes in the domestic intelligence agency’s relationship with the AfD are the result of activist work organized by victims of right-wing violence. In fact, the Verfassungsschutz his complicity in acts of extremist violence has long been suspected.
When the right-wingers made a protracted rampage in the eastern German city of Chemnitz in 2018, Hans-Georg Maaßen, then head of the security organization, was quick to downplay the violence, suggesting the footage shows migrants being chased through the streets by an angry mob. they had been falsified, although they had already been verified by the media, corroborated by the testimony of eyewitnesses and referenced as legitimate by Angela Merkel. Verfassungsschutz of Hessen It was also linked to the 2019 assassination of Christian Democratic Union politician Walter Lübcke – the agency knew the man who bought the gun used to kill Lübcke sympathizing with right-wing extremists, which should have prevented him from buying guns legally. But he neglected to provide this information to the judge responsible for issuing the permit that was later used to purchase the murder weapon.
Protection of the Constitution He is not the only one in his relative inaction in the face of right-wing violence. While German police can rarely be accused of the kinds of direct violence that are common in the US, it has also become increasingly clear that the police have often tolerated or even allowed right-wing violence. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a member of an elite police unit called the Spezialeinsatzkommando was recently convicted of illegally possessing an Uzi and more than 55,000 rounds of ammunition. He was part of a group called Nordkreuz, which consisted mainly of members or veterans of the German police, army and intelligence services, and which claimed to be preparing for an eventual downfall of German society. His preparations It included compiling a 25,000-person enemy list and ordering a supply of body bags. Meanwhile, a separate group of right-wing extremists have been using police computers to send death threats to anti-fascist activists, and authorities have been suspiciously slow to investigate the more than 100 such threats that have been signed “NSU 2.0 ” till the date. In addition, the police in Sedan, North Rhine-Westphalia Y Hessen they were found to have participated in far-right chat groups. Despite all this, Home Secretary Horst Seehofer vehemently rejected calls for an independent study of racism in the German police.
Thomas Haldenwang, who took over Verfassungsschutz after Maaßen was forced to resign in 2018, began his tenure by observing elements of the AfD and has made right-wing extremism a special focus of his work. But top-down changes can be difficult to implement in any organization, and even more difficult in the face of entrenched cultures and intelligence agencies’ expertise in keeping secrets: Haldenwang was already in charge of the Bundesverfassungsschutz. when Lübcke was assassinated. Given the abysmal record of German intelligence agencies with regard to right-wing extremism, the news that they will now observe the AfD should receive cautious applause. As the scale of Germany’s problems with right-wing institutional extremism becomes clearer, we should celebrate these small steps towards solving a problem endemic to fascist tendencies in German society.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism