Investigation into the Anis Amri case: Well-protected state secret

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is still keeping a low profile on informants. This is particularly bitter for the relatives of the victims.

Hearing of witnesses in the Amri committee of inquiry in January 2019 in the German Bundestag Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka / dpa

Even after three years of work by the committee of inquiry into the terrorist attack on Breitscheidplatz, numerous questions remain unanswered. Also on the role of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. This is all the more unfortunate because the authority rejected all responsibility after the attack. It was said that there were no informants in the vicinity of the assassin Anis Amri. The then head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen, even spoke of a “pure police case”.

That was, to say the least, not the truth. The Federal Constitutional Court could now have contributed to illuminating the role of the Federal Office a little better. Unfortunately, however, it has rejected a lawsuit with which the testimony of an undercover agent of the Federal Office should be compelled in the investigative committee.

Why the Federal Office allegedly had no information about Amri’s radicalization and his attack plans despite an undercover agent in the Fussilet Mosque – it will remain unclear. This is incomprehensible to the public, and certainly not to the relatives of the victims. You have a right to learn how a dangerous Islamist disappeared from the radar of the security authorities and ended up killing eleven people on Breitscheidplatz and, before that, the truck driver.

In addition, there are fundamental things: With its decision, the court allows the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Ministry of the Interior to decide once again against the investigation and in favor of the protection of their sources. The parliamentary control of informal operations, which are problematic anyway, becomes impossible. But there must be no control-free space. Not only left critics see it this way:

Constitutional judge Peter Müller, ex-CDU Prime Minister of Saarland, gave a different opinion on the record. After that, the majority of the Senate overestimated the state’s “executive secrecy interests” in its decision. Unfortunately, there was no majority in the entire Senate.


Expert on AfD and the protection of the constitution: “The party’s situation is disastrous”

The entire AfD threatens to be classified as a suspected right-wing extremist. That would be the beginning of the end, says right-wing extremism expert Alexander Häusler.

The AfD: Soon just an annoying marginal phenomenon? Photo: Hans Christian Plambeck / laif

taz: Mr. Häusler, there is much to suggest that the AfD as a whole party will soon be classified as a suspected right-wing extremist case by the protection of the constitution and that this will sooner or later become publicly known. What would that mean for the AfD?

Alexander Häusler: A classification as a right-wing extremist suspected case brings the AfD into the most difficult situation since its existence. The situation for them is disastrous. So far, the party has had a fairly unprecedented series of successes, it went from electoral success to electoral success, also through new populist provocations. This series of successes collapsed due to the corona pandemic.

And the AfD has also turned the populist escalation screw over. As a result, it has moved further and further to the right in its development and almost inevitably came into the sights of the constitutional protection authorities. The consequence for the AfD is devastating.

In what way?

The AfD will lose with its national conservative electorate, because they do not want to get the reputation of being right-wing extremists. It will have to give up its staff because people in the civil service – such as police officers, teachers or soldiers – face consequences if they are active in a party that is led under the heading of right-wing extremism.

And she will have financial collapses because she also lives heavily on private donors and an entrepreneur will now think twice about donating to the AfD if he has to fear counter-campaigns because he supports a right-wing extremist party. The success story of the AfD should be over.

The Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution has classified the AfD regional association as a suspected right-wing extremist. It is the fourth regional association after Thuringia, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. In this case, too, the authorities see sufficiently weighty “actual indications” for suspicion of extremist activities.

According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the “wing”, the officially disbanded stream around Björn Höcke, has even been proven right-wing extremist, the young alternative organization, as well as the four state associations, are suspected cases.

According to information from the taz and other media, the Federal Office has also planned to classify the entire party as a suspected case. According to several reports, however, the AfD sued the Cologne administrative court as a prophylactic measure. Until a decision is made on the urgent matter in Cologne, the legal situation is now like this: The authority may classify the party, but it is not allowed to talk about it. But because it will probably inform the state offices for the protection of the constitution and also the parliamentary control body in the Bundestag, it could well be that this information will leak to the media sooner or later. This is exactly what happened again in Saxony.

Why are you so sure about the slump in electoral favor? The AfD has already given the so-called bourgeois voters numerous occasions to turn away – for example through Gauland’s statement about the NS as “bird shit”. In fact, little has happened.

The right-wing populist taboo was still working: You could stage yourself as an alleged representative of the will of the people and say that you don’t belong in the right corner. With this scam, the AfD achieved its success. But that no longer works when the right-wing extremist classification is pronounced.

The “people will be allowed to say that” milieus, which have something to lose socially, will distance themselves. Then the avowed right-wing extremist voters remain.

The AfD likes to counter this with the argument that the other parties are politically instrumentalizing the protection of the Constitution, a Stasi 2.0, so to speak. Can that get caught?

The right-wing pioneer Karlheinz Weißmann once feared something right from his point of view: The AfD threatens to relapse into a “League of the East” if it continues to radicalize. This story of the Stasi 2.0 might get caught in the east, but not nationwide. Weißmann and Co rely on the gap between the CDU / CSU and the right wing. And not on avowed right-wing extremism.

