The question to the minister was very clear – what would the minister answer? Lorenz Caffier of the CDU, the interior minister and deputy prime minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, was asked whether he had acquired a weapon from a former Nordkreuz member or had shooting training with him. Caffier replied, “Everything else remains private, there is no comment from the agency.”
The scene occurred at the presentation of the Constitutional Protection Report 2019 for the northeast German state, on Thursday in Schwerin. If you missed the sequence, you can find a recording on Twitter, for example. The answer attracted national attention and made Lorenz Caffier difficult to explain. It was not until Friday afternoon that he responded to the inquiries and gave the Spiegel admitted that he had bought a weapon from the man in question, who was later assigned to the right-wing extremist group Nordkreuz. “Yes, I have. A handgun.” Reason: He is a hunter, “handguns are part of normal equipment.”
The network was blown when extremist chats surfaced. They are preppers who hoard X weapons for a day
So the interior minister and hunter Caffier gets a pistol from Frank T., who with his shooting club is later suspected by the authorities? Private area? Nordkreuz is also mentioned in the report on the protection of the constitution of the region presented by Caffier as an association “which prepared itself specifically for the collapse of the political order”. This includes the procurement of weapons and ammunition. It is “worrying” that “there were also police officers among the members”.
He acquired his weapon at the beginning of 2018, according to Caffier, “on the basis of the legal basis and at a time when the man was not yet under suspicion and was a reliable training partner for the police at home and abroad.” Nobody suspected Frank T. had possible contacts with right-wing extremists.
However, the Nordkreuz network was discovered in 2017 when extremist chats emerged. A large number of the suspects belonged to the police and armed forces. They are preppers who hoard X rifles, pistols, cartridges and body bags for a day. The alleged connections result in a nationwide network. The armament was not infrequently stolen from stocks of the Bundeswehr and police.
The Federal Public Prosecutor is conducting proceedings on suspicion of preparing a serious act of violence that is dangerous to the state. Investigators came across almost 55,000 rounds of ammunition and weapons of war with the then elite police officer Marko G. from the special unit SEK. The Schwerin regional court sentenced him to a suspended sentence in December 2019, despite the serious allegations, and the public prosecutor’s office was appealing.
Investigations were underway against some Nordkreuz men, several former police officers were suspended, and Interior Minister Caffier set up a commission of experts to investigate the special forces. Again and again it was about the shooting range, which is managed by Frank T. Caffier was the patron there when a workshop was held on the Special Forces firing range, with “teams of police and military special forces”, as it was called in a description. “With the knowledge of 2019 I would of course not have acquired a weapon there,” says Caffier now.
Why have the connections been insufficiently clarified?
“The whole complex is strange,” says SPD MP Dirk Friedriszik. “The question is,” tweeted the Left Bundestag member Martina Renner, “whether the completely inadequate clarification of the right-wing Nordkreuz network is related to the fact that the interior minister bought a weapon from a member of this network.”
Dresden causes horror: Pegida was allowed to demonstrate on the anniversary of the pogrom night in 1938. Commemorative events, however, were canceled.
Meanwhile, his own followers are bored too: right-wing extremist and Pegida founder Lutz Bachmann Photo: dpa
DRESDENtaz | Even the appearance of right-wing extremist Andreas Kalbitz from the AfD “wing”, which has now (at least officially) been dissolved, is no longer suitable as a revival of Pegida. The police secured the 223rd “evening walk” on Dresden’s Altmarkt with 250 officers, and they didn’t have many more Pegida supporters to protect.
The fact that the city gave the central square to the agitators and right-wing extremists on November 9, of all things – the day of Pogrom Night 1938, when the mob set synagogues on fire across Germany, looted Jewish shops and murdered Jews, had caused general outrage.
The Dresden city administration had canceled its official memorial event due to the corona crisis. Lord Mayor Dirk Hilbert (FDP) and State Parliament President Matthias Rößler (CDU) only met in a small group with representatives of the Dresden Jewish community in the late afternoon. This community had previously reacted to the Pegida announcement “with great disbelief and indignation”. It should not go unchallenged, “that hatred and agitation can be spread again in public places in Dresden,” she explained.
During the night Thomas Feist, representative of the Saxon State Government for Jewish Life, confirmed this outrage and also criticized the city administration. He missed their sensitivity and their “recognizable claim to speak in advance with representatives of Jewish life about the possibility of preventing this”. Talk of “never again” should be reflected in the credible actions of the administration. The signal emanating from Dresden is now “devastating” beyond the city. Feist called on the city to “transparently deal with this wrong decision”.
Nothing new at Pegida
The day before, the “Heart instead of Hetze” alliance, which had organized successful mass protests against the Pegida anniversaries in recent years, had already reported similar experiences with the city leaders. The mayor had been contacted in advance with the aim of not allowing any racist events in the city center. A conversation that had already been terminated with the police and assembly authorities was canceled without giving any reason, reports spokeswoman Rita Kunert. The letter allows the conclusion that the cancellation was not due to the corona pandemic, she added.
About one hundred musicians and counter-demonstrators faced Pegida on Monday evening. The otherwise always present initiative “Nationalism out of the heads” had withdrawn its appeal this time in order to prevent large crowds and not to put anyone in danger. Instead, they wanted to protest individually.
Although the corona deniers from Leipzig were eagerly praised at Pegida, assembly requirements were adhered to on the Altmarkt. The little group of Pegida trailers also had enough space to expand. According to the police department, 76 of them allegedly showed exemptions from the mask requirement.
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann tried on stage to deny the allegations that the commemoration of the pogrom night was perverted – not very convincing. Andreas Kalbitz also tried hard to conceal a condemnation of German crimes. On the stage he described the Holocaust as a “one-time breach of civilization”, but at the same time began to philosophize on a less comprehensible distinction between guilt and responsibility.
Otherwise, both only repeated the known attacks on “so-called refugees”, all of which were infiltrated by IS, or “national hostility towards the state”. The apocalyptic evocations of horror put forward by both of them about an impending expropriation and the “last legal Christmas” have long since worn out even at Pegida.
The top of the group congratulated the new US president. But other AfD MPs prefer to spread Trump’s wild allegations.
The two AfD parliamentary group leaders, Alice Weidel Alexander Gauland, congratulated Biden on his election Photo: Christian Thiel / imago
BERLINtaz | There is another dispute in the AfD, but currently the lines of conflict run beyond the party’s internal camp boundaries. This time it is not about party matters, unlike so often in the past few months. Instead, it’s about the election of Joe Biden as the next US President. The two parliamentary group leaders, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, had congratulated Biden on the election and were confident that “possible irregularities in the counts will be resolved quickly through the rule of law,” according to a press release on Saturday evening.
Some members of the Bundestag parliamentary group have a completely different position on Biden’s election victory – and are now addressing their parliamentary group leaders directly. In the style of the elected president Trump, they are spreading rumors of alleged election fraud – allegations for which there is no evidence to date.
“Anyone who sends congratulations to the not yet activated #Biden for no reason either has no clue of the dimensions of the current political situation or they want to secure their donation-filled bowl in good time,” wrote AfD MP Martin Renner from NRW in the social networks.
“No congratulations for the globalist electoral fraudster Joe Biden,” countered Markus Frohnmaier, member of the Bundestag from Baden-Württemberg, and thus adopted Trump’s rhetoric almost one to one.
It is not just backbenchers who publicly contradict the parliamentary group leaders. Beatrix von Storch, who is vice-president of the parliamentary group and party, also speaks of “massive evidence of election fraud” and Member of the Board of Management Stephan Protschka, MP from Bavaria, tweeted: “As long as there is no final result of the election, Trump is President of the USA for me. Don’t believe any mainstream press! ”.
Party leader Jörg Meuthen, who otherwise likes to be bourgeois and repeatedly accuse Gauland and Weidel of defending himself to the “old parties”, is much more cautious than the two faction leaders: “There is still a lot to be clarified,” he says .
While the party has been characterized by sharp internal disputes throughout its existence, things have been more peaceful in the group for a while. There they tried to ignore the wing fighting and to work together. But that hasn’t worked for a while.
This is also due to Gauland and Weidel, whom MPs repeatedly accuse of weak leadership. However, it is also likely to be due to the AfD’s poor poll results for the Bundestag election in the coming year – many MPs have to fear for a good place on the list and a return to the federal parliament. One or the other like to make a name for themselves by making sharp statements on social networks.
Thousands of Nazis and conspiracy ideologues protest unhindered in Leipzig on Saturday. The police didn’t do anything wrong – says the Interior Minister.
The minister of interior thought went great: the police operation at the right-wing demonstration in Leipzig on Saturday Foto: Kai Pfaffenbach/reuters
BERLINafp / dpa | Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) defended the police against criticism after the large-scale demonstration against the corona measures in Leipzig on Saturday. “We have to stop questioning the tactics of the police in retrospect without knowledge of details and without a complete picture via remote diagnosis,” he said on Sunday evening. “All those involved, the assembly authorities, the police and the courts have to make responsible decisions in the light of the current infection situation.” The police have their “full backing”.
The Bautzen Higher Administrative Court allowed the demonstration of the lateral thinking initiative in downtown Leipzig at short notice. After the demo with around 20,000 participants, there was criticism of the court and the police because there had been numerous violations of the Corona requirements. In addition, there were violent confrontations after the police prematurely broke up the demonstration because of the violations of the corona rules. The police remained passive during the demonstration and left the conspiracy ideologue inside the field.
According to the Mayor of Leipzig, Burkhard Jung (SPD), the spectrum of demonstrators ranged “from well-meaning homeopaths to neo-Nazis”. According to the police, the vast majority of them did not adhere to the mask requirement. A group of protesters broke through a police chain.
“The right of assembly must be guaranteed, especially in times of crisis,” emphasized Seehofer. But the rules of the assembly authorities must “be observed and enforced”.
The FDP called on the Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK) to deal with the events in Leipzig at its next meeting. The IMK should develop a concept as to how it could be ensured in the future “that such demonstrations are accompanied by a sufficient number of officials,” said the vice-chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, Stephan Thomae, of the Düsseldorf “Rheinische Post” (Monday edition). After all, the escalation in Leipzig was not the first in the past weeks and months.
Journalists were attacked during protests by corona deniers in Leipzig. For the police it was a “largely” peaceful event.
Sad police officers: have to stay at the ring while the others are allowed to go to Connewitz with water cannons Photo: Björn Kietzmann
Anyone who was on the street in Leipzig on Saturday and was not one of the 45,000 anti-corona demonstrators inside could actually only shake their head. What happened there was pure madness: a mass event in which people huddle close together without covering their mouth and nose. In the middle of a global pandemic, in the middle of a lockdown.
But of course, for those who demonstrate against the infection control measures, this is of course not a problem. After all, it’s about: Against the “Corona dictatorship”, against vaccination, against 5G radiation and against the political elite. Nobody here is afraid of being infected.
Neither the very simple families, nor the esoterics: inside, imperial citizens, hippies, revolutionary romantics: inside, not even the neo-Nazi hools, for whom the mouth and nose protection up to the eyes offers just the right amount of disguise. The fact that so-called corona skeptics are skeptical of the virus – no, that doesn’t surprise anyone.
But what is surprising – or better said: absolutely incomprehensible – is how tens of thousands of these people can roam an inner city and remain largely undisturbed. Yes, even being able to break through police chains and beat journalists to the ground inside, and nothing happens except for a little pepper spray and a few arrests. Sure, there is freedom of assembly in Germany.
Two levels of law enforcement officers: inside
And sure, the city has previously tried to move the meeting to a spacious parking lot outside of the city. And of course, a court upheld the organizers’ action, which is why the meeting had to take place in the city center. Sure, even the Saxon Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) condemned this decision. But: That doesn’t justify the police acting as they did. Namely: as good as not at all.
No, the police watched as the participants in the broken up rally formed a group, which then attacked the police and reporters. She watched as that bunch finally marched across the inner city ring hours after the breakup. It was foreseeable what could happen that day. Because it was an escalation with announcement. Scenes like this already existed in Chemnitz in 2018. And they have consequences. Or, as the journalist Heike Kleffner tweeted:
We would like to show you some external content here. You decide whether you want to see this element too.
“Great concern that #Leipzig is accelerating the radicalization of the next generation of #right terrorism. In the trial of the murder of Walter Lübcke, one of the accused neo-Nazis testified that the decision to act was made after racist mass mobilization in #Chemnitz 2018. “So what should one think about the priorities of the police when tens of thousands of people are close together in the midst of the high number of infections crowd and the police can’t get them home?
