Extremists in security authorities: Seehofer’s “low” number of cases

A situation report counts 380 right-wing extremist incidents in the security authorities, 1,064 in the Bundeswehr. A structural problem? No, says Seehofer.

See few problems: Thomas Haldenwang and Horst Seehofer at the press conference on October 6th Photo: Wolfgang Kumm / dpa

BERLIN taz | Horst Seehofer sounds almost relieved. “We have no structural problem in the security authorities,” said the Federal Interior Minister on Tuesday in Berlin. 99 percent of civil servants, and thus the “very, very vast majority”, are “firmly on the ground of the Basic Law”. The authorities had his “absolute confidence”, they were doing “an excellent job”.

What Seehofer presented on that day is not a figurehead for the officers, on the contrary. The minister presented the situation report “Right-wing extremists in the security authorities”, written by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, almost 100 pages thick and a premiere. The result: 319 suspected cases in the police forces and offices for the protection of the constitution in the federal states, plus 58 cases in the federal authorities, such as the federal police or the BKA. And 1,064 suspected cases in the Bundeswehr.

In fact, reports on right-wing extremist incidents in the security authorities have not been torn off recently. Corresponding chat groups were opened with the police in Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin, KSK soldiers were suspended because of Hitler salutes, and right-wing constitutional protection officials who were supposed to be observing neo-Nazis were reported. Seehofer clearly criticizes these cases, referring to the role model function of the officers: “Every proven case is a shame.” You clarify these “without ifs or buts” and pursue them “rigorously”. Overall, however, Seehofer calls the number of cases “low”, measured against the approximately 300,000 security guards in this country.

Constitutional Protection President Thomas Haldenwang formulated more cautiously, speaking of “incidents that go beyond individual cases”. Each case is one too many. Because they are likely to shake confidence in the state. The defense of these activities is therefore “an existential protective measure” for the state.

Long lead time for the management report

Seehofer and Haldenwang also refer to the consequences that have already been drawn. The federal authorities had 23 dismissals due to right-wing extremist incidents, and 48 cases in the federal states. 70 soldiers were released from the Bundeswehr. Overall, most of the events involved right-wing extremist statements or chat messages. Only one case was uncovered in the countries in which a person also took part in right-wing extremist events. At least ten people had contact with well-known right-wing extremists or initiatives, two were even members.

The creation of Haldenwang’s situation report was tough. A year ago, after terror allegations against a prepper group, in which soldiers and police officers also participated, and after the assassination attempt on Walter Lübcke, the constitution protection set up a central office for extremists in the security authorities. This should create the report. The authorities previously did not keep any statistics in this field because the incidents were assessed as individual cases.

But the survey was bumpy, and the report had to be postponed several times: Should only completed disciplinary proceedings count – or already suspected cases? The federal states initially opted for the former and delivered so few cases that Haldenwang also demanded that open proceedings be named. The figures are now available.

Incidents from January 2017 to the end of March this year were recorded, and those that led to action, most of them disciplinary proceedings. In the case of the Federal Police, this affects 44 cases, the BKA six, the Customs four, the BND two, in Haldenwang’s own authority there is one case. The scope of the Bundeswehr is far greater: of the total of 1,064 suspected cases, 363 new cases were added last year alone. It is precisely these cases that are worrying because they affect people who handle weapons.

How big is the dark field?

In the federal states, Hessen reported the most cases with 59, followed by Berlin with 53, NRW with 45, Bavaria with 31, and Saxony 28. On the other hand, Bremen only reported one case and Saarland none at all. The numbers should therefore be treated with caution – because behind them there is probably a larger dark field slumbering. And some of them are also outdated: the 31 police officers recently suspended in North Rhine-Westphalia who were active in right-wing extremist chat groups are no longer included in the statistics.

A dark field is also given in the management report. “Its continuous and consistent illumination is a prominent task for the security authorities,” it says there. Seehofer and Haldenwang emphasize that the statistics should be updated and extended to the public service. Haldenwang is also calling for better cooperation between the authorities in the future after the bumpy initial survey.