You know: the history of the right-wing parties in the Federal Republic was a history of failure up to the AfD: All these parties, like the Republicans or the League of Free Citizens, have gone the way of marginalization. You can only be successful if you also mobilize conservative milieus.

Speaking of which you are referring to the Republicans: The 1992 surveillance by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution went hand in hand with their decline: Do you see parallels?

It’s hard to compare. The situation today is completely different, both in terms of the political situation and the situation in the right-wing camp. The Republicans still had competition back then, the AfD has developed into the roof of the right-wing camp. But of course there were and still are internal contradictions in these parties, which are exacerbated by external pressure and the protection of the constitution.

What does that mean for the AfD?

The AfD is a kind of collecting movement from different core milieus: the national liberal direction with market-radical economic views, the national-conservative-minded milieu of former Union supporters and the völkisch nationalists and openly right-wing extremists. The three currents have concluded a kind of truce, and thanks to the permanent success in elections, the conflicts have been swept under the carpet. But now they’re breaking out.

58, is a social scientist and research associate with a research focus on right-wing extremism / neo-Nazism (forum) at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences. One of his main areas of work is the AfD.

What role does the protection of the constitution play in this?

He increases the pressure. The classification as a right-wing extremist suspected case acts like a sword of Damocles, it is existence-threatening. The AfD gained its success from the approval of these different milieus. If the bridge to the bourgeois camp breaks, then that’s it for these successes. With East German protest voters and openly right-wing extremists alone, no major electoral successes can be achieved.

There are still people in the party who still have something to lose, who have a social position – they are important for the external impact of the party. Otherwise there are only the right gamblers who have nothing more to lose anyway.

So the decline of the AfD would have heralded?

Yes, at least the end of their successful streak so far.

However, this has been said several times in the still relatively short history of the AfD.

Yes, I have often thought that this is the end of the flagpole. And then it wasn’t. So you have to be careful. But if you think about where in the Federal Republic the place is for a right wing party, you come to the conclusion: With its populist escalation screw, the AfD has dug its own grave. Interestingly, many of the successful far-right parties in Europe have developed the other way around.

From right-wing extremism to the center.

I agree. Like the former Front National, the Lega or parties in the Scandinavian region, they emerged in the right-wing extremist corner and have undergone a tactical civilization. You have moved to the center to reach larger segments of the electorate. The AfD went the opposite way and now has the stigma of right-wing extremism.

What do you think: what will happen then?

The AfD will continue to try to defend itself legally. Of course, it would be fatal if their lawsuits were successful and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had to withdraw their classification.

But if the AfD fails and the party is classified as a suspected right-wing extremist, the end of the Meuthen era would automatically be initiated. His competitors from the far right could rejoice that the whole adjustment course has failed and prevail. Meuthen could then pull the rip cord, leave the party and take part of the AfD with him. You could then play Republicans 2.0 in the western German states.

So if you follow you, there would be a kind of Republican 2.0 in the West and a “League East”. How successful could such parties be?

Not much. They would probably have to fight for the five percent hurdle, at least in the west of the republic, and the decline would be very likely. But at the moment this is of course still an open-ended process.


Is Hayek incompatible with the AfD?

UNew dispute has broken out among Hayek supporters. The trigger is an incompatibility decision by the Berlin “Friedrich August von Hayek Foundation for a Free Society”, which now wants to clearly differentiate itself from the AfD. Membership in the AfD as well as the cooperation for the AfD and its parliamentary groups are declared “incompatible with the concerns, the work and the person of Friedrich August von Hayek,” said the Board of Trustees on Friday. The reason is the possible classification of the AfD as a “suspected case” by the constitution protection. From now on, no more events and projects in which members or employees of the AfD take part will be funded, writes the board of trustees headed by Cologne economist Rolf Hasse in the declaration.

Heike Goebel

Heike Goebel

Responsible editor for economic policy, responsible for “The order of the economy”.

The problem: The only purpose of the Berlin Hayek Foundation (not to be confused with the Freiburg Hayek Foundation of almost the same name!) Is to support the much better known Hayek Society. This association of liberal scientists and publicists, founded in 1998, promotes the ideas of the Austrian economist and Nobel Prize winner Hayek in events. He sees himself being patronized by the foundation board. Its chairman, the Kiel economist Stefan Kooths, told the FAZ: “We cannot accept that the board of trustees determines society.” The non-partisan society alone decides on members. Exclusions are only possible if the association’s interests are violated.

Kooths immediately drafted a newsletter to the members. It says: “For months we have seen that the earlier trusting dialogue between the Hayek Society and the Foundation has been replaced by the obvious attempt by significant forces in the Board of Trustees to subordinate the democratic Hayek Society to the influence of the Foundation, whose Board of Trustees for life officiates, is self-recruited and is not subject to any control by the vote of the members of the company. ”That ranges from guidelines for the company’s program work to personnel decisions. In addition to accepting new members, the focus here is on trying to “unworthy” aside Gerd Habermann, without whose life’s work neither the Hayek Society nor the Foundation would exist.

Dealing with the AfD and AfD members in their ranks has occupied the foundation and society for years. In 2015, the latter had lost many renowned members in the dispute over the delimitation from the AfD, which was co-founded by liberal economists at the time, some of them Hayekians. In 2018 there was a joint decision by the foundation and society not to accept AfD members for three years. Nevertheless, such names have not disappeared on lists so far, complains Hasse and points to “old members” such as the AfD co-parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel. The Board of Trustees regards his statement as a “wake-up call”. You don’t have to rely on the Berlin Foundation, Kooths replies coolly. You also get money from the Rademacher Foundation.


Constitutional protection in Saxony-Anhalt: AfD regional association under observation

The protection of the constitution classifies the AfD Saxony-Anhalt as a right-wing extremist suspected case. The classification of the federal party is pending.

For a long time in the sights of the constitution protection: AfD-Landesvize Hans-Thomas Tillschneider Photo: dpa

BERLIN taz | The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has placed another state association of the AfD under observation: the AfD in Saxony-Anhalt is now classified as a suspected right-wing extremist case. The confirmed parliamentary circles of the taz. The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung reported on it first. Members of the AfD can now also be monitored there by secret service means.

The decision did not come as a surprise. The protection of the constitution in Magdeburg has long been examining the AfD there, which is considered to be one of the most right-wing nationwide. Now the authority of the Landes-AfD certifies, among other things, attacks on human dignity, the rejection of the rule of law and anti-democracy. An official confirmation from the Ministry of the Interior or the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is not yet available.

According to information from the taz, the report refers, among other things, to parliamentary group leader Oliver Kirchner and vice-president Hans-Thomas Tillschneider, who is also a member of the state parliament. Both are assigned to the now officially dissolved “wing”.

Tillschneider, who ran an office in the former house of the Identitarian Movement in Halle, also has good contacts with the Institute for State Policy and the “One Percent” movement. He is one of the MPs who was previously observed personally by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The “wing” has been a proven right-wing extremist endeavor nationwide since last year.

The AfD has almost 1,400 members in Saxony-Anhalt and is the largest opposition party. In the state elections in 2016, she received a good 24 percent of the vote. AfD parliamentary group leader Kirchner, unsurprisingly, accuses the state government of abuse of the protection of the constitution. “If a party becomes too strong, then the protection of the constitution intervenes to protect the old parties,” Kirchner told the taz.

The state associations of the AfD in Thuringia and Brandenburg are already being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and something similar can be heard from Saxony. However, it is still unclear how the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution will deal with the entire AfD party.

According to information from the taz and other media, the Federal Office wanted to announce the classification of the entire party as a suspected case this week. The party had filed a complaint with the Cologne Administrative Court last week – and also against the fact that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution could make an observation public. A decision by the court is still pending.


Classification of the protection of the constitution: decision to AfD is delayed

With a lawsuit, the AfD slows down the protection of the constitution. Your classification as a right-wing extremist suspected case could become a hangover.

Classification in the sand? The head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang Photo: Christoph Soeder / dpa

BERLIN taz | It could have been a big blow, but now the protection of the constitution and the interior minister have stumbled the first step towards it. Probably this week the entire AfD should be classified as a suspected right-wing extremist. Several media reported it, including the taz. But then the AfD submitted urgent applications to the Cologne Administrative Court – and was thus able to delay the procedure for the time being.

A spokesman for the Cologne Administrative Court confirmed on Monday that the taz had announced that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had announced a “standstill promise” on the urgent requests. The Federal Office would not take action until the court ruled.

It remained open, however, what exactly the standstill commitment referred to. Because the AfD had sued both against classification as a right-wing extremist suspected case and against a corresponding public announcement. It is therefore possible that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution will not do anything about the AfD for the time being. Or, which is quite possible, that he just omits the public announcement – but internally classifies the party as a suspected case.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution did not want to comment. “With a view to the ongoing proceedings and out of respect for the court, we do not speak publicly on this matter,” said a spokeswoman for the taz. The court spokesman did not want to comment on details of the procedure either. He also left open when the court would decide on the urgent actions.

The general election in the neck

A possible reclassification of the AfD could become a hangover. The party has been classified as a test case at the Federal Office since the beginning of 2019. After a two-year review, the secret service wanted to announce its decision at the beginning of the year as to whether it would be upgraded as a suspected case, ie whether there were “weighty indications” for anti-constitutional efforts – or not. This should be done now, also in order not to get too close to the upcoming state and federal election campaigns and to expose oneself to the accusation of influencing them. But that is exactly what threatens to happen.

Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU), whose house is responsible for the technical supervision of the classification and recently intensively examined the opinion of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said nothing about the delay on Monday. Here, too, the reason given by a spokeswoman: the ongoing court proceedings in Cologne. In the ministry, the announcement was made to prevent a legal defeat against the AfD in the event of a classification.

In its lawsuits, the AfD invokes, among other things, the parties’ right to equal opportunities under the Basic Law. The current of the “wing” around the Thuringian state chief Björn Höcke, which has officially disbanded, was already classified by the Federal Office as definitely right-wing extremist last year.

Central to the substantive decision of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution with a view to the party as a whole is now how great its influence is on the AfD as a whole. If the party is classified as a suspected case, intelligence means such as telephone monitoring and informants should also be used to monitor it.

The AfD is tacting – with success?

Another lawsuit and the associated urgent motion by the AfD directly affect the “wing”. According to the Federal Office, its dissolution was tactically motivated, the “wing” is therefore still influential in the party. With its lawsuit, the AfD now wants to prohibit the protection of the constitution from being allowed to state the number of “wing” supporters. Most recently there was talk of 7,000.

In the AfD, the camp around party leader Jörg Meuthen in particular had done a lot, at least tactically, to avert a classification of the entire party. This includes the cancellation of the membership of the former Brandenburg regional chief and “wing” puller Andreas Kalbitz and the dissolution of the “wing”. This also includes Meuthen’s speech at the party congress in Kalkar in December, in which he admonished the party not to “appear more and more aggressive, more and more coarse, more and more uninhibited”.

And this also includes a fundamental decision of the federal executive committee in November, in which it affirms the freedom-democratic basic order within the meaning of the Basic Law and a surprisingly published “Declaration on the German State People and German Identity” at the beginning of last week.

In it, the AfD unconditionally acknowledges the German state people as the “sum of all persons who have German citizenship” – which one can, however, question with some statements made by one or the other AfD politician. The declaration was signed by over 30 members of the federal and state leadership, including Höcke. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution recently saw the AfD’s “biological-racist or ethnic-cultural popular term” as an indication of the party’s possible anti-constitutionality.


Failure for AfD in the fight against the protection of the constitution – politics

The AfD suffered a defeat in the legal dispute with the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in court. The administrative court in Cologne rejected an interim regulation in an urgent procedure against the domestic secret service on Wednesday evening. According to the will of the AfD, it was supposed to prevent the Office for the Protection of the Constitution from classifying the party as a “suspected case” three quarters of a year before the federal election or ascribing it to “secured extremist aspirations” – and publishing it. The protection of the constitution had given a so-called standstill promise in the process. The court therefore saw no need for such a decree, the court said.

This means that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution can adopt a tougher course against the AfD, but not announce it for the time being and only implement it to a limited extent. This was assured by the protection of the constitution for the duration of the urgent procedure. For the time being, no press conference on the topic is possible. In addition, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution will initially not monitor officials using intelligence services. This applies to MPs at federal, state and European level as well as corresponding candidates for election. Such a procedure can take several weeks. A quick announcement would therefore not be expected.

After the decision, simple members can be observed. According to the court, there is basically a considerable public interest in an observation after classification as a suspected case. Because it is about the protection of the free democratic basic order, which is to be defended by the constitution protection authorities.

The party had already lost a second trial on Tuesday. According to a decision by the Cologne court, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is also allowed to report on the number of members of the wing, which has now been dissolved. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution had classified the wing as right-wing extremists and estimates the number of members at around 7,000 before it was dissolved. The announcement of the number had a stigmatizing and defamatory effect, because it gave the “wing” a meaning that it really did not have argued the AfD. The judges refused to intervene in the urgent procedure because the likely consequences of becoming aware of the number 7,000 were minor. The court decided that the number of 7000 members had already been made public earlier.

The AfD had submitted the two urgent applications and two lawsuits last week to prevent and complicate further expected steps by the protection of the constitution against the party. At the latest interior ministers’ conference a month ago, the President of the Constitutional Protection Office, Thomas Haldenwang, announced that a nationwide classification of the entire AfD as suspected right-wing extremist case will probably be made in January. With a view to the ongoing proceedings in Cologne, however, the domestic secret service recently announced that it would not disclose anything in this matter for the time being.

Meanwhile, the dispute between the domestic secret service and the AfD is intensifying in Saxony-Anhalt. The party announced on Wednesday that it would legally defend itself against alleged observation of the state association in Saxony-Anhalt by the protection of the constitution. “If this is confirmed, we will take legal action,” said state party leader Martin Reichardt on Wednesday. There it became known that the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been monitoring the AfD as a general association with intelligence resources since mid-January.


AfD Berlin and the protection of the constitution: friends with certain advantages

The AfD exploited a secret report from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Despite racist statements, he attested the party harmless.

Is attacked by the AfD: Interior Senator Andreas Geisel Photo: Christoph Soeder / dpa

BERLIN taz | The Senate Administration has accused the AfD Berlin of lying. After, among other things, AfD parliamentary group leader Georg Pazderski asserted that Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) had influenced an interim audit report by the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution (VS) so that it was to the disadvantage of the AfD, a press release from the interior administration now states: “It will go through the AfD publicly gives the impression that the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution has already come to a final conclusion. It is not so.”

The paper, which is supposed to check the constitutional loyalty of the Berlin AfD, is neither a finalized interim nor a final report, according to the internal administration. The test is still open-ended. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is currently considering upgrading the AfD nationwide from a test case to a suspected case. Then the secret service could also use intelligence means such as observation and informing persons.

Pazderski claims that Geisel instructed the Office for the Protection of the Constitution to “rewrite or rewrite an expert opinion” because the paper did not identify any anti-constitutional efforts by AfD Berlin. The interior administration, on the other hand, says that neither the interior senator nor the interior state secretary had any knowledge of the draft to which Pazderski was referring. There was no political influence – “statements to the contrary are simply not true.”

In fact, the interim report addressed by the AfD, including an anonymous letter addressed to the AfD MPs, is available to the taz. Group leader Pazderski also refers to the letter in a post on social media.

That little bit of racism

The interim report attached to the letter with “VS – only for official use” appears authentic, but comes to a strange conclusion that sounds like “AfD-related” rhetoric when it comes to the arguments.

For example, it says: “It must also be possible as a party in the opposition to criticize key issues of government policy, such as refugee policy, without having to expect to be called right-wing extremist.” The AfD Berlin are not anti-constitutional efforts evidence that justifies a suspected case.

Pazderski puts on a face mask in the House of Representatives

The parliamentary group leader Pazderski exploited a questionable VS interim report Photo: Emmanuele Contini / imago

This is particularly astonishing because the report previously listed public statements by AfD people in Berlin on many of its 43 pages, for example on social media, that are racist and testify to a right-wing extremist worldview.

Reich citizen ideology, völkisch fantasies of big exchanges are belittled, AfD sources such as the right-wing portal “Epoch Times” in Germany are safely cited as an international newspaper and racist murder fantasies in the commentary columns of, for example, the wing supporter Thorsten Weiß as not attributable to the AfD relativized

In addition, the election program is harmless, the exclusion of memberships in right-wing extremist organizations in the AfD federal statutes has a relieving effect, the influence of the wing, which is already classified as extremist, is low in Berlin.

Conclusion contradicting the sources

The conclusion of the report is therefore largely in contradiction with the content of the sources cited therein. In the argumentative downplaying of the party, mention is also made of the dissolution of the “wing” – which observers from the AfD and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution recently viewed as a deception.

All in all, the conclusion sounds as if the secret service agents responsible for right-wing extremism had summarized their too close proximity to the object of observation in a report and were now trying to determine the spin in the public with it.

In any case, this interpretation fits the declaration of the interior administration. “In the course of the preparation of the draft interim report, methodological deficiencies were found within Department II (Protection of the Constitution), so that other organizational units in Department II had to be involved.” The findings were not adequately assessed according to the standards applicable to the VS. In the opinion of another unit (basic presentation), decisive aspects were not sufficiently taken into account.

In any case, it was “too early for a final assessment, as practically carried out by the leaked report, since the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has to wait for the entire party to be examined,” says the internal administration’s statement.

Meanwhile, Geisel’s authority wants to file charges against the leak of the report. Since the interim report has been made public, criminal charges will be filed against unknown persons on suspicion of betrayal of secrets, the message states – “regardless of this, we will draw personnel conclusions in the affected area of ​​Department II”.

Niklas Schrader (left) assumes that it was leaked by AfD sympathizers

This is likely to refer in particular to the head of the right-wing extremism division, who is considered Maassen caliber by observers and is also mentioned in the letter to the AfD MPs – he would now be sent into the desert as a neutral observer. According to the draft, nine employees worked on it.

Greens call for reappraisal, left criticizes VS

June Tomiak from the Greens commented: “It is shocking that a preliminary interim report classified as confidential, has been passed on to the AfD by the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is now being used by it.” Through the process, the already ailing trust in the state fight further damaged by right-wing extremism. “It is correct that the internal administration has announced personnel consequences and will file criminal charges.” In order to regain trust, a “relentless reappraisal and a subsequent new beginning” are necessary.

At the Berlin Supreme Court the legal dispute over the end of the party membership of the former Brandenburg AfD boss Andreas Kalbitz will continue on Friday. Kalbitz appealed against a decision of the regional court last August. At the time, the latter had rejected his urgent application against the AfD and decided that according to the standards to be applied in the urgent procedure, it could not be determined that the decision of the AfD federal board of May 15, 2020 to terminate Kalbitz’s membership was evidently illegal.

The federal board of the AfD had canceled Andreas Kalbitz’s party membership in mid-May of last year because he is said to have concealed his previous membership in right-wing extremist organizations. (epd, taz)

Niklas Schrader from the Left Party is convinced that the document went directly from the constitution protection to the AfD. In any case, the paper did not even make it to Parliament’s VS Committee. He assumes that it was leaked by AfD sympathizers. The process shows that in Berlin VS there are still people who are trivialized. With the piercing, the authority discredited itself again. It is difficult to make such an authority the arbiter of anti-democracy. “It is well known that there are anti-constitutional efforts in the AfD. We don’t need the Office for the Protection of the Constitution to assess this, ”says Schrader.

Of course, there are AfD MPs like Thorsten Weiß who are active in the wing. You can also see in parliament and on social media that the Berlin regional association is increasingly adopting the rhetoric of the wing, says Schrader. The past few months have also shown that AfD people have also run along with lateral thinkers, sharing inhuman positions and anti-Semitism there. However, it is not the VS that can protect democracy, only the social exclusion of the AfD, says Schrader: “We have to exclude them socially and in parliament.”


