Presumed right-wing terror in 2000: Wehrhahn attack goes unpunished

20 years after the assassination attempt in Düsseldorf, the BGH confirmed the acquittal for a Nazi. Twelve people were injured, some seriously.

Rescue workers take care of the injured in front of the Wehrhahn S-Bahn station on July 27, 2000 Photo: dpa

KARLSRUHE taz | The acquittal for the now 54-year-old right-wing extremist Ralf S. was “free of legal errors”. With this ruling on Thursday, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ended the long-term trial of the bomb attack on twelve Eastern European language students in 2000 in the last instance.

The language students came from Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Around half of them were Jews. At the Düsseldorf-Wehrhahn S-Bahn station, they were victims of a self-made TNT pipe bomb that was hung in a plastic bag on the railing of a pedestrian bridge and triggered by radio. Seven women and three men suffered some serious injuries. A pregnant woman lost her unborn baby.

The attack caused great consternation at the time, and the police immediately suspected racist motives. When there was an attack on the synagogue in Düsseldorf three months later, the then Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) proclaimed an “uprising of the decent”. There were fairy lights demonstrations, and the federal government applied to the Federal Constitutional Court to ban the NPD.

A Palestinian and a Moroccan later confessed to the attack on the synagogue and justified it with the Israeli occupation policy in Gaza. The Wehrhahn bomb attack remained unsolved. In 2009, the special police commission disbanded for the attack.

A foreseeable verdict

It wasn’t until 2017 that the investigation was successful. The police arrested the former professional soldier Ralf S., a right-wing extremist known locally. S. had lived near the S-Bahn station, his military store was next to the language school. Shortly after the crime, he was suspected, but at the time he was able to produce an alibi. But now two former prisoners had incriminated him, to whom he is said to have confessed to the attack.

In 2018 there was a six-month criminal trial at the Düsseldorf Regional Court, but at the end of which Ralf S. was acquitted. The court was not sufficient by S. ‘ Conviction S. had denied the alleged confessions. There were no tangible traces of him. S. even received compensation for several months in custody.

But the Düsseldorf public prosecutor did not want to accept the judgment and appealed. The regional court’s assessment of the evidence was incorrect. However, it was already apparent at the oral BGH hearing last November that the revision has poor prospects of success. The federal prosecutor’s office did not support the Düsseldorf public prosecutor’s revision and requested that the acquittal be upheld.

This was followed by the 3rd BGH criminal panel, which is responsible for terrorism and state security. The BGH had to accept the regional court’s assessment of evidence in principle. “Only the regional court heard all the witnesses, spoke to the experts and saw the evidence,” said the presiding judge Jürgen Schäfer. The BGH can only object to the evidence taken by the regional court in the event of legal errors, for example if the considerations were contradictory or incomplete.

Judge Schäfer went into more detail on the testimony that incriminated Ralf S. The two prisoners could not have convincingly explained inconsistencies in their statements. The statements of two women close to S., who had stated that S. had announced the crime to them, were not sufficiently comprehensible. Both women had been questioned several times by the police in 2000 and 2001 and had not incriminated S. at that time. It was only after more than 16 years that they reported their supposed memories to the police.

S. had lied several times during the proceedings, according to Richter Schäfer, and also tried to influence witnesses. But even that shouldn’t have been seen by the regional court as compelling evidence of a perpetrator, argued Schäfer. “This is how someone can behave who is wrongly accused.”

No further legal remedies are possible against S.’s acquittal.


Plea in the trial of the Lübcke murder: “Warning against hatred”

In the trial for the murder of Walter Lübcke, the federal prosecutor’s office makes its plea. Stephan E. is the sole murderer of the CDU politician.

Public Prosecutor Daniel Otto (l.) And Senior Public Prosecutor Dieter Killmer (r.) Are waiting for the trial to begin Photo: Boris Roessler / dpa

FRANKFURT AM MAIN taz | The representative of the federal prosecutor, Dieter Killmer, speaks of a murder of “historical dimension”. And he is convinced: The defendant Stephan E. shot the Kassel District President Walter Lübcke alone and at close range on the terrace of his house on the night of June 2, 2019, because he acknowledged Germany’s responsibility for the protection of refugees.

The words fall on Tuesday, in the pleading of the Federal Prosecutor in the trial of Lübcke’s murder before the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court. Killmer names hatred and racism as the motive for murder. With Lübcke’s murder, for the first time in a democratic Germany since the attack on Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, a politician fell victim to a right-wing extremist violence. The act is a “warning against hatred instead of respect, against shouting instead of discourse”.

The federal prosecutor’s office also blames Stephan E. for an attack on the Iraqi refugee Ahmed I. E. had stabbed the young man with a knife at a chance encounter in January 2016 near an asylum shelter from behind. A man who has sought protection and a chance here, says Killmer.

The chief public prosecutor demands life imprisonment with subsequent preventive detention for Stephan E. The guilt is particularly serious. The co-defendant, Markus H., a former friend of E., is supposed to be jailed for nine years and eight months for aiding and abetting murder. Killmer is also moving to have his arrest warrant reinstated.

“Deeply rooted racism”

Killmer has no doubt that Stephan E. is the murderer of Lübcke. He points to the DNA traces on the victim’s shirt. And on the confessions with which E., however, got involved in the act in four different versions. The first of these, after his arrest in June 2019, called Killmer “mostly credible”.

Accordingly, the murder of the district president was planned for a long time. The key experience for the anger and hatred of Lübcke was an event in Kassel-Lohfelden in 2015, at which the CDU politician stood up for refugee accommodation. Stephan E. and Markus H. were present. Spontaneous indignation can be heard on the video sequence that H. then put on the Internet in a shortened version.

Stephan E. projected his xenophobia onto Lübcke for Killmer. As the radicalization progressed, he forged the murder plan, scouted the scene and practiced shooting. “Walter Lübcke had to die because of a sentence that was out of context.”

For the same reasons E. stabbed the young Iraqi Ahmed I. in the back with a knife sharpened on both sides of the tip and injured him so badly that he is still receiving therapeutic and medical treatment today. But what the federal prosecutor and Ahmed I’s lawyer classify as an attempted murder will probably not lead to a conviction in this process. In several resolutions, the Senate has shown that it does not consider the DNA traces on the possible murder weapon found in E. to be sufficiently conclusive.

The co-defendant Markus H. may also not be convicted for everything that the indictment originally accused him of. In any case, the prosecution dropped the allegation of complicity in Lübcke’s murder. After two of the four versions of the crime presented by E. H. was at the scene, in the meantime he should have even fired the fatal shot.

But there is no evidence of H’s presence at the crime scene. However, there was a tacit agreement between Stephan E. and him to take action against Lübcke, emphasizes Killmer. Markus H. had given E. “encouragement and security” and finally also given access to weapons. Therefore, he should be punished for complicity in murder.

The prosecutor leaves no doubt that the two defendants followed their “deeply rooted racism and xenophobia” with their actions. Both men followed the “leaderless resistance” proclaimed by Heinrich Himmler at the end of the Nazi regime – in the delusional idea of ​​the extermination of the Germans and an impending armed conflict. “They acted largely alone,” Killmer noted. But there is a support environment, “on and offline”. After his closing argument, the Federal Prosecutor admits: “There remain dark spots.”


Right-wing extremist attack on synagogue: maximum penalty for Halle attackers

The right-wing extremist who shot two people near the synagogue in Halle was sent to prison for life. The judge spoke of a “cowardly attack”.

The accused Stephan B. was sentenced to life imprisonment Photo: Ronny Hartmann / dpa

MAGDEBURG afp / dpa | In the trial of the right-wing attack on the synagogue in Halle an der Saale, the Naumburg Higher Regional Court imposed the maximum sentence. The defendant Stephan B. was sentenced to life imprisonment with subsequent preventive detention in Magdeburg on Monday. The verdict was issued, among other things, for double murder, multiple attempted murder and sedition. The court also determined the severity of the guilt, which makes early release after 15 years unlikely. An appeal can be lodged with the Federal Court of Justice against the judgment.

It was a “cowardly attack”, said the presiding judge Ursula Mertens at the verdict on Monday. The accused had relativized his actions and motives in many places. The man reacted to the verdict with a blank face and began to take notes.

On October 9, 2019, the 28-year-old German Stephan Balliet tried to storm the synagogue in Halle on the highest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, and cause a massacre. He threw incendiary devices and explosives and shot at the access door, but did not get on the premises. In front of the synagogue, he murdered 40-year-old passer-by Jana L. and in a nearby kebab shop, 20-year-old Kevin S.

On his escape, the man shot a policeman inside, drove the getaway car to a man and shot a man and a woman in a village near Halle after they refused to give him their car. In a workshop, the then 27-year-old blackmailed a taxi that the police were able to locate with the help of the taxi driver. The police then arrested him. The Saxon Anhalter confessed to the fact.

With the verdict, Mertens and the four other judges followed the demands of the federal prosecutor’s office and accessory prosecution. The trial is considered to be the largest criminal case in the history of Saxony-Anhalt. For security and space reasons, the OLG had moved the hearing to the largest courtroom in the country in Magdeburg.

On 25 trial days, the court questioned a total of 79 witnesses and 15 experts. 45 survivors and bereaved relatives had joined the accessory prosecution, they were represented by 23 lawyers. The survivors’ final lectures alone had lasted three days of the trial, and many had spoken at this or before on the witness stand. Almost all of them had reported serious psychological consequences of the crime.


Weapons found in Austria: On the trail of the Uzis

Were weapons found in Austria intended for German neo-Nazis? A suspect once had good contacts in Berlin.

Confiscated weapons as part of a PK of the Vienna State Police Directorate Photo: Georg Hochmuth / dpa

BERLIN taz The statement startled authorities and politics in Germany. Peter B. had just been arrested with four compatriots, because of one of the largest weapons finds in Austria for decades: 76 Uzis, AK47, Scorpion MPs, 100,000 rounds of ammunition, hand grenades and explosives. The 53-year-old made an explosive statement: The weapons were intended for right-wing extremists in Germany to build a militia.

The statement was made known by Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) at the weekend. The German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) called the huge weapon discovery “alarming” on Monday. It was “a massive blow against serious crime”. SPD leader Saskia Esken also declared that one must “finally take seriously that right-wing terror is becoming increasingly radicalized, armed and internationally networked”.

In fact, the report is explosive, because right-wing extremism is already the greatest threat in this country. The arrest of 12 right-wing extremists, who are said to have planned attacks as “Group S.”, as well as weapons finds among soldiers and the attacks in Hanau, Halle and on Walter Lübcke underline this.

And now another right-wing extremist militia? The Austrians had already arrested the five people last week, including Peter B. as the main suspect, who was actually imprisoned for other offenses, but who was recently released. The firearms were found near the group and in two warehouses, as well as 12 kilos of amphetamines and Nazi devotional items. According to investigators, the weapons were financed through drug deals – and should then go to Germany.

Known since the nineties

Peter B. is not a stranger. As early as the 1990s, he was arrested in the context of a right-wing extremist letter bomb series in Austria, in which five people were injured, some seriously. He was acquitted of the charge of taking part in the series, but sentenced to five years in prison for being re-employed by the National Socialists.

As far as the German militia, for whom the weapons were supposedly intended, are concerned, the authorities are buttoned up. Two men from North Rhine-Westphalia were arrested last Wednesday. They are accused of having planned a drug delivery to one of the Austrian suspects. The courier was arrested in Passau, Bavaria, with 23 kilograms of amphetamine in the car. Officials arrested the seller in Velbert near Düsseldorf. Another 1.8 kilos of marijuana and 50 grams of cocaine were found in his and the courier’s apartment.

According to the Duisburg public prosecutor’s office, however, there has been no right-wing extremist relationship among the men, nor has there been any reference to arms deals. They are now in custody on charges of drug trafficking in large numbers. According to media reports, they moved more in a rocker environment.

Even in security authorities, reference is only made to the investigators in Austria. In addition to references to the right-wing militia, a reference to organized crime is also being examined. According to Seehofer, “information is being given in all directions”.

Convicted in 2018

The main suspect Peter B. was sentenced to ten months imprisonment on probation in Passau in January 2018 for importing weapons and narcotics. Coming from Austria he was caught at the Passau border crossing with 250 shotgun shells in the trunk and 2 grams of amphetamine. In court he dismissed this as a mistake.

In the same year Peter B. was convicted before the regional court in Wiener Neustadt for wearing a belt buckle with Nazi symbols and sending right-wing extremist messages. With the inclusion of the Passau ruling, there was now a two and a half year prison sentence – which Peter B. was currently serving as an outdoor prisoner.

In addition, Peter B. was in contact with German right-wing extremists as early as the 1990s and repeatedly traveled to Berlin. A neo-Nazi there provided him with several kilograms of explosives. The authorities left it open to what extent these contacts would last.

Greens and leftists are now calling for further clarification. The Greens requested that the issue be brought up in the Bundestag’s interior committee. Die Linke Martina Renner warned that the armament of the neo-Nazi scene had meanwhile “reached the extent of a right-wing civil war army”.


Weapons found in Austria: Right-wing terror with roots

The new rights are becoming less important in the scene. Now the old leadership cadres of the classic neo-Nazis are emerging again.

Weapons found in Austria: enough for a small civil war Photo: dpa

WIEN taz | Old attitudes don’t rust. The arrest of the well-known Austrian neo-Nazi Peter B. in connection with the discovery of a large, colorful arsenal of submachine guns, assault rifles, handguns and explosives proves that efforts to rehabilitate right-wing extremists are often wasted efforts of love.

The 53-year-old engineer has repeatedly attracted attention through relevant activities, at least since the 1990s. Several years of imprisonment did not purify him. On the contrary: Support for the establishment of armed militias or terrorist groups has not yet been the subject of the indictment.

The report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution shows that the “new rights”, such as the identities, are becoming less important within the right-wing extremist camp. “The old structures and networks around long-term leadership of classic neo-Nazism” are increasingly under observation.

Apparently, this observation is not good enough, because the exposure of the right-wing extremist network, which had amassed an arsenal for a small civil war, was primarily due to the observation of organized drug trafficking.

During the government participation of the FPÖ and the Haider BZÖ party (2000–2007 and 2017–2019), monitoring of the right-wing scene in Austria was shut down. After all, you didn’t want to mourn your own political environment. And the coalition partner ÖVP played along. This is taking its toll now.

The latest case also shows that the old Nazis are moving with the times. In the past, any attack on the drug environment was frowned upon. Similar to the jihadists who want to see drug addiction as a symptom of Western decadence. Now people have become more pragmatic, after all, there is a lot of money to be made with amphetamines, opiates and designer drugs.

This connects Salafist extremists with neo-Nazis as well as the use of terror to spread an ideology that has no future.


Defendant in the Lübcke trial: one memory, many questions

Besides Stephan Ernst, was there another perpetrator involved in the murder of Walter Lübcke? The statement made by Lübcke’s son suggests this.

The defendant Stefan Ernst with his lawyers Mustafa Kaplan (l) and Jörg Hardies (r) Photo: Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images / dpa

FRANKFURT AM MAIN taz | Stephan Ernst enters the hall of the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court on the 37th day of the hearing in handcuffs. He has been in custody for more than a year. His former friend from the neo-Nazi scene, Markus H., has been a free man since October and chats casually with his lawyers.

While one of them faces a life sentence for the murder of the CDU politician Walter Lübcke, the other could get away with a mild sentence. Ernst’s contribution is secured because of a DNA trace at the crime scene, H’s involvement is still unclear. The former “comrades” have long since become bitter opponents in court.