The question of how big the dark field is now remains open. Researchers point to a corps spirit in the authorities in which colleagues often cover up or look the other way during incidents. The recently known chat groups in North Rhine-Westphalia were only discovered by chance, although some of them had existed since 2015: through investigations against an official who was accused of piercing internal matters of a journalist. None of the police officers in the chat groups, including a service group leader, had reported that pictures of Hitler or swastikas had been shared there.

Seehofer therefore turns to the officials with an appeal: “Take a look, defend our constitution, take action. Passive followers are also not allowed. ”However, the heads of the authorities collectively reject a structural problem, above all Federal Police Chief Dieter Romann. Of the 51,000 federal police officers, the allegations only concern 0.09 percent, he emphasizes. He could not recognize right-wing extremist networks, and an allegation of racism was also wrong. “The police have earned our trust.”

Further dispute over study to the police

Experts like the Green interior expert and police officer Irene Mihalic, on the other hand, consider the report to be just a beginning. The report only documents the surface, says Mihalic. You and others are therefore repeating the call for independent police officers and a scientific investigation into right-wing extremist attitudes in the police – which Seehofer again refused on Tuesday.

The minister says the topic is more universal. That is why he advocates “an in-depth investigation for society as a whole”. In addition, Seehofer calls for a whole bunch of further studies that are only marginally related to the situation report: on violence against police officers, on their everyday work or on their motives for starting a career.

But even the Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter stated on Tuesday that the situation report had not refuted a structural problem in the authorities. The association also requested a separate study. Some countries are already making progress here. Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony will soon begin an anonymous survey of 3,000 police officers on risk factors that promote prejudice and extreme attitudes in their ranks.


Right-wing extremism in the police: Documentation of the shame – politics

Security authorities are the guardians of the rule of law. In a parliamentary democracy like the Federal Republic of Germany, there must be no doubt that the police and the armed forces, who embody the state’s monopoly of violence, are firmly rooted in the Basic Law. And that protection of the constitution do what their job title is.

But this basic trust has been shaken and the mistrust is justified, as the situation report on right-wing extremists in security authorities shows. The fact that this report even exists is not due to the insight of Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, but to all those who asked for clarification a year ago. Then there was one individual case after another – some only in the past few days.

Because Seehofer finally gave in to this urge, at least the following is documented: Since 2017 there have been 377 cases of suspected or proven right-wing extremism in the security authorities and more than 1,064 suspected cases in the Bundeswehr. Every case is “a shame” – at least the interior minister has found clear words. But this documentation is only a snapshot and is no longer up-to-date. In North Rhine-Westphalia alone, 59 cases have been added since March. This shows the dynamism, but also the greater attention and problem awareness that is being devoted to this topic. Finally.

The activities of the police, the armed forces and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are embedded in a decades-long history of the repression and trivialization of right-wing extremism, right-wing terrorism and anti-Semitism, and they go back to the recent past. It is not the first time that security authorities have overlooked – or wanted to overlook – the networks behind them because of the sheer number of lone criminals. That was the case with the Oktoberfest attack in Munich in 1980 and also with the double anti-Semitic murder in the same year, to which the Jewish publisher Shlomo Lewin and his partner fell victim in Erlangen. At that time, politics and the judiciary were fixated on RAF terrorism and criminally underestimated right-wing terrorism. The NSU murderers were also able to act undisturbed for years because the investigators did not want to recognize right-wing terror in Germany.

Lessons should be drawn from past failures for the present, especially since Germany is being looked at abroad in particular: In Israel, anti-Semitic attacks such as the one in Halle a year ago and the recent attack in Hamburg, as well as reports of right-wing extremist chats by police officers, are triggering outrage and fears out. In Turkey and in the Turkish community in Germany, it is precisely recorded that the police do not draw any conclusions from racist incidents.

This management report can and should only be the first step. Even if Seehofer continues to stonewall and block an independent, scientific investigation into racism in the police and instead wants to investigate police officers’ experiences of violence: Arguments for such an investigation can be found in the report itself, which states that it is “basically to be assumed from an unreported” .