Maaßen wants to avert harm from proceedings

NOne can serve two masters, so it says in the Gospel of Matthew. And the principle also applies today to the practice of lawyers: The law prohibits a lawyer from acting if he has already been involved in the same legal matter, be it as a lawyer, judge or member of the public service. This legal concept can also be found in civil service law, namely in the form of the obligation not to reveal official secrets in retirement.

Marcus Jung

For Hans-Georg Maaßen, these limits had been an issue for a long time, because the former President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been working for the law firm Höcker, which has already represented the AfD in several legal proceedings, since October 2019. The fact that the party appeared on the radar of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was already the case when he was still in charge of the agency. Now both sides ended their cooperation.

In the Cologne law firm specializing in media and press law, Maaßen worked as an “Of Counsel”. In this function, Maaßen, as a non-employed consultant, was supposed to develop the “public right of expression” business area.

Summons as a witness possible

At the beginning of the collaboration, both sides must have been aware of the firm’s already existing mandate relationship with the AfD. The law firm emphasized that it represents anyone who is affected by illegal reporting. Because, as the law firm said in a press release, Maaßen would, at his own request, “but not be personally involved” with mandates from the left, the Greens, the AfD or objects under surveillance by the constitutional protection agency.

According to reports, Maaßen had registered his activity with the Federal Ministry of the Interior and received approval for it. He was put into temporary retirement in November 2018 after he had spoken of “left-wing radical forces in the SPD” and accused the federal government of spreading false information without being checked. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU), who initially stood behind Maassen, described Maassen’s statements as crossing borders, and the formulations were unacceptable.

On the occasion of the termination of the cooperation, Maaßen referred on Monday evening to the legal representation of the law firm Höcker in the AfD lawsuit at the Cologne Administrative Court. There the former BfV president has to expect a summons as a witness. “Even if I was not entrusted with this case by a lawyer and am not prevented from giving evidence as a witness, there is still the possibility that my work in the law firm will have a negative connotation and that any testimony as a witness will be questioned, even if I am Lawyer cooperate with the plaintiff’s office “, Maaßen is quoted in a statement. In order to avert damage to all parties involved and to enable a fair trial, he moved his departure forward by three months. According to Höcker, he wanted to devote himself more to legal economic advice from the spring onwards.

Reason to frown

Was this communication carried out with foresight and was a reaction to current events? Personalie Maaßen, his work for Höcker and the possible conflict of interest even made it into the federal press conference. Tilo Jung, journalist and host of the Youtube channel “Jung & Naiv” asked a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior whether it played a role that Maassen, as the former President of the Constitutional Protection, was responsible for “legal support for the AfD in this case”.

Shortly afterwards, TV presenter Jan Böhmermann took up the topic. He put a possible prohibition of activity in accordance with Paragraph 45 of the Federal Lawyers’ Act on Twitter. This is the prohibition on representing conflicting interests, which prohibits lawyers from working if they have worked in the same legal matter as, among other things, members of the public service. From a legal point of view, it can be argued that a ban on Maaßen would affect all lawyers in the media and press office – even after his resignation. The result: Höcker would have to resign the litigation mandate before the Cologne Administrative Court.

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It is very common for law firms to perform extensive checks for any conflicts when accepting newcomers. Professional lawyers such as Matthias Kilian, law professor at the University of Cologne, point out that as a retired administrative officer, Maassen can of course work as a lawyer. This is not at all unusual, Kilian said when asked by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The only thing that must be ruled out is that a law firm in which such a retiree works looks after mandates the content of which was previously the subject of official consideration,” says the legal scholar.

The law firm Höcker advised the AfD according to earlier information before October 2019, i.e. before Maassen’s entry. With such a change of function, explains law professor Kilian, the legislature sees the trust of the population in the administration of justice at risk. In such cases, civil service law provides for a time-limited possibility of prohibition. In professional law, and here Kilian refers to the current Twitter debate, firm-wide bans on activities could follow. “It is therefore irrelevant in terms of professional law if the ex-official wants to stay out of a critical mandate internally,” commented Kilian on the statements of the former BfV president in the press release on Monday evening. The current “Causa Maaßen” give cause for frowning.

If a lawyer fails to adhere to his or her professional duties, it’s a matter for the bar association. In fact, the Cologne Chamber of Lawyers (RAK) has the process and the joint press release by Maaßen and the law firm Höcker on its screen. Lawyer Martin Huff, managing director and press spokesman for RAK Cologne, said that the matter would be examined under professional law.


AfD and the Protection of the Constitution: The tremors of officials

The protection of the constitution could classify the AfD as a right-wing extremist suspected case. Associations direct clear appeals to the officials in the party.

Teacher and agitator: Björn Höcke has the constitution protection in its sights Photo: image

BERLIN taz | The warnings are clear: “Officials have to distance themselves crystal clear from extremists, there is no discussion,” says Ulrich Silberbach, chairman of the civil servants’ association, the taz. “And if the constitution protection in the AfD sees extremist efforts, then it is important to keep a clear distance here.”