What should you think when aggressive neo-Nazi hools attack people and nothing happens? If, on the other hand, a few hours later left-wing people in Connewitz set fire to objects – but nobody is harmed in the process – and water cannons and evacuation armor roll up within minutes? It’s daunting to see scenes like Saturday’s. To experience how people radicalize themselves and are violent and the state power watches powerlessly.
Especially when the police spokesman says afterwards that the goal is to avoid acts of violence and to have a peaceful course of the event “largely achieved.”
Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Leipzig oppose the police and the infection control measures – also with violence.
Against the Corona measures, against the police: Demonstrators on Saturday in Leipzig Photo: Sebastian Kahnert / dpa
LEIPZIGtaz | Do not be afraid of the virus, that is the consensus among the demonstrators in Leipzig on Saturday. Tens of thousands of so-called lateral thinkers have gathered on the central Augustusplatz, traveling from cities all over Germany. Numerous others are spread across the city. The research group “Counted” claims to have counted around 45,000 people. The police speak of at least 20,000 – tendency “rather more”.
People stand close together. Hardly anyone wears a mouth and nose cover here, and if they do, then with imprints such as “compulsion” or “muzzle”. Some carry signs, shouting “Peace, freedom, no dictatorship”, demanding “Merkel must go”. Pins and flyers will be distributed at a stand, a small Bible is next to a brochure calling for an “end of the Corona dictatorship”. Xavier Naidoo is booming from mobile speakers.
More and more people arrive at Leipzig Central Station at noon, following the call for lateral thinking demonstration. These include young people in outdoor clothes, hippies in harem pants and with drums, esotericists, citizens of the Reich, families, senior citizens. Many refer to conspiracy ideologies. It is difficult to categorize what kind of mélange it is that have one thing in common: the trivialization or even denial of the corona pandemic.
Neo-Nazi cadre arrived in rows
The others are clearer: well-known neo-Nazis from all over Germany who came especially for the demonstration. Hooligan groups with wide necks and full disguises, sporty young Nazis, convicted right-wing extremists, leadership cadres of the AfD, NPD, Dierechte, the Third Way. Hundreds of right-wing extremists mingle with the gathering.
Later that evening they will beat journalists to the ground, shoot the police with flares, and throw bottles. The police will be overwhelmed and unable to contain the aggression. The originally disbanded gathering will break police chains. Tens of thousands of people will walk the Leipzig inner city ring without permission, see themselves in the tradition of prayers for peace from 1989/90, and proclaim the revolution. The police will just watch.
If you ask the sociologist and right-wing extremism expert David Anbich what happened that day in Leipzig, he speaks of a “catastrophe with announcement”. It was foreseeable who would come to this event and what would happen there. “It was a political mistake to back down from it.”
Higher administrative court allowed demo in the city center
Previously, the city of Leipzig had not approved the registration of the demonstration in the city center, at short notice it was relocated to the New Fair far outside the city. The organizers complained – and were right. On Saturday morning, the Bautzen Higher Administrative Court decided that the lateral thinking rally with 16,000 people could take place in the city center.
Roxane Müller is one of those who came especially from North Rhine-Westphalia. Müller, 30 years old, with blonde dreadlocks and piercings on his face, distributes pink and white balloons for donations for the lateral thinking organizers. She came with her son and mother. “I demonstrate against the measures and the mask requirement – especially for the children,” she says. A button with the face of resistance fighter Sophie Scholl hangs on her sweater with lateral thinking print. “The hatred is very extreme,” says Müller. Her son, also blonde dreads, no more than 10 years old, nods vigorously. Müller says that the mask keeps getting nosebleeds and rashes. “The children are traumatized.” It is a frequent story on this day: They demonstrate for the children who would suffer from the mask requirement.
Among the demonstrators are many women and families, people with rainbow flags and esoteric clothing. Some wear a pro-Trump shirt, others wave an imperial flag. The former NPD chairman Udo Voigt poses with a banner “Germany against the Corona madness”. Signs compare the “mainstream media” with “Holocaust accomplices” and “child masks” with “child molesters”. A woman with a bouquet of flowers in her hand yells at police officers: “Protect yourself and your children.” On the stage, a speaker leads a joint “spiritual exercise”. Another speaker, however, quotes Hermann Göring and calls on “Hooligans, gangs and clans” for support on the streets.