This dark field needs to be illuminated – right down to the last corner. Seehofer even asked the employees in the security area: “Take a look!” But he doesn’t seem to want to look very closely and certainly doesn’t want to know exactly. However, it must be clarified whether there are networks and structures behind all these incidents, in short: a system. It is not enough for Seehofer to assure that there is no structural problem. It is also not enough for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution to carry out further analyzes, especially since the domestic secret service itself has been criticized since its failure at the NSU complex. This has to be done by an independent institution.

As a politically responsible person, Seehofer should have an interest in gaining sound knowledge of what needs to change. It is necessary to determine which instruments would have to be used in the recruitment, training and further education of civil servants in order to counter right-wing extremist activities. Civic education will have to play a bigger role in education than it does today. Independent contact persons at the security authorities and the armed forces should be installed, because the motto must apply: Don’t look the other way, cover nothing or anyone.

It’s not about putting all police officers under general suspicion. Your reputation has been damaged by the repulsive behavior of some colleagues, just as the basic trust of the citizens has been shaken. You have a right to have enemies of the constitution discovered and removed from service. Because the majority wants to protect this rule of law and not undermine it.


Situation report on extremism in security agencies


Seehofer presents a situation report on extremism in authorities



Dozens of right-wing extremist suspected cases in the Federal Police – politics

According to the newspaper, the federal police did World on Sunday Between the beginning of 2017 and June this year, 24 right-wing extremist and 20 suspected racist cases were registered.

So far, 21 of the proceedings have been completed, as the newspaper announced, citing the Presidium of the Federal Police. “Two of these cases ended with a termination, nine times disciplinary measures were imposed, in ten cases the officers were dismissed or not taken on after completing their training,” the report said.

Of the cases, 31 became known through internal reports from the Federal Police. Together with the presidents of the security authorities subordinate to him, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) wants to present a situation report on suspected right-wing extremist cases to the police and other federal security authorities on Tuesday.

In the past few days and weeks, more and more suspected cases of right-wing extremism have become known in the police. The topic came up through chat groups of officials in North Rhine-Westphalia, in which they had shared racist images and right-wing extremist agitation. Suspected cases are also being investigated in other authorities in the state. A chat with racist content was also uncovered in Berlin.

In Thuringia, a police candidate is said to have passed on right-wing extremist content in a chat, as was recently announced. The Gera public prosecutor’s office is investigating the case, as the Interior Ministry announced on Friday evening. Chat partner was a person outside the police. “Findings about the involvement of other police officers are currently not available,” it said. But this is being investigated with vigor.

At the same time, the legal consequences against the accused from the Meiningen training center are being examined. Interior Minister Gregor Maier (SPD) emphasized that all police officers would have to stand by the Basic Law and stand up for the free and democratic basic order at any time. “Anyone who does not live up to this claim has no place in the Thuringian police.” The case became known on Thursday, the message said. On Friday there were therefore searches of the police candidate.

Schwesig for nationwide racism study in all public institutions

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig is meanwhile calling for a nationwide study on racism in all public institutions instead of just the police. “In the debate about a racism study in the police, I would broaden the perspective. I am in favor of a nationwide racism study in all public institutions,” said the SPD politician in Düsseldorf Rheinische Post.

The approach is similar to the position of Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU). He rejects a racism study to be carried out by independent scientists solely for the police, because he suspects a general suspicion of all police officers in it, but is open to a broader study on racism in society. This idea had already been discussed in the cabinet committee on right-wing extremism and racism at the beginning of September. Migrant associations had suggested that possible racist discrimination in the job center or when looking for accommodation should also be taken into account.

Seehofer’s refusal to conduct a purely police study was not only met with criticism from politicians from the SPD, the Left Party and the Greens. Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) had spoken out in favor of such a study.


Proud Boys: This is the founder of the thugs – politics

Gavin McInnes once founded “Vice” magazine and was considered a model hipster. In 2016 he called the right-wing thugs “Proud Boys” into being. Who is this man who makes no secret of his support for right-wing ideologies?


Andrian Create

Before Gavin McInnes became famous as the founder of the Trump-friendly thugs “Proud Boys”, he was known in New York as the “Godfather of Hipsterdom”, the godfather of hipsterism. At the end of the nineties, the native Scot was with the editorial team of the pop magazine he co-founded Vice moved from Montreal to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The immigrant district on the banks of the East River was then the bridgehead of gentrification that would make poor Brooklyn the world capital of hipster culture.


Right-wing extremism in the protection of the constitution: four employees under suspicion

Employees of the NRW constitution protection are said to have spread racist agitation in chats. The people are responsible for observing right-wing extremists.

The interior ministry under Herbert Reul (CDU) initiated disciplinary measures against the people Photo: dpa

DÜSSELDORF afp | There are now suspected cases of right-wing extremism at the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Three members of the observation team are under suspicion, such as the State Ministry of the Interior of Düsseldorf Rheinische Post (Thursday edition) announced. In addition, a fourth person is suspected of being right-wing extremists, who worked in the Ministry of the Interior as an “administrative clerk in the police department”.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution attracted attention because they had sent videos “with an Islamic or xenophobic connotation” in online networks and chats, the ministry said according to the newspaper.

The reference to the chat group within the observation team would have been provided by colleagues who would have received these videos. The employee in the police department had noticed Facebook contacts with members of the right-wing extremist scene.

Part of the observation team

The three suspected employees in the Office for the Protection of the Constitution were reportedly responsible, among other things, for observing right-wing extremists. The observation teams are basically deployed in all areas, including right-wing extremism, explained the Interior Ministry. The observation team has meanwhile been disbanded and “the management staff has been replaced”.

The Ministry of the Interior initiated disciplinary and personnel-related measures immediately after the right-wing extremism allegations emerged, said a spokeswoman for Rheinische Post. Of the four proceedings, one was already concluded with the imposition of a disciplinary measure. The other three were currently still running.

Suspected right-wing extremism cases had already become known to the NRW police in mid-September. Police officers are said to have spread right-wing extremist agitation in chat groups. Around 30 officers have been suspended, 14 are subject to disciplinary proceedings with the aim of removing them from service, and 12 are under criminal investigation.


Yom Kippur after the assassination attempt in Halle: “There will be a next time”

Iona Berger was on Yom Kippur during the attack in the synagogue in Halle in 2019. To this day, she struggles with feelings of guilt.

Iona Berger was in the Halle synagogue at the time of the attack Photo: Rolf Peter Stoffels / image

taz: Ms. Berger, last year on Yom Kippur you were in the synagogue in Halle when a right-wing extremist assassin tried to storm the synagogue and then killed Jana L. and Kevin S. September 28th is Yom Kippur again. What does this time mean for you personally?

Iona Berger: During this time it is decided whether to be inscribed in the Book of Life, and on Yom Kippur it is then sealed. It’s about asking people to forgive you before you can ask God for forgiveness. It is traditionally a time when you reflect a lot. This year I find it very difficult to get involved in this time. I feel unprepared for Yom Kippur. The last year has been so chaotic, not just because of Halle, but for all of us. What does repentance to God mean after what has happened? How can I deal with my own guilt?

You have already said in court that you feel guilty for the victims because the attack was actually aimed at you. Has Halle become a place that you avoid?

Not at all. There was just no reason for me to go to Halle. I was there on the day of Jana’s funeral. Before that I was in the synagogue and looked around again.

Are you in Halle again for Yom Kippur this year?

No. Halle is problematic because of the Corona distance rules. But it was clear to me: I want to spend Yom Kippur with “Base Berlin” – no matter where. “Base Berlin” is the group with whom I drove from Berlin to the synagogue in Halle last year, and I want to spend this difficult day with the same people again. I will be back in Halle on October 9th, when it will be the anniversary of the attack.

What will be different about Yom Kippur this year?

Due to the distance rules, not everyone can go to the synagogue, there is simply not enough space for that. That is why “Base Berlin” has rented space in Berlin. What has also changed: In the past, “Base Berlin” never had security guards, there was no reason for them. From now on there will always be. There will also be psychological support on the day.

30, studied in England with a Masters degree in International Security. In 2019 she traveled to Yom Kippur with a young Jewish group from Berlin to Halle.

According to your statement, you noticed that there was no police in front of the synagogue in Halle the day before Yom Kippur. But “the idea that someone in Halle was shooting at the synagogue struck me as completely absurd,” you said in court. How do you rate the security of synagogues in Germany today?

There is a difference between rational knowledge and the subjective feeling of security when I go into a synagogue. Rationally, it is incredibly unlikely that anything would happen in this very synagogue. It was the first time it was attacked, and it is even more improbable that it will happen again in the synagogue I am in, of all places. On the other hand, I now always look around twice to see where the officers are, for example.

Should police presence in front of synagogues be compulsory?

Before the attack I was sometimes amused by the increased police presence, now I don’t do that anymore. I still don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, but if the police had been in front of the synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur last year, Jana and Kevin would probably still be alive. It’s not just about our own safety, but also about that of the people around us. The attack clearly showed that again.

Some co-plaintiffs expressed their lack of trust in the police in court. Do you share that?

I know that the police in Halle and the police in Berlin are not the same. The police themselves testified in court that they had never experienced a situation like this before. I think the police in Berlin are simply better prepared for such a dangerous situation and have more experience in operations involving firearms. I don’t generally think that all police officers are maliciously hired or incapable. I have a basic trust in this, although I know that there are systematic problems.

There are increasing reports of additional trauma caused by the behavior of the officers on site.

I think it is important to also criticize the police approach in Halle without accusing certain female police officers. I hope that the next attack on a synagogue or mosque or the like will go better and that the next survivors will not be additionally traumatized by the police operation. And yes, I think there will be a next time, unfortunately.


Shamelessly on principle – media

It is a journey into an oppressive world to which the reporter Thilo Mischke sets out. And at the beginning of his extraordinary documentary “Pro Sieben Spezial: Rechts. Deutsch. Radikal.” the impression could arise that a simple horror story is being presented, which triggers a brief, gloomy shiver with shocking shots. With pictures of scary, crude tattooed neo-Nazis, taken at a right-wing rock festival in Ostritz in East Saxony. Disturbing figures as if from a panopticon of extremes can be seen, which have long been dismissed as marginal phenomena. But that is only the beginning of this long journey through Germany. At the end there is a remarkable film which, over the length of two hours, shows that these and other images are an expression of an increasingly dangerous normality in this country.

“You take cover, you are confident.” This is how Stephan Kramer, head of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, describes the right-wing extremist scene, which is becoming increasingly broad and self-confident. He is now “seriously worried about our democracy”. This undisguised self-confidence in appearance connects the right-wing extremists who reporter Mischke accompanies for the documentary at various locations. From his distance he makes no secret of her attitude in the conversations, but through the way he conducts the conversation he gets her to reveal her crude worldview. And be it that they give explicit vague answers to certain questions about the Second World War or anti-Semitism and that they demonstratively enjoy the fact that they are trusted to do everything.

It shows how networked and broad the spectrum is, from the mail order business with right-wing promotional items to the operator of a martial arts studio with a clear political orientation. The common martial arts connects right-wing extremists, and the aim is always to recruit young people. The viewer gets to know a right-wing extremist from Dortmund who is active nationwide with his martial arts events and does not bother to hide his political background. He also tells you how the right-wing hooligan scene attracts young football fans.

The reporter Mischke researched the scene for eighteen months, excerpts from demos and concerts are only the starting point for personal meetings. For example with a young right-wing extremist who sees himself as part of a “young revolution” and has high hopes. Mischke meets right-wing bloggers and influencers; He also accompanies the Brandenburg AfD member Dennis Hohloch, who is moderately right-wing, but describes the right-wing extremist and long-time state chairman Andreas Kalbitz, who has meanwhile been excluded from the party, as a good friend. It was Hohloch, as is remembered at the end of the film, who suffered a ruptured spleen this summer from an allegedly friendly blow from Kalbitz.

It gets really scary when an AfD functionary and a right-wing blogger meet

The film is particularly impressive where it dispenses with spectacle and exaggeration. Nevertheless, one episode is particularly remembered at the end of which statements are attributed to an AfD top functionary who is not named by name that will reverberate politically.