Jörg Radek, Deputy Head of the Police Union (GdP), emphasizes quite similarly: “The police service and commitment to the AfD do not go together. The more attentively the Office for the Protection of the Constitution looks at the AfD, the greater the distance between our officials must be. “

The announcements are not made without a reason. Because next week, the constitution protection could announce how it deals with the AfD. And there is much to suggest that a right-wing extremist suspected case is being upgraded. With this, the secret service would for the first time attest to the AfD as a whole “weighty indications of anti-constitutional efforts”. From now on, intelligence services such as telephone surveillance or informants could also be used against the party.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution itself had announced a decision in early 2021, but it is currently silent. In safety circles, however, a classification is assumed. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) was buttoned up on Wednesday. A spokesman denied the report that Seehofer had already agreed to the classification. The Ministry has the technical supervision of the procedure and examines it legally – a defeat against the AfD in court should be avoided at all costs.

Already classified as a test case in 2019

Two years ago, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the AfD as a test case. The right-wing extremist “wing” around Björn Höcke and Andreas Kalbitz and the AfD youth were already rated by the secret service as a suspected case, one level higher. In March 2020, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution even declared the “wing” to be a full observation object: It was a “proven extremist endeavor”.

The “wing” then dissolved. His supporters around Höcke remained active in the AfD. Kalbitz, on the other hand, was expelled from the party for formal reasons – against which he still fights legally. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution recently made it clear that the “wing” people in the AfD continue to shape the AfD. Apparently, the recent appeal by party leader Jörg Meuthen to moderate himself has not changed anything.

If it is actually classified as a suspected case, the nervousness of the officials in the AfD is likely to increase. Because they are committed to loyalty to the constitution and to political moderation. There are several police officers and members of the armed forces among the AfD members of the Bundestag and the state parliaments. Björn Höcke is a teacher, the Saxon right winger Jens Maier is a judge, the Baden-Württemberg resident Thomas Seitz is a public prosecutor.

Already in 2019, after the AfD was first classified, Seehofer had obtained an expert opinion. The result: pure membership in a party that has been classified by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as an investigative or suspected case remains inconsequential under civil service law. Individual behavior is decisive. Exposed posts, all the more so from the “Wingians” who have already been declared anti-constitutional, could become a problem here. Always check on a case-by-case basis. In 2018, Seitz, who was close to the wing, was actually stripped of its official status.

For Beamtenbund boss Silberbach it is clear: “Anyone who does not have both feet on the ground of the Basic Law cannot be a civil servant. It is obvious that there are right-wing extremist tendencies in parts of the AfD and that the party has not distanced itself sufficiently. “

The AfD wants to counter it legally

GdP Vice Radek also welcomes the fact that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is “looking closely at the AfD”. For police officers there could be “no both-and”. The political aspirations of the AfD “run contrary to the principles and values ​​of a democratic and social constitutional state and an open civil society”. Radek refers to the “breaking taboos” by AfD politicians, the shifting of the discourse “into the unbearable”. And further: “You are therefore jointly responsible for a social division.”

And Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) also warned the officials in the AfD. The membership of members of the armed forces in an organization that is assessed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a suspected extremist case represents “basically an actual clue for efforts against the free democratic basic order”, said a spokesman for the taz. This does not necessarily have to result in a breach of service, but should be checked in each individual case. The spokesman emphasized: “Soldiers are obliged to recognize the free democratic basic order within the meaning of the Basic Law and to advocate its preservation through all behavior.”

The AfD wants to oppose it legally

The AfD wants to file lawsuits against it in the event of a classification. “As we have repeatedly announced, we will defend ourselves legally against it,” said AfD boss Tino Chrupalla.

With its own working group, the party also tried to escape observation, also with a view to the officials in its ranks. In party circles on Wednesday also circulated an “interim report” classified as “classified information” by the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution about the AfD regional association there and a possible classification as a suspected case. There it is said that for the Berlin AfD there is so far “no sufficient actual evidence of anti-constitutional efforts”.

Although some statements are “roughly generalizing”, there is “only a few content that can be assessed in the border area between a radical statement and an extremist position”. In addition, the dissolution of the “wing” speaks in favor of a commitment to the basic order – a position that should be quite unique in the constitution protection group. There they consider the resolution to be purely tactically motivated.

Berlin’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) reacted immediately. The report was “by no means finalized” and contained “methodological deficiencies”, announced its administration. “The existing findings have not been adequately assessed according to the standards applicable to the protection of the constitution.” It is a “still ongoing, open-ended process”.

Geisel announced a criminal complaint for betrayal of secrets because the report to the AfD had been pierced. There will also be personal consequences for this. Geisel denied any political influence on the examination: he had not yet known the report. The Berlin left also spoke of a “tangible scandal”. Apparently there are sympathizers of the extreme right in the security authorities. The Greens demanded a “relentless reappraisal and a subsequent new beginning” in the state office.