“We are through with our evidence program!” With this remark, the presiding judge of the 5th Criminal Senate, Thomas Sagebiel, once again signaled this Thursday that he considers the evidence to be exhausted. He actually wanted to announce the verdict in December.

But out of consideration for the accessory prosecution, and thus for the family of the murder victim, he had to give up his schedule. Sagebiel decidedly rejected their allegation that the court was treating co-defendant H. too “friendly”. But after the appearance of Christoph Lübcke, a son of the former CDU politician, two days ago, the court again has unanswered questions.

Christoph Lübcke’s statement leads to open questions

On Tuesday, Lübcke junior testified as a witness in this process. From his memory he described a memorable encounter with two men that had irritated him and his father very much. One afternoon in early 2018 they noticed two men at the family’s house in the small town of Istha, where the Lübckes lived.

Was that when Walter Lübcke met his later murderers?

They would have stared at her, just as if the two men had been watching her for some time. “What was that now?” Asked his father, irritated. The witness said on Tuesday that he noticed his beard, a blue or green spotted camouflage jacket and a “batschkapp” (flat cap) on the smaller of the two men.

Was that when Walter Lübcke met his later murderers? The statement made by the Lübcke son matches a statement made by the main defendant, Ernst. Since his first police interrogation, he has repeatedly stated that in February or March 2018 he and his then friend Markus H. drove to Lübcke’s place of residence to spy on the politician, the target of their mutual hatred. However, with conflicting versions of the fact, Ernst has contributed to the confusion several times.

At first he testified that he committed the murder alone. He later named H. as a shooter, and in the meantime he has confessed several times to having shot himself. However, they decided to act together, out of anger over Lübcke’s commitment to refugees.

Contradictory statements by the defendant

If H. had observed the crime scene with Ernst, H. would probably be an accomplice, even if he cannot be proven to have been directly involved in the murder. But how reliable are the statements of the main accused, who delivered different versions of the crime, for the court?

After all, the statement made by the Lübcke son is explosive. Accordingly, the opposing defense lawyers try to include this statement in their argumentation. H’s defense attorney speaks of a “sham memory”, the family is convinced that he was involved, so the statements are precisely coordinated.

On the other hand, she sees Ernst’s defense as evidence of Ernst’s credibility. After all, on Thursday the court sifted through photos from the time when both defendants belonged to the right-wing scene. H. was actually out and about with Bart and Batschkapp, together with Ernst.

“No clear identification,” comments H’s defense attorney and the presiding judge also has more questions than answers. He calls Ernst’s expressive behavior “changeable and doubtful”. In October, when H. was released from pretrial detention, the Senate signaled that it did not consider his conviction for murder to be likely based solely on the statements of the main defendant. It should stay that way.

The process will continue on Tuesday, but the evidence should actually be completed soon. In any case, new witness interviews are no longer planned.


Ban on “Sturmbrigade 44”: out for neo-Nazi troops

The Federal Minister of the Interior is continuing his series of bans on the right-wing extremist spectrum. This time it hits neo-Nazis who paid homage to the Waffen SS.

Not inactive – Seehofer has one right-wing extremist group after the other banned Photo: Kay Nietfeld / dpa

BERLIN taz | The strike occurred early Tuesday morning. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had the right-wing extremist “Sturmbrigade 44” banned, also known as the “Wolfsbrigade 44”. At the same time, police officers moved to 11 members in Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia.

During the morning searches, the 187 officers deployed found knives, bayonets, a crossbow and Nazi devotional objects such as swastikas and flags. “Anyone who fights the basic values ​​of our free society will feel the decisive reaction of our constitutional state,” explained Seehofer. Hatred and the intention to reestablish a National Socialist state have “no place in our country”.

The “Sturmbrigade 44” was publicly noticed in 2018 when members took part in a right-wing extremist rally in Köthen (Saxony-Anhalt). At that time, the men wore rocker-like jackets with the group name including a skull emblem and crossed knives. Its members are recruited from several federal states, are related to the “Northern Lights” in Rostock, for example, and are therefore quite old-fashioned. Already in their group names they pay homage to the Waffen SS. The 44 should stand for the fourth letter in the alphabet, the “DD”: a reference to the “Dirlewanger Division”. Adolf Hitler was also glorified, and a swastika was sometimes integrated into group logos.