90 percent without a mask
In the afternoon, after a “legal tug-of-war”, as police spokesman Olaf Hoppe says, the meeting is declared over. 90 percent of the participants did not wear a mask, and other requirements were also violated. Many question the medical facts. A man from Thuringia says there is nothing to justify these measures. People just need a healthy immune system. He actually wanted to join the Green Party – “but I just felt sick about politics.”
Christoph Wonneberger is now speaking on stage. He used to coordinate the prayers for peace in the Nikolaikirche, which contributed to the political upheaval in 1989/90. The Lutheran pastor was a role model for many people of the Wende generation. He says there is no Covid crisis, but rather a “capitalism bankruptcy delay”. The crowd cheers, Wonneberger heats them up: “Always forward, never backward.”
“Heirs to the Peaceful Revolution”? Foto: Sebastian Willnow
Sociologist BEGICH says it is a “tragic political mistake” that someone like Wonneberger speaks here. “These people say they are the heirs of the peaceful revolution.” The “politics of images” of people setting candles in front of the former Stasi prison would work. Bewich warns that one should not underestimate the power of right-wing narratives. On this day, the mixed scene appeared that had already existed at previous demonstrations: Reich citizens, esotericists, hippies. And the Nazi hooligans “who took over the scepter at the end of the day”.
The demonstrators do not react to the orders of the police to leave the meeting place – they want to run. Just like back then, in 1989/90, when the so-called “Peaceful Revolution” began in Leipzig. Many demonstrators today compare the political climate with the GDR regime, not infrequently they speak of the corona pandemic being an invention of the elites – a “planemy”. A conspiratorial ideological narrative that many here adopt unfiltered.
I don’t know where the police are
Corinna Wulle also uses this word. The 56-year-old pharmacist in a wool sweater and her husband traveled from Freiburg to the demonstration. She carries a candle in her hand. If you ask them what about the hundreds of thousands of people dying from the pandemic around the world, Wulle says that it has to do with the flu vaccination and 5G radiation. Her husband is a teacher – they both say they are not afraid of the virus. You have to stand up for your basic rights – and for the children on the street. “If the right-wingers are here, you can’t change that.”
Just an hour earlier, hooligans and neo-Nazis attacked police forces at the main train station and tore out barriers, and many lateral thinking demonstrators followed the aggressive mood. At this point the police are completely understaffed and seem incapable of action in the face of the increasingly aggressive mob. A policeman says, “If this goes off, there’s nothing we can do. We are too few.”
At the same time there is a blockade of counter-demonstrators: inside on the inner city ring. She is surrounded, numerous police forces guard a few hundred counter-demonstrators here: inside. On the same evening evacuation tanks and water cannons will roll through the left-wing alternative district of Connewitz, because barricades are being erected and set alight here.
Again in the eye of the police: Connewitz Photo: Sebastian Willnow / dpa
At the main station, however, there is no trace of water cannons or clearing tanks. In this way, the aggressive lateral thinking demonstrators can break through the police chain, chant and run quickly on the inner city ring. They got what they wanted. Almost three hours after the official dissolution of the gathering by the police, the demonstration took to the streets without authorization. Representatives of the regulatory authority stand on the sidelines and watch helplessly. “We have no idea why they’re allowed to walk,” says one. “And no idea where the police are.”
Leipzig’s police chief Torsten Schultze later stated that the police had three goals: To ensure that all events went peacefully, to prevent acts of violence and to enforce protection against infection. The first two goals were “largely achieved”.
The left-wing parliamentary group, on the other hand, calls for a special meeting in the interior committee, which is to deal with the events. On the part of the co-ruling Greens, it is said that Interior Minister Roland Wöllers (CDU) “Failure to act as Interior Minister” is “no longer acceptable”. The events must have consequences.
This day was a triumph for the lateral thinking movement. At the end of the evening, the demonstrators were able to make their rounds and gather again at the starting point. “We are the Champions” by Queen is playing from a loudspeaker. A lonely imperial flag swings to the beat. In the middle of Leipzig’s Augustusplatz.
The events surrounding the “lateral thinking” demonstration in Leipzig shake Saxony’s government coalition. On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Wolfram Günther (Greens) spoke of a “dissent” in the assessment of the meeting. Economics Minister Martin Dulig (SPD) described the controversial discussion about how the security authorities deal with the sometimes violent anti-corona protests as “an endurance test for the coalition”.