First of all, the young Youtuber Lisa Licentia is shown, who has become a kind of right-wing star on the internet, especially through her extremely emotional films, which are characterized by open xenophobia. She felt connected to the AfD and was courted by the party; Mischke and his team accompany them when they visit an event organized by the parliamentary group. After that, however, she tells the reporter with tears, she wants to turn away from her racist statements and expose the AfD for what the party really is.

This scene looks like political kitsch, but a little later a dialogue is reported that the viewer does not hear in the original: the film team observes a meeting between the woman and an AfD functionary in a pub without his knowledge. The functionary is not named, he is not shown as a person. But it becomes clear that this is someone who is active in the AfD parliamentary group in an important position, at least at the time of the conversation.

Now it is retold how the party functionary spoke on the phone with the AfD parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland. Then statements by the man can be heard which – as Pro Sieben explains – were noted down without his knowledge. Trusting the consent of his listener, the functionary speaks, according to the quotes, about the party’s strategy: Germany must be worse off – the worse, the better for the AfD. The AfD must ensure that Germany is worse off.

Then there are incredible quotes about migrants coming into the country. “We can still shoot them all later,” the man is said to have said. “That’s not an issue at all. Or gas, or whatever you want. I don’t care!” When asked, the broadcaster assures that it has affidavits from people who overheard it. At the weekend this quote was already reported in various media. A spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group said on Sunday lunchtime that the film has not yet been known and therefore cannot comment.

“Right. German. Radical.”, ProSieben, Monday, 8:15 pm.


Right-wing extremists at security authorities: 350 suspected cases

Hundreds of employees of security authorities are said to be right-wing extremists. This emerges from a confidential paper from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

The police in Hesse are particularly suspicious: the police headquarters in Frankfurt am Main Photo: Boris Roessler / dpa

BERLIN afp | According to a report, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) counts more than 350 suspected right-wing extremism cases in the German security authorities. This is evident from the management report on the topic, which was first prepared, reported the World on Sunday. The document classified as confidential therefore illuminates the period from the beginning of January 2017 to the end of March 2020.

According to the report, the BfV asked the Federal Intelligence Service, the Military Counter-Intelligence Service, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Federal Police, the 16 state police and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which together have around 300,000 employees. The authorities therefore had to fill out a questionnaire on right-wing extremist cases in their homes, which the BfV then evaluated centrally.

Most right-wing extremist suspected cases among the federal states reported according to the World on Sunday Hesse. The interior ministry there explains this by stating that internal investigations have been carried out particularly intensively in this area for two years.

In the state, 59 measures under service and labor law have been carried out in the past three years. Disciplinary proceedings were initiated in 50 of them and 29 were suspended, the newspaper wrote. In eleven cases there were dismissals or non-appointment as civil servants.

In the past few months, right-wing extremist incidents in security authorities had repeatedly caused a stir. Most recently, a right-wing extremist chat group within the police was uncovered in North Rhine-Westphalia. In Leipzig, a police officer is suspected of having “made right-wing extremist and racist remarks” as a participant in a chat, as the Leipzig police department announced on Friday.

The eagerly awaited situation report of the protection of the constitution should be loud World on Sunday to be presented in October. Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) had rejected a study on racism in the police that had been requested by many parties on the grounds that the situation report was currently being prepared.


40 years of the Munich Oktoberfest attack: the first right-wing lone perpetrator

September 26th marks the anniversary of the crime. The worst terrorist attack in the history of the republic remains unsolved.

The mug shot of the Bavarian LKA from 1980 shows a photomontage by the 21-year-old student Gundolf Köhler Photo: Handout Polizei / dpa / picture alliance

As early as 1982, when Attorney General Rebmann stopped the investigation for the first time and presented Gundolf Köhler as a frustrated, lovesickly afflicted individual without political motives, a number of disagreements put this decision into question.

As if preprogrammed, the investigations at the time resulted in the thesis of the apolitical individual perpetrator. This is also made clear by the interrogations of Köhler’s friends. The investigators asked extensively about sexual preferences and romantic relationships. Questions about political background or contacts with right-wing groups, on the other hand, were asked rather sporadically and hardly followed up in detail.

Despite these tendentious investigations, it was completely obvious that Gundolf Köhler adhered to anti-Semitic, National Socialist and racist ideas and did not hold back with them. In the interviews there was repeated mention of a picture of Hitler over the bed or of statements against Jews.

Over the years, thanks in particular to victim lawyer Werner Dietrich and journalist Ulrich Chaussy, more and more contradictions came to light, of which the missing hand is probably the most prominent. Said hand was found at the crime scene after the explosion. Then as now, the investigators attributed it to Gundolf Köhler.

Internal betrayal

But that cannot be: Serologically it could not be assigned to the assassin and, in contrast to the rest of Koehler’s body, no traces of the bomb component nitrocellulose were found on the hand. Finally, a former BKA explosives expert came to the conclusion that the hand, which was barely damaged by burn marks, could not have come from Koehler because his hands and forearms were probably torn into tiny pieces by the force of the explosion.

Today, a DNA examination of the hand could determine whether it came from Koehler – but both the hand and the forensic medical report were made to disappear in the course of the investigation.

In 2014, the Federal Prosecutor finally gave in to the pressure and resumed the investigation into the Oktoberfest attack. However, the results with which she announced the hiring five years later are thin. It is true that the strategically communicated figures of the many surveys conducted and did not check traces of their target and were found in almost every press article. But the amount of individual investigative measures cannot outweigh what the investigations as a whole failed to do.

So the question arises why the Federal Prosecutor’s Office entrusted the Bavarian LKA with the investigation instead of the Federal Criminal Police Office, and thus precisely the institution that had carried out the original investigation without success. Bearing in mind the obvious assumption that these investigations were severely disrupted and influenced, for example, by the theft of evidence or the betrayal of internal investigations, this decision seems simply wrong.

Linked to this is a second omission: the resumed investigations did not deal with the errors of the first special commission as an independent investigation objective. However, this omission is incomprehensible in view of such fundamental errors as the disappearance of the hand. For what motives, with what effects, to what extent and with whose participation the investigations were sabotaged in the 1980s, was never the subject of the resumed proceedings – another knowingly missed chance to clear up the background to the attack.

Destroyed traces

The investigators were also unable to identify possible accomplices and associates of Köhler. The men in the green parkas, who were observed by various witnesses talking to Koehler immediately before the explosion and shortly afterwards on the run from the crime scene, remain unknown, as is the young woman with whom other witnesses saw Koehler at the scene. The traces from Köhler’s car are also puzzling: Who owned the green parka that was found in the car, to whom did the 48 cigarette butts of different brands and with different saliva accumulations belong? A DNA comparison is also ruled out here; the traces were destroyed.

The press release closes with the succinct statement “that questions remained open and that individual issues could not be fully ascertained or assessed”. These open questions and the failure of the highest investigative authority, which is badly concealed in this sentence, should form the core of the assessment, because the open questions touch the core of the subject. Who were the men Koehler was seen with just before the explosion? How was the bomb detonated, how did Koehler get the explosives, where and by whom was the bomb built? Who did the hand found at the crime scene belong to and who made it disappear?

A look at Italy shows that it is not a law of nature that investigations must remain inconclusive after 40 years. Later that year, the right-wing terrorist Gilberto Cavallini was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to the attackers in the 1980 attack on Bologna train station.

It borders on insolence that 40 years after the bloody attack in Munich, on the one hand, not having contributed anything to the investigation and at the same time proclaiming the banality that the act was politically motivated.

The lone perpetrator

The termination of the investigation is a scandal. It reveals the entitlement of the bereaved, the injured and the dead to the investigation of the crime and the determination of the guilty. This claim remains unpaid. The attitude is also momentous in that it is historiography and thus works equally in the past and present. She contributes to the construction of a historical figure that never existed and that still causes damage today: the right-wing lone perpetrator.

The decision is doing the historical subject an injustice, because weighty circumstances indicate that Köhler did not act alone. It also contributes to the fact that present and future right-wing terrorism is not understood as the work of networks. Victims remain unpunished and perpetrators unknown.

The attack on the Munich Oktoberfest on September 26, 1980 remains unsolved and challenges us. Bertolt Brecht’s sentence applies: “Only as much truth prevails as we enforce.”