The security authorities had been targeting the force since autumn 2017. They see it as organized hierarchically, with a “strict code of conduct”. The goal: a “free fatherland” according to “Germanic moral law”. The group also promoted violence. One of the members is classified as a threat to whom attacks are believed.

Seehofer’s Ministry of the Interior accuses the group of “martial behavior” and “strong racism and anti-Semitism”. The “inhuman ideology” was propagated both on social media and on the street.

The “armed arm”

As early as July 2019, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office initiated searches against the “storm brigade”, at that time against six suspects and four non-suspects in Saxony-Anhalt, Hesse, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. The allegation was that a criminal organization was formed, and weapons were sought. The “Wolf Brigade” was declared an “armed arm” at that time.

However, the relevance of the “storm brigade” in the right-wing extremist scene is manageable: Only a few members are assigned to the group, and there have recently been no publicity campaigns. But it also sharpened the tone of the scene.

With the ban, Seehofer is continuing a series of repression attacks against the right-wing extremist scene that he announced after the attacks on Walter Lübcke and the synagogue in Halle. Since the beginning of the year, his ministry has already banned the Combat 18 and Nordadler groups as well as the imperial citizens’ group “United German Peoples and Tribes”.


Antifa cabinet of the federal government: With 89 measures against hatred

The government responds to the right-wing terrorism and presents a new package of measures. Some see “milestones”, but much remains vague.

Listening to those affected: Horst Seehofer at a meeting with victims of the Hanau attack Photo: Odd Anderso / dpa

BERLIN taz | It should be presented as a big hit. A package of measures by the federal government against right-wing extremism, passed by the specially founded cabinet committee, in response to the hatred that has recently increased. However, there was no separate press conference on Wednesday – due to the Chancellor’s corona summit with the Prime Minister.

The government released the package nonetheless, via press releases and through its spokespersons – and tried to give it weight. It comprises 89 points, seven ministries contributed them, as did the Federal Commissioner for Migration and Anti-Semitism. Some things are fragmented, some are still vague, but overall the government wants to spend a billion euros on it over the next four years. An extra 150 million euros are to be spent on the 2021 budget.

A spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the measures were “resolutely against right-wing extremism and racism of any kind”. Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke of a “milestone in the fight against right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism in Germany”. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) praised the government’s “great unity”.

The recent right-wing terrorist attacks were the trigger for the package. After the murder of Walter Lübcke and the attack in Halle, the government presented an initial package of measures. After the Hanau attack, the cabinet committee against right-wing extremism was set up – with the task of developing another package. Even then, clear words were spoken. Angela Merkel called “racism a poison”, Seehofer lamented a “blood trail of right-wing terrorism”.

Controversial Democracy Promotion Act

Work on the new package of measures continued until Tuesday night. One point in particular was disputed: Should a democracy promotion law be included in the package? The social democrats have been pushing for the law for years, as have civil society initiatives. With the law, democracy projects, such as dropout projects or mobile advice, could be permanently secured. So far, they have had to reapply every four years – a recurring tremor. The Union, however, rejected the law because it intervened too deeply in the Bundestag budget.

In the package of measures, a “law to promote well-fortified democracy” is now announced. The Ministry of Family Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior would “promptly” work out key points. Giffey – whose ministry finances many of the projects through the “Live Democracy” program – welcomed the fact that “the way was clear” for lasting democracy promotion. One will ensure that the commitment is “reliably and sustainably financed”. Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) also emphasized that it was “high time” to put this civil society work “on a stable legal basis”.

A spokesman for Seehofers said on the other hand that there could be no law that had the sole purpose of permanent funding. Rather, it is a matter of “establishing the basic values ​​of democracy” there, as well as cooperation between civil society and security authorities.

So at least one big hit on this point is being postponed. This is more like the introduction of a federal anti-racism officer. However, it is not included in the package because it should not come until 2022. It is also still open where this will be located. But it is an institution that remains and radiates.