At the weekend tens of thousands gathered in downtown Leipzig to protest against the pandemic protective measures. Because the majority of the demonstrators refused to wear masks and adhere to distance rules, the demonstration broke up after two and a half hours. Nonetheless, “lateral thinking” participants gathered for an unauthorized protest march. Again and again there were attacks on journalists and the police, who reacted defensively despite the violent clashes.
Left, AfD and Greens in Saxony are calling for Wöller’s resignation
Since then, the Saxon security authorities have been criticized nationwide. In Saxony, the Left, AfD, but also the Greens involved in the government are calling for Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) to resign. He had rejected criticism of the police at the weekend as “completely absurd and unobjective” and assessed the meeting as “predominantly peaceful”.
The Green Wolfram Günther does not share this assessment. “This demonstration was just not peaceful,” he said. The police officers backed away from violent criminals: “That must not happen.” Such scenes should not be repeated.
To this end, the cabinet tightened the rules for meetings on Wednesday. The number of demonstration participants is to be limited to 1000 in the future in order to simplify the control and enforcement of requirements. Large rallies like the one on the weekend will no longer take place in Saxony for the foreseeable future.
Wöller admits that there were violent right-wing extremists at the demonstration
But Economics Minister Martin Dulig also made it clear that formal resolutions are not enough to resolve the conflicts within the coalition. He called on the CDU to review its own “ability to deal with conflict and criticism.” However, he did not join the demands for the interior minister to resign. “The biggest problem is not Roland Wöller or lateral thinking – but Corona.” In the pandemic, a government capable of acting is needed.
Wöller himself then met in front of the press and stuck to his original assessment. However, he admitted: “Yes, there was violence.” For the first time he mentioned that violent right-wing extremists and hooligans had also participated in the clashes. The reason he had not done this earlier was the lack of information.
100 years ago, a right-wing extremist terrorist cell was founded in Munich, which forged plans to murder representatives of the Weimar Republic, leftists and Jews. How their leader was spared prosecution until his death.
In the late autumn of 1920, a company called the Bayerische Holz-Verwertungs-Gesellschaft was set up at number 8 in Schwabing, Trautenwolfstrasse. But the men who go in and out there have nothing to do with the timber trade and the like; Behind the cover name is a right-wing terrorist cell, whose members are forging plans to murder representatives of the Weimar Republic, leftists and Jews. Right-wing extremists do not have to fear that the police could put an end to the anti-state activity. One enjoys the tolerance, even the sympathy of the highest-ranking circles of the Munich police. The perpetrators of violence and their backers use this leeway. Former Reich Finance Minister Matthias Erzberger and Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, among others, will fall victim to the henchmen of the terrorist group. The name of the secret society: Organization Consul.
The Saturday night in Leipzig, it was long and violent. Even for those who were not there, numerous videos and photos that made the rounds on Twitter testify to this. They show how people hooded in black gather and set off fireworks. They show how they run towards a police chain at dusk. The officials back down.
This almost defensive approach has provoked a lot of criticism. The police must defend the state’s monopoly on the use of force and must “not leave the field to marauding violent criminals,” commented Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). In Saxony, the Greens, after all coalition partners of the CDU and SPD interior minister Roland Wöller (CDU), attacked sharply and demanded his release.
He then went on the offensive together with Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) at a virtual press conference on Sunday afternoon. Wöller praised the 2,700 officials for their prudent behavior, especially with regard to the “lateral thinking” demonstration that preceded the violent clashes.
Alleged superiority of the “lateral thinking” demo
Tens of thousands followed the movement’s call on Saturday afternoon and gathered in downtown Leipzig to protest against the corona protective measures, including conspiracy ideologues, right-wing extremists and violent hooligans. Few of them adhered to requirements such as mask requirements and distance rules.
However, it took time for the authorities to finally disband the meeting. But many demonstrators stayed and, as originally planned, walked along the inner city ring. The police did not intervene. The “lateral thinking” demonstrators were too overpowering, said Leipzig Police President Torsten Schultze later. “There was great pressure on the police forces, which we could only have withstood by using direct force. We did not use force.”
“I strongly condemn that”
Interior Minister Roland Wöller promised at the press conference that the events would be dealt with. However, he claims to have identified one culprit for the Leipzig escalation: the Higher Administrative Court in Bautzen. That was because the city’s original decision to relocate the demonstration to the exhibition grounds outside of the city was conceded. With this, the court approved “the largest corona party,” said Wöller. “That is irresponsible.”