The AfD is likely to use the report as fodder for its defensive fight against the protection of the constitution. It was only on Monday that the party responded to the Völkisch accusation with a declaration, also signed by Höcke. It states that it is “unconditionally committed to the German nation as the sum of all persons who have German citizenship”, regardless of “ethnic-cultural background”. Nonetheless, it is legitimate to “want to preserve the German people, their language and their long-term traditions”.

But many in the party suspect that this will no longer help them. The declaration is more likely to be ammunition for a future legal dispute with the constitution protection. AfD parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland had recently announced that an observation by the protection of the constitution would not escape. He appealed to the party not to be impressed. On one point, however, Gauland expressed a fear as early as 2019: “In the long term, I’m worried that we will lose the officials.”


taz research on the union of values: on the far right

Felix Schönherr is the press spokesman for the Union of Values. He had previously tried to build structures for the right-wing extremist group “One Percent”.

The union of values ​​is drifting to the right Photo: Martin Müller / imago

BERLIN taz | When a member of the Union of Values ​​shouted “Sieg Heil” last summer and raised his arm in the Hitler salute, the association clearly distanced itself: “The Union of Values ​​resolutely rejects any form of right-wing extremism,” said press spokesman Felix Schönherr.

Schönherr, 33, is also a member of the federal board of the Union of Values, a group that wants to preserve the “conservative brand core” of the CDU and CSU, even if it is not a recognized party division. Most recently, she supported Friedrich Merz as a candidate for party leadership and continues to see him as the right candidate for chancellor – despite his defeat. The closeness of the Union of Values ​​to the AfD is repeatedly discussed, even when it is officially trying to differentiate itself from it.

As research by the taz shows, Felix Schönherr, of all people, was part of organizations that are even further to the far right.

In the spring of 2016, for example, he is trying to build structures of “one percent”. He writes an email to around ten other people interested in “one percent” and uses an address with the user name “one percent bayernsued”. An end to the “asylum crisis” is far from in sight, he writes. “So it is now up to us to organize the resistance outside of parliament!”

“Greenpeace for Germany”

The networking meeting should serve to “consolidate an initial structure in the region and plan actions”. The taz has the mail. The meeting then takes place a few weeks later in a café in Augsburg, as one participant confirms, Schönherr is there.

In April 2016 – at the same time as Schönherr invites to the meeting – a handful of people officially founded “One Percent” as an association. The right-wing extremist publicist Götz Kubitschek from Saxony-Anhalt is among them, as is Jürgen Elsässer, editor-in-chief of the now observed by the protection of the constitution CompactMagazine. Their vision: to found a “citizens’ movement”, a kind of “Greenpeace for Germany”.

As the taz research shows, in 2016 Schönherr was also a member of an internal Facebook group of the right-wing extremist “Identitarian Movement”. In that year, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the group as a suspected case. “One percent” and the “identities” work together: sometimes they help each other out financially, sometimes they charter a ship to prevent refugees from coming to Europe across the Mediterranean. Both groups have excellent connections to the AfD.

In July 2019, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the “Identitarian Movement” as clearly right-wing extremist and as an observation case. Around a year later, in June 2020, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, announces the classification of “one percent” as a suspected right-wing extremist case. Both groups are now being monitored by intelligence means. Relevant for the classifications according to Haldenwang: Your xenophobic, nationalist, racist or anti-Semitic ideologies.

A “German patriot” who studied rhetoric

Felix Schönherr studied rhetoric and claims that he was a “left student”. Today he describes himself as a “German patriot”. In 2017 he joined the CSU, the Junge Union, the RCDS and the Union of Values, whose press spokesman he has been since February 2020. His predecessor, media lawyer Ralf Höcker, not only represents the AfD legally, but has also appeared at an AfD event in the Bundestag.

As a board member, Schönherr signed an open letter to Thomas Haldenwang in June 2020 in which the Union of Values ​​asks the Office for the Protection of the Constitution to classify the taz as a “left-wing extremist endeavor”. You transport “left-wing extremist agitation in the general public”.

Alexander Mitsch, founder and chairman of the Union of Values, does not want to comment on Schönherr’s activities and refers to the press office – that is, to Felix Schönherr himself. On the phone, Schönherr says that he has nothing to do with either organization and that he distances himself from them.

When asked about the networking meeting in Augsburg, he does not deny his commitment to “One Percent”. Nor does he deny that he was part of the “Identitarian Movement”. He later sends an email. Schönherr writes that he was “never involved in an active or responsible role for these organizations” and was “certainly not a member”. And he turned on his lawyer, Ralf Höcker, a friend of the Union of Values.

Union of values ​​as a separate party?

In the meantime, Felix Schönherr is applying for the federal chairmanship of the Union of Values, as he announced after the CDU party conference last weekend. His goal: to further develop the Union of Values ​​into an organization “that is completely independent of the Union parties”, as it says on his candidacy website.

The Union of Values ​​would have to position itself as a separate party that would benefit from a possible split in the AfD – that is one idea. Schönherr describes his second as the founders of “One Percent” years earlier: organizing the union of values ​​in the form of a “campaign platform”, similar to an NGO, a “Greenpeace for the Fatherland”.