“Race” is deleted from the Basic Law

The commissioner is one of the points that the coalition agreed on in October. Even then it was already decided: The term “race” will be deleted from the Basic Law. A working group of the Ministry of Interior and Justice is now to find a new formulation. The protection of the constitution will in future be allowed to read encrypted communication. And there should be no study on right-wing extremism or racial profiling in the police, only one on everyday work there and one on racism in society in general. Seehofer wasn’t ready for more.

Further projects that have already been planned are now to be accelerated. The Justice Minister wants to criminalize the publication of lists of enemies and outings of political opponents. The same should apply to “inflammatory insults”, meaning racist or anti-Semitic abuse that is not publicly expressed and is therefore not incitement to the people. Victims of terrorist acts and extremist attacks are now also to receive hardship payments for economic damage.

In addition, gaps are closed. New projects should be devoted to online hatred and anti-feminism or conspiracy myths such as those currently flourishing at the corona protests. A new advice center including a hotline is being created for those affected by racism. Help should be provided here and the reported cases documented in a “racism barometer”. An “Integration and Diversity” Expert Council will also be launched from January 2021.

In many points, however, existing measures are simply being expanded. For example, the activities of the federal victim commissioner, political youth work or projects for more diversity in the authorities.

Security authorities and civil society should cooperate

As always, a lot depends on the future design of the measures. For example at a new federal institute for quality assurance, which is to evaluate the democracy projects on a permanent basis and which is located at the Ministry of the Interior. It will also be interesting to see how the ministry envisions the planned “trust-building exchange format” between security authorities, i.e. the police and the protection of the constitution, and anti-right-wing projects in civil society.

There was praise for the package from civil society, but also some criticism. The Amadeu Antonio Foundation also spoke of a “milestone”, but found many measures to be too vague. For Josef Schuster from the Central Council of Jews, the government is making it clear with these measures that it is “serious about the fight against right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism”. The proposals should now “not disappear in a drawer”, but should be continued in the next legislative period. Schuster also called for the Democracy Promotion Act.

Selmin Çalışkan from the Open Society Foundations did the same. She praised the planned measures for victims of racist violence. Here it is important to rebuild trust that has been lost in the security authorities.

Robert Kusche from the Association of Victim Advice Centers praised the expansion of victim compensation and improvements for civil society initiatives. What is still missing is a study on right-wing extremism in the police and a humanitarian right to stay for victims of racist violence.


After Caffier’s resignation: there is still some clearing up

Torsten Renz is to follow Lorenz Caffier. After the resignation of the Interior Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a lot of work awaits his successor.

This is the new one: Torsten Renz succeeds Lorenz Caffier in Schwerin Photo: dpa

BERLIN taz | For the CDU in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lorenz Caffier was not just anyone: the former state interior minister, who stumbled upon his arms affair and announced his resignation on Monday, was the central pillar of the state association. He sat in the cabinet for 14 years, was vice-prime minister for 9 years, and in between he headed the regional association for 7 years.

His departure one year before the state election is anything but convenient for the party. She therefore wants to fill the vacant position quickly: Torsten Renz is expected to be appointed as the new interior minister this week. He has been a member of the state parliament since 2002 with one interruption, only rose to parliamentary group leader at the beginning of the year and in recent years has not focused on internal security. Nevertheless, he does not have much time to familiarize himself with the new position. There is enough work to be done.

Not least in the processing of the “Nordkreuz” complex that brought down Caffier. Due to taz research, Caffier had to admit last week that he bought a gun from an ex-member of the right-wing extremist prepper group in early 2018. Investigative authorities already had the group in view at the time.

The processing within the Interior Ministry has only just begun. In the run-up to the resignation, the authority had announced what it knew and when. It can roughly be seen from this that security authorities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had been informed about the existence of the group since the summer of 2017, but were only gradually given detailed insight into the state of investigation by the Attorney General.

The information also shows that regional security authorities had numerous opportunities to conduct their own investigations, but did not use them.