From his point of view, however, the police acted responsibly. He describes accusations that this would have failed as “completely absurd and unobjective”. It was only thanks to her that it remained peaceful. Wöller does not mention the presence of violent hooligans and neo-Nazis, the attacks on officials and journalists. Instead, he mentions a sideline in his brief statement. In the Leipzig district of Connewitz, where there are constant clashes with left-wing extremists, hundreds gathered during the night and set several barricades on fire. “I strongly condemn that,” said Wöller.
After ten minutes of the conference, the need for explanation is still great – but the video switch ends after a brief farewell greeting. Questions are not allowed this afternoon.
Candles are burning everywhere. A few days after the terrorist attack in Vienna, the street in front of the main synagogue is bathed in a sea of light. It’s a small, steeply sloping alley in one of the oldest parts of downtown. The area is a popular nightlife area. But now it’s quiet here, people are walking around, mourning.
After the attack, the debate about the background and who was responsible has started in Austria. The main focus is on the alleged failure of the domestic secret service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter-Terrorism (BVT). Slovak authorities had already informed Austria in July that the later assassin KF had tried to buy ammunition for a Kalashnikov rifle in Slovakia. But the information got stuck in the BVT and was neither passed on to the public prosecutor nor to the Derad deradicalization office, where KF was being looked after. The jihadist was convicted in 2019 for trying to get to Syria. In December 2019, he was released early from prison on condition that he participate in the Derad program.
Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) is happy to refer to his FPÖ predecessor Herbert Kickl these days. The FPÖ ideologist sat in the black and blue government between December 2017 and May 2019 on this post. But the current failure already falls into Nehammer’s term of office, and the BVT has controlled his ÖVP since 2000, with the exception of the brief interruption by Kickl.
Harsher sentences, stricter laws
At the same time, the right is trying to capitalize on the attack. Since the later assassin was released prematurely, such releases are now being questioned. It is not mentioned, however, that KF has been free since July. And early release along with probation usually significantly lowers the recidivism rate.
The tabloid media report that the ÖVP now wants to put “preventive detention” for so-called “threats” on the agenda, ie prison without specific offenses. The point is already anchored in the government program of the ÖVP and the Greens, with Greens boss Werner Kogler emphasizing at the presentation that such detention must be “constitutional”. However, this is a hardly possible squaring of the circle. The increased withdrawal of citizenship is now also required. Not only the parties of the right want that, but also Vienna’s mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ). However, the assassin KF was born in Austria and grew up in the greater Vienna area. And if there are no dual citizenships, withdrawal would only be possible with an ethnic ancestral passport.
The tabloid media are meanwhile shooting at the fact that KF had received social assistance since July. Here, however, everything was evidently completely legally compliant, the Austrian citizen had a legitimate legal claim.
At a special meeting of the National Council on Thursday, ex-FPÖ Interior Minister Kickl also targeted the welfare benefits for KF. The FPÖ MP Reinhard Bösch blamed “the uncontrolled immigration policy” for the attack in expected FPÖ rhetoric.
On Thursday evening, the neo-fascist “Identitarian Movement” attempted a march in downtown Vienna. But barely 230 right-wingers answered the call, their slogans were drowned out by loud anti-fascist chants on the central Stephansplatz. The planned route was also blocked by left-wing activists. Finally, the right marched less than 200 meters through a deserted side street, after which they had to finally break off their demonstration due to further blockades.
Left-wing initiatives organized a short-term silent march on Wednesday with over 700 participants on the site of the terrorist attack. Activists from left-wing Turkish and Kurdish organizations led the way. Several speakers emphasized the correspondence between fascism and jihadism. Jihadist terrorism, anti-Semitism, racism and fascism, according to Selma Schacht, one of the organizers of the silent march, are equally “signs of decline of a capitalism in permanent crisis”. A large demonstration by left-wing organizations has been announced for next Monday.
Anti-fascist references can also be found at the mourning site in Vienna’s Seitenstettengasse. “Not an inch the fascists” is written on a piece of paper lying in the middle of the candles. Colleagues of a murdered woman write on a board that they light a peace candle for hope and solidarity. Only a few meters away hangs a wreath from the “Alliance of Antifascist Solidarity”. There is a small red flag in front of it. The three arrows on it stand for the fight against fascism, capitalism and reactionary politics.