Evidence Disappeared

That’s not all: a Nordkreuz member had several thousand rounds of ammunition from police and armed forces stocks with him. Parts of the evidence found on him later disappeared, so the public prosecutor’s office is investigating an employee of the weapons authority who was responsible for the safekeeping.

The shooting coach Frank T., from whom Caffier bought his weapon, is also under investigation. For years, special units from all over Germany trained at T’s shooting range, and Caffier was happy to visit as a patron. As reported by the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Ministry of the Interior, there are right-wing extremist suspicions against him. Weapons authorities and trade offices have not yet responded: Frank T. is allowed to continue selling weapons – the Interior Ministry announced that too.

How little the regional security authorities noticed is also shown by right-wing extremist chats, to which federal investigators only became aware. Disciplinary proceedings are now pending against 13 police officers for such chats.

An external commission prepared a situation report on behalf of Interior Minister Caffier in 2019, focusing on right-wing extremist incidents within the SEK and riot police. In this they found that police officers were afraid to report incidents. If they dared, superiors ignored it. The Commission’s report is like a small-scale study of right-wing extremism in the police force, explaining structural problems and developing ideas for action. But hardly anyone can read it: Lorenz Caffier has classified it as secret.


Trial of the Halle assassin: plea for life imprisonment

The federal prosecutor’s office calls for life imprisonment for the Halle assassin. His act is one of the “most disgusting anti-Semitic acts since the Second World War”.

Life imprisonment required for the Halle assassin Stephan B. Photo: Ronny Hartmann / dpa

MAGDEBURG epd | On Wednesday, the Federal Prosecutor’s office called for a life sentence for Stephan B. She also demanded subsequent safe custody for the synagogue bomber. B. was fully culpable, said Federal Prosecutor Kai Lohse before the Naumburg Higher Regional Court and pleaded for a conviction for murder in two cases and attempted murder in several cases as well as other offenses such as sedition and assault. In addition, preventive detention should be ordered after detention because B. is dangerous for the general public. For security reasons, the process takes place in Magdeburg.

Lohse said that the accused had confessed, but had shown neither understanding nor remorse, but justified his actions. In just over an hour, Stephan B. had committed a large number of very serious crimes. The motives are deeply inhuman. The Federal Prosecutor spoke of one of the “most repulsive anti-Semitic acts since the Second World War”. This terrorist attack represents a turning point for everyone living in Germany: “The assassin, driven by irrepressible hatred and the will to destroy, wanted to cause a bloodbath in the synagogue.” B. failed at the synagogue door, but ultimately murdered two people, numerous further injured and traumatized.

“B. aimed at Jewish life and thus at all of us, ”said the federal prosecutor. “Jewish life is and will remain an indispensable part of Germany.” The racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic motivation named in the indictment was fully confirmed in the main hearing. In the legal sense, B. is a lone perpetrator, but he referred to National Socialism and “deliberately placed himself in a row of the perpetrators on the ramp at Auschwitz”.

At the beginning of December, the attorneys of the accessory prosecution and the defense followed suit. There are 45 joint plaintiffs represented by 21 attorneys. A judgment is expected this year.

The Federal Government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, also followed the process on Wednesday. Klein said on the sidelines of the process that it had become clear how dangerous radicalization on the Internet is. This must be observed more closely and combated. In everyday life, too, one should not simply leave anti-Semitic narratives standing out of a misunderstood tolerance.

The anti-Semitism officer of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Christian Staffa, was also in the courtroom as a trial observer. Anti-Semitic, racist and misogynistic attitudes, such as those shown in the attack in Halle, are widespread and must be exposed in all contexts, said Staffa. This also applies to the area of ​​the churches.

B. carried out an attack on the synagogue in Halle on October 9, 2019. At the time of the attack, more than 50 believers were there on Yom Kippur, the highest Jewish holiday. Because he was unable to break into the synagogue with explosives and firearms, B. shot a 40-year-old passer-by and then shot a 20-year-old man in a kebab